Thursday, September 8, 2011

Mysterious Math

One day when Jesus was walking the Earth, some religious people came with a question about divorce designed to trip him up. (They did things like this.) Jesus answered by quoting our Creator. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh… So they are no longer two, but one...” (Matthew 19)

Two become one? Any first grader will tell you something is wrong with that arithmetic. But God’s math can be a bit mysterious. He is, after all, three in one. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are One God. 1+1+1=1. Try to define that algorithm. It’s a mystery!

0.5 + 0.5 = 1

We might try an equation like this: 0.5 + 0.5 =1. It seems more logical. Two halves come together to form one whole. Hollywood appears to lean toward this solution. In the famous words of Jerry Maquire, “You complete me”. It sounds romantic, but think about it. Do you really want to be the partial person endlessly searching for your missing half? Or would you prefer the responsibility of being another person’s “completer?” Couples who adhere to this equation are looking to their spouse to fulfill them. They are looking for a savior. Take it from someone who has tried that approach - humans make terrible saviors! They fail us. They disappoint us. They do not make our broken parts whole like we wish they could.

1 + 1 = 2

Here is some good sound math. 1+1=2. I think people settle on this equation in an effort to hold on to their individuality. They don’t want to lose their identity in any relationship. These couples light the unity candle at their wedding but don’t blow out their own candles. In some areas of our marriage, we feel like this equation is an accurate summation. We are two very distinct individuals. Sometimes I ask myself, what was God thinking when he put us together? Our twoness frequently overshadows areas of unity. We see our combined humanity in this equation: two selfish people, two prideful people, and two separate people. Although the product of this equation looks larger, the end result is emptier. It can feel more like 1+1=0.

1 + 1 = 1

So, how can 1 + 1 equal 1? It doesn’t compute. This is not your average equation. Something supernatural is happening here! With God’s math we are all we were meant to be. We don’t bring less than our full self in order to somehow balance the equation, and we are not two people living separate lives. When we reflect on God’s mysterious math, we are thankful that somehow in his kingdom two whole people join together to become one whole unit. This does not happen over night, not even on a wedding night. We believe marriage is a pursuit of this oneness.


We like formulas: add this, subtract that and voila! If only it were that simple. When we look at our journey, we see how our strongest areas of union have come through our most difficult trials. Is that encouraging? Maybe not on the surface, but if you look a little deeper we trust you’ll find hope. Doing the hard work, crunching the budget numbers, calling a marriage counselor – each time we choose to face a tough situation together and each time we choose to talk things out instead of pretending, we take another step toward oneness.

Maybe James was talking to couples when he said: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Persevere in your marriage. Know that in every conflict there is potential for growth. As we come together through our challenges we mature. We become complete, not lacking, whole. Mysteriously, two become one.

Try This

Is there a trial you faced together that brought maturity to your marriage? Take time to celebrate!

How do your numbers add up? Check out for a Financial Peace University class near you. It is worth the investment in your finances and your marriage.

Plan a quiet evening to have an honest conversation about one area in which you feel more like two and less like one.

(Our September article for Austin Faith & Family received some deep cuts for I've included the entire draft here)

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