Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Gen 2:24)
Adam, in the garden of Eden – even before sin seperated him from God – desired the company of another person. God heard this desire, and made for man a companion, like him yet different. Equally in God’s image, yet not in the image of the man. She was woman. Different. Unique. The only one right for the man.
And so the Biblical theology of marriage is that it is a union that existed first in the perfect presence of God.
Marriage, the union of man and woman for life, was the climax of the creation. You can see this, because it was the last act before sin entered the Garden. Humans most fully reflect the nature of God in this union.
So then it is natural for man to desire woman.
He comes pre-loaded with all these desires and feelings he wants to share with a woman.
He comes with a space ready in his spirit that the woman can fill.
I was created with the desire to be with a woman.
I have this space in my spirit for a woman to fill.
I am pre-loaded with desires and feelings I want to share with a woman.
Yet as it is, and as it may be for many years, I am single.
So then, what am I to do with these desires? They are natural, and are to be encouraged amongst those who know God. God is pleased when his people, saved by the blood of Jesus, orientate their lives around his plan, allowing their desires to be fulfilled in the sacred mystery of marriage.
I’m not going to have casual relationships, ‘Friends with Benefits’ to satisfy my sexual appetite and need for intimacy. It is not right to become emotionally involved with a woman I don’t intend to marry, and is harmful for my soul to be sleeping with someone outside of marriage.
The problem for me is that I can’t find anything in the Bible for me to direct these feelings towards.
God revealed himself in Jesus as a man. I’ve got to believe there is something significant in Jesus being male. I can’t then imagine the Saviour as a woman. Neither can I conjure up some homosexual affection for Jesus. I don’t think that’s right either. It’s not healthy to direct misguided affection at Jesus, because that is not a proper response to who Christ is. Jesus is not my boyfriend.
What do I do, then, with these God-given desires?
Well, there is in scripture one clear mention of a woman to be loved.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (Eph 5:25)
The Church, the living, breathing, community of God’s people is his bride.
Can I love this group of people, as I would a woman?
Can I give myself up for them?
Can I work endlessly, to see them blessed?
Can I desire them and love them above all things?
Paul sees the marriage image in the unfallen world (Genesis 2) fulfilled in Christ’s love for the Church. So, maybe that gives me an object for my affection. Maybe even it can give me a place where the desires of my heart can be met.
If I shall not leave my father and mother and hold fast to a wife, can I leave them and hold fast to the Church?