To Know and to Be Known

a happy couple

Green light seeped through his cracked eyelids and he immediately began rubbing his eyes. He could tell he’d been out for a bit, sleeping deeper than ever in his life. The last thing he remembered was his friend muttering something to himself about being alone, and then the sleep took him.

Opening his eyes fully, he saw the familiar pristine tree canopy and let out a loud yawn as he noticed a rock prodding him in the shoulder rather uncomfortably. He sat up and began brushing the leaves off his body before he noticed a new mark on his side. He started to look closer at this strange thing when a voice from behind him interrupted his inspection.

“Oh, good. You’re up.”

The voice wasn’t his friend’s. It was much more delicate. More beckoning, if that made sense. His friend’s voice called to him in a deep way, sure, but this one flooded light through his entire being. It reflected in his heart like no creature’s voice he knew, and he knew them all. Nature was his favorite hobby, you could say. This shockingly colorful voice was completely new. He had to find its source!

Spinning on the moss and scattered leaves, he turned and saw the second most beautiful thing he’d ever seen. It looked partly like his friend, but very distinct. Maybe better in a way. Definitely more suited to some purpose. The sight reverberated in him, echoes of eternity, majesty, and glory thrumming in his chest. He was awakened in a whole new way, his eyes opened like never before.

The beauty stood and walked to him, the most mesmerizing thing he’d ever seen. It reached out a hand, a hand like his friend’s, a hand like his own but infinitely more comely. And the voice came again, from its exquisite lips. “Hi, I’m Eve. What’s your name?”

He took the hand in his own and tasted electricity and honey in his fingertips, and the flavor sent a “whoa” through his lips. Standing there, savoring the sugary sweetness, he realized he hadn’t answered the Eve’s question. “Man,” he replied. “I’m man — uh, Adam.”

“Nice to meet you,” it said, shaking his hand, tugging on his soul as it did. Suddenly its beautiful belly swelled outward, its lovely chest expanded, and it leaned backward with a hand awkwardly positioned on the small of its back. “Oh, look!” it shouted with glee. “We’ll call it Cain.”

And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived… (Genesis 4:1)

Of Knowledge

The Hebrew word yāda’ means to know, but obviously this is more than an intellectual awareness. Knowing in this intimate way, this most intimate way, is a soul-tying experience. And from the time of Creation to today’s information age, this is still the pinnacle of knowledge.

“When two members of this godlike, cerebral species approach the heights of communication between themselves, what do they do? Think? Speculate? Meditate? No, they take off their clothes.”
—T. Howard

T. Howard wrote, “This is piquant irony. Here we are with all our high notions of ourselves as intellectual and spiritual beings, and the most profound form of knowledge for us is the plain business of skin on skin. It is humiliating. When two members of this godlike, cerebral species approach the heights of communication between themselves, what do they do? Think? Speculate? Meditate? No, they take off their clothes. Do they want to get their brains together? No. It is the most appalling of ironies: their search for union takes them quite literally in a direction away from where their brains are.”

I might not call it appalling, but I can certainly appreciate the irony. When my wife’s intelligence turns me on, it makes no rational sense, even if I try to separate mind from matter. Because I can’t separate them. And I shouldn’t. God created us as a threefold entity — spirit, soul, and body — and sex offers a tangible way to share all three with another, to know each other in a paradigm-shifting world.

Virgin eyes see a different world from those that have known and been known.

A Beautiful, Brutal Permanence

This kind of knowledge is unforgettable, even if our mind and skin have long disconnected. A residue of sorts remains, and many new Christians experience a sort of baggage, something connecting them to past lovers in a way their previously not-spiritually-aware selves had remained oblivious to. When they become more spiritually conscious, they realize the truth: what you know in this way, you can’t unknow.

Thankfully, Jesus Christ is in the business of setting captives free, and with honest and deliberate soul-searching and prayer, the burden of this baggage can be lessened. But it never fully goes away.

Decades separate me from a lover, but I never get separated from the knowledge. I mourn the fact I was so careless and can’t share that extra fullness, that extra exclusivity with my wife. My premarital choices left me with an incomplete offering to her in exchange for the complete one she gave me. It was all I had left to give, and thankfully she considered it sufficient, but my Eve deserved better.

Knowing Here and Knowing There

Still, for the rest of my life, I look forward to this sharing, this knowing, this being known by my wife. Her gift to me is my most cherished, and I joyfully bind my spirit, soul, and body to her. Sure, it’s physically rewarding; but the psychological, emotional, mental, and ethereal connections are just as exquisite.

It makes me wonder about heaven. I don’t know if sex has any place in heaven, but I fully believe knowledge does. I suspect our sexuality is a muffled echo of what it will be to know and to be known in that place.

In Mark 12, some Sadducees approached Jesus with a hypothetical question about a seven-time widow who goes to heaven: which husband gets her when she arrives? The Lord’s reply was most curious. “They neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.”

The marriage bed is awesome to behold, to experience, but it’s only a two-dimensional shadow of what awaits us there.

Much speculation about this statement has been made over the centuries, about androgynous angels (a presumptive stretch, if you ask me), about ignorance of past life relationships, the utter loss of individuality, and the like. Personally, I think what Jesus was saying was simply this: “You just don’t understand. Marriage is obsolete up there; there’s something infinitely better.”

Sexuality in marriage is wonderful and beautiful, and I plan to enjoy it to the full for as long as I physically can. Then, I’ll take a pill and enjoy it a while longer, because science is cool like that. But I can’t help but wonder at what something so splendid could only hint at.

The marriage bed is awesome to behold, to experience, but it’s only a two-dimensional shadow of what awaits us there. I can’t wait to know what awaits.

Originally posted 2015-04-20 08:00:42.

Photo credit: andrewrennie / Foter / CC BY-SA
About Phil (250 Articles)
Philip Osgood is a Christian husband, father, and writer who considers himself a passable video game player, fiction reader, camping and hiking enthusiast, welder, computer guy, and fitness aficionado, though real experts in each field might just die of laughter to hear him claim it. He has been called snarky, cynical, intelligent, eccentric, creative, logical, and Steve for some reason. Phil and his beautiful wife Clara live in Texas with their children in a house with a dog but no white picket fence. He does own a titanium spork from ThinkGeek, though, so he must be alright.