Joe and Rachel

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Weddings are glorious, and they both remind us and teach us. We are reminded of our own vows, and basic things we have known for a long time, but which need to brought back to us in a fresh way. At the same time, we also learn that marriage is a subject that startles and reveals new depths every time we set ourselves to think carefully about it. Marriage is a profound statement of the gospel, and thus it should not be surprising that it grows upon each treatment of it.

The first marriage came about because God saw that the man He is had created needed some help. He fashioned the woman in order to be that help, and so let us begin there.

In light of the triune nature of God, we must first know that being a helper is no dishonor. It is no disgrace to be assigned that role by God. It is only a dishonor if we are assuming the flat egalitarian lies of modern individualism and autonomy. Jesus voluntarily took up the role of a Helper when He became one of us; He illustrated the spirit of it when He washed the feet of His own disciples. That is the way of the kingdom.

God Himself is a helper to the fatherless (Ps. 30:10). He delivers the one who has no helper (Ps. 72:12). The psalmist pleads with the Lord to come down and deliver, to come down and be his help (Ps. 54:4).

God is like this. As Lord of Heaven and earth, He created man, but then He stooped to help that man. He looked down at the solitary male, and said that it was “not good” that man should be alone. Or as Voddie Baucham once put it, God looked down at the man standing there in the Garden and said, “That boy ain’t gonna make it.”

So God determined to help the man by creating a helper suitable to him. The Hebrew word in the Genesis account is kenegdo, which refers to a counterpart in front of or across from—but not a mirror image, not an exact reflection. Think instead of a puzzle piece that fits just right or a lock that clicks with the key. She was to be a counterpart that clicked. She was to be a complementary counterpart, the harmony to his melody. And that is what she was.

The Fall into sin was grievous any way you consider it, but one of the reasons it was such a tragedy was that the temptation from the serpent struck at the very heart of how man and women were intended to relate to each other. Adam was created to be a head, a provider, a protector, a leader, and instead he stood by and abdicated that role. He was called to fight the dragon, and to defend his bride, which he refused to do. His essential role was corrupted. The fatal sin was that of actually eating the prohibited fruit, but there were fatal choices prior to that. The world was unfallen, the Garden was perfect, and yet Adam sinned because he refused to fight the dragon. He refused to defend his bride. He sinned as a result of his pacifism.

For her part, the woman was tempted to corrupt her helping role, and this is exactly what she did. She prepared the way, she went before, she anticipated, and she served her husband a fatal meal. But it is not that he did not know what was going on. God had expressly told him not to eat from that tree, and yet here was an offering, given to him by his helper. But his helper was helping him into disaster.

Adam sinned through a corruption of his leadership role, and Eve sinned in a corruption of her helping role. Through the gospel, God has sent us another Adam, the Lord Jesus, and God has also established a new Eve, the Christian Church. Just as Eve was taken from the side of Adam, so also the Church was born of water and blood, straight from the side of the Lord Jesus (John 19:34). In this new context, individual Christian husbands and wives are instructed to rebuild the ruins of their respective roles.

Husbands are to rebuild headship, responsibility, sacrifice, and honor, and they are to do so in the midst of the ruin of slack and irresponsible male abdication. Wives are called to rebuild obedience, deference, submission, and help, and they are to do so in the midst of the ruin of false and seductive help. Christian men and Christian women therefore have their hands full. It is a great challenge, but God in His grace has made a way. It is a great challenge, but not an impossible one. God has given us a great task, and greater grace.

Joe, the grace of God has been heavy upon you. He has shown remarkable kindness to you, and He is (even now) standing by with far, far more than what He has given you thus far. God’s grace is glorious, and glory, as Scripture shows us, is heavy. Fifty pounds of fruit is just as heavy to carry as fifty pounds of rocks, but there is nevertheless a difference. The fruit is sweet, and the harvest is good.

My charge to you is this. God gives us nothing to carry without also giving us the strength to carry it. In two difference senses, therefore, He gives us the grace of strength to carry and the grace of fruit to carry. And so it is that grace carries grace. So the charge is here. Embrace the task that God is giving you here, and do not turn from it as our first father did. The task is sweet, and heavy, and full of glory.

Rachel, you were created by God to be Joe’s helper. You are to rebuild a right vision of what that means by honoring and respecting him, and by helping him as God defines help. There will sometimes be temptations to say to yourself that this is particularly difficult for you because you are a strong willed woman. But you need to understand that you are only being strong-willed when you are doing what God asks of you. All other times, it is actually being weak-willed. The apostle Paul lists a number of sins in 2 Tim. 3:1-5 that we would be tempted to categorize as strong-willed, but he then goes on in the next verse (v. 6) to describe the kind of weak-willed women who fall for that kind of thing. All of us need to redefine strength and weakness. In this fallen world, the only true strength is obedience.

So submission will be your strength. You will think sometimes that he doesn’t understand you, that he is going in the wrong direction, or that he is about to make the wrong choice. If you lock your heels as though stubbornness were strength, you will help neither yourself nor your husband.

Joe and Rachel, God is good, and God is here. The benediction that will be pronounced over you in a few moments will be an authoritative one. The Lord has come to your wedding in order to bless it.

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, amen.



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