Commitment may not seem like the sexiest topic when it comes to marriage. In fact, sex is the sexiest topic. But commitment is the root of what it takes to build and maintain a truly lasting, happy life together.
What do you desire most in your marriage? Consider this passage from Genesis about Adam and Eve. It’s the same core passage on marriage that both Jesus Christ and the apostle Paul referred to in their major teachings about marriage (Matthew 19 and Ephesians 5): “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:24-25).
What does being naked and not ashamed mean to you? I think this means that Adam and Eve felt completely accepted and loved. They had a deep emotional safety. I think this reflects the desire most of us have — to be accepted at the deepest level of our being. This is the type of love you can give to each other in marriage.
Notice that the deep intimacy described in Genesis is founded on the commitment implied in the earlier phrases. For starters, when you get married, your commitment implies that you must leave some things behind. In the passage it says that “a man shall leave his father and his mother.” The full meaning of this passage is easier to appreciate if you bear in mind that the Bible promotes a high level of respect for parents.
This passage also portrays permanence. The word for “hold fast” used in the original Hebrew is dabaq, which means “to adhere” or “to stick.” This is more than being stuck together. It’s sticking together in a deep, freely chosen commitment. Joining together in commitment is not to entrap the two of you but to free you for intimacy and connection. Only in the safety of a secure commitment is it reasonable to be naked and unashamed. The loss of freedom that comes with the boundaries of commitment in marriage actually creates new opportunities for a profound level of freedom within those boundaries.
Dr. Scott Stanley is a research professor and co-director of the Center for Marital and Family Studies at the University of Denver. He has authored or co-authored a number of popular books on marriage, including A Lasting Promise.