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The Bonding Ladder--What All Teens and Those Dating For Marriage Need to Understand


We're going to go back to the very first family, we're going to go see the whole family that began when Adam said to the Lord, he said, "Lord, I'm lonely."  And God said, "I understand that, you've been here alone a long time.  Tell you what.  I'll make you a companion.  She'll be beautiful.  She'll worship the ground upon which you walk, she'll clean your house, she'll cook your food, she'll fulfill you every dream."  Adam says, "That sounds great!"  Adam says, "That sounds expensive though, what's she going to cost me?" and God said to Adam, "She'll cost you an arm and a leg."  Adam thought about that a moment and said, "Lord, what can I get for a rib?"   And that's how the whole process of family began.  Now of course when Eve showed up Adam was very, very pleased, and as he was commenting to the Lord about the beautiful women that he'd created, you know, he said, "Lord, she is so beautiful.  Why'd you make her so beautiful?"  And God said, "Adam, so you'll look at her."  And Adam said "Lord, you made her skin so soft, why did make her have so soft skin?"  And the answer was, "Adam, so that you would love to touch her."  And Adam said a third question, he says, "Her voice, when she speaks I just melt, why'd you make her voice that way?"  And the answer was "Adam, so that you would love to listen to her."  And then the fourth question was, "But Lord, why'd you make her so stupid?"  And God said "So she'd love you."  So that's how this whole thing began.  Not much of that you'll find in the Bible, but it makes for a great story.  We're going to talk today about that first family.  We're going to spend most of our time in the book of Genesis.  We're going to walk through the creation process and how God created man and woman and how he expected them to respond to one another.  Let's go back to understand the bonding process that God built into us as humans.  So why don't you take a look at Genesis chapter one, verse 27, and let's see if we can give you some background on this bonding.  It says in Genesis 1:27, "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them."  Now at first reading, it appears that God created Adam and Eve both at the same time, but in reality, the way the Hebrews would often write, they would make an over-arching statement that would give you the basics, then they would follow up with the details.  [That is classic journalistic newspaper writing style].  So Genesis chapter one is the basics of creation.  Genesis 2 is more of the detail.  And the interesting thing about this, it says, "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he create him..."  Now some aspects of God's personality are best described in male terms and some aspects of God are best described in female terms.  I'm not saying that God is a woman, so relax on that one, but I am saying he is gracious, he is kind, his is compassionate and he responds to us lovingly, kindly, supportively--which are often associated with many female aspects.  But he can also be pretty tough on us too, which are generally described more in terms of male aspects.  But the point is this.  That when God created Adam, man, he built into that man some elements of personality that were distinctly male and some that were distinctly female.  Now for those of you Biblical scholars who are going "Wait a minute, Dave.  You're making this up."  No, if you look at Genesis chapter two, verse seven, it says, "The Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life."  The Hebrew says "lives", it's plural.  One being and God breathed into him the breath of "lives", and he became a living being, singular.  So understand that one man was created in the image of God with the breath of "lives" in him, and yet he was a singular being.  Now man was created in the image of God.  That's the first thing that you really need to jot down to understand this.  God is a relational being, God is really a relationship--Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  And it shouldn't surprise us then that he creates us to be relational beings.  And there within that first man there were two distinctly different aspects of his personality.  Adam was so complete that he didn't even know that he needed a companion.  He was completely fulfilled as a human being.  We know that because in Genesis chapter two verse 18 God had to bring to the awareness of Adam that he needed a partner.  And so he brought alongside of Adam this animal parade as I call it, where all the animals would be named, with the hope that Adam would catch on to the fact that he needs a partner too.  In fact, let's just read it.  In Genesis 2:18 it says, "The Lord God said, 'It is not good for man to be alone, I will make a helper suitable for him.  Now the Lord had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air, and he brought them to the man to see what he would name them.  So the man gave names to all the livestock and all the birds of the air, and all beasts of the field, but"--look at that last phrase--"but for Adam no suitable helper was found."  So the purpose wasn't just to name all the animals, the purpose was to find a suitable helper.  And no doubt as Adam was naming all these animals that are coming by, no doubt he noticed that everybody had a date except him.  One two, one two, one two, and no doubt he noticed that everybody had a companion that was different, a male and a female--male and female.  And this began to raise his awareness that "something is missing from my life."  And no doubt he grew very nervous when he got to the last three creatures, an aardvark, a rhinoceros and a hippo and he hadn't found a helper that was suitable for him.  Aren't you glad, gentlemen?   You could be sitting next to an orangutan this morning if that would have struck his fancy.  He did not find a helper that was suitable for him.  And so, it says, "that woman was created from the side of man."  Look at Genesis 2:21, right after the little animal parade it says, "So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep, and while he was sleeping he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh.  And then the Lord God made woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man, and the man said, 'This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh, and she shall be called woman for she was taken out of man.'"  Man was created in the image of God with two distinctive elements, some that are best described in female terms, and some that are best described in male terms.  Woman was not created from the dirt of the ground like the animals and like Adam, but was created from man.  In fact, that's what it says here.  Literally, in the Hebrew man was Ish and woman was Isha, so it was kind of a "Ish, Isha, Uhh," that was kind of the initial response of these two.  And she's called woman, and of course the entomology of that one is --"WO! Man!"  I mean, that's the idea that's coming from Adam.  He said, 'Wrap her up God, I'll take her.  No on second thought I'll take her just the way she is!'  I mean, this lady scored on his mentalities and he really liked what he saw.  Now the third thing to jot down under this is that, men and women were magnetically charged toward one another.  You see, in Genesis 2:24 it says "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, be united to his wife, they'll become one flesh."  You see, here it is in the beginning, Adam was created in the image of God, with some distinctively male aspects of personality, some distinctively female.  Then woman was separated from him.  And the female characteristics went with her.  And the male characteristics stayed with Adam.  We still have that distinctive difference in our lives today.  We spent two weeks talking about those innate differences in our psyche as men and women.  And you see what happened is as they were pulled apart, there was a magnetic charge between them to draw them back together, so that Adam would have companionship, and Eve would have fellowship, and they would have a relationship, because we are relational beings.  It's beautiful.  I call it Velcro of the souls.  That's what God really did.  There was this ripping sound, Adam & Eve, and then they had this strong desire, pull to come back together.

In this wonderful bonding process God created  you to bond with another human being.  And even the bonding process is mentioned in these verses, you can see it.  There was 1st the looking, Adam looked, and he said, "I like what I see."  And then there was the leaving.  It says "and for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother."  And now Adam didn't leave Mom and Dad, because they weren't around.  But from then on out it was like "See ya Mom and Dad, I like her."  Or, "I like him."  And then there was the next step in that boding process, where there's the uniting, and the final step where there is one flesh, they're naked and unashamed.  So what I want you to catch this morning, as we begin to understand this, is the background on a bonding, is that God created us to have that Velcro of the souls to come together and be united and be fulfilled in that relationship.  That was his plan.  And the process is outlined in these verses I just mentioned.  Looking, leaving, uniting and one flesh.  And within that process of those four major steps there are three minor steps between each of them, and I want to touch on them so you'll understand how this bonding process happens.


1. First Major Stage--The Look


So the very first thing that happened that's in the process of bonding, there is the look.  Genesis 2:23, the man said, "This is bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh, she'll be called woman because she was taken out of me", and the point is "I like what I see Lord!"  And there was that look, the first initial contact between Adam and Eve.  There were three stages to it.  And in every civilization throughout this world, every group of people go through these same 12 steps that we're going to talk about that are really under the four main headings of look, then leave, then unite, and one flesh.

a.  And so the first thing (or step) that happens is Eye to body.  So write that one down.  Under the "look" write "eye to body".  Nothing sexual here, it is simply that feeling you get when you see somebody and say "Where have you been all my life?"  You all remember that.  That feeling of "What a spectacular human being."  Or when you're a junior high-er and ask yourself "why is my heart pounding like this?" because you really don't understand.  I still remember the first time I saw Marylyn in kindergarten.  "Where have you been all my life!"--all three years, you know, thump, thump, thump, "Marylyn!"  You see, it does that to us, there is that "Whoa!"  And that's the first step. 

b.    The second step under the looking process is eye to eye.  There's nothing sexual here either, gazing into the eyes of someone else.  It's that feeling that says, "I can't seem to keep my eyes off you and I don't even know your name", and you find yourself staring.  And suddenly when you're caught staring, it's like "Oops!", you're a little embarrassed.  Because, you see, within that nature, the way God made every single one of us, is that when you meet a stranger on the street and your eyes meet, you'll instinctively look away.  Ever notice that?  And when you look away, you say, "I'm not interested."  "I don't want to talk, this relationship is going nowhere--Boom!"--look away.  But, you see, on the other hand, when you make eye contact, and you continue to make eye contact, and perhaps then there's a little smile, it sends a powerful message that says "We just might get better acquainted."  And every human being in the bonding process goes through those first two stages, first the Look--"Hey, where you been all my life!?"--and second, the eye to eye--it sends the signal "Let's get acquainted." 

c.    And that leads to the third step, and that is the voice to voice.  That is when you first say that opening line, what you guys practiced when you were junior-high-ers.  You know, "Haven't I met you somewhere before?"  You know, all those crazy lines that guys use that ladies get so sick of hearing, but there is that opening line. 


 2nd Major Stage--Leaving


And then God described in Genesis 2, verse 24 the leaving.  It says, "for this reason".  What reason?  The bonding process, "a man shall leave his father and mother."  In the leaving process there are a couple of steps involved and everybody goes through these.  It's very normal for a boy's interest to shift from Mommy to Melanie, or for a little girl's interest to shift from Daddy to Derrick.  I mean, that's the way God made us.  We suddenly are no longer quite so interested in Mom and Dad, and there are bold new horizons out there, and so you begin to leave Mom and Dad, and you begin to look for a person for whom you can bond with.

a.  And that usually begins after these first three steps, with the hand to hand, that's the fourth step.  So write that one down.  It's not hand to hand combat, it's hand to hand holding.  And it's a social statement.  It says "we're in this together.  "It's not necessarily romantic, it can just say "I like you."    "we have a good relationship."  In fact, in many cultures of the world boys hold hands with boys and girls hold hands with girls.  And that's just part of the whole bonding process that's a social statement that says "we're going to stick together." 

b.                                  The next step of this is the hand to shoulder, that's the 5th step.  And it's not a hug, it is a sideways thing where you pull somebody close together to you and it just basically says as you put your arm on her shoulder, "we have a special relationship."  It's the same thing that says "It's great to see you."  It's the same thing that says "I'll miss you, and I look forward to seeing you again."  Purely above board, but it is a part of the bonding process. 

c.                                  And then their is the sixth step, and that is hand to waist.  And this is what you've seen so many junior-high-er's  do, where they put their arm around each other, and they put their hand right on the waist right there, and they're locked together and they can hardly walk because they are squeezed so closely together.  Well, that's this step.  They're glued together at the hip, and at this point communication becomes more intimate, you're moving closer.  You're saying "we have a lot in common", and "we have a lot to talk about."  And this, by the way, is the last chance to get out of the bonding process without hurting someone.  Because, you see, when you go on to the next steps, suddenly dignity is on the line.  When you go on to steps 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12 the higher the step, the more dignity is on the line.  And so, young people, who are just casually dating, casually developing friendships, ought to stop right here.  Now I know that sounds rather narrow minded and old fashioned, but there's good reason to.  Because then your heart isn't on the line and your dignity isn't on the line, and if you decide you don't really like this person, it's easy to walk away and there are no strings attached.  We really need that kind of freedom for our young people.  So you older guys, if you're dating someone, and you're really not that interested in marriage, you ought not be going any further up this bonding ladder than here--because you're only bringing potential hurt and pain to the one you're dating--and being very selfish in the process.  If you don't want to buy the land, stop drinking from the well, it's not yours!  And it's not fair.  It amounts to leading someone on, tying up their interests in you when you have no intentions of getting serious about the relationship.  I would say going further than this when there is no immediate interest in marriage amounts to sin, plain and simple.  God's Law exists so people don't hurt people.  Going further up the bonding ladder when no immediate interest in marriage is there hurts the other person.  Isn't that sin?


3rd Major Stage--Uniting


So, first there is the looking, then there is the leaving, and then it says in Genesis 4:24, it says, "for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be united to his wife."  That's the 3rd major stage, with three minor's also.  There is the uniting.  This is the first intimate contact.  King James Bible says "cleave", so it's "Look, leave and cleave".  It rhymes kind of nicely and it's easy to remember those basic steps.  But in this stage there are three minor steps.

a.  Step number seven, which is face-to-face.  This is where that person is no longer at your side, but suddenly they are in front of you, face to face.  You're staring into one another's eyes.  It is at this point that intimate kissing begins.  And it's at this point that a full frontal hug takes place.  You see, there are two kinds of hugs you can give to someone.  One kind of hug is the non-sexual hug and we have a built in mechanism that God gave us to help send a signal to someone and that is, when you hug someone and you pat 'em on the back, it means that there is no sexual interest here.  You'll be amazed how often that happens.  But on the other hand when a guy grabs a girl or a girl grabs a guy and there's just the bear hug, or maybe the massaging of the back, it sends a powerful message that you're moving up this bonding ladder.     So that's the next step, the face to face.

b.                              And then there is the hand to head [step # 8].  And in the hand to head part of this uniting process, it's when you finally allow someone else close enough to you to touch your face, to touch your head, to stroke your hair, to trace your ear.  You see, we're very sensitive about who touches our heads.  You know it's a very vulnerable part of our body and so we don't really let too many people get too close to us.  We instinctively protect it.  And so whenever we finally allow someone to get close enough to touch our heads, we are putting a lot of ourselves on the line, we're demonstrating a tremendous amount of trust.

c.                               And then there is the next step, and that is the 9th step of the uniting process--and that is the hand to body.  And this is where you have greater freedom to touch one another, not a sexual touch, touching private parts here, but rather you're free enough to touch that person's thigh or to slap 'em on the backside and say "See you later" or whatever it is.  But the point is, is that you have greater freedom to touch one in places other than private parts.  And that is the uniting process [or stage].  So there is the leaving, and then there is the uniting. 


4th Stage--One Flesh


And then there is finally in the bonding process of Genesis 2, it says in verse 24, "for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, and be united to his wife, and become one flesh."  There's the one flesh, that's the final stage, that's total intimacy.  It says in verse 25 "they were naked and felt no shame."  That's the way God created us to be.  Now there are three more steps, 10, 11 and 12 that we could list for you, but we'd lose our PG rating here, and so we're not going to go through those.  Just use your imagination and you're probably pretty close, and the ultimate is you become one flesh, uniting sexually with one another.  Now it's important to understand the bonding process for a couple of reasons.  One is because your first bond, that Velcro of your souls coming together, tends to affect all later bonds.  And that's because God really designed us to have that bond that will last for a lifetime.  I know that's not popular, I know it will be offensive to some of you, but that's God's standard and God's ideal.  Now when we fall short of his ideal, he graciously comes alongside of us and helps us out, but that's the ideal.

        But the second thing to understand about this bonding process, that once you've traveled up that bonding ladder, future trips are traveled much more quickly.  The tragedy of what's happening to a generation of young people is that they have quickly rushed up that bonding ladder, they are experiencing one another sexually, but because they haven't taken the time to work through the steps, the ladder is weak at the bottom, the bonding has not really occurred, and so they get up here to the intimacy of the one flesh experience, and of course it doesn't have the fulfilling and meaning that it should because there's no intimacy involved, it's only an act, and as a result the relationship falls apart.  And what happens then is that people tend to rush on into the next one, and they quickly travel up that bonding ladder, and they find no fulfillment again.  Because that first imprint of that first initial bond colors all the rest of the bonding process.  That's why we have to shout loudly and clearly to our young people--so they understand this process--so they can protect that future one lifelong bond.          The goal for a couple who is bonded together [in marriage] is to travel up and down that bonding ladder regularly, several times during the week, every single week, so that bond stays strong.      

[This article was created from excerpts from Pastor Dave Moore's sermon The Anatomy of an Affair.  Pastor Moore is Senior Pastor of Southwest Community Church, in Palm Desert, California.]

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