marriage, bridal, wedding

Marriage & Sex (Part 3): Partnership

Kristina and I own a house together on a plot of land in the small town of Manheim. We also have four children who live in the house with us. Our house and land need to be maintained. There’s dusting, vacuuming, washing, sweeping, straightening, paying, filing, painting, building, repairing, replacing, trashing, tightening, mowing, watering, clipping, hauling, raking, blowing, shoveling, and on it goes. And this is just with our house and land. And we don’t even live on a farm which would add feeding, milking, grooming, breeding, harvesting, and wow, I’m glad I don’t live on a farm. Our family also needs to eat and drink which means grocery shopping, cooking, and dishes. We need to shower, practice good hygiene, and get dressed which means time, effort, water, supplies, more shopping, and on it goes. The point is that marriage and family demand work, hard work, and joyful work. Kristina and I share the work. I do some things, she does some things. Sometimes we swap responsibilities. Sometimes we do one thing together. We try to utilize our strengths. And in it all, I am grateful for my lovely wife because she is a wonderful partner and helper, a co-laborer in all that God has called us to do together. One of the greatest blessings of marriage and sex is having a divinely-given partner and helper with whom to work, achieve, and enjoy life.

In Genesis 2:18, the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone.” The refrain of Genesis 1 is “And God saw that it was good.” Good is used quite a few times in Genesis 1-2. But after God created Adam from the dust, God declared that his aloneness in terms of human companionship was not good. In the sovereign decrees of God, the first man was to have a partner, a wife, a woman to complement and help him. This is not to say that every human being after was or is obligated to marry, some people indeed have the gift of singleness and still experience deep and meaningful relationships, but this is to say that marriage, sex, and children are the norm and promote human flourishing. After all, God did bless the newly created and united couple and commanded them to “be fruitful and multiply” (Gen. 1:28). God’s sovereign and good plan of redemption achieved through Christ would in part be accomplished through marriage, sex, and family.

So when Adam was alone, God fashioned Eve from Adam’s body to create for him a partner, a companion, a lover, a wife, a helper. She was perfectly fit for him. None of the animals sufficed. She was exclusively suited. Not a personal servant or slave but a helper to come alongside him to accomplish all that God intended for them.

The Lord made it clear that Eve was created and made Adam’s wife in order to complement and help him. Be careful that feminism and male chauvinism do not divert you from God’s good design. It was God Himself who said, “I will make him a helper fit for him” (Gen. 2:18). First, God made the woman. She is a divinely fashioned and beautiful creature made in the image and likeness of God and equal to him. Second, God made her to be an ēzer or a helper. She would come alongside her husband to help him. This means that he needs help and needs her help. This also means she has marvelous abilities and contributions which complement and benefit her husband’s marvelous abilities and contributions. I do believe in male headship and leadership in the home because Scripture is clear about that. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11:3, “the head of a wife is her husband.” That said, God has kindly and graciously given the man a gift, but not a personal servant, a wife to complement him as his equal and to help him with the work God assigned. Third, she was fit for him. The renowned commentator Matthew Poole wrote that the woman was

one correspondent to him, suitable both to his nature and necessity, one altogether like to him in shape and constitution, disposition and affection; a second self; or one to be at hand and near to him, to stand continually before him, familiarly to converse with him, to be always ready to succour, serve, and comfort him . . . whose business it shall be to please and help him. [1]

The so-called “battle of the sexes” has only undermined God’s intended goodness and joy in marriage. Spouses must fix their eyes on God’s intent, not culture’s intent, for marriage and sex or else risk destroying what God intends for their and other’s good. John Calvin said that God declared “that woman is given as a companion and an associate to the man, to assist him to live well.” [2] Eve was glad to enrich Adam’s life and Adam was grateful to God that she did. Calvin also said:

For if the integrity of man had remained to this day such as it was from the beginning, that divine institution would be clearly discerned, and the sweetest harmony would reign in marriage; because the husband would look up with reverence to God; the woman in this would be a faithful assistant to him; and both, with one consent, would cultivate a holy, as well as friendly and peaceful intercourse. [3]

A great threat to your marriage and sex-life is that human opinions and theories would replace God’s authoritative voice on these matters. For the sweetest harmony to reign in your marriage, you and your spouse need to look to Christ in true and reverent faith and seek together to cultivate a holy, friendly, loving, mutually beneficial union. God has given you a spouse and united you to your spouse, and He calls you both to the one holy calling that He has for you as partners. May your heart be filled with thankfulness to God for the spouse He graciously gifted you.

Husbands, lead and love your helper well. Serve her sacrificially as Christ serves his Bride. Give yourself up for her. Honor your wife for how she helps you, so thank you often, and be grateful to God every day that He gave you the gracious gift of a beautiful and complementary helper. Let your words, demeanor, and actions toward your wife express your obvious gratitude. Wives, respect and submit yourself joyfully to your husbands as God commands. Find joy in using your abilities and skills to help your husband and to enrich his life. You are God’s grace to him. Make it easy for your husband to believe Proverbs 18:22, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD.” And when you face the mountain of work at home and out there, face it together and work together, for “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil” (Eccl. 4:9).

[1] Matthew Poole, Annotations upon the Holy Bible, vol. 1 (New York: Robert Carter and Brothers, 1853), 7. [2] John Calvin and John King, Commentary on the First Book of Moses Called Genesis, vol. 1 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2010), 129. [3] Ibid., 129–130.

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Jonathan Shirk

Welcome to the online home of Jonathan Shirk, family man, Reformed pastor, author, podcaster, and small town theologian. Whether you're from a small town or big city, may this website help you find deeper comfort and joy in the gospel.

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