Pastor Skip Heitzig: It feels good to be home, doesn't it?
Lenya Heitzig: Yes, it does. There's no place like home.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: There's no place like home. There's no place like home. There's no place like home. Well, Lenya, it was June 13th, 1981 that two people were standing together to be married. One was 25, one was 23.
Lenya Heitzig: That's right.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: And it was a very hot day in Southern California, over a hundred.
Lenya Heitzig: That's right.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: My shoes were one and a half sizes too small, so my feet were hurting.
Lenya Heitzig: So you went barefoot.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: I did after the wedding.
Lenya Heitzig: Kind of.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: After you said, "I do."
Lenya Heitzig: It was at my parent's country club, barefoot on the grass.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Yeah.
Lenya Heitzig: If they just took the photo a little lower.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Yeah. Okay. But 31 years later, one son, two grandchildren.
Lenya Heitzig: Two grandchildren. Kaydence Joy was born about a week ago.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Yup. And so --
Lenya Heitzig: Strawberryish blond hair.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Yup. And we're still together.
Lenya Heitzig: And I still love you.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: That's awesome. Has it always been easy? Have I always been this wonderful?
Lenya Heitzig: Is that a trick question? It's always been wonderful being married to you but not easy.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Okay.
Lenya Heitzig: But that's true for any marriage, isn't that right?
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Right. I see a lot of women going, "Yes, that's true."
Lenya Heitzig: That's right. Love is unconditional.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: That's right. Any parting thoughts before we begin our message?
Lenya Heitzig: Besides loving you? I love you guys too. So glad you're here and really am praying that this will bolster, strengthen our body, your marriages, your families and our community.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Would you turn in your Bibles to The Book of Genesis, the very first book. Genesis chapter 2. It is good to be back. We've been in Israel and some other places. Just so you know Israel is fine. It's still there. Things are good over there. Genesis.
Participant: We missed you.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Oh, thank you. I appreciate that. Missed you as well. Let's pray.
Father, we do come before You. We rejoice that You've called us together as a body. It's great to be part of a family, a group of men and women who are drawn together over the commonality of a Savior who loves us and paid for each of our sins and has written our names in Your Book of Life. It's an amazing thought when we think that we were in Your mind before You created the earth and that Your plan for us extends far into the eternal future. It gives us pause to think that if You thought of us then and Your plan is that far in the future that You're able then to take care of everything in between, not just the eternal but the temporal. And so Father, we commit this time to You, our very lives to You, and our own personal estate whether we are single or married, in Jesus' name, amen.
Honest show of hands, how many of you remember Gilligan's Island? Raise your hand. Okay. Now, I got to ask this again. How many of you saw it not as a rerun but originally? We have fewer hands, really? Wow. You know what I found out? It only lasted three seasons. That is it was filmed three seasons but then of course it enjoys a life of perpetuities and reruns every week.
Gilligan's Island was about seven castaways who were attempting to survive on an island that their boat got shipwrecked on. I think it was seven. Gilligan, the Skipper, two, the millionaire and his wife, the movie star, the professor and Mary Ann, here on Gilligan's Isle. Okay. I remember the song, it's in my head. If you remember, it was about a three-hour tour. Remember that song? A three-hour tour that turned into three seasons.
A constant theme being "We have to escape from this island." Well that is more or less the idea of God Almighty when it comes to the establishment of marriage on the earth, to help a person escape the island of self. You say, "The island of self? What's that?" It's simple. The island of self is a place where personal freedom and personal pleasure are the highest values. It's a place we were all born on, we've all lived on.
Unfortunately, it's a place that many of us go back to even after we say, "I do." Go back to that island. Go back to putting up walls and being guarded and not letting anyone even our spouse in the island of self.
I discovered something when I was married. I was a wonderful person until I got married. I mean, I was wonderful. I got up and I decided where I want to go and I liked where I decided to go and what I decided to do. I didn't have to check in with anybody. All my decisions were great decisions. My room was as clean as it needed to be. After I got married, all that I thought that I was really wasn't as true as I thought. I wasn't as wonderful as I thought because now I'm rubbing up against another personality which is showing me not just a lot about her but a lot about me. And I've discovered I'm not as wonderful a person as I thought.
You get two lives and you rub them together and there's going to be friction, any two lives. Do you realize that every person on earth is incompatible with every other person on earth eventually? The issue becomes "What do we do now in discovering the differences and maximizing the relationship?"
Well, that's why we're kicking off a series that we're calling "Keep Calm and Marry On." We borrowed the phrase. It was a World War II phrase that comes to us from England when the war, they thought, was about to start. The British Information Bureau believed that the war would demoralize the British people within the first week. They wanted to send a message to the public from King George VI. And so, instead of a picture, they put at the top of the banner, the poster, a crown which represented his authority. A message from the king and it was simple: "Keep calm and Carry on," so British.
The hope was that the calm experienced on the inside would help people endure the war going on the outside. "Keep Calm and Marry On" is the name of this series. Why exactly are we doing it after a protracted study in the gospel of John for two and a half years? Why switch gears toward this topical endeavor? It's simple. Let me give you a few reasons. Number one, because marriage is the foundation of society, any society, all societies from time immemorial. It's always been the family and the core of the family is the marriage relationship.
Another reason is because there is a war, there is a battle. Shots are being fired over the bow. There has been and there is currently an all-out assault by social institutions, educational institutions, political institutions, and even in some cases, religious institutions, to undermine by redefining what marriage is.
The third reason I'm doing it is because I've discovered that Christian couples that I know are sincerely struggling. They're struggling, in fact, emulating their worldly counterparts. You probably already know this. This isn't news to you that the divorce rate among believers is almost identical to the divorce rate among non-believers. We're struggling in this.
A fourth reason is because the church is oddly silent about issues that the world is very vocal about. For some reason, we just feel like we can't talk about those things. They'll talk about fidelity, they'll talk about sexuality, they'll talk about homosexuality, very vocally but we, on the other hand, we just don't want to broach the subject and when we do, we don't do a very good job of it.
We've gotten some interesting feedback on our signs that we posted around town and on the front of the building. And it always interests me to hear the feedback. I'm interested in what people think about, well anything, but principally a positive message like sex, love, and self-control. Now we're trying to turn that phrase from the '60s on its ear, if you remember the phrase "Sex, drugs, and rock and roll."
They've high jacked the whole idea of something God invented. We didn't do it to be sensationalistic but to frame it in its right biblical context. Sex with love and self-control is where God intended it to be. So we want to get back into that conversation.
Now, I realized that not everyone here is married. Can I just add "yet"? Yet. You may be single today. You may be divorced. You may have struggled through a long or are struggling through long relational issues. I understand that. I know that. I am aware of that. Some of you are widowed and you're not married now or yet.
I also know that some are listening to this series and they're so excited. They can't wait to get into it week-by-week. Others aren't that excited. Others are listening with jaded ears. "Yeah, I've heard this stuff before. I don't' know if the Bible can really be trusted. It's outdated. It's passé. It really doesn't speak to my situation." So you have already, at the beginning, dismissed much of what the Bible clearly speaks about. That's unfortunate.
Hold on, keep calm, carry on, and let God speak to you during this series. And just because the topic doesn't speak directly to your personal situation, for you to say, "Well, maybe I really won't get all that excited or be involved or attend because after all I'm not married right now." Well that's like saying, "We're going to teach today on worship and singing." And, "Well, I'm not coming because I don't have a good voice." Or, "We're going to teach on trials." "Well, I've had such a great week. I don't need to come." Listen, all of these principles are for all of us. Do any of you know anyone who is married? Then these principles will even help you to help them find the solutions that God gives.
Genesis chapter 2 is before us. And I've had you to turn there because it is what we call "the passage of primary reference." Four times, the New Testament points back to the verses we're about to read because it's the first time God said anything about this issue. Now, why is this important? Because we immediately discover something obvious but it needs to be underscored and that is marriage was God's idea. He invented marriage, relationship, sex, society, all of it. It's not like we read in the Bible that one day a bright light went off in the brain of a human being who said, "I got a great idea. Let's get married. And it would be a great tax benefit as well."
No, God invented it. And because God invented it, only God can regulate it. If man invented it, then we would have the right to end it, terminate it, negate it, marginalize it, do anything we want with it. But if God invented it, then I think Jesus was right when he said, "What God has joined together, let not man separate." It's God's institution and we want to find out what He says about it.
We're going to read Genesis 2 beginning in verse 18 down to verse 22. We're going to skip trying to unravel the scientific basis for this kind of creation. We have done that in previous studies. We're dealing relationally here. There's two issues, not three, not four, two. This morning, we're want to look at the problem and the plan. Man's problem, God's plan. Man's problem: alone on an island. God's plan: being rescued from the island.
Verse 18. "And the Lord God said, 'It is not good that man should be alone. I will make him a helper comparable to him.' Out of the ground, the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, to the beasts of the field. But for Adam, there was not found a helper comparable to him. And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam and he slept. And He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh in its place. And the rib which the Lord God had taken from man, He made into a woman and He," that is God, the Lord, "brought her to the man."
In reading this, something abrupt catches our attention. It's the first time in Scripture we read where God comments and says something isn't good.
Way back in Genesis 1 beginning in verse 4, begins a six-fold refrain where God says, "This is good." "And God saw that is was good," six times. And so, here's the pattern. God would make something and then He'd kind of look at it and go, "That's good." Make something else. "That's good," six times.
The seventh statement in chapter 1 verse 31 is the capstone of all of it. "Then God saw everything that He had made and indeed, it was very good." So, in reading that God says, "Good, good, good, good, very good," now we come up with the contrast and God said, "It is not good." It gets our attention. In fact, in the original Hebrew, the construction places the negative phrase "not good" at the beginning of the sentence for emphasis. So it would literally read, "Not good, not good is man alone." It's an emphatic statement. Not good that man should be alone.
I will confess to you before I was married, I thought it was great for man to be alone. I had a good time. I had a very fulfilled life. I live three blocks from the ocean, had a very quiet roommate who wasn't there most of the time, a stack of surfboards in the garage and a cat who I saw once a week because he tommed around the neighborhood. Life was good. "This is great. What could be better than this?" I worked part-time. I have a lot of fun.
Here's God saying, "Not good, not good, man alone." Before I dissect with you what "not good" means, can I just say that there were certain things that were good about this? Number one, simplicity was good. It was simple, life for Adam. It was just a relationship between God and him. Very few rules, only one real prohibition. "Adam you have options. You can go wherever you want. You can do whatever you want. You can eat whatever you want except there's one tree, hands off, don't touch that." It's the only prohibition. Very, very simple and that was good.
Adam had what every guy dreams of. Perfect environment, lots of lush vegetation, smog-free environment, no traffic, no traffic lights, no country music, no--I'm sorry. I want to just throw that in. Sorry. It was paradise. "Ain't no paradise without county music." I know. I can hear it. No emails please on that one.
Simplicity was good. Something else was good. The responsibility was good. Adam had a job. Talk about the perfect job, he got to name animals. His job was having the animals parade before him and go, "I'm gonna call it...that." Now, in my own warped thinking, I always have a little fun with this and I'm thinking that Adam started the day really ambitious. Okay, here goes. "Hippopotamus." Five syllable. That's pretty good.
But then as they kept coming, he shortened it. "Rhinoceros," four. And then it's like, "Elephant." But then the end of the day, he's getting tired. It's, "Cow. Dog. Cat." Pretty good. It's a hippie's dream. Natural world. Naming animals. Life is good. Simplicity, responsibility.
What wasn't good? God states, "It is not good that man should be alone." What does that mean? Well let me begin with the obvious meaning. The obvious mechanistic, physical meaning is that it would be impossible for Adam to just be himself to fulfill the commission that God gave him to fulfill, stated back in Chapter 1, Verse 28, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth." You can't do that by yourself. There's no parthenogenesis with one entity.
But more than that, when God said, "It is not good for man to be alone," He was not just thinking of the procreation necessity. He is addressing another dimension that human beings have, and that is a social dimension. There's more to our being than just physicality. God created human life to have fellowship with Him and to have interaction, fellowship, and social activity with other people. It's not good for Adam to be alone.
Dr. Leonard Kramer, a psychiatrist who specialized for 30 years in treating depression said, and I quote, "The human being is the only species that can't survive alone. The human being needs another human being." So isolation is not the divine norm, community is. And you know why community is? Because man is created in whose image? God's image. In the image of God, He made man. And if man is created in the image of God, then the man, like God, must be social. Because if you think about it, God is a Tri-unity, am I right? Father, Son, and Holy Spirit interacting together in perfect love. For us to be created in His image demands that social dimension, that fellowship dimension because we're made in His image.
The Jewish Sages, in commenting on this, were a little bit rough, a little bit strict. Their commentary runs like this, "Whoever has no wife, exists without goodness, without a helpmate, without joy, without blessing, without atonement, without well-being, without a full life. Indeed, such one reduces the representation of the Divine Image on the earth." And you're goin', "Whoa, whoa, whoa. Skip, do you mean that it's bad to be single?" No, I don't mean that. I just quoted to you a commentator. Who cares with the commentator says? The Bible doesn't say that.
In fact, the Bible would say, "Not only is it okay to be single, it's important. You fulfill a very important role." When God said, "It is not good that man should be alone," that is the norm. Marriage will become the norm as the foundational building-block of all society. It is good for man to be married if it's not good for him to be alone. But, please don't misunderstand, marriage is not the only good.
I want to reinforce that with a few examples. Joseph became the prime minister of Egypt and saved the world from famine as a single person. Daniel was a confidant to the king of the world, Nebuchadnezzar, at the time, as a single person. Elijah the prophet stood headstrong against idolatry and for God bringing the nation back to God as a single person. The prophet Amos was the eighth century prophet who brought the nation back on track as a single person. John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus Christ of whom Jesus said, "He's the greatest person who ever lived." Did all of that as a single person. Paul, the great apostle, writer of much of the New Testament, one of the greatest missionary workers ever, did all of that, we believe, presumably, as a single person. And that leads us ultimately to Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world of whom the Bible is written about, who performed the great redemption of the sins of mankind as a single person.
And one person writes, and I agree with him, "It's impossible to believe that the same God who permitted His own Son to die a bachelor would regard singleness as wrong." However, I must quickly add by saying that singleness is good but it requires a calling and giftedness. Just like marriage requires a calling and a giftedness. Singleness requires a calling and a giftedness.
Matthew 19 speaks of God giving people a gift of celibacy, to perform things they could not as a married person. It's a gift. I know some are thinking, "God, please don't give me that gift. Send me to a far away mission field, but don't give me that gift." If you think that way, you don't have that gift. If you have that gift, you know you have that gift. You'd have a contentment already built in.
Now I'm saying all this--number one, if you're single, please don't think that you're unimportant or you're second-class citizen. You are okay and important. You fulfill a very crucial role. And I'm saying that for another reason. If you're married, please don't try to marry off all your single friends. "I got a get them married. I'm the matchmaker from heaven." They're thinking of another place perhaps.
Allow the Holy Spirit to get involved in the process. He may use you but He doesn't need you. It's not like they're living a sub-life because you haven't found a mate for them yet. I guess it all boils down to the principle of Paul in Philippians 4:11. "I have learned in whatever state I am to be..." What? Content. Content. You might be a single person and you go, "Well, I'm not content till I get married." Oh, really? I think you need to hang around with some married people. Because--am I right, married people? Some of you have gone; "I remember how easy it was when I was single." I think single people need to hear that, and I think married people need to hear what single people have to say. Because here's the bottom line I have discovered: If you are discontent as a single person, you're gonna be discontent as a married person. It's really about you and your character not about your circumstances but about who you are.
I enjoyed being single, I had great network of friends. I was never lonely though I was alone. I was never lonely. I had great support. Now that I'm married, and have been, and will be, I love the married life. Both are gifts of God. So when God says, "It's not good that man should be alone," or, "Not good, not good for man alone," it's a statement that is similar to what Solomon will write later in Ecclesiastes 4, when he writes, "Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their labor." And there's much scientific evidence that says a healthier life is a life filled with strong, interactive human connection. It ups the immune system it mitigates against depression, so on and so forth. "Not good, not good is man alone." That's the problem of man alone on an island.
Now let's shift gears. Let's look at the plan of God to rescue man. Same verse, verse 18. "I will make him a helper comparable to him." Now when you hear the word "helper" women, does that sound romantic? Does that sound impressive? No, it sounds pathetic because we're thinking in English, I don't think we're getting the right sense of the term. "Helper? That's what I am, a helper?" "Hi, I'm Mr. So and So. Here's my helper." My ancillary person, my aid. It almost sounds like there's only one person in the equation that has all the know-how and the wisdom but could use a little help to get the job done.
As if the vows would somehow say, "I take you to be my lawfully wedded maid to wash and to fold from this day forward, for better and for worse." If that's what you're thinking the word is, you've got it wrong. The Hebrew word ezer is a word that means something very different. It means to supply something that is crucially lacking. To supply something crucially lacking and usually in the Old Testament, more often than not, is a word designated for God.
Psalm 46 is an example. God is our refuge and strength, the very present help, ezer, in trouble.
Moses spoke of God in Exodus 18 as his Helper who delivered him from Pharaoh. Ezer is the word. In Psalm 54, behold, God is my Ezer, my Helper. The Lord is the sustainer of my soul. So perhaps it's best to look at it this way. God said, "Not good, not good is man alone, he needs all the help he can get. He can't do what I've called him to do alone. He needs a helper."
There's a second word I want you to see in this plan. Not just the word "helper" but the word "comparable" helper, the adjective. I will make a helper that is comparable to him. Another word, "suitable" to him. Another word, "matching" him. Literally it reads this: "a helper like opposite him." A helper like opposite him. The wife was to be the corresponding counterpart to the man. The word "comparable" or "suitable" suggests something that completes a polarity. Like a North Pole must have a South Pole. Like the negative must have a positive. Something that completes something else. So the idea is he needs the kind of helper who will complete him and help him reach maximum fulfillment. Provide the other pole to his life.
I like that thought. In fact, let's camp on that for a moment. You've heard the statement opposites attract, it's true in the physical world. You get two magnets. Put a South Pole and a South Pole together and they will repel. Get a North Pole to a South Pole, they will attract. Opposites attract. And we often say that phrase when it comes to relationships. Am I right? We are often attracted to people who are different than we are because they somehow fill out that lacking part in our lives that we don't have.
Now my wife and I are very similar in some areas and polar opposite in other areas. There are some similarities. Both of us have strong personalities. Both of us have leadership capabilities. We are both communicators. I teach, she teaches women. I write, she writes. But we're polar opposites. I'm very spontaneous, she might even say erratic. She's very organized, very planned, everything has to be planned in advanced. And I might just, "Let's just go do," then, "Whoa." So we're very opposite it that. She's neat. I'm not. I'm messy. Now I have learned to be neat so that I really love neatness but it's taken 31 years. We're opposite in that. Also, I'm right and she's always right.
What is an interesting observation is that, though opposites attract, and they do--and that's part of the wiring I believe God put within us to be attracted to someone unlike us to fill us up in those areas. But though we are attracted to each other, what happens after we get married is some of those differences start to grate on us. "Why are so different?" 'Well that's what attracted you to me to begin with." "Yeah, but now I notice it more." And you have to deal with it more.
So a helper, a helper like opposite him. And so what happened? Verse 19. "Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, every bird of the air, brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. Whatever Adam called these living creatures was its name. Now watch this, so Adam gave names to all the cattle, all the birds of the air, the beast of the field but for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him." Do you understand the meaning of this? All of the animals, all of the different species didn't fulfill what was lacking in his life.
So contrary to what you've been told that the dog is man's best friend, uh-uh. Now I know you love your dog. I have a little puppy at home and we have a special little relationship. But some people, and I'm not going to mention who because I don't know specifically, will often treat animals like the one that is fulfilling everything about their lives. I've read an article this week in Time Magazine simply called "Do We Love Dogs More Than People?" And it cited some interesting behavior patterns like organic dog food that is given to dogs, only the best puppy Prozac that is dispensed to them, dressing them up in fine clothes.
One athlete put a $12 million trust fund for his dog aside. Crazy stuff. All of the animals were brought before Adam but none of them was the one that would complete him. And the Jewish commentators in commentating on this verse will say that as the animals were brought before Adam, Adam noticed that each had a partner and he exclaimed, "But I have no partner." And he noticed another species, "But I have no partner." And perhaps that's the idea when God says, "And not one was comparable to him." Nothing in the animal kingdom could fulfill Adam. It would take only the woman.
So a helper, a comparable helper. Let me just add on that a God-ordained comparable helper. God said, "Not good, not good, the man should be alone. I will make a helper for him." And then look at the last part, verse 21. "The Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam." He slept. He took one of his ribs, closed up the flesh in its place. The rib which the Lord God had taken from the man, He made into a woman and He brought her to the man. God is the Father of the bride bringing the wife to the man. "Here's your wife."
Beautiful story, scares kids to death. One little boy was in Sunday school, heard the story and went home that week and was doubled up by the side of his bed because he had a stomach pain and his mom came in and said, "Johnny, what's wrong?" And he goes, "I think I'm gonna have a wife." Poor thing.
Now this is obviously a miracle of God. It's not just one miracle, it's three. God is the anesthesiologist, giving him a deep sleep. He's the surgeon performing this act, and He's the healer bringing the flesh back together and waking him up. It's sort of funny to think that Adam was asleep on his first date but I think that that is a pattern that has been repeated many times since.
I do love the thought that the Bible makes clear that she was taken out of his side. Matthew Henry put it so beautifully. "Woman was not taken from man's head to be above him. She was not taken from man's feet to be walked on by him. She was taken from his side--" that's the literal Hebrew, not rib--"the side to be close to his heart, to be next to him, to be beloved by him, to be protected by him." And Matthew Henry finally adds, "If man is the head then woman is the crown to her husband." So God brought the woman to the man. The same God who said, "This isn't good," said, "This is good." And he brought her to him.
Suffice it to say then, for this morning, that marriage was God's design to address the first problem that He noticed in His creation, which was separation, isolation, aloneness. God's solution to that was marriage; but, it doesn't always work. It should work, it can work, God designed it to work, but it doesn't always work. You say, "Skip, why doesn't it always work?" Because as human beings, we tend to want to go back to the island, back to the island. Get married, get hurt, exchange a little bit of love, become self-effacing, hurts, walls go up, back to the island, more isolation, back to the island more separation. And some of the loneliest people I know are people who sleep in the same bed. And they're even more isolated. Marriage can cure the aloneness or accentuate it.
Sometime back, after a service, at the end I said, "Would you turn around and hug the person next to you." I got an anonymous email that week. "Dear Skip, My husband did as you suggested and hugged the person next to him"--that was her--"We sleep in the same bed but until this morning we have had no physical contact for three months." No touch, no hand holding, no hug for three months. To the extent that your partner is alone in the marriage is the extent that your marriage is failing. Because God's solution was to rescue us from the island itself. Something else in closing.
The relationship between a husband and a wife, according to Paul, was to be a picture of the relationship that God wants to have with his people.
And for many people, I would say for even all people, there's a cosmic loneliness that must be, can only be fulfilled by having Christ at the center of your life. It begins in a relationship with Him. The connection must be made vertically. Horizontally, yes, but don't live out that vertical.
Father, that's where we close this morning. You said it, You were accurate. It is not good that man should be alone. Oh how you wanted to have for relationship with your creation. Seen even in the Genesis account, where the Lord God walked with man in the cool of the garden seeking for fellowship with the creation He had made, that somehow we, even as created beings can know our Creator and enjoy that vertical fellowship with You, one that we take for granted or don't spend much time nurturing.
And I pray it would begin with that. And then it would translate into every relationship and principally that of marriage.
Bless my single friends who are here today that they don't feel second-class or incomplete. But that the body of Christ, their ministry, their calling, their position, their importance would be known. And then Father, for those of us who are married, that you'd strengthen us. I have so much to learn, I have so many areas to grow in. Help me. Help us, in Jesus' name, amen.