This week I have been talking to my Sunday school class about the way we ladies in the U.S. have overlaid our Western view of things onto the Bible and made some really shaky conclusions about its teachings on marriage.
It is easy to do that, and not just for Americans. If we don’t consciously account for our culture, *everyone* ends up overlaying her particular culture onto the Bible.
One way that can happen is by us falsely dividing things into “spiritual” vs. “worldly” categories.
When we do this, we tend to place “sexual attraction in marriage” into the “worldly” category and to assume it doesn’t matter to God.
In other words, we overspiritualize marriage.
Now, don’t get me wrong, marriage is indeed an earthly picture of the relationship Christ has to His Bride, the church.
But that does not remove the delight of the one flesh concept God built into marriage. It does not remove sexual attraction from marriage. The one flesh concept was God’s idea, after all.
It is important to remember that. When I was young, I used to think that holding out for a man who made me all trembly might be sinful. I thought maybe God wanted me to be okay with marrying any guy who honored him. Even those whose body shape or personal smell turned me off.
I could not have been more wrong.
I firmly believe there is someone for everyone. Therefore, if someone “smells too musty” to me, there is another woman somewhere who will find that smell to be a turn-on.
There is no reason any woman needs to “settle” for marrying someone in whom she doesn’t absolutely delight in every way, including the physical.
Sure, his faith and his lifestyle matter just as much as the physical side of things. But they don’t make the physical side of things irrelevant.
When we teach it that way, we unconsciously teach that God is the “great killjoy in the sky.” Or rather, we make the Great God of the Universe into just another member of the pantheon of Greek and Roman gods, who were totally capricious and didn’t miss a chance to “teach human beings a lesson” by denying them the things in which they took delight.
Now, after twenty-five years of being married to a man who is a believer, as well as a warm and funny person, and one whom I find totally hot physically, I can say without reservation that God’s plan is for us to marry another believer, but one with whom we have fallen deeply in love. God never calls for us to “settle” for something short of that, just to be married or just to please God.
When I think back to my college self and the way I sold God short, treating Him as a killjoy, I giggle at my own foolishness.
I recall a friend who lived next door in the dorms whom I often used as my “test of spirituality,” assuming that I would be very spiritual if I were willing to marry him. He had been badly burned in a fire as a child and was of a very stout build (not really overweight, just non-athletic and flabby). He was also black but that would not have been an impediment to me, even then.
Thing is, as I befriended him and tried to lead him to Christ, I used the wrong lens, my Western culture lens. I personally did not find him attractive, but I also never saw him come to faith in Christ. He may have done that later. And who knows how Christ might have changed his actual appearance later, if he became Spirit-led?
My whole premise was faulty, as though God would use willingness to marry this man as a test of my spirituality. As though finding guys who appealed to me physically was something *I* had to do for myself, since God clearly didn’t care whether I liked how a potential mate looked or not.
Such silliness in a girl in her late teens and early twenties.
But how many of us are still there, subconsciously? How many of us, if we are single or divorced or widowed, still assume deep down that God wants us to “settle” for someone who falls far short of delighting us? And what does that say about that person for whom we “settle”? Wouldn’t that guy be better off being cut loose from us so that he can find a woman who truly *will* delight in him in the Lord?
Our silliness can not only trip us up, it can trip up good men, created in God’s image, who deserve to find the ladies who will love them unreservedly.
Yes, God does care about whom we marry. And, yes, God does care that the one flesh concept is lived out in our marriages accompanied by a feeling of delight, not a sense of repugnance.
He has made all things good. Especially marriage.