Genesis 3:20-24 and 4:1-2
“The man named his wife Eve, because she was the mother of all living. And the Lord God made garments of skins for the man and for his wife, and clothed them. Then the Lord God said, ‘See, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever’ – therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man; and at the east of the garden of Eden he place the cherubim, and a sword flaming and turning to guard the way to the tree of life.”
That ends chapter three. Chapter 4 starts with Adam and Eve’s new life outside the Garden of Eden:
“Now the man knew his wife Eve, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, ‘I have produced a man with the help of the Lord.” Next she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a tiller of the ground.”
Love and Intimacy Outside Eden
By Daniel Lee
Last Tuesday, Jennifer and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. We were married in a Methodist Church in Bloomington, Indiana. The local newspaper didn’t quite get our marriage notice right. They wrote that we were “marred”—M-A-R-R-E-D—on Aug. 7th.
We still laugh about that!
Jennifer was 23 and I was 24 when we were married. We were both starting new jobs after spending our entire year-long engagement living in different states. After getting married, we moved into a small apartment in Shelbyville, Indiana. I added up; in our 25 years of marriage, we’ve lived in eight different apartments or houses, in five cities, in two different states.
We’ve had three kids, two born 7 minutes apart. We’ve bought three homes. We’ve had two dogs. We’ve each had seven different jobs. Before we became Quakers, we were Baptized by immersion together. Here at First Friends, we became Quakers together.
And, oh, yeah, we’ve recently taken three dance lessons together.
On the evening of our anniversary last week, we walked to a little restaurant by our house and just enjoyed talking. So much has changed since our first conversation as two college kids on a January evening in 1991 outside of the Cooper Science building at Ball State University.
Who knew that evening would forever merge and define our lives?
In short, we’ve had one love, one life with each other….
I am grateful for the opportunity to speak this morning about the topic of marriage. It’s an important and complex topic.
Marriage is so central, in faith and in society, that this meeting, Indianapolis First Friends, decided that is should be made available to all people, regardless of sexual orientation. This was a matter of love and equality.
In our world, we have strong marriages and struggling marriages. Some people are widowed. Some are divorced. Some separated. For some, being single is central to their life of service to others. Some who aren’t married, want to be. For some, marriage is damaging or physically dangerous.
But I want to emphasize right from the start today, that my comments today – while they are about marriage – related to something even deeper than marriage.
I hope today to uphold marriage as a metaphor and a model for us also to seek greater intimacy with God and within our community. This, I believe, is a very Quaker message – the power of Quakerism is an insistence that each person can experience direct communion with the Divine, and that we then seek to build community with one another. Quakerism’s founder, George Fox, in his greatest revelation, declared that there is one, Christ Jesus, who can speak to your condition. This goes to the heart of the Scriptures comparing the marriage union to Christ and the Church. We are the church, and Christ desires us just as we desire Him. Nothing else is needed.
In human relations, a spouse is in a unique and intimate position to speak to their partner’s condition.
The most moving words I’ve personally ever heard about marriage were spoken not at a wedding but at a funeral. One of my personal heroes is our family friend Dr. Ora Pescovitz. She’s an accomplished pediatrician, academic, and executive. For many years, she was the CEO of Riley Hospital for Children here in Indianapolis. In 2010, she lost her husband, IU transplant surgeon Dr. Mark Pescovitz, in a tragic automobile accident.
Ora, remembering her husband before the hundreds gathered at Congregation Beth-El Zedeck, talked about the makings of a strong marriage, and about her beloved husband.
“I once read that you could tell that a marriage would last a long time if a couple saw eye-to-eye on four things:
Religion, Money, Children and Sex. In our 31 year marriage, we never once argued about those things, although we certainly had pretty healthy 'debates' on just about everything else!”
And then, later, Ora said this:
“Mark died a happy man. And, our last day together was Mark's version of a perfect day. In fact, we managed to cover all four things that ensure a perfect marriage: Religion, Money, Children and Sex.”
With that comment, the crowd of mourners audibly gasped. This was the love and intimacy, laid bare.
She told of sharing a cup of coffee together, of spending time together, of paying bills, of deciding to increase donations to their favorite Jewish charities, of talking about how proud they were of their three children.
The single thing I remember most about the service was Ora looking directly at each of her three children and telling them each what their father loved about them, affirming them in front of their community. I still get emotional thinking about that!
She spoke her husband’s most cherished thoughts when he could not.
I want now to briefly look at three short passages in Scriptures, all involving Christ. I believe each can teach us much about developing a close marriage, a closer relationship with God, and with one another:
“Jesus said to them, ‘Fill the jars with water.’ And they filled them to the brim. He said to them, ‘Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, ‘Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.’”
The Wedding at Cana is Jesus’ first miracle. Consider this Jesus’ way of saying life should be lived joyously in community and with our spouse! Jesus didn’t just make wine, he made fine wine.
This is the date night. This is the fellowship we enjoy after meeting for worship. This is when we forget a troubles and anxieties when we’re enjoying life with our friends, or when we’re expanding our community by making new friends.
“As they went out, they came upon a man from Cyrene named Simon; they compelled this man to carry his cross.”
This short verse is incredibly powerful. Jesus, in my mind, needed the rest at this point. Simon helped Christ when He desperately needed help. It does not matter that Simon was compelled to help. Christ himself, praying in the Garden of Gethsemane before his arrest, asked his Father, ‘if you are willing, remove this cup from me.’”
Within marriage and in life, we do not ask for hardship. Yet time and again in I’ve seen people carrying one another’s burdens. I’ve seen spouses and parents do this. I’ve seen people dedicate their lives and careers for the service of others.
I’ve seen that sacrificial love beautifully on display right here in this meeting. Care giving is hard. But please know that others around you are deeply impacted by your selfless examples of love.
“And the one who was seated on the throne said, ‘See, I am making all things new.’”
These words come in the final book of the Bible, at the opposite of the book from Adam and Eve. Within marriage, in our lives, and in our communities, there is always a new beginning.
People find new meaning and fulfillment after divorce, after infertility, after the death of a loved one.
In our personal lives, in our relationships, and in our community and society, we can walk a new path after hurt, anger, and injustice.
Our closing hymn today, “Morning has Broken,” states this potential of renewal beautifully.
Mine is the sunlight
Mine is the morning
Born of the one light Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise ev'ry morning
God's recreation of the new day
Think back to today’s opening Scripture, to the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve have the worst day possible…. It’s such a bad day it’s simply called “The Fall.” They are cast out of Eden, and what’s the first thing they do?
They look to each other to start anew. We see from the Scripture, with the birth of Cain and Abel, that their heartbreak is not over.
Yet they carried on in a new way.
In his writings, George Fox made stirring references to “the Fall.” From his writings you can see why marriage has been used as a metaphor for Christ and the Church.
In one passage, Fox wrote of marriage as “an Immortal powerful Bond, above and beyond that state which is in the Fall….”
Fox believed perfect love and intimacy with God was possible, even if for a brief period of time in this life. In stating this, he made specific reference to the Fall, to Adam, and to the flaming sword placed at the east end of Eden:
“Now I was come up in spirit through the flaming sword, into the paradise of God. All things were new; and all the creation gave unto me another smell than before, beyond what words can utter. I knew nothing but pureness, and innocency, and righteousness; being renewed into the image of God by Christ Jesus, to the state of Adam, which he was in before he fell.”
So… What does all of this mean?
And what of Adam and Eve after the Fall?
They were hurt and imperfect people, just as we are. Outside the Garden of Eden they had new clothes. They had new hardships. Perhaps they even had a new smell.
To put it bluntly, they were MARRED. M-A-R-R-E-D.
Life here on Earth, outside Eden, will mar us, all of us.
Yet Adam and Eve retained at least two things from their time in the Garden of Eden—they had the love of God, and they had each other.
They knew they were not alone.
We too have God’s Love, and we have each other.
We know we are not alone.
What does marriage mean to me, to our faith community, to our society? What can marriage teach us about God’s love? Have there been marriages in my life—my own or another’s, from people living or who have passed—that have modeled divine love?