Rabbi’s Reflections – Sunday, December 19, 2021
Thank You, Linda, for Sixty Blessed Years of Marriage
and A Few Comments about Marriage
by Dr. Raymond Finney
INTRODUCTION: I have the privilege of writing a RR every Sunday. I try to make the RRs about God in three Persons. I only infrequently mention myself and, then, in a tangential manner. The RRs should be about Judeo-Christian faith– not about me.
That notwithstanding, taking a one-week hiatus from the Olivet Discourse series, I make an exception today. I want to write about the gratitude I have that Linda Hunley became Linda Finney on December 22, 1961. This RR is addressed to her, but you can read it, if you wish. Linda is a very private person, and this RR will embarrass her. Sorry, Linda, but I mean well. To make the RR less personal, I will also discuss a few Biblical teachings about marriage.
Some in the Shomair community of Believers have probably celebrated wedding anniversaries longer than the sixtieth anniversary Linda and I will celebrate next Wednesday. Congratulations. I regret I cannot acknowledge each long-lived marriage. I am proud, though, of the sixty years of a solid, faithful marriage shared by Linda and me– especially when many marriages break up in divorce after only a few years and some modern unions ignore the Bible’s one man, one woman formula for marriage.
MY LINDA: Again, please excuse the personal nature of this RR, as I reminisce about my sixty years of marriage to an exceptional lady. I promise to wait another sixty years before again writing anything this personal.
I was introduced to Linda (blind date) by my high school and college best friend. Linda was only fifteen, and a student at Bearden High School (Knox County). I was eighteen, and a student at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Yes, we were very young, but this was in the late 1950s in southern Appalachia. Relax. It has a happy ending.
She later told me she had a terrible time on our first date, a movie date, and resolved never to date me again. On the other hand, I was immediately attracted to this sweet, gorgeous young lady. A few days later, I invited her to attend a performance of “Elijah: An Oratorio” at my church. She later confided that she was willing to give me a second chance, since I invited her to a church service. She thought, “Well, maybe he’s not all that bad.” Felix Mendelssohn is not usually considered to be a matchmaker. On that magical Sunday evening, though, he was. Honestly, I do not remember one note of “Elijah,” but I very much remember Linda.
I almost immediately knew I wanted this sweet, beautiful, little girl to be my wife some day. Fearing a long line of suitors would be knocking on her door, I arranged a heavy dating schedule with her. We went rapidly through the usual sequence of exclusive dating, “going steady” (is this term now obsolete?), and engagement. By the time she was a senior in high school, I was a second-year student in medical school. I mention this because she was living at home in Knoxville and I was living in a dormitory in Memphis (450 miles or so away and before the Interstate highway system was built).
A few months after her graduation, we eloped. We planned a later formal wedding, but our first-born child (a daughter) decided to mess up this plan by being born in October of 1962. She was a cutie, and made up for any disappointment our elopement may have caused our relatives.
Experts would have given our marriage little chance for survival. We were young and very poor. We lived in near slum conditions in Memphis. (Memphis’ urban renewal has now torn down all of our former residences.) We ate the cheapest food that could be legally sold as “food.” We could not afford an automobile, television, or anything other than rent for our cheap, dimly lit apartment. For our only entertainment, we walked to the Mississippi River bank in late evening. (I now realize how dangerous this was.) Our fallback entertainment was to name the roach bugs scurrying around our apartment.
Linda never once complained, though. We looked to the future, not the present.
Raymond Trail: A fault I have observed for marriages of young people today is that they immediately want all of the things their parents have. It took many years for parents to collect essential and luxury items today’s newlyweds want and expect from the moment they say, “I do.” END RT.
By living with so little in early marriage, Linda and I were conditioned to live always within our means and to be grateful for everything we have, whether little or abundant. The Apostle Paul led a much, much more difficult life than was our life, but he, too, was always grateful. For example, (1 Thessalonians 5:16, 18): Rejoice always, |…| in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Messiah Yeshua. – AND – (Philippians 4:6-7): Do not be anxious about anything– but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the shalom of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Messiah Yeshua.
Our families were four-hundred and fifty miles away. We had to figure out everything on our own, without “mama” advising us what to do. We charted unknown territory every day of our marriage, but the fact that we had to figure out things on our own made our marriage much stronger and more resilient. I truly am grateful for the meager years of our early marriage.
I do not consider the early years of marriage anything but the happiest of times. I had married the love of my life. We were healthy. After the initial surprise, we were grateful that God entrusted a little baby to us.
In rapid order, He entrusted four little babies to us. (Did I sleep through the lectures on contraception?) These “babies” are now adults, of course. In order of birth, our living children are Deborah, Charles, and John. Sadly, our second child, Raymond III, died unexpectedly from natural causes in November of 2018. Because of Linda’s dedication, all of my children achieved the one thing I desired of them– that they become good people. We have two grown grandchildren (also very good people) – Alex and Taylor. Our children still come to eat Linda’s superb cooking every Sunday afternoon, and their visit is the highlight of our week.
THANK YOU, LINDA: I wish to thank Linda in this public forum for sixty years of wonderful marriage. I believe women, as a gender, are superior to men. I am like most men I know. We men commonly marry “above” ourselves. I certainly did. Linda is a much nicer person than I am. Do not complain to Rabbi Weiner about my belief that women are generally superior to men. I am entitled to my beliefs. As a television comedienne (Mrs. Slocum in “Are You Being Served?”) frequently remarked, “I am unanimous in my opinion.”
SIDELIGHT: I have deleted a section about the reasons many men who pursue a macho lifestyle are harming their wives, children, communities, and God’s Kingdom. It is time to love God the Father and neighbors more than beer drinking, sports, and other masculine endeavors.
I realize I am “preaching to the choir.” Men I have met at Shomair seem to be respectful, God-fearing family men, unlikely to be guilty of the transgressions I have outlined. As a society, though, the American family is crumbling at an alarming rate. As Yeshua said (Mark 3:25): “And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.”
Sidelight: We need to unite society’s “house” in America, so that it is no longer divided and unable to stand. The ways to strengthen society’s “house” are contained in the Holy Bible. A “house” (more specifically, the family comprising a “house”), built on Biblical principles, will withstand the storms of life. END sidelight.
Linda is an exceptionally sweet, kind person. The Bible has much to say about marriage and the value of a good, honorable wife and mother. I wish I had space to quote these Scriptures here. I will only say that Linda has fulfilled the Bible’s characteristics of a good wife and mother. God has blessed me through Linda.
Only recently, I learned that while Linda was still in high school, she desired to become a nurse after graduation. As a retired physician, I have known hundreds of nurses in my lifetime. Linda would have been among the best I have ever met. She quietly gave up her dream of becoming a nurse to become my wife and a stay-at-home mom for our four children. I am deeply saddened that she put me above herself, but her ever-present desire to put others’ needs first is typical of who she is.
WHAT ARE SOME REASONS A MARRIAGE MAY LAST? I am not an expert on marriage. (I am probably not an expert on anything else, for that matter. The older I get, the less I seem to really know.) For purpose of this RR and because I am thinking about marriage, I reflect on some reasons a marriage may last for decades:
● Obviously, the couple must live into their senior years to celebrate a long-lived marriage. God has granted Linda and me sufficiently long life spans to reach this anniversary milestone.
● God has set a standard for marriage– a pattern all should observe (Genesis 1:27-28; 2:18, 21-24): God created humankind in His image, in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them. God blessed them and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, fill the land, and conquer it. Rule over the fish of the sea, the flying creatures of the sky, and over every animal that crawls on the land.” |…| Then Adonai Elohim said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. Let Me make a well-matched helper for him.” |…| Adonai Elohim caused a deep sleep to fall on the man and he slept; and He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh in its place. Adonai Elohim built the rib, which He had taken from the man, into a woman. Then He brought her to the man. Then the man said,“This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh from my flesh. This one is called woman, for from man was taken this one.” This is why a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife; and they become one flesh.
I expound on portions of this important Scripture:
□ Adonai is an eternal Spirit. When He created a human “in His image,” it was not a being with humanoid features (eyes, ears, nose, and so forth); it was a creature with an eternal spirit. We call that spirit a “soul.”
□ Adam in Hebrew (אָדָם ) is translated “Man” in English. As far as I know, the first man created in God’s image was merely called “Man.”
□ Adonai recognized several things. A man by himself could not “be fruitful and multiply.” He needed an opposite sex (a woman) to “fill the land” with offspring. If pin-headed evolutionists understood the intricacies of the human body, including the miracle of reproduction, they would abandon classic absurd, simplistic Darwinian theories and stop prattling on about evolution. Darwin, an observational biologist, had no modern science at his command. He described simple, almost childish concepts. (An animal with a tail might find life easier without that tail, and, shazaam, it evolves into an animal without a tail, given sufficient time for this to occur. Oh, good grief!)
□ Recognizing that Adam would be lonely and would need a helper, Adonai created a woman as companion and helper.
□ The creation of the woman may seem strange to some, but it is perfectly logical. Adonai began with Adam (Man), who, being created in Adonai’s image, was given His eternal Spirit (a soul). By taking a rib from Adam and creating a woman around that rib, Adonai performed the first transplant– a “soul transplant” – from Adam to Eve. All generations from Adam and Eve have inherited Adonai’s Spirit (soul). Also, taking a rib from Adam fulfilled Adonai’s procedure of performing a covenant. I prefer to view marriage as a “covenant,” but some prefer “sacrament.”
God’s covenants commonly involved dividing an animal (in this case, Adam), with the shedding of blood (a symbolic foretaste of the New Covenant with shedding of Yeshua’s blood). Solemn vows were uttered (recorded in Genesis). Components of a covenant– the Marriage Covenant between Adam and Chavvah (Eve) – were fulfilled by dividing Adam and removing a rib, with shedding of blood. When we participate in a marriage under Biblical guidelines, we partake of that original Marriage Covenant. Linda and I celebrate our wedding anniversary next Wednesday, but we also celebrate Adonai’s ancient plan to join a man and a woman into one body, creating a family.
□ It was Adonai Elohim who brought the woman to the man (the first marriage). Marriage has been a most important institution, woven throughout Judeo-Christian faith. For example: Yeshua’s first miracle of changing water to wine– thereby announcing the transformation of older Covenants (water purification of sin) to the New Covenant (Yeshua’s shed blood purification of sin) – was performed at a wedding in Cana. And, Yeshua is the Bridegroom, who will someday marry His bride (the “called out ones,” commonly referred to as “the Church” or “the Body of HaMashiach”). The Marriage to the Lamb (Yeshua) is an important last days event. Even at this moment, a Believer should prepare him-/ her-self by not having stain or wrinkle or any such thing,… in order that [he/ she] might be holy and blameless (Ephesians 5:27).
□ I have been unable to find why we call the first woman “Eve.” In the Tanakh, the first woman was named Chavvah ( חַוָּה ), pronounced khaw-VAH. Chavvah translates to the English “Life Giver,” because of woman’s indispensable role in childbirth. I suspect the name “Eve” was assigned to the first woman in Genesis by King James Version translators, who occasionally translated the text the way they wished it to be read, rather than the way it was actually written.
□ Adonai ordained (arranged) the first “marriage” (see Genesis 2:18, 22-24, quoted in a preceding section). When Adam (Man) and Chavvah (Life Giver, “Eve”) were united, the first family (although a dysfunctional family) was created, with a primary task of populating the Earth. A husband and wife were to be joined together to become “one flesh.” Note that Adonai’s formula for marriage is one man and one woman, publicly vowing themselves as husband and wife. All other “marriages,” such as man-man, woman-woman, polygamy, living together, and other arrangements are outside the Scriptural definitions of marriage.
After sixty years of marriage, Linda and I are essentially “one flesh.” We are almost identical in thought and beliefs. This union has both good features and slightly annoying features. A good feature is that we have been together for sixty-three years (three years of courtship and sixty years of marriage). During this time, I cannot recall a significant argument or fight. Shalom has ruled our marriage. An annoying feature is that she sometimes completes my sentences.
SIDELIGHT: In a future RR, I will write about the theory that Adam and Chavvah (Eve) may not have been the first humanoid beings on Earth. This thought involves the pre-Adamite theory and could explain how literal Bible interpreters and evolutionists may not be that far apart in thinking. That is, Neanderthals, not created in Adonai’s spiritual image, may have existed before Adam was created in Adonai’s spiritual image. Humanoid beings, without souls, may have existed for thousands of years before the relatively recent creation of Adam, who possessed a soul. A soul is a wondrous gift, but this gift has major consequences (such as, accountability to a Divine Judge and a personal decision whether to spend eternity in Heaven or Hell). END sidelight.
□ When the Pharisees tried to trick Yeshua, He affirmed Adonai’s plan of marriage (Matthew 19:4-6): “Haven’t you read?” [Yeshua] answered. “He [Adonai Elohim] who created them [humans] from the beginning ‘made them male and female’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no man separate.” Yeshua did not have to contend with the LGBTQIA+ movement and the various gender confusions that beset us today. Some Websites name more than 100 genders. Enough of this nonsense, already!
□ As previously mentioned, the relationship of Yeshua (the Bridegroom) and Believers (Yeshua’s Bride) is based on marriage. Believers will be eternally wed to Him in a spiritual (not a physical) marriage before we enter Heaven. In an earlier RR, I wrote that the earthly ministry of Yeshua closely followed the courtship, betrothal, and marriage of a first-century Jewish couple. Read The Revelation 19:7-9 for passages about Believers’ Marriage to the Lamb (Yeshua) and the following Marriage Feast.
□ In first-century Judaism, marriage occurred in three phases– (1) betrothal, (2) coming of the bridegroom to gather his bride from her village (Earth), and (3) the marriage ceremony and celebratory feast of joy in the village of the bridegroom’s father (Heaven). If you have accepted Yeshua as Savior, you have completed the first phase of your marriage to Him. You are now betrothed to Him, as a spiritual virgin, awaiting the return of your Bridegroom (Yeshua) to take you to your new home in His Father’s village. You should congregate with other spiritual virgins, as they await return of their Bridegroom. Worshiping at Shomair Yisrael Synagogue is such a meeting (see Parable of the Ten Virgins, Matthew 25:1-13; and, Hebrews 10:24-25). The second phase of your marriage will be the Resurrection and Rapture. The third phase of your marriage will be your glorious marriage in Paradise, followed by the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, attended by family, friends, and all brethren in God’s family.
● What about divorce? Yeshua addressed the situation of a broken or failed marriage (Matthew 19:7-9): [The Pharisees] said to [Yeshua], “Why then did Moses command to ‘give her a certificate of divorce and put her away?’” Yeshua said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. Now I tell you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.” The divorce rate in America is said to be approximately 14.9 divorces per 1,000 people per year. This rate is falling– not for good reasons, but for the fact that fewer couples are getting married and are just living together (fewer marriages = fewer divorces). Judeo-Christian denominations differ on whether a divorced man or woman should remarry, citing such Scriptures as Matthew 5:32 and 1 Corinthians 7:11.
● What about adultery? Although some marriages appear to survive adultery, I believe adultery is as close to the “unpardonable sin” of marriage as is possible. An adulterous affair (or affairs) is the ultimate betrayal of the marriage vows. Genetic (DNA) research performed in Great Britain, America, and probably elsewhere, reveal that a surprisingly high percentage of children, each though to be a husband’s child and being raised by him as son or daughter, are actually fathered by another man, known only to the cheating wife. The wording of marriage vows varies by different denominations, but most have a clause that both the bridegroom and the bride pledge to “forsake all others.” God considered sexual morality so important that He made it one of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:14): [God spoke to Moses, for Bnei-Yisrael, now for us] “Do not commit adultery.”
Of the Ten Commandments, not committing adultery is one of the easiest to observe. Some of the commandments are sneaky, and may be violated “a little” without knowing it. But, adultery takes planning and requires a partner. I can truthfully say that I have never been unfaithful to Linda, nor have I ever been tempted. Only Linda knows whether she has been faithful in our marriage, but I have never suspected her infidelity.
● A sampling of other Scriptures about marriage include:
□ Show true love, which is the greatest of the Holy Spirit’s gifts to us, seeking to make love the perfect bond of a union and marriage an honorable institution for both spouses (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, Colossians 3:14).
□ Deal with differences by considering the other person’s viewpoint and without seeking to gain advantage over the other person (1 Corinthians 10:24).
□ Be quick to listen to the spouse, while being slow to speak and slow to anger (James 1:19). One of my pediatrics professors, then in his eighties, taught a one-hour per week class on the art of medial practice. While speaking about the importance of taking a good history, he gave my class advice I still remember: “Young doctors, you never learn anything with your mouth open.”
□ Show respect, being tender and showing honor (Romans 12:10).
□ Be forgiving, covering a “multitude of sins” with love (1 Peter 4:8).
□ Be loyal (Mark 10:9). No one should try to pull apart husband and wife. To pull apart a husband and wife is to destroy a family.
□ Be patient, having oneness in spirit through the bonds of love and peace (Ephesians 4:2-3).
□ Work as a team (Ecclesiastes 4:9). A team of two, working together, accomplishes more than two singletons, working separately. Measurements show that pairing horses or oxen together provides significantly more weight that can be pulled than adding the weight that two horses or oxen can pull separately.
□ Strengthen commitment, as love in the home is far greater and more desirable than wealth (Song of Solomon, 8:7).
□ The one who has found a good spouse has found something of great value (Proverbs 18:22). In other words, quit digging for treasure after you have located treasure. Some people are never satisfied. After marrying a wonderful spouse, someone else’s spouse may seem more desirable, and the seed of adultery is planted. One of the Ten Commandments commands us not to covet anything belonging to a neighbor, which would include the neighbor’s spouse (Exodus 20:17).
□ Do not deal treacherously with the spouse of your youth (Malachi 2:15). It is easy to be blinded by the hormonal lust of youth (called “beer bottle goggles,” by some), only to find less attraction for the spouse years later. A man who may tire of his aging wife should look in the mirror to see if he is showing any signs of aging.
□ Marriage is a partnership. Each spouse should treat the other spouse lovingly and respectfully (Ephesians 5:33). Spouses should meet sexual needs, while avoiding all unfaithfulness with others– not defiling the marriage bed (1 Corinthians 7:3, Hebrews 13:4). God has “yoked together” a husband and wife (Mark 10:9), that they may pull together the burdens of life. Yoking is interesting. In a preceding paragraph I mentioned that a team of two horses or oxen can pull significantly more weight than each horse or ox can pull separately, adding the weights of each animal.
□ The father and mother need to share responsibilities in rearing their children (Proverbs 6:20). How many delinquent children come from a broken home, most commonly a home without the father? The husband/ father is missing in far too many homes. It is difficult, although not impossible, for a single mom to to raise children (especially sons) without the father in the home. We need to applaud single moms.
FINALLY, LINDA: Thank you for marrying me sixty years ago. I love you more today, than I did in 1961. I do not express myself well in personal matters for two reasons:
● My personality type is reserved. It is very difficult for me to express my true feelings to you and our children, but my feelings are just as intense as those who “wear their feelings on their sleeves.” My feelings may be hidden, but they are just as strong.
● My training in medicine taught me to remain calm– to not let true emotions (any emotions) emerge, regardless of the situation.
Our lives are drawing to an end. Only God knows how much longer we will live. I am selfish enough to wish that I die first. The thought that I would need to bury you is too heart-breaking to contemplate. Ray’s death affected me more than you and our children realize.
Whoever goes first, I am confident that we both will live eternally in New Jerusalem. Yeshua promised to build dwelling places (μοναὶ , monai , John 14:2-3) for us in our Father’s house. I hope your monē is immediately next to mine. How wonderful it would be to be in constant contact with you. I mentioned earlier our nightly walks to the Mississippi River bank, when we lived in Memphis. In New Jerusalem, we can sit along the bank of the River of Life (Revelation 22:1-2). What a real estate upgrade!
I hope you would marry me again, if for some reason the need should arise. I would remarry you in a heartbeat. You have been more in a wife, than I could have wished. God truly blessed me on a cold winter night when I first knocked on your front door, and a beautiful teenage girl answered. You not only opened the front door of your Trescott Drive home, you also opened the door of my heart.
WANTED– AN ANNIVERSARY GIFT: It violates all rules of social etiquette to solicit an anniversary gift. I violate these rules today. I ask for an anniversary gift from you. I do not want anything of tangible value or even a note or card. The gift I solicit is this:
● If you have a spouse or a loved one whom you intend to marry, tell him/ her of your love. Gushy, sentimental language is acceptable (if said privately– the rest of us may not fully appreciate your schmaltzy sentiments). By the way, “schmaltz” can indicate either extreme, cloying sensitivity or rendered chicken fat. Language is interesting.
● If your spouse is dead, recall fond, loving memories of him/ her. Shedding tears of happiness for your past lives together is acceptable and may even be therapeutic.
If I have inspired anyone to think a little more fondly about marriage, I have been given a wonderful anniversary gift. If I have caused anyone to share with a loved one the feelings of love I have for my wife and the satisfaction I have for my marriage, I have been given a great gift. Thank you.
Love should be contagious. We should all want to start a “pandemic of love.” Catch it; spread it. Satan and his minions have many anti-love “vaccines,” which you should avoid completely. Shalom and Maranatha.
Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)
Sun 19-Dec-2021 15th of Tevet, 5782
Ex 1:1-17 2 Sa 2 Ps 71 Lk 3 (2 Co 12)