He’s nearly a hundred years old and he has a girlfriend. They don’t go on trips together; they don’t smooch; but they meet regularly to enjoy each other’s company. It’s definitely a mellowed version of the male/female attraction God has built into all of us.
And it’s not uncommon. I recall seeing this attraction in another elderly couple several years ago. Each had earlier lost a life’s mate. They were both frail, but they held hands as they walked together, and they smiled easily at one another. No marriage was in the offing, but the charm of it all warmed the hearts of their friends.
It’s an amazing magnetism. The deepest bond between the sexes, the bond that can sustain a relationship through all of life’s seasons, lasting a lifetime, is a companionship bond. It is deeper and even more enduring than the sexual bond that seals the union — as binding as that bond is.
This companionship aspect isn’t always fully perceived by us when we are young. We are keenly aware of the sexual energies with which God has endowed us, and these are a compelling reality. But, is there more? Genesis 2 closes the story of Adam and Eve, with this editorial word: “… a man will leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and they will become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24).
“One flesh” in this case implies more than sexual union, even though sexual union is included. At the outset of the story God gives his reason for providing Adam a suitable helper: “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Gen. 2:18). The sexual differentiation (male/female) God was promising in that moment was first for companionship. It was to be a heaven-sent antidote to Adam’s loneliness.
This provision must surely be a major reason the Scriptures forbid the marriage of believers to unbelievers. “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers,” Paul wrote the Corinthian Christians (2 Cor. 6:14). He asks, “What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?” (2 Cor. 6:15b). The Scriptures always call us to loyalty to the Lord first. But, for those who marry, they also call us to companionship in the Lord.
Who of us has not seen a young wife sit alone in church Sunday after Sunday. Her husband is off fishing or riding his motorcycle or at home reading his sports magazines. Romance may have drawn them together, a lavish wedding may have been celebrated, but the spiritual union a marriage should provide is missing.
On the other hand, who of us has not known a couple whose shared love for the Lord enhanced every other aspect of their love. I recall a young couple I sat with at their dining room table as I led the husband to faith in Jesus. Days later his wife told me, “I loved him before but now I love him so much I could hug him to pieces.” The missing strand, a union in Christ, had been added.
Christian young people anticipating marriage should often be reminded of this: One of the greatest testimonies the church can give to a secular world — a world in which too many marriages suffer from weak or defective bonds — is the presence of radiant Christian married couples. They should be couples of all ages who show by their joy in one another the riches of a companionship rooted in a shared love for Christ. Didn’t Jesus say to his disciples, “You are the light of the world”?
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