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Loving Our Differences

Read Genesis 2:4–25

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, complete with a vast array of flying, creeping, crawling things; shining lights in the sky; teeming waters; green plants and seed- bearing trees. And for the finishing touch, he made a human man in his own image, with a soul that would live forever.

But as great as all that was, it wasn’t enough. God, who had declared “good” everything that he had made thus far, realized it was “not good” for the man to be alone. So God put the man into a deep sleep, took a bone out of his side and created a creature so exquisite, so mind-boggling, so new and yet so familiar that when Adam woke to find Eve next to him, he exclaimed, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (Genesis 2:23).

They fit so beautifully together, these two, that their lives intertwined. One can only imagine the special times they shared: the first time they made love, their first sunrise together, their late- night walks through the garden. How God must have delighted in these creatures he had made to expand the harmonious, loving relationship enjoyed by the Trinity itself!

Still, there were differences. Beyond the obvious anatomical distinctives, which made being together so pleasurable, there were differences built into the very DNA of this man and woman, such as how they showed their feelings, how they valued relationships, and how they solved problems. But the Creator God had designed those differences—not just the sexual ones—to bring man and woman together.

In the first blush of love, we too are intrigued by our differences. She loves his take- charge authority; he is intrigued by her emotional vulnerability. She is impressed by his concern for others; he admires her dedication to her job. He loves the sound of her voice; she loves his willingness to listen.

Still, in time, as love settles into the everyday intimacy of marriage, those very differences may begin to annoy us. And the more we dwell on those differences, the more power they have to separate and divide us. She talks too much; he never listens. She’s a workaholic; he’s too into his friends. He’s a control freak; she falls apart with the slightest challenge.

Our marriage vows challenge us to work through those differences. They remind us that no matter what threatens to divide and conquer us—chronic sickness, job changes, cross- country moves, recurrent infertility, pornography addiction, overspending—we will give our best effort to hang in there together, loving, honoring and obeying each other.

We can’t do that alone, however. The superglue that holds us together when everything threatens to push us apart is the God before whom we made our marriage vows. Through the power of his saving love, he can so transform us that we become more like him—and, amazingly, for all our differences, more like each other. And in that oneness, we become, as Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, “a cord of three strands,” which is not easily broken.

 

Let’s Talk

• What are some things that attracted us to each other in the beginning?

• What did I most admire in you?

• What did you find irresistible in me?

• What are some of our pet gripes about each other today?

• Are these in any way related to what we initially found attractive?

• What are some differences that have actually helped improve and strengthen us?

• How does appreciating those differences make us more willing to accept differences in other people?

(Phyllis Ten Elshof)

 

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