John Fuller: On today’s Focus on the Family, Dr. Walt Larimore offers men a view of their wives from God’s perspective.
Dr. Walt Larimore: He has given you a spouse that He intended and created for you. A woman of indescribable, inestimable and incredible value. Guys, is this how you view your wife? Is it?
End of Excerpt
John: You’ll hear more challenging questions like that one and some eye-opening answers on today’s Focus on the Family. Your host is Focus president, Jim Daly, and I’m John Fuller.
Jim Daly: That’s so true, John, and we have a wonderful message today for both husbands and wives from our friend, Walt Larimore.
John: Yeah, Walt was the vice president of medical outreach here for a number of years. He’s a well-respected physician, an author and a speaker and perhaps more importantly, he’s been married to his wife, Barbara for more than 30 years.
Jim: Well, and that should give him instant credibility, John. Walt has been in the studio with us many times and today, we’re going to air a speech that he gave at a conference for physicians and their spouses. And he did an amazing job of delving into the Scriptures to give husbands in particular, a new perspective on the women they married.
John: And that conference was hosted here at Focus on the Family a number of years ago. With that, here’s Dr. Walt Larimore on today’s Focus on the Family.
Walt: Well, my aim today, is to speak, primarily, to you guys. I want to help to learn from my mistakes. I want to help you in your role as a husband, and for some of you, as husbands-to-be, to see the value of your wife from God’s viewpoint. I want you to see, today, that I believe that Scripture teaches that, if your honor and value your wife, and the way He designed her, that He will do things with your marriage and with your ministry that you can’t even begin to imagine. I want to guarantee you, based upon what we’re going to learn today in God’s Word, that if you men will allow these truths to penetrate your heart, and if you begin to apply them today, as we’ll talk about towards the end, God is going to use you, and He is going to use you mightily. So, are you ready? Let’s get started.
An English professor wrote this on a bulletin board, a chalkboard up front. With no punctuation, he wrote, “A woman without her man is nothing,” and he asked the students to punctuate this. How would you punctuate this? Most of the men wrote, “a woman, comma, without her man, comma, is nothing.” Every woman punctuated it this way: “A woman, semicolon, without her, comma, man is nothing.”
Walt: Well, I hope by the end of our time together today, that you women will truly be able to say, not necessarily, that a woman without her man is nothing, but at least this: “A woman, comma, without her man’s support and honor, is less than she can be.” And men, I hope from the bottom of your heart, that by the end of today, you’ll be able to say: “A woman, semicolon, without her, comma, a man is less than he can be and that he should be.”
I don’t want you guys to be like the several hundred men who answered this ad in The New York Times. A British gentleman had simply advertised, “Wife wanted,” and he received several hundred male respondents, which said, “You can have mine.”
Walt: My prayer is that, in our time today together, you’ll come to see that God especially and specially designed your woman for you. Today’s lesson is not on how to understand your woman, but it is how to see her from God’s perspective, and how to begin, today, by an act of your faith, to honor and value her the rest of your days together. Men and women see things differently. They process things differently, because they were created differently.
One night, Barb found me, not too long after our oldest, Kate was born, in Kate’s bedroom. She walked in and saw me looking down at sleeping Kate, and she says that she saw in my face, a mixture of emotions that she hadn’t seen before, of disbelief and doubt, delight, amazement, enchantment, even skepticism, and she says she was touched by this unusual display and the deep emotion that it brought up within her. With her eyes glistening, she walked up beside me and slipped her arm around me, softly saying, “A penny for your thoughts.” I said, “It’s amazing how anybody could make a crib like this for $42.”
Walt: Well, men and women are different, and this is – this is God’s design. Well, why did He do it that way? I don’t know, but this is some of what He did. When little boys-to-be were in the womb, at the time designed by our Father, they were washed with a hormone called testosterone. Now it made a number of changes. Some are very obvious, and some maybe, not so obvious to you. One change that occurred, was when the testosterone washed through that boy’s body, the blood/brain barrier was not yet formed, so it washed over the neurons. It took a portion of the brain, the corpus callosum, that connects the right and left-brain together, that allowed the two to communicate, and it dissolved it. Maybe not completely, but mostly. Ladies, you can look at the spouse you’ve been given, and you now know he is brain damaged.
Walt: Testosterone has an incredible effect on muscles. It causes skeletal muscles to twitch. It causes them to move and poke. It starts in the womb, and it never stops. Also, the lack of testosterone surge causes little lips to move and never stop.
Walt: It’s – it’s true. The testosterone surge also thickens the skull. Indeed little boys, and men, they grow to be thick-skulled and hardheaded, at least, compared to females. Let me tell you a story of how I began to understand this fact. After beginning private practice, Barb and I decided it was time to apply some of the financial principles that are taught in the Bible. Now we’d had always been good stewards in the sense of tithing and giving our offerings and budgeting, but now was the time to begin to apply some of the principles of saving ahead, and investing in the future, financially. And so, during this time, I was presented with what, I was convinced, was a wonderful investment opportunity. I brought it home to Barb, and Barb looked at it, and she said, “I don’t think it’s so wonderful.” I said, “Why not?” She said, “It just doesn’t feel right to me.”
Now, ladies, when you speak to people who are deficient in corpus callosum and processing power, they think that you are telling their left brain that you don’t understand why they want to do what they want to do, so my left brain tried to communicate to her left brain the beauty of this investment. I had charts. I had graphs. I had the prospectus. I had how it had performed, and it didn’t communicate. She just said, “I don’t think it’s right.” I pressed on, and she finally said, “Look, if you want to do it, that’s okay with me, but I just don’t think it’s right.” So, we made – so, I made the investment. Guess what? It went belly-up in world record time. Can you imagine the agony of the next five years, as we paid off that debt? Looking in her eyes and seeing, “I told you so.”
Someone recently told me they admired my good judgment, and I was reminded of the old saying that, “Good judgment comes from experience.” And some of my best experience comes from bad judgment, and the baddest judgments in my life have come from not valuing my wife, of not honoring and listening to how God created her.
Well, I’m smarter now, and I want to share with you some perspectives that God’s given me from His Word. I’ve never heard some of these perspectives taught. I’ve shared them with theologians, with Hebrew and Greek scholars, all of whom have confirmed to me the accuracy of these interpretations, and yet, they say they’ve never seen them strung together this way. So, for those of you, who have your Bibles, let’s open them to the beginning, to Genesis, and let’s take a look at some of the things that the Lord teaches us about men and women.
In Genesis 2:17, Moses records, “Then the Lord God formed man from dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being. Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good.’” By the way, this is the first account in the creation story of God’s saying something is not good. My daughter, who’s studying for a Bible minor at her college, and I were discussing this verse, and jokingly, she said, “Dad, do you know that in the original version of Genesis, chapter 2, it says, ‘Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground. Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good. I can do better than that,’ and then the Lord God made woman.” I said to her, “What version did that come from?” She said that was the Queen Mary version.
John: You’re listening to Dr. Walt Larimore today on Focus on the Family as he spoke at a conference for physicians and their wives. And this reminder, we have a CD available of this complete presentation. We’re making that available today for gift of any amount when you call 800-A-FAMILY. 800-232-6459. Or you can donate and request that CD at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. Let’s go ahead and return now to more from Walt Larimore.
Walt: Well, let’s look at what’s actually there. I mean, “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone.’” Many Hebrews, both ancient and modern, consider aloneness to be the negation of actual living, of authentic living. To them, life is not individual, but it’s corporate. It’s social. The Hebrew word that’s translated “alone” carries the implication of separation or even alienation. It carries with it a very strong sense of incompleteness.
So, Moses tells us that the Lord God declared that he would make something for the alone, incomplete man. He said that He would “asah” something for the man. Now this is a very particular Hebrew word, and I want you to be able to see that God had a variety of ways that He could have made man, and a varieties of ways He could have made woman, but here He says, through Moses’ divinely inspired recording, that He “asahed” something for a man. Now while you’re looking at Genesis 2:18 in your translation, let me read to you how it’s translated in a number of other renditions. In the King James, it says, “And the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone. I will make him an helpmeet for him.’” Well, in other versions, like for example, the New American Standard, the New King James, and the Revised Standard, it says, “I will make him a helper.” Now there are those who, I believe, incorrectly, believe and teach that this Hebrew term, this Jewish concept translated “helper”, suggests the idea of a “retainer” or “employee” or a “servant” or a “domestic helper.” I don’t think anything’s further from the truth. As I’ve been taught and studied this Hebrew term, I’m convinced that this Jewish concept of a helper suggests the idea of a “completer.” In fact, the term in Hebrew is “ezer.” It means “one who saves another from extremity.” It means, “one who gives help or relief rendered when another is in danger.” It means “one who affords relief.” In other Semitic languages, the cognate describes the action of someone who gives water to a person who’s dying of thirst. This term in its Jewishness is far more than indicating a subordinated or menial servant. It describes the woman as man’s savior with a little “s.” With a little “s.” It describes her as the rescuer of man. It describes her as the one who releases him from his aloneness, from his incompleteness. It is she who saves him from his from his ineffectiveness, and it is she who saves him from his inefficiency. This is an amazing pronouncement in the original language, that a woman can serve this role for her man, and why? Because this term “ezer” is only used in the Bible, and every other application to describe God’s saving action to His people, to describe God, the Savior of the nation Israel. It is a word of infinite worth, that He gives to created beings of infinite worth, the women that He created to give to His men. No subservient maiden, no lackadaisical assistant, no mere helper is she. Men, she is your Father’s perfectly designed and created gift for you.
So, Moses tells us that Yahweh Elohiym declared that He would make for man someone who would complement him, someone who would complete him, his perfect match. I mean the picture here is not someone who’s behind him. It’s not even someone who’s beside him, but it’s someone in front of him. She’s facing him. She and he are perfectly matched. She is a superlatively dovetailed ally for him. She is his God-designed accomplice and comrade.
She was designed to create a response from him, and God made woman in a completely different way than he made man. He made men and women differently. Why? To match each other, for without her, he is not all that he can and should and was designed to be.
Let me show you some of the specifics of this. Look first, if you would, at how man was made. If you look at Genesis 2:7, Moses tells us, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.” The Hebrew word that is translated “formed” is pronounced “yatsar.” Now it literally means “squeezing into shape,” or molding into a form.” It’s a word that is commonly used in the Hebrew language for a “pot maker,” for a “potter,” for someone who takes a clay blob and plops it on a wheel and fashions, makes, molds, presses it into something.
But look now at Genesis 2:22. Here Moses records the specific way the woman was made, but she was not made the same way. Moses uses a completely different term. He tells us that “The Lord God made He a woman, and brought her unto the man.” And Scripture tells us that God did not “yatsar,” or form the woman. He “banahed” her. And in its modern translations, it’s often translated “made” or “fashioned,” however, it’s a completely different Hebrew word than the one used to describe how God formed man.
This is a gorgeous word. It, literally, means “to, from scratch, build a complex entity or being.” The word is used in Scripture to describe events such as the building of an altar, or the building of God’s temple. It’s the term that described when God gives the instructions for how the artisans are to mold the gold and hew the timbers. These are “banahed” things of high complexity and of high value.
This woman wasn’t made like a man was made. She was built. She’s compared to the creation and design and work of architectural arts and masterpieces, and it follows that the use of the verb “to build” here for the woman implies an intellectual and an aesthetic appreciation, not only of her physical form, but how she’s built internally, physiologically, spiritually, and intuitively. It’s almost as if Scripture tells us that man is, if you would, molded for today, but like marble or gold, the woman is built and designed for durability and for lasting. She was created. She was built. She was “banahed,” if you would, for beauty and stability and durability. He, the rural and practical, but she, the artwork, the jewel, the crown.
This concept in teaching is illuminated, also, in the New Testament. Turn with me, if you would, to 1st Peter, chapter 3. It’s translated this way in the King James Version. “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with your wives according to knowledge, giving honor to the wife as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.”
Now a couple of points here. First the Greek word translated “honor” means “to value, to place great value, to treasure,” if you would. It’s a magnificent view of what we should do, men, and it’s not an emotion. It’s not an emotion. It’s not a felt thing. This is an action, and it’s an action of the will. “For whatever a man treasures, he will develop feelings for…” for that’s how we’re designed. But you might ask, “Come on, Walt. Does Scripture actually ask me, as a man, to honor something weak? Would Peter, the fisherman, be proud of a trophy that was weak, or that was sickly?”
Let me see if I can help you out a little bit here. The Greek word that is translated “weaker” is, indeed, somewhat difficult to render in English. Literally, it can be mean “something that is without strength or weak” or “someone that is sickly or unwell.” However, in secular Greek, even as used in the 20th century, it has much richer and deeper meaning, that I don’t think will surprise you, now that you understand some of the background in Genesis, because this Greek word describes the very most fragile and valuable of artwork. It’s a word that’s used to describe the most delicate and costly bone china, the finest and most expensive porcelain vases.
Guys, you wouldn’t say a 1957 Porsche was weak. You wouldn’t describe Limoges vases or Wedgewood plates or Dresden bone china as weak. You would describe them as pieces of beautiful artistry, of belongings of immense and incredible importance, worth, and value. They are art works designed, intended, and crafted to be appreciated, beloved, and desired. An, men, this is what the Word of God says that he has built for you, and that He has given you.
He has given you a spouse that He intended and created for you. A woman of indescribable, inestimable and incredible value. Guys, is this how you view your wife? Is it? I bet for many of you, it’s not. If you saw her as God saw her, if you saw her as God created her, imagine how you might demonstrate your value for her. You would honor and value her more highly than any of your most precious possessions. You would honor and value her more highly than the profession you practice. You would honor and value her more highly than any gift you’ve ever been given.
John: And with that encouragement to see your wife from God’s perspective, we come to the end of the first half of a message from Dr. Walt Larimore. That was at a conference for physicians and their spouses held here at Focus on the Family just a few years ago.
Jim: I don’t know about you, John, but man, I’m ready to order Jean some flowers online right now.
John: I am on…
Jim: Hey, get on…
John: …I am on right now…
Jim: …With that. (Laughing)
John: …Doing that.
Jim: You’re doing that for Dena already.
Jim: That is convicting stuff from Walt Larimore and I have to say, over the years that he worked here, here at Focus, we’ve seen him live that out with his wife, Barb, and I am so glad we could share his wisdom with you today. And I hope you’ll take it to heart and apply those principles that he’s talking about. This is one of the benefits of Christian marriage, to add God’s perspective to your relationship and to get His help when your marriage needs it. Ladies, if you’re thinking about sharing this with your husband, Walt says, “If he’s a Christian, give him the CD, but let him listen to it alone so that the Holy Spirit can work on his heart.” I think that’s really wise. And we can send you the CD of today’s program for a donation of any amount. We want to get it in your hands, but we need to cover the cost of that at least. And, now, if your husband is not a Christian, Walt says, “Don’t give him the CD at all, but instead, pray for him every day.” And I think that’s good advice. If you’re in that situation, we have a free audio download of one of our most popular marriage programs. It’s called Experiencing a Fulfilled Marriage, by Patricia Ashley. So, visit our website to get that.
John: Yeah, that’s an incredible message, as well. She is a fiery speaker and, uh, at one point in the message she says, her marriage was totally dead, but she offers hope and you’ll find that at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.
Jim: If you’re in despair over your marriage, let me give you some good news. There is hope. It’s never too far gone. I know in your heart you’re probably saying, “I think it is.” Here at Focus, we’re seeing great success with our four-day intensives called Hope Restored. In fact, over 80% of the couples who attend that intensive counseling environment say their marriage is doing well two years after their time at Hope Restored. And these are couples who were experiencing serious marital struggles. Many had already filed for divorce before they came. Here’s one example from a husband who said, “When we came to the intensive, it was raining and storming, just like our marriage. We were on the brink of divorce and I had already moved out. Being a guy, I thought they would fix my wife, but the miracle was, they fixed both of us. This is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. Thank you Focus on the Family and Hope Restored.”
John: Well, I love what God is doing at Hope Restored and that is some incredible ministry taking place there.
Jim: It really is, John. Uh, it is so exciting to think of these marriages being saved day in and day out. And that means in many cases, families are staying together. Children are being spared the trauma of divorce and we are happy, privileged to provide these marriage-saving resources. But it takes money for staff and materials, so please if Focus on the Family has been an encouragement in your marriage or maybe your parenting, could you make a donation? We need to hear from you today.
John: And we really do. Just call us at 800-A-FAMILY. That’s 800-232-6459. Or you can donate online and request the CD of this two day broadcast at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. When you’re online, be sure to look for our free marriage assessment. About a million people have taken the quiz and, uh, it’s going to help you see the strengths and weaknesses of your relationship. It’s a fun, little assessment. Take it today. And if you enjoyed today’s presentation, please tell a friend to tune in next time as Dr. Larimore explains how God created man and woman to complement one another in marriage.
Walt: She and he are perfectly matched. She is a superlatively dovetail ally for him. She is his God-designed accomplice and comrade.