23 And Adam said:
“This is now bone of my bones
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.”
24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed. (Genesis 2:23-25)
During Sunday school, my 14 year old son explained the origin of the term soulmate to the adult Sunday school. Why did a Sunday school lesson on Romans 12 require this explanation? Well, it involves a question about how much Christian culture attributes ideas to the Bible that actually don’t come from the Bible, a few points about neo-Platonism and first century Jewish theology, and a Bible teacher (me) who’s philosophy is “Embrace the tangents.”
So anyway, as the junior Anderson explained: According to Greek mythology, the first human beings had 4 arms, 4 legs, 2 hearts, etc. Zeus, king of the Gods, fearing the power of these creatures, split each human in half and scattered the halves across the earth. Thus every person searches for the missing half of his/her self, the matching person who will make them whole again: their soul-mate. (Apparently my son learned all of Greek mythology in the 8th grade .)
When a Christian calls his wife “my better half,” or tells her boyfriend, “You complete me,” or says that marriage is 50-50, the Christian is referencing the polytheistic theology of ancient Greek paganism.
Let the church say, “Amen.”
Adam and Eve were not two halves of a whole. They were complete ones who each separately and sinlessly reflected the image of God. This brings up some interesting mathematics, because Adam declared that the 2 were meant to become 1.
1 + 1 doesn’t equal 1.
1 – 1 doesn’t equal 1.
½ + ½ makes 1, but if you’ve ever seen a halfway man and a halfway woman together you know that usually comes out as one total mess.
You can get 1 with division, but that would violate the instructions. After God made them male and female, He instructed man and woman to “be fruitful and MULTIPLY.”
1 x 1 = ONE
God didn’t ordain marriage to fix what’s wrong. He designed marriage to make what’s right better.
My wife and I are not matching halves of a single soul. We are each complete individuals who make a single powerful unit that is qualitatively greater than the sum of our individuality. Her love and groundedness exponentially increases the impact of my ADHD fueled multi-tasking. My unsophisticated country boy ethics gives her the security to pursue career goals. We have individual issues, but we’re a formidable team.
You don’t need someone to complete you. You don’t need an opposite to attract you. You don’t need someone who’s just like you. You don’t need someone who is lost without you or without whom you are lost. You need the ONE, the one whole and complete other with whom you are both more and better than either of you is alone.
Eve was the one for Adam. When God brought them together, neither of them held anything back. They were naked and unashamed --- open, honest, and completely vulnerable.
This is the hard part in the math of modern marriage. Culture and trauma condition us to hold back a piece of who we are, to give 50% to the union just in case we need the other half to make an exit. We enter marriage naked under an inch of emotional armor, and that is partly why so many marriages fail.
.50(of you) x 1.00(of them) = ½(of what ya’ll could be)
The other one isn’t getting all of your one, so instead of being fruitful and MULTIPLYING, you become a house DIVIDED, and that math won’t stand (Mark 3:25).
Get the math right and get the marriage right, and that’s how dynasties are made.
---Anderson T. Graves II is a writer, community organizer and consultant for education, ministry, and rural leadership development.
Rev. Anderson T. Graves II is pastor of Miles Chapel CME Church in Fairfield, Alabama; executive director of the Substance Abuse Youth Networking Organization (SAYNO); and director of rural leadership development for the National Institute for Human Development (NIHD).
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