This is the first of a three part article by Rich Owen,
minister at City Evangelical Church, Leeds.
Why is it that the Devil attacks Christian marriage? Well, it’s the same reason that he is the head of the Unitarian Church. The Devil wants the world to believe that God is not Triune. That is pretty much what his work boils down to. That is why he attacks marriage in the church, that is why he seeks to build a unitarian edifice within the Christian church.
Give them the wrong view of god, and they get me – that’s how Satan is seeking to win the world to himself.
Over the next three days, I’ll give a few thoughts on this. We’ll lay a foundation for truth starting with the genesis of love, then secondly, how Satan seeks to undermine this in the genesis of the lie and thirdly some reflections and pastoral musings.
So lets kick off with what happened back in the Garden in Genesis 1-3.
In chapters 1 and 2, we have the glorious description of the creation of mankind, male and female, the image of the Living God. So first comes the man. He is placed by the Lord God in the garden that God had personally planted. A garden appealing to the eye and good for food. What a great place to be!
But it wasn’t good.
It is not good for man to be alone. He can’t image the Living God on his own. He can’t work in the garden on his own. So the Lord God took woman from the man’s side just as the Son comes from the Fathers side so that the image would be true.
The man says “this is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh”. Or to paraphrase, the woman is the same as me – she is just like me – of one being and substance because she comes from my side, in the likeness of my Father and his Son.
And how is this likeness expressed? For this reason and man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and they will become one flesh. Different and distinct persons, equally human – of the same stuff - and God says for this reason, one flesh. And the oneness is expressed in the deepest emotional, relational and physical reality that you can have – sexual union.
The majestic union of flesh – a profound joining of the persons as one – echad just as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are echad.
Adam and Eve are then immediately charged with their task. Procreate! Bring forth a third! Let this love and unity send out another, just as the Father and Son send the Spirit.
The love between man and woman isn’t a sugar-coated, “get a room” kind of love which is shut off to the outside world. No, their outward focused love keeps flowing out and onto a third. Out of their union comes the offspring, the third person.
Only AFTER the charge to procreate are they then tasked with subduing and ruling. The out-flowing, increasing love of man and woman and their offspring gives birth to dominion. Dominion is a function of love and is a community activity.
But before they go off to work, the Lord God has one more thing left to do. Day seven, the holy day, the day which is set apart for rest.
Are we to imagine after all this that God intended to spend this rest day on His own? I don’t think so.
The Word of the Lord takes a brisk walk in the cool of the day, looking for his beloved image bearers. That seems to be natural to the out flowing, other centred life which the creation story has already spoken of. Jesus says come to me and I will give you rest. Rest is relational.
The One who speaks out the Word, this Personal Word Himself and the Brooding Spirit want to spend time fellowshipping with the created image, man and woman and they deliberately set a day apart to do this.
I get lost in a haze of wonder at this thought. Imagine the joy! What did they talk about? What was it like? What fellowship! What love! And what a venue!
But this is the context for chapter 3. This is the world which was very good, the life which was very good. It is into this world and this life of fellowship that the serpent slithers in. “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”