When we read a book, we start at the beginning. The Good Book is no exception. My encounter with the truths in Genesis has transformed my life, so much so, that I have endeavored for the last six years to share its profound beauty and wisdom with other women. I have discovered that everything we need to know about love and marriage is contained in Genesis 2. All the secrets to a successful, lifelong marriage are right there, and Christ referred back to these verses when confronted by skeptics. In the beginning, God created our first parents male and female and joined them in marriage. Now that the institution of marriage is under siege, perhaps it is time for all of us to go back to the beginning.
One Sunday about eight years ago, a visiting preacher challenged me to read the Bible daily. His challenge couldn't have been more timely. At 38 years old, I was despairing and depressed and on the verge of losing my faith. For years I had struggled as a woman and as a Christian. I greatly desired to be married, yet had no prospects and no hope. Try as I might to glean helpful information from sermons and seminars, I could find no answers. As a last resort, I accepted the preacher’s challenge to read the Bible daily–only I did it with the earnestness of a dying woman trying desperately to cling to life. I read the Bible with a mission. I needed to unlock the mystery of marriage, to find out what had gone so terribly wrong in my life as to shut me out of this institution. What were God's answers to my life's biggest challenge? The riches I discovered in God’s Word have changed my life entirely. I took what I read there to heart, and was set free to marry. I did marry, and then, burdened by all the troubled marriages and hurting singles around, I knew I must share with other women what I had learned.
I shared this scriptural wisdom with other women. I saw them emotionally and mentally break free from feelings and thoughts that were holding them back. Their lives changed for the better. Many of the single women went on to marry, after struggling for years with chronic singleness. Married women gained insights that improved their marriage relationships. All the while, I had the suspicion that even in the church, the ideas that I was promoting were radical and counter cultural. I honestly thought that if my pastor knew what I was teaching I'd be in trouble.
What, you are wondering, was I teaching these women that would brand me as a problem parishioner?
It was Genesis Chapter 2. The creation account of man and woman, and the first marriage.
Now, who hasn't heard that story a thousand times? What could be so threatening about such a basic element of Christianity? Even Sunday school teachers teach that one, you say. Well, the difference is, I learned the truth of the creation story, and taught it to others as literal truth. And it changed our lives.
You see, for going on two decades I had been taught through various Evangelical churches I attended that it was better to serve God as a single. I learned that marriage was unnecessary for human happiness; it was merely a worldly institution. I had learned that all we need to be happy is a relationship with our Lord. All our fulfillment and happiness should stem from our connection to God. To seek marriage as a means to happiness was idolatry. Contentment as a single was a hallmark of spiritual maturity. The more I heard such teachings, the more discouraged and despondent I became. Believing the church to be a purveyor of truth, I felt that something must be wrong with me. It never occurred to me to question what I was being taught.
One verse in Genesis 2held the key to transforming my beliefs and, consequently, my life. It was Genesis 2:18--Then the Lord God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him." That verse offered a lifeline to my sinking heart.
"Do you mean it, God?” I asked. “Is it really not good for a man to be alone? Do You mean to tell me that I was created just for the purpose of satisfying the aloneness of some man out there? To be a help to some yet undetermined man?"
I let these ideas mull around in my head and invited them to sink in; they had such delicious implications for my life. For the first time in ages, I felt uplifted rather than dejected. Women were created expressly for men and marriage! All of a sudden I had a purpose in the universe, God's plan for my life was articulated in scripture, in the beginning of human history. And it was OK for me to desire it—marriage, that is. You see, the net result of all the cultural messages and erroneous teachings from the church I had received was quite the opposite. You should be happy to be single. You are better off being single. God wants you single to serve him. All of which, as it turned out, was untrue—at least according to Genesis 2.
"I will make a helper suitable for him."--Genesis 2:19 This is a passage that bucks contemporary notions about equality. God's design of the human family has an order to it. Woman was created for the man. She has a specific purpose in relation to a man. God, our all knowing creator, saw man's need and invented woman to fill it. She is to be a helper suitable to the man.
I read this passage and mused, "A specific man, requires a specific woman suitable to his needs. Could I be that suitable woman for someone?"
This biblical concept of a woman's role is offensive to modern sensibilities, due to the influence of feminist thought on modern culture. Yet, the role of a woman is her identity, her mission. We have women playing roles in contemporary America. All kinds of roles. The feminists have no objection to this, as long as a woman doesn't choose the traditional role of wife and mother. Women who choose this role are derided and discounted. Their choice is a direct affront to the feminist agenda. Political feminism strives to erase all differences between men and women. Political feminism is about wresting power from men and advancing women economically through the workforce. We become direct competitors with men, rather than their allies and supporters. It never occurred to me that women can be much better off economically and socially when they invest themselves in the role of wife and mother. The family as an economic partnership is made stronger by clearly defined roles and responsibilities.
But reading and meditating on this verse shed light on my dilemma. Having bought the feminist version of success through career advancement, I realized that I had been pursuing a life independent of men and marriage. Somehow, I had gotten the idea that career success would attract a mate. I had also been looking for a man to fulfill my needs, rather that seeking to be a helper to a man. I had been looking for a man to fit in with my career, rather than looking to help a man succeed at his. It is no wonder I hadn't gotten married! I had done everything exactly backwards. And what's more, with stunning clarity, I realized that all along, my true ambitions had nothing to do with the business world. The only job I had really ever wanted was that of being a wife. The inspired word of God in an instant brought that hidden desire to the fore. I flipped a mental switch at that point. I made up my mind to be available to serve the needs of a man and our family, rather than to serve a boss or my career ambitions. I even started a home-based business to move the center of my existence closer to hearth and home.
Within a relatively short period of time, God provided a husband for me and enabled me to enter my vocation as a wife. Looking back, it seems as though God needed me to change my mind about men and marriage in order to accomplish His purposes in my life. Being willing to be a helper served my goal of becoming a wife. I have a wonderful marriage to a man who needs my help. He appreciates having a helper. Life is half as hard for both of us, now that we are together. Nothing was wasted, even my career experiences and the talents I garnered in the work force have greatly served my husband and our family. My help suits him. Most important, his love and care for my wellbeing are a great help to me.
As I have taught these truths to other women, I have seen that over and over again, once they embrace the Genesis 2 account of why they were created, it has an immediate effect on their consciousness and identity. When they flip that mental switch, it helps them to get married. The names have been changed, but the following stories are true:
Jane sold her half of a successful employment agency business to her partner. She pledged to herself and her friends, that her next job would be that of wife and mother. She moved in with her sisters' family, who supported her goal to marry. She was seriously dating a man within 8 months of that decision. They recently became engaged.
Celia sold her dental practice, and, within a few months of her change of mind, enteredinto courtship with a man from her church.
Abigail, the director of a psychiatric hospital, decided to move into private practice, so that when she got married she would be able to scale back her hours and thus be available to help her husband and home school her children. She is now married and pregnant with her first "pupil."
Sue decided not to pursue her next stripe in the military. Her sole ambition became to be a wife and a helper to her future husband. She didn't enroll in the next course at the War College, and took a lateral move to a less stressful job. She was married within a year, to a man from South Dakota she had known for eight years. He had previously had no romantic interest in her. Sue was too career oriented, from his point of view. On their first encounter six months after her shift in priorities, he fell deeply in love with her. They were married. She relocated from the Washington, D.C. area to his ranch in South Dakota. Today she is a rancher's wife, working alongside her husband on the ranch, laying pipe, feeding ranch hands, birthing calves. She also is doing volunteer work with the Four H Clubs and the local school system and serves in the military reserves. Had she still been a single professional, she most certainly would have been hurt or killed in the terrorist attack on September 11th. Her desk had been in the E-ring of the Pentagon.
Teaching Genesis 2 as literal truth to women has also helped in other ways. Many other single women, who had never had much interest in a career, for the first time in their lives felt that their ambition just to be a wife and a mother was socially acceptable. They no longer felt embarrassed by their lack of ambition in the work world. The biblical affirmation of their desire to marry gave them confidence and hope in their future marriage.
Married women began to see the value in their work as helper to their spouse and keeper of the home. They no longer felt "less than" their working counterparts for electing to stay home and train and teach their own children about life and love. They could relax and just be the women God had created them to be. No guilt trips allowed.
The ultimate beneficiaries of our new found faith in God, are, of course, the men in our lives. By joyfully reveling in God's purpose for our lives, we have given the greatest gift to our husbands and future husbands. They know that we are committed to help them with all our being. We have accepted the responsibility to be on their team in a profound and meaningful way. They know that we are willing to help them to be the kind of men they desire to be. How can they not have a better life with the full love and total support of a good woman behind them?