Sunday, October 7, 2018
The Lord God said, it is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.
A church decided to hold a Sunday service patterned after those in colonial America. The pastor dressed in long coat and knickers, and the congregation was divided by gender: men on the left side of the aisle and women on the right. At collection time, the pastor announced that this, too, would be done in the old way. He asked the “head of the household” to come forward and place the money on the altar. The men instantly rose. To the amusement of the entire congregation, however, many of them crossed the aisle to get money from their wives.
An online article said that 2018 might finally be the Year of the Woman. She notes that many of the original goals of the women’s movement have already been reached. Women now outnumber men in college, graduate schools and medical and law schools; three of the nine Supreme Court justices are female; and, women are reaching the dubious objective of serving alongside men in combat roles. The article says in humorous way, it would be wise not to underestimate women’s determination to clean House. Then in parenthesis, and Senate.
I like that. “Cleaning house” has taken on a new connotation for some women. With Congress nearly equally unpopular with both Democrats and Republicans, many wonder if the situation can’t help but be improved by the addition of a few more women in both houses.
I obviously have no desire today to indulge in a political debate regarding the role of women in politics. But today’s scripture lesson may be very helpful to us as we determine the roles of both men and women in our world today.
We turn for our understanding to the first book of the Bible. In Genesis 2 we read these words, The Lord God said, it is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.
Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So, the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So, the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
The man said, This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, for she was taken out of man. That’s why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
What a fascinating story. God doesn’t want man to be alone so He takes a rib from man’s side and makes a woman to be his companion.
The first thing that we can say from this lesson from the book of Genesis is that human beings are made for relationship. The Lord God said, it’s not good for the man to be alone. That’s true, isn’t it? It’s not good for human beings to be alone. People are made for relationships. This doesn’t necessarily refer to a spouse, although that works for most people. We need family, of course, but we also need friends. Having family and friends is good for our health.
A study commissioned by the Public Health department concluded that older people with more friends are much more likely to recover from a heart attack than people with few or no friends or social supports. Another study demonstrated that people with no friends were three times more likely to die than those with at least one or more sources of social support. Since contact with friends and loved ones may be just as health giving as an aspirin or vitamin E. It’s not good for our health for us to be alone. It’s also not good for our emotional well-being.
It is not good for the man to be alone, says the writer of Genesis, and that is true.
Here’s the second lesson we learn from the first book of the Bible: Both man and woman are created in the image of God. In Genesis 1:26-27 we read, Then God said, Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.
So, God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them.
Did you get that? Both men and women were created in the image of God. There’s nothing in this verse that one is to be submissive to the other. There’s no hint that one is favored over the other. There’s no hint that one is spiritually superior to the other. God created humanity, male and female in His own image, and that means that there is a distinctive dignity in the life of woman. There’s also a distinctive dignity in the life of man.
There are differences between men and women and that’s part of God’s miraculous and wonderful plan. In most homes there’s a division of responsibility, but that division of responsibility needs to be fair and equal. Why? Because there’s a dignity accorded by our Creator: a dignity distinctive in our very nature, male and female, partners together, children of God, created in His image.
Now, just because men and women are both created in God’s image and therefore are equal partners doesn’t mean they are exactly alike. No two people in the world are exactly alike, regardless of their gender. That’s what makes life interesting. The French have a phrase for it: Vive la difference!
Believe or not, ninety percent of the people in jail are men, while ninety percent of the people in counseling are women. Of course, someone would say that women are probably in counseling because of the men.
When women are depressed, they either eat or go shopping. Men invade another country. It’s a whole different way of thinking.
Yes, we are different.
Every once in a while, something comes across the Internet that is so amusing it has to be shared. Have you seen the one that features a wife and a husband writing in their individual diaries about the same event?
Here is the wife’s version:
Tonight, I thought my husband was acting weird. We had made plans to meet at a nice restaurant for dinner. I was shopping with my friends all day long, so I thought he was upset at the fact that I was a bit late, but he made no comment on it. Conversation wasn’t flowing, so I suggested that we go somewhere quiet so we could talk. He agreed, but he didn’t say much.
I asked him what was wrong; He said, Nothing. I asked him if it was my fault that he was upset. He said he wasn’t upset, that it had nothing to do with me, and not to worry about it. On the way home, I told him that I loved him. He smiled slightly, and kept driving. I can’t explain his behavior. I don’t know why he didn’t say, “I love you, too.”
When we got home, I felt as if I had lost him completely, as if he wanted nothing to do with me anymore. He just sat there quietly, and watched TV. He continued to seem distant and absent. Finally, with silence all around us, I decided to go to bed. About 15 minutes later, he came to bed. But I still felt that he was distracted, and his thoughts were somewhere else. He fell asleep; I cried. I don’t know what to do. I’m almost sure that his thoughts are with someone else. My life is a disaster.
That’s what appeared in the wife’s diary describing their evening.
Here’s what appeared in the husband’s diary:
A two-foot putt . . . WHO misses a stupid two-foot putt!
Studies show that more and more couples find that divorce isn’t a solution to their problems. And marriage counselors who, a decade ago were advising couples to go ahead and part, are now recommending couples hang in there and try to make it through the storm. Of course, that has been God’s plan all along. Even those of us who are in a good marriage can make it better by inviting God into that relationship. To build a better marriage, you and I need to be better people, and that requires the grace of God.
Are we willing to offer our marriage to God? Are we willing to pray that God will help us to make any changes in our own life that may be preventing us from being the kind of husband or the kind of wife for which our partner yearns?
The man said, this is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, for she was taken out of man. That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
God takes marriage seriously. It’s not good for us to be alone. We were created for relationship. Again, it doesn’t mean that we must have a marriage partner. Some of the greatest Christian saints were and are single persons. But we do need a community.
We were all created in the image of God. We deserve to be treated with dignity and to treat others with dignity. This is God’s will for our life and for our marriages. May God bless our families regardless of how those families may be configured. May we love and support one another as God intends.