Friday, April 24, 2009

The Crowning Jewel of All Creation

Shortly after my first wife Sue went to be with the Lord, I sat down and put a number of thoughts on paper. By the time I was finished, I had a book. It was very helpful to me to do this, and I am hopeful that if the book is ever published, it will be a source of encouragement to other believers who have lost their spouses.

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Chapter 5
The Crowning Jewel of All Creation

I love the account of creation in the book of Genesis. In the beginning God created time, space, matter, and natural law. Exodus 20:11 tells us that “in six days the LORD made the Heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them.” He created this beautiful earth on which we live; He created the sun, the moon, and the stars; and He created plant and animal life. On the sixth day, God did something very special. After creating the land animals, He formed man from the dust of the ground, breathed life into him, and gave him authority over the earth.

After man was created, God did a marvelous thing for him. He made woman, the most beautiful, gentle, and special part of His creation, and He instituted marriage, the foundation stone for society.

Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. And the man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh at that place. And the LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. And the man said, “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh (Genesis 2:18-24).

We tend to save the best for last. Even in this day of instant gratification where we so often hear, “Eat dessert first,” it is still far more enjoyable to eat it last. God most certainly saved the best for last. I absolutely believe that He created Eve last because woman is the crowning jewel of all creation. She was the finishing touch that made everything, especially man, complete. She was the balancing factor, the gentle touch that man needed in order to be a whole person. Without women and all they have to offer, this world would be a very lonely and miserable place.

Women are very special. Regardless of all the trappings of modern society that have tended to define us all as “persons” while blurring the distinctions between men and women, those distinctions are very real in the mind of God, and they ought to be very real in our minds as well. Some would deprive men of their manhood and women of their womanhood, but this is not pleasing to God because it is not consistent with His master plan. Men and women have distinctively different roles, and when those roles are confused, there are ugly consequences.

Some have accused Christianity of putting women down and making them little more than slaves. Nothing could be further from the truth. While there are world religions that do just that and worse—essentially making women into little more than the personal property of their husbands—Christianity has done more to elevate women to the position God intended than any other belief system.

I have many times shared the following quote with students because it is so meaningful to me, and students have generally reacted very favorably to it.

“Eve was made by God not out of Adam’s head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be loved” (Matthew Henry).

Jesus Himself had great respect for women, and women were some of His most faithful followers. As Christian doctrine developed through the writing of the New Testament, godly womanhood was lifted to an unprecedented level of respect. One of the misunderstandings people have about the roles of men and women is the perception that different roles somehow imply superiority and inferiority. They tend to read into the text of Scripture the idea that men are somehow superior to women, and women are to be subservient and are not allowed even to think. Such an idea might appeal to some men, but it certainly has little appeal to women, and it is not what the Scripture teaches.

We need to look at the fact that men and women have been created by God to be different physically and emotionally and that He, as God the Creator, has every right to do it that way. “But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases” (Psalm 115:3). However, when men and women accept their God-given roles, the basis for harmonious marriages and families is in place. None of the necessary parts are missing when men and women accept their appropriate biblical roles.

There are specific Scriptures that some today have difficulty with, and that is really too bad because these passages give us the basis for God’s order in marriage. For example: “Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be embittered against them” (Colossians 3:18-19). Notice that there is a command both for the wife and for the husband. The husband is never commanded to demand submission from his wife. That would be tyranny. Unfortunately, many husbands operate in this manner. Instead, husbands are instructed to love their wives with the same kind of love that Christ has for His people. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25).

The Lord tells us what we need to hear. Men need to be reminded to love their wives, because men can tend to be less loving than women. Notice too that this is to be an unconditional love that causes a man to be willing to go so far as to give up his life for the object of his love. Any man who is not willing do die for his wife does not really love her in the manner the Lord would have him love her. Women need to know they are loved, and men therefore need to show that selfless kind of love to their wives in order for the wives to feel secure.

The other side of the coin is that women are not reminded to love their husbands in these passages. Women naturally tend to be loving, and such a reminder would be, for the most part, unnecessary. However, there can be a problem in the area of submission. God told Eve after she and Adam had sinned, “Your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you” (Genesis 3:16). As sinners, we tend to rebel against God’s Word, so it is natural for submission to be difficult, and a tendency against it must be overcome by an act of the will with the help of the Lord.

While men are not in any way instructed to force their wives into submission, women are instructed to actively and intentionally submit themselves to their husbands. It is an act of the will on the part of the wife, not an act of tyranny on the part of the husband. Ephesians 5:22 says, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.” This does not mean to become his slave; rather, it means to place oneself in the proper position relative to the husband’s God-given role of leadership. If the husband is wise, he will most certainly seek input from his godly wife rather than making all decisions on his own like some sort of dictator.

I honestly believe that the ball is in the man’s court. If a man loves his wife with the kind of selfless love that makes him willing to die for her, it will be an easy task for her to submit herself to his godly leadership in the marriage and family. If a woman is out of control and refusing to be submissive in the marriage relationship, in many cases, the problem may lie with the quality of the love the husband is showing for his wife. Men, love your wives as if there were no tomorrow—there may not be. Love and adore your wives as if when you say goodbye and head off for work, you may never see her again—you may not. Cherish each day with her so there will be no regrets should the Lord choose to take one of you home very soon, as He well could do. Never take your spouse for granted. We have no guarantee of tomorrow.

It must be pointed out that submission on the part of the wife does not mean becoming a doormat. Solid marriages are based on mutual trust and mutual decision-making rather than dictatorial edicts. It really comes down to the man accepting his role as leader of the family and the wife walking with him in support of that role. This is what God intended, and it is the only formula for marriage that is according to His plans; and therefore, it is the only one that can really work properly. Obviously, those who follow God’s stated pattern are much more likely to have success in any area, including marriage.

I am very thankful that God made woman to be the crowning jewel of all creation. The gentleness that women can add to any situation is a great balance to the nature of men as a whole. God made us to balance each other, and that is why He said, “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). A husband and wife form a complete team—neither is really complete without the other.

I am so very thankful for the years I had with “the crowning jewel of all creation,” my wonderful wife Sue. Without her and her great wisdom, I would likely have made a mess out of my life. She made me complete. I praise her for being a blessing to my life, the lives of our sons, and the lives of so many others.

“…and let her works praise her...”
(Proverbs 31:31)

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Chapter 5 of Let Her Works Praise Her: A Life that Counted, Copyright © January 2002 by Ron Livesay.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scriptures quoted in this book are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE ®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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