After God completed his creation having made humanity both male and female, God saw it was very good. The differences between men and women range from our psychological make up down to our physiology.
When comedians highlight the stark contrasts in how we think, perceive and interact with our world, audiences break forth in hearty laughter. Why? Because they recognize the truth in these stereotypes. We are different.
Expressions like, “Can’t live with them. Can’t live without them,” give voice to spousal tension and frustrations. Yet, God saw all these differences as being very good! In fact, it is because of these differences that marriage can be a tool promoting spiritual development.
Marriage confronts us to grow beyond ourselves. It challenges our fleshly self-centered ways of living and viewing the world. If we are devoted to serving Christ, then marriage provides the opportunity to grow in a love reflecting God’s love.
What is God’s love like? We know the story well. God has poured out his love toward us. His love exceeded the realms of feelings and friendship. Without us deserving it but rather because of who God is, God took the initiative to seek our wellbeing even at sacrificial cost. God is love.
1 Corinthians 13 reminds us about love’s qualities. Love involves being patient with people who are not on your same wavelength. Love will extend forgiveness when someone has upset us through words or actions. Love exudes kindness to those whose words and behavior irritate us, and so forth. We get the picture.
So what contributes toward growing in love or maturing in spiritual attributes? Peter and James remind us of one source. They described the general principles that testing can lead to genuineness, while difficulty can produce maturity (James 1:3-5; 1 Peter 1:6-7).
When confronted with things not going our way, we encounter an opportunity to refocus, reprioritize, center our thoughts upon Christ’s ways and to grow in becoming more like Christ. This is not to insinuate anything negative about marriage. Rather, it recognizes that marriage requires learning how to live with someone who is very different from ourselves. God can use our distinctivenesses in marriages to help us grow into being more.
What is God’s goal for his people? To live easy lives revolving around our every selfish whim being satisfied? Not at all. Paul described God’s purpose for his people as growing more into the image of his Son. This is the one who died that others might live. This is the one who said, “Not my will but yours be done.” This is the Son whose life was shaped by serving the Father.
God can use marriage as one of his tools to promote his purposes. In marriage we are forced to go beyond shallow social interaction. As we deeply engage the life of another, we are challenged whether or not we will truly love as God does.
God saw his creation, including the contrasts between men and women as being very good! They certainly are wonderful differences.