by Jason Parham
“For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” – Ephesians 5:31-32
“And Adam 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. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” – Genesis 2:23-24
In the beginning, God gathered the dust of the ground, shaped the body of a man, and breathed into him the incredible breath of life. Then, from man God made one of His most intriguing creations, woman. Together the two made an amazing union, becoming husband and wife. This was a match defined by the most powerful emotions in the known universe: love, passion, and romance. So began a story where these same emotions perfected would redeem mankind from sin, despair, and an eternity in the flames of Hell.
This is the “Mystery of Romance.”
The Mystery in the Pursuit of Romance
Pursuit in Creation
In creating man, the feeling of loneliness was realized. It was not just a feeling of having no one to talk to, but a deep loneliness for sharing. It became clear that man needed a companion of his equal, a person with whom to share his life. He needed a person who he could trust with all his hopes, dreams, and aspirations. He needed a person with whom he could become uninhibited in his vulnerability. God looked down at His creation of man, saw this deep need, and went into action.
“And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” – Genesis 2:18
The great Creator put Adam to sleep and from his rib made a new creature, a woman. As Adam woke and his eyes were filled with the most amazing thing he had ever seen, the feeling of love with all of its passion of romance was conceived. This love between a man and his wife was one that transcended friendship; it was a lifetime commitment of togetherness; and it was a love so intense that two lives became one. They would become best friends, sharing every moment of life’s experiences together. Adam was given a person for whom to care and a person to care for him. Adam and Eve would know each other in ways that no one else in the world could ever know them. With one creative act, God solved the problem of loneliness with the invention of the bond of marriage. Two lives intertwined in ways that were designed to fulfill the natural needs for companionship and intimacy.
“And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.” – Genesis 2:21-22
Nevertheless, the devil wants to deceive us with cheap, ugly replacements for the beautiful design of the holiness in marriage. There is, of course, the deception of living together without the lifetime commitment of marriage. A recent study by the National Council on Family Relations confirmed what other studies have been showing for years: that couples co-habiting before marriage are more likely to get divorced than those who do not. The Bible also clearly stands against intimacy outside of marriage.
“Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.” – I Corinthians 6:18
Also, this deception is in the idea of same-sex marriage. In promoting this sinful lifestyle, the devil is trying to destroy the picture of marriage. Society wants us to accept this as normal behavior, but this is an activity that God does not accept.
“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” – I Corinthians 6:9-10
Furthermore, consider the deception that is in the addictive nature of pornography. According to CovenantEyes.com, 64% of Christian men and 15% of Christian women watch pornography at least once per month. In Genesis 2, God created a beautiful and holy relationship, but it is being neglected and replaced by the ugly filth of this world, even among church-going people.
“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” – Matthew 5:27-28
God created passion, desire, and romance when He made man and woman. Eve was pursued by Adam from the moment he laid eyes on her. He found her the best flowers he could find, told her the sweetest things of which he could think, and held her in most tender ways that he could! Romance was born into the world.
Pursuit in Life
Every child reaches the age when the carefree days of childhood transform. Guys start using hair gel and girls start wearing makeup. They stop acting childish around the opposite gender. There is that “first crush.” The pursuit of love begins as they daydream about life, getting married, and what things will be like. There is that first interest and first relationship. Today, this is unfortunately played out over social media. Eventually, they finally meet the one and fall hopelessly in love. Pursuit begins with love letters, gifts, and looks. This pursuit is to win the love of the other person’s interest; it is to receive a decision when he “pops the question.” Finally, the romantic wedding day arrives in which the happy couple exchanges vows, rings, and hearts. Love is a romantic pursuit that ends in an incredible covenant that is a type of an even greater covenant. This covenant pictures the covenant of Christ and the believing sinner.
Pursuit for Sinners
Christ has engaged in the pursuit of love for poor, undeserving sinners. He left the splendors of Heaven to pursue a love for us. Just as a caring father would ask for the intentions of a suitor for his daughter, His intentions are made clear as He pursues us with kindness, love, and mercy. His question echoes the couple in love as He, on bent knee asks, “Will you be Mine? Can I have your heart? Will you give Me you?”
“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” – I John 4:10
When I think of His pursuit, I think of His goodness in the fact that He would desire ME!
To think that He would offer me all of the benefits of being His is amazing! It is similar to when a man struck hopelessly in love offers the engagement ring and says, “If you just say ‘yes,’ I will give you the best that I have!”
Also, when I think of His pursuit, I consider His gifts. This is His way of showing me His love. Similar to the couple in love, the cards, flowers, letters, and time were all for one goal: to gain the other. The time He spent “wooing” me when I read His letters and heard the voice of His Spirit, was all for one goal: to gain me! When I did not even know Him, He saw me, loved me, and went after me! This great mystery, buried in the meaning of marriage, is the story of the pursuit of the Gospel: a Saviour giving Himself for undeserving sinners. It is Christ pursuing us!
“For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” – Romans 5:6
The Mystery in the Problems of Romance
Problem of Failure
In Genesis 3, the happily-ever-after for Adam and Eve was short-lived as the fall of man occurred when Eve ate of the forbidden fruit.
“And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.” – Genesis 3:6
Despite us as mankind having His indisputable love, we have a propensity for failure. Marriage is also filled with mistakes and failures.
Eve made a mess for Adam, just as we sometimes can make a mess. When we fail to live up to our expectations for each other and give in to our sinful natures, the mistakes made can become embarrassing and shameful.
However, mistakes have a silver lining. Adam and Eve learned the joy of forgiveness and healing that they otherwise would have never known. Likewise, in marriage we share the joy of forgiveness and healing with each other. Just as Eve must have been thinking, “I have REALLY messed up this time! I have disappointed my husband and my God,“ something incredible happened. Adam went with her!
“And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.” – I Timothy 2:14
Their story is a picture of the unbelievable act of forgiveness and love in salvation. Adam loved his wife and went with his wife in full knowledge of the consequences. This is a love that prompts a couple to stay together no matter what, painting an unmistakable scene of the love that Jesus has for the church.
“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” – II Corinthians 5:21
Problem of Family
“And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD. And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering to unto the LORD.” – Genesis 4:1-3
Eve had children and everything changed. Romantic evenings were quickly replaced with evenings of exhaustion from childcare. Romantic thoughts turned into stressful ones. It seemed as though time moved in fast-forward motion.
Kids are great for family but not so great for marriage because then the couple must juggle their priorities. It is in this season of life that two become three, and three become four or more! Everyday struggles of life make the pursuit of each other more challenging.
Problem of Faith
In Genesis 4, a happy family is broken by sin.
“And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.” – Genesis 4:8
Life in this world can throw us unexpected things that hinder our pursuit of each other. For example, my first child was stillborn. My wife and I went to the hospital just as all of the other expecting couples, but we left with empty arms. It is in times such as these that faith in God is really put to the test; this is because faith is not measured on the mountain tops, but by our response in the valleys.
The Mystery in the Purpose of Romance
Purpose of Redeeming
In Genesis 2, God had a higher purpose in mind when He created marriage: the plan for the redemption of mankind. One day a Saviour, Who would love and die for the church, would come into this world. It was not just about Adam and Eve but about Christ and the church.
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;” – Ephesians 5:25
Marriage is about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is not about making each other happy, but about the picture of redemption to this lost and dying world. This is the mystery: that marriage and love are really about the story of redemption. Marriage is not really about us, but it is about a loving God with a message of hope, forgiveness, and eternal life.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16
Purpose of Reproducing
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it:…” – Genesis 1:27-28a
Romance produces children. As the saying goes, “First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage.” Children are the direct result of a couple’s love for each other. Children are the results of a healthy marriage relationship. God designed love and marriage to produce more creatures in His image to populate the earth He had made.
Purpose of Repeating
In a similar manner, a healthy relationship with the Lord will produce more new creatures in His image.
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” – II Corinthians 5:17
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:” – Matthew 28:19
When we are right with Him and have the right faith in Him, the Gospel is propagated into this world. God might do more if we would just believe that He would. The Gospel has not changed and definitely has not lost its power, but people have changed. When we have a weak, puny faith and relationship with the Lord, it is no wonder that we produce no “children” in the Gospel!
In the later part of Genesis 4, everything in the first love story in the Bible came full circle when Adam and Eve had the first grandchildren and men began to call on the name of the Lord.
“And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew. And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the LORD.” – Genesis 4:25-26
The mystery of romance is the story of redemption, grace, and the church. Our lives, loves, and marriages are about more than just surviving. It is about painting a beautiful picture of the Gospel to a lost and a dying world. Marriage is about sharing the Gospel message. Marriage is about God using us to find and create new creatures to populate Heaven.