BACK TO EDEN
By David Eckman, Ph.D.
Senior Lecturer, Kesed Seminars
-- Passion creates relationships, but compassion sustains relationships.
Compassion is a necessity, because the longer couples stay together, the
more they will recognize their differences. Men and women are spectacularly
different. The essential basic difference is described in Genesis 2. God
focused men on purposes and women on relationships. If those differences
and others can be sympathetically appreciated, the couple can become a
powerful interdependent team. The Bible encourages such compassion by
saying a couple should become "ones who feel each other's emotions." That
is what sympathy is (1 Peter 3:8). Unfaithfulness becomes unthinkable
because one heart is now feeling the other heart's pains and joys.
Compassion keeps couples in marriage. 1 Peter 3:7-8 has a heavy emphasis
on compassion. Verse 7 tells husbands to live with their wives with a
personal knowledge. Both share equally the grace of God, and their hearts
should be shared as well. In the next verse they are told to be like-minded,
sympathetic friends. "As for the final point, everyone should have the
same perspective, be feeling each other's emotions, like each other as
friends, deeply sympathetic, humble in perspective"(1 Peter 3:8).
Probably the most powerful expression of love is sympathy. Loyalty
becomes instinctive and faithfulness is assured, because sympathy
makes two hearts beat as one. In Peter's time, sympathy from the
male was deeply needed. Two thousand years ago, wives often would
have six to eight babies, and dying in childbirth was common.
Of the children she would have, only half would survive childhood.
The physical stresses and emotional blows were great. Christian
husbands, therefore, were told to be profoundly considerate. This
is expressed under the image of treating her as a weaker vessel.
In the ancient world, the weaker the vessel, the more valuable the vessel.
Gold and silver vessels in the ancient world were very fragile but incredibly
valuable. For women, childbirth brought the fragility; God's valuation of
the woman gave the worth. Obviously in the modern world the number of children
a couple has greatly declined. But the principle is the same. A husband should
value his wife as a person of great worth and not just as "one of the guys."
Peter says the purpose in all of this is for the couple to inherit a blessing
(1Peter 3:9). In Genesis 1 God blessed Adam and Eve and told them to govern
the earth. Ever since the moral fall of humanity, God's intention is to restore
the blessing. As a couple stays together, they will have passion working for
them, compassion deepening the relationship, and a common history that will
create steel bands of protection around their hearts. They will inherit the
David Eckman is the co-founder and senior lecturer for Kesed Seminars, a
non-profit organization dedicated to introducing people to Gods loyal love.
The organization name, Kesed, comes from the Hebrew word for loyal love. Kesed
Seminars is a seminar and training team that works with Campus Crusade, churches,
denominations, schools, and other parachurch organizations to bring spiritual
transformation to their constituencies. Dr. Eckman and his wife, Carol, have
been married for 30 years and have two children.
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