Wednesday, March 6, 2013

On Marriage—A series of Observations

On Marriage
—A series of Observations—

This has been brewing for a long while! What is it? An exciting article for Vogue or GQ? Juicy private confessions? Nope, then you’re looking for a glossy periodical from WHS! These are some of my convictions.

First—I’m a dyslectic! I just built a library.

It contains 120 years of my family’s books and a lot of my own stuff. It takes up a whole room in the house that Harald Haltvik bought in 1930. Some of his books are also there. Three generations later and my signature is exactly like his—same name, same pencil strokes! (I never knew until I opened the cover of one of his books!) How did I get the space to ‘waste’ on a library? Because of marriage—sis left her old girl’s room and got a husband! We had a room to spare! Suddenly these other married people’s books collected for over a century got a proper place to live. My babies? Maybe.

Why this topic? Because I’m dyslectic! I recently found myself in a bookshop—again! (I often do.) I love stories and knowledge, and I love books. As you may have gathered, I don’t read very fast, but I read quite a bit. More crucially, I remember! When I was a kid I was dubbed the class’ “sticky brain.” So, now I was at a book sale.

A lot of audiobooks were reduced and there was a further 50% discount on the sales-price. Double sale! You can say I “robbed the shop…” I used to produce audiobooks for a very distinguished production-studio, but I never really spent much time listening to them. Now the time had come!

The first day of audiobook listening I went on a 19 year long journey with Odysseus through the Mediterranean. Subsequently I started on ‘Pride and Prejudice.’ Sis had left a couple of Jane Austen books around the house when she moved out and I had read a bit in ‘Mansfield Park.’ To my surprise there was plenty of scope for a masculine angle in the stories. Hence, I decided that Austen’s sharp and sometimes sarcastic observations were male-friendly (unlike a large number of monstrous period dramas with annoying women in them!) Much can be said about the various textures of storytelling in Austen’s books, but I’ll leave that for another time. Here, we’re on about marriage. Some of the characters spend all their time thinking and talking about marriage but very little time nurturing their own. Mrs. Bennett is such a character and Mr. Bennett who is very different isn’t much better in his own way. It has been annoying me for days now as I have driven around listening to the story. The only rest for my head I have found in Mr. Darcy and Ms. Elizabeth Bennet’s sarcastic but occasionally accurate observations on the world around them. And I can’t help but think that the author—who have given her own name to the older sister Jane, is really hiding behind the sharp wits of Ms. Elzabeth.

I have been planning to write this for about three years. The book gave me the push. Bring on the Theology!

Who Married People Are

God made man first. Adam was his name for he was taken from the soil (Hebrew language, go figure). Then God gave Adam a number of tasks on the earth and Adam carried them out. Adam was to name all the animals and tend to the garden—but really, he was to name a whole lot more than just animals! To get to know every species and every part of the garden he’d have to climb trees, dig in the soil and turn every rock. He would have to make words for “hungry,” “tired,” “climb,” “digging,” “eating” and a whole lot of other verbs. Bill Johnson says that there’s one name of God that is not mentioned in the Bible. ‘Jehova Sneaky!’ God gave Adam some very clearly defined tasks, but his responsibilities would take him places that weren’t stated in the initial “contract.” The Bible says that God delights in mankind finding hidden truths and revelations in His creation. God knows where there’s gold in the ground, He knows where there are awesome wild strawberries!

By the time Adam had gotten on top of things in the garden he fully mastered his environment, he had developed accurate terms to describe his surroundings and verbal ways of expressing his emotions. He was fulfilling his God-given purpose. Note that he has to come to this stage before ‘Jehova Sneaky’ again kicks in and says something in the order of: “Lets examine everything I have made to see if there’s a suitable partner for you!” –as if God Himself didn’t know what He had created! It’s an evaluation-assignment from Adam’s employer: understand your own place in the system I have created! When the evaluation was done they concluded that there are no suitable partner for Adam. ‘Jehova Sneaky’ already knew. Adam learned something valuable by experience because God let him figure out. Adam now stood there in the garden, at the top of his game and having carried out everything God has told him to do.

God has only blown his spirit into the nostrils of one man and will never do this again—He didn’t repeat it for the woman for they have part in the same spirit and He won’t do it for another man or woman in another generation to come. Mankind was born and Adam at the time embodied it all! All! Everything you and I are part of, every potential in us and every likeness to God in us who are created in his image was established in mankind from the dawn of creation. Standing alone in the garden for the last time, Adam is ALL of mankind and embodies ALL of mankind! New genes, new spirit is not given to the woman who is to be made. It has already been given. God then does the incredible! He makes the man fall asleep and opens him up just to take things he has put into him out of him. Adam will never get these things back! Mental faculties of the soul are lost from him forever! —and God closed him up again. When Adam wakes up he is not “ALL of mankind” any more.

Adam is now half of mankind and many of his personality-traits inherited from God has been put into another creature. There’s no new Spirit being blown into nostrils. To cut a long story short, God instructs them that they are created “man and woman” and later on it says that they are “one flesh.” Even in the traditional Lutheran background that I come from those words make old pensioners put on a smile and a restrained laughter in weddings. Old couples sit there in their grandkids’ weddings and at the words “one flesh” their faces read something like: “Dang right preacher, I kno what ya’ talking ‘bout! Just wait till later tonight kids! Hehehe!” Ok, so there are plenty of jokes that can be made! But we’re forgetting the most important fact:

God took some ribs and a set of faculties from His own image out of Adam. And then He reunites them in ONE new creature. Fundamentally, that’s what marriage is!

Who’s are the tasks that God bestowed on Adam from the beginning now? Adam’s alone? Where were Eve’s ribs when Adam was commissioned to do these tasks? The original tasks of Adam can now only be completed by the new creature—the married couple!

There are plenty of purposes you should fulfil while still bumping around in the garden alone (some of us are still there because we belong there longer than others—it’s serious and not to be mocked!). There is a ridiculous notion in many churches that you’re not a complete young adult until you’re married! What happened? Is being a daughter, son, brother or sister now second rank? Jesus is a ‘son!’ –nuff said! But when you cross the line into the realms of marital union, there’s no turning back and there are new callings waiting on you! ‘Jehova Sneaky’ does surgery on you when He stitches your ribs together with someone else. A spiritual link is established. God reveals this when He says "What god has joined together let no man separate." They are “joined.” It’s not constant physical and they don’t think about each other all the time (soul), so we’re left with the last (or first) realm—they’re joined constantly in spirit.

For this reason we need spiritual revelation on what marriage is, cause it says that “the Word of God is sharper than a double edged sword” and that it splits the soul and the spirit asunder. Due to lack of knowledge we often think that what happens in our soul and emotions is spiritual. It carries spiritual significance, but the two must not be confused. God’s Word testifies itself that it is two different realms. We need God’s Word and revelation to distinguish between them.

Mrs. Bennett will not enter into her God-given destiny as long as she thinks that she has a purpose without Mr. Bennett that she is tied to. Mr. Bennett will not enter into his full God-given purpose as long as he stays passive and does not arise to takes charge and makes an effort to get his head around his wife’s feelings.

He’s all brain, she’s all emotion. One body, two faculties. Both reflecting the image of God. Both lost from that image without their union.

A man seeks to understand, a woman seeks to be understood. Who’s in the image of God? God understands how we feel (Jesus literally went through hell for us!) and He wants us to understand Him in return! See any similarities? He contains both view-points! That’s why ‘Jehova Sneaky’ still sends young men into the “gardens” of their days (family, society, the army, education, work or the mountains), to learn how to take the control they need to aim for God’s greater purpose with their lives and to learn how to express themselves when the day comes that they need to understand how their long lost ribs once made them able to think—and the two shall become one. One flesh not just for the wedding-bed, but most of all for the union of the two creatures to embody ALL of mankind! We leave nothing of value on this earth from pure self-realisation without substantial self-sacrifice.

This is what I believe to be the contract between man and woman:
-       Man is the head of the family. He is to set direction and rise as a masculine figure. He is to provide, pursue romantically, bring protection and be the head priest of the family.
-       The woman, when getting married, is hooking on to someone else’s headship. It once was meant to be her father, it now is her husband. When God says in Genesis that He wants to make a “helper” for the man, the Hebrew word that is used means exactly that: “helper!”

Both needs to regard the family vision higher than their individual visions. He has the highest authority; she is to be loved unconditionally.

A lot of modern philosophies uphold that this is a better deal for the man than the woman, not considering what the scripture bestows on the man’s shoulders. Paul charges the man to love his wife like “Christ loved the Church”—that means to the point of his own scorn, torture and painful death if need be! It also means to wrestle with the devil in a way that can only be won by the power of God in his life! When Christ was put in prison, flogged, beaten, the justice system is betraying him and he finally is put to death in a torturous multiple hour state between a very painful life on earth and a waiting hell—that’s what Paul means when he states the extent men should love their wives to. Someone still thinks Adam got the easy part of the bargain? No, I think they’re both in pretty deep! None of us can manage a hundred percent. That’s why we need forgiveness in relationships, exemplified by the forgiveness given by Christ.

Where To Go From Here?

A great couple that are doing marriage counselling was giving their advices on God TV about a year ago. They said that a lot of couples that comes to them for marriage counselling sit down on their sofa and looks at each other through a filter of problems. The first thing they make them do is to envision ‘the problem’ sitting on the table in front of them. They are now sitting side by side with no obstacles between them but a challenge ahead of them to be handled together.

I’m reminded of a film Bruce Willis did about a decade ago. I can’t remember what it was called and it probably wasn’t all that good, but one little part of it was out of this world amazing. The lead character and his wife had just split up and decided to give it one more go. So they went for a date like they once did before they got married. They meet in a bar and sit down for a drink. Conversation starts and she asks: “When was the first time you felt like you couldn’t make it?” A pause follows as he thinks. Calmly he replies “The first time I didn’t tell you about it!” No sparks comes across the screen, the bar they’ve chose doesn’t get any less un-charming (no offense to the bar-keeper!) and nothing appears to be changing around them. But the whole film changes entirely from there! —and so does their marriage! It’s the first stone in the cobbled street towards reconciliation. There are no big emotional outbursts, but the atmosphere is once again filled with trust. Trust is probably the most important ingredient in any relationship. I have looked around, but haven’t found anything more important yet.

A few years ago our Church in Leeds got a visit from the amazing Mr. Mal Fletcher. It was one of the messages that I really remember and I’ve listened through the tape a number of times. He talks about the passage in the Bible where it says “without a vision the people parish!” –but he goes much deeper! He has researched all the Hebrew words in the original texts and finds that it says more something like: “without a divinely provided redemptive revelation of God, people live wasted and unfruitful lives.” When the ribs of the original creation is re-united (marriage), the “one” creation needs to find “one” vision. Without a divinely provided redemptive vision of marriage common direction is wasted and subsequently bear no fruit.

I grew up together with my little Sis. She had the majority of male friends, I had the majority of female ones. None of us were in relationships and none of us went looking for it neither. We talked about why we had the friendship circles that we had and came up with several answers, but concluded that the main reason was that we had grown up with each other. Sis was used to an older boy around in me and I was used to a younger girl in her. The older we got, the closer friends we became and the central friendship in our lives became the two of us. Perhaps that’s why none of us were in a hurry to get into any relationship. Sis’ friendship-circle has changed after she got married and there’s another central relationship in her life. That’s a natural development.

I have a friend that I used to hang with a lot some years back. A lot of people thought we were a couple but we were not. She spoke with me about the boys she were dating and I usually thought girls who tried to be more than sisters were in the way of some very attractive mountains! One Spring she changed. It wasn’t all that fun to hang with her anymore and in spite of being one of the most flowery personalities I knew she suddenly felt kinda… boring! My mind came to a point where I thought: “this is where people sometimes separate down different roads or deliberately spend less time together.” I thought about it for a while and found it to be a faithless thought! —Kind of ashamed to even have thought the thought! I was aware that there’s an unwritten contract that arises between people when you both let each other very close and I found that this sort of contract was not to be broken. I remember thinking something down the line of: “I don’t care how boring she’ll get, I’ll stick with all my promises to her.” She stayed the same and only my determination changed my feelings (it does indeed!). Summer came and to my partial shame I discovered that my subconscious over-time working, fast-paced, people-analysing brain that usually serves me loads of information had missed out on something important! Exams were over, she got to sleep longer nights, eat more exciting food and spend more time out in the sun. The exam stress was gone and she returned back to normal, if not even better! It was one of the most powerful lessons I have ever had in sticking to decisions! It has led me to believe that love between people can’t die, because there’ll always be something left of what you initially got attracted to. But it may be obscured by events in life, suppressed for a while by circumstances or even suppressed by myself. There are no things that lets people out of such a obscured or suppressed state more than someone to come along and invest or re-invest faith in them!

In mountain leadership the power of sticking to one decision is a powerful principle. If you get lost and change your mind about direction at every obstacle or every day, you’re likely to start making circles or ending up in the middle of nowhere. If you take time to decide on a bearing and stick to it you’ll eventually get to a valley, a sea, a settlement or a river that leads to a people. Chances of surviving improves radically, but you might have to negotiate a lot of difficult terrain.

Odysseus sailed, swam and tumbled through the oceans with strong spiritual powers bent on opposing him, but he made it home after 19 years! His wife held back many powerful attempts to get her re-married and set a new direction for her life. Through all Odysseus’ strife she was the leading light that was always calling him home and that helped him stay out of temptation—pursuing both the direction and romance they shared through all sorts of mortal danger. All his men died on the journey, and alone he eventually made it home to Ithaca. It re-positioned his family’s fading grasp on the throne for the next generation and brought peace to the generation that was passing and had served before him. It blessed the entire family. Sounds like the perfect fairy-tale, but when you do it for 19 years straight it takes on the shape of hard, strenuous work. It was well rewarded. Very late and very joyfully!

Two spirits, human faculties, feelings and intellectual choices are being brought together through the reuniting of the ribs. Only then you can fulfil all of the initial callings of ALL of humanity in the image of God—as embodied in one man(kind)—as later embodied in husband and wife. Mr. and Mrs. Bennett of Longbourn Estate should put the problems in front of them on the table and not between themselves. They have common challenges to be solved together. God wants your marriage and the devil wants your marriage. Jane and Bingly, Elizabeth and Darcy seems to get it—in the end! Ironically, after a bumpy start!

Mankind is at one level only meant to be One Creature—One image of One God—One Bride of Christ! Pure, Holy and Undivided. Ribs reunited in “One Flesh” as the first man alone was One perfect image of One Holy God—containing all of Mankind to come.