This morning, I read most of Justin Buzzard’s little book, Date Your Wife: A Husband’s Guide. The title is somewhat misleading — very little of the book is really about having a “date” with your wife — and I have some quibbles about certain aspects of the content (religion vs. Christianity), but there’s some good, practical, and gospel-grounded stuff here. I could say more, but this isn’t a book review and I have something else on my mind.
The foreword to the book is by Tullian Tchividjian and it contains a line that made me raise my eyebrows. Here it is in context:
I enjoy receiving love from my wife. I’m ecstatic when Kim loves me and expresses affection toward me. Something in me comes alive when she does that. But I’ve learned this freeing truth: I don’t need that love, because in Jesus I receive all the love I need. This in turn liberates me to love her without apprehension or condition. I get to revel in her enjoyment of my love without needing anything from her in return. I get love from Jesus so that I can give love to her (10-11).
The line in question is in the middle of that paragraph: “I don’t need that love” — the love of a wife — “because in Jesus I receive all the love I need.” At first, that sounds right. Jesus is all we need, isn’t he? If we have him, we have everything. Doesn’t Paul say “For me to live is Christ”?
And yet here’s what raises a question in my mind. In the beginning, on the sixth day, God creates Adam from the dust of the ground and breathes the Spirit into his nostrils and Adam becomes a living soul. God then plants a garden in Eden and puts Adam into it. This is not Adam’s garden; it is God’s garden, God’s sanctuary, and Adam is there as a priest to tend and guard it (language associated with priests later in Scripture). God speaks to Adam and gives him permission to eat from every tree in God’s garden, with the exception of one.
But then God says something that ought to surprise us more than it does: “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” How was Adam alone? Didn’t he have fellowship with God? Of course he did! Isn’t that fellowship enough? Apparently not. Shouldn’t Adam have said “I don’t need a wife (or her love or anything from her) because I have God (and His love) and that’s enough to meet all my needs”? No. Adam had fellowship with God, but he also needed a wife. And he needed a wife, not an angel, not an animal, but also not a male buddy or a female friend; he needed a wife, someone who was bound together with him, one flesh with him.
Of course, Jesus’ love for us is the foundation of all our blessings. Certainly Jesus’ love empowers a man to love his wife, even when she isn’t lovely or isn’t loving him in return. But a man who has Jesus and in him has fellowship with God still needs other people. It is not good for him to be alone. And it’s right for him to say to his wife, “I need you.”