Marriage and Family: Communication

God has eternally existed in relationship. “Let Us make man …” reveals that the Godhead was marked by communion and communication even before man was created.

The Draftsman’s Intention

When God created man in His own image, it included, not merely the capacity, but the desire for relationships. The very first relationship to which God turned His hand was that of a man and woman, a husband and a wife. In this relationship, basic to society and basic to life, God desired that communion and communication be developed and mirror something of that which eternally existed within the Godhead.

Genesis 2 ends with a suggestion that for a brief time, this ideal was realized. “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and they were not ashamed” (Gen 2:25). Absolute transparency, openness, and honesty, without a need for concealment, marked this first couple in their pristine, innocent state. How long, or brief, this condition existed is not given in Scripture. For obvious reasons, it is not likely that it was very long at all. But what a wonderful experience it must have been for Adam and Eve and how they would look back with deep regret over what had been lost!

The Foreign Invasion

Into the Garden came not only the serpent, but sin and all its dread consequences. The account of Scripture is terse yet eloquent: “She took … and did eat … And he did eat” (Gen 3:6). As a result, their eyes were opened and they realized that they were naked. This implies far more than merely an awareness of physical nakedness. It was the beginning of a long history, stretching to our day, of the need for wearing masks. Concealment, deceit, seeking a place to hide, and dissembling instantaneously sprang to life in the hearts of this fallen couple and have been honed to a high level of skill by humankind ever since.

Satan’s triumph was on many fronts: he had succeeded in separating man from God with the prospect of eternal separation of all of Adam’s family. He had temporarily deprived God of the worship and love, obedience and fidelity of His own creatures. He had, he thought, destroyed God’s intention of having man rule over the earth (perhaps his reason for attacking man in the first place). But he had also succeeded in separating man from man, or in this instance, man from woman. The openness, transparency, and honesty that had marked the closeness of Genesis 2 were never again to be experienced by natural man. His victory appeared complete. This acme of God’s creation, this God-imaged creature, would be forever marred, concerned more now with concealing self and protecting self than being known and knowing.

Brokenness under sin led to barriers between God and man as well as between man and man; it led as well to blame and self-interests. The moment that sin entered, our parents realized their nakedness and rushed to conceal it. Transparency was now relegated to be a relic of history, a once–cherished and vital attribute, but a tremendous liability in a fallen creation.

Divine Intervention

The God Who had rested on the seventh day, began to work again. The work stretched onward to a cross millennia later, but in His sovereign and wise plan, there was provision for all the havoc and destruction which Satan and sin had introduced to be reversed and to be overcome with even greater blessing.

If we consider the separation between God and man both in time and eternity, Calvary has answered that. If we consider the loss of worship, love, and obedience from creature to God, the person and work of the Redeemer has made us sons marked by obedience (Heb 5:9), worshipers of God (Rev 1:5, 6), and those who love as a result of being loved (1 John 4:19).

But what of the “image of God” which was marred? Can man be remade so as to bear God’s image as originally intended? And consistent with that original intention, can the open, transparent relationship between man and man be restored? Is it possible for human beings, redeemed creatures of Adam’s fallen race, to know something in human relationships, of the openness and mutuality which exist within the Godhead?

Perhaps no epistle in our New Testament so catalogues the resources of the child of God for current living as does the Colossian letter. From his hired house-prison in Rome, shackled to a quaternion of soldiers, Paul wrote what may well be the greatest letter for living that was ever penned. The believers were exhorted that as they had received Christ as their total sufficiency for salvation, so they should continue with Him as their total sufficiency for every aspect of Christian living (Col 2:6). They needed nothing of philosophy, speculation, legalism, or asceticism for growth or development. All was theirs in Christ, the One Who is “all and in all.”

Pauline teaching concerning the “old man” and the “new man” is basic to Christian living and familiar to all. But Paul added that this “new man” has been “renewed in knowledge after the imageof Him that created him” (Col 3:10). In redemption, God has stamped the “new man” once again with the image of God. Man has not only been saved from his sin, but, thank God, saved from himself!

So we now naturally have openness and transparency in all our relationships? Hardly! But the potential for this exists within this new creation. It is part of the redeemed man and can be developed and realized by divine grace. And there is nowhere that it can be fully developed, nor any relationship in which it is so greatly needed, as in our marriages. Sadly, there is perhaps no other area in which we – especially we males – have so miserably failed and come short.

Since this is part of the heritage of redemption, it is part of the Christ-likeness which should mark us. To the extent that we fail here, we fail to reflect His life.

To be continued