Marriage books come and go. While there are great marriage books out there (including the one we’re looking to study in depth this Fall), stepping back to look at much older literature often helps us to see things about the marriage relationship that authors today may not naturally pick up on. For example, the Bible shares immense wisdom in the realm of marriage. It includes wisdom on how to be loving, the excitement of the sexual relationship and oh, so much more. But there’s another piece of wisdom that’s sometimes overlooked, and it’s one that ought to be of great significance, even in today’s culture.
After God creates everything in existence and continually deems everything to be “good” or even “very good”, something in the script changes. In Genesis 2:18 says, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” Afterwards, God creates Eve, and when Adam sees her for the very first time he says a phrase that is the first piece of poetry ever spoken:
This one, at last, is bone of my bone
and flesh of my flesh;
this one will be called “woman,”
for she was taken from man.
It goes on say that both the man and his wife (terminology indicated they were indeed married) were naked, and felt no shame.
Now, there’s a lot going on here. We could write about how they were naked and felt no shame and the significance of this in their sexual relationship. But there’s something else going on here as well. Adam was the first man. Eve was the first woman. There were no other human beings on the planet at this time. Therefore, Eve was the standard of beauty for Adam. And Adam was the standard of beauty for Eve.
Adam wasn’t tempted to look at other women. Eve wasn’t tempted to look at other men. All they knew was that they could look at each other and feel no shame. He didn’t have to feel like she was comparing his body to anybody else, and she didn’t have to feel like he was comparing her body to anybody else. Visually, emotionally, spiritually, they each defined one another’s standard of beauty.
Indeed the world has changed a lot since then. Today, there are over 7 billion people in the world. Men see scantily clad women in advertisements dozens of times a day. And sadly, men today are often shown in one of two extremes, either as strong and sexually attractive, or as unintelligent, unattractive oaf’s who don’t know how to lead their family. Given this onslaught of attention our culture gives to sexual appeal, we would do well to remember our own standard of beauty – our spouse.
As Adam looked at Eve and broke out in poetry, so today should men be able to look at their wives and see her for who she is. Not comparing her to anybody else. His standard of what’s attractive, what’s beautiful, what’s alluring ought to come from his wife, and only from his wife. The same goes for women. Women ought not see attractive men in advertisements and visually compare them to her husband. Instead, her standard of beauty comes from her husband. He ought to be encouraged about his looks just as she should, and he ought to be encouraged about how he can lead and not be ridiculed because another man may be a different type of leader.
Looking at our spouse as our standard of beauty will change the way we view other relationships as well. Indeed, other friendships outside of marriage will come and go through the years, but our relationship with our spouse will surpass them all. They are our standard of beauty in all areas of life. They are the one with whom we can share everything. They are one with whom we can be vulnerable in all areas of life, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Truly, it is with them and them alone that we may be naked and unashamed.
In what ways does your spouse define your standard of beauty? What precautions do you and your spouse keep in place to ensure you remain one another’s standard of beauty?