“I will counsel you and watch over you” Psalm 37
Procreation may well be humanity’s major interest in any relationship between the sexes, the perpetuation of the species; but marriage has other great benefits, to say the least. One of them is lessons in how we see.
I’m not interested in some gender war, but I’ve found—through forty years of marriage—that my wife and I perceive things in different ways. Let me say it more bluntly: often as not, my wife and see different things in different ways.
Years ago, she told me she didn’t trust one of my acquaintances. I had no idea what she was talking about. “His eyes,” she said, as if the answer were thus apparent.
No clue. “What about his eyes?” I asked her.
“Just look at them,” she said.
Didn’t help. I still didn’t get it. The guy remained a friend, but not quite as close, not because I’d saw clearly what she had but because of what she had, and I trusted her.
It struck me then—and it has since—that men and women perceive things in different ways. I’m no anthropologist, but here’s the way I came to understand the differences. A woman’s perceptions have been sharpened by the necessity of centuries of the defensive maneuvering they have to do, living as they do among, well, predatory males.
I know, I sound like an evolutionist. But consider this. My wife and I are not, nor were we ever, in the same weight class. I’m not a violent man (ask her), but for all of our lives together my wife has had to eat, drink, and sleep with someone who outweighs her by (shamefully) more than 100 pounds, so big, in other words, that he could, should some madness attack, break a significant number of bones in her body.
Now I, on the other hand, have never lived with someone who could hurt me so easily, but most women do. That her perceptual strengths differ from mine—and that she’s inherited perceptions in her DNA that aren’t my own—seems to me quite obvious. All I’m saying is this: we don’t always see the same things, and part of the reason for that is that “male and female created he them.”
The God of the Bible is beyond gender. Our assessment of the Trinity includes the designation “Father,” of course, and the Bible speaks of him as a male most often. As the creator and sustainer of the universe, he—make that God—has never really had to think defensively. Maybe his perceptions are closer to mine, not my wife’s. I’ll never know that, of course, and I’m not about to lose any sleep because I don’t.
The NIV translates the second half of verse 8 of Psalm 32 this way: “I will counsel you and watch over you.” That’s just fine with me. But I prefer the King James’s “I will guide thee with mine eye,” a divine eye hovering somewhere around, all. the. time.
Reminds me of that eye in Poe’s famous short story, “The Tell-tale Heart,” the eye that wouldn’t let the murderer alone. It also brings to mind the invisible eyeball in Emerson’s “Nature,” that odd image Waldo creates to document his vision as he was crossing what he calls “a bare common.”
“I will guide thee with mine eye.” There’s something memorable about that image.
“Male and female created he them.” God’s perceptions, I’m sure, include both of ours—mine and hers. And if that’s true—and I’m sure it is—then I have no reason to fear, no reason not to sleep in his care and love.