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Volume 19, Issue 1: Husbandry

Just a Bit Odd

Douglas Wilson

Husbands and wives need to meditate a bit more on how odd marriage is. Angels, it appears, are not produced by generation, but were just created. From what we can ascertain, every angel is as old as every other one. But the human race grows and develops, and is doing so in a really strange way.

The fact that God created us in His image and did this by creating us male and female needs to be thought through. Sex is odd; men are odd; women are odd; babies are not what we might have expected. When Eve gave birth to the first child, she apparently thought it was odd too. "And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord" (Gen. 4:1). As much as to say, look at this.
Women are the kind of people that people come out of. My daughter-in-law has a t-shirt that says it all: "I can grow people." Given how many people are on the globe, it is amazing that we are all not sitting around all the time, staring at one another in absolute befuddlement.
When Adam was standing alone in the Garden, the entire human race was not there. God had said repeatedly that what He had been making was good. But when he looked at Adam, He said that it is not good for man to be alone. And so He made a helper suitable to him.
That helper was Eve, the second knitting needle. God determined to create a human race much grander in scope than the small human race standing before Him in the Garden. And so He took those two, brought them together, and a child was born. And then another child and another. Pretty soon the growth was exponential. Now there are billions of us, and there will be billions upon billions more.
As the human race grows, we forget the oddness of the process by which it grows. We are all connected. As the human race expands, God is still using His complicated knitting machine—knit one, purl two—and the result is this enormous web of humanity. When we forget this, we start thinking that we are autonomous inidividuals; we think that the human race is constituted the way the angels are. Each person is an independent monad, detached from every other person. And so we idolize the individual. But to borrow a word from Girard, we are actually interdividuals.
One of the central lies of modernity is that we are autonomous, stand-alone individuals. But we are woven together, and we are woven together in ways far more complicated than the sexual weaving that brought us into existence in the first place.
We can distinguish one individual from another, obviously, but when we do this, we are not distinguishing one pebble from another or one ball bearing from another. We can distinguish one leaf on the tree from another leaf on the tree, but as we do, we have to recognize that the leaves share a deep connection. We are all cousins through Noah at the very least.
To complicate this "knitting" illustration, we have to remember that God is knitting two humanities at once and He is doing it simultaneously. If a woman were knitting a sweater, and the project went wrong (as it sometimes does) she frequently has to tear everything out and start again. And this is what we might think God should have done when Adam and Eve rebelled in the Garden. Why didn't He start over?
He promised that He would correct the problem, and He promised this right away (Gen. 3:15). But His way of actually doing this has been really remarkable. At first it looked as though He just kept knitting the bad sweater. But then, after thousands of years, He began knitting another one right in the middle of the first one. This second one promises to overtake and entirely replace the first one, and when it does, we will all see that the resultant glory is far greater than it would have been had God just "torn out" Adam and Eve in death and started over.
So what does this have to do with marriage? In a covenant Christian marriage, we are still male and female. He is still using knitting needles. Children are still begotten, carried, born, nursed, fed, clothed, and educated in our day just as they were in the old humanity. And yet God is using this same instrument in order to accomplish His larger and different work. He is establishing a new humanity in the earth. But He is not doing this in a way that permits us to think that we are "over against" the old humanity in some geographical sense.
Why does God make us one? Because, the prophet says, He is seeking godly offspring. This is not just begetting and bearing. The old humanity does that too. This is what happens when a godly husband and a godly wife trust the Lord for the salvation of their children and bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. And then, in a few short years, they find a husband or wife, and the next row starts. God is doing something magnificent around us, and He is doing it all the time. We really ought to pay more attention.

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