duodecimal-handNext week Meg and I will celebrate twelve years of marriage. A dozen. Thinking about this made me question the origin of the word “dozen”  – for that matter, why are there a dozen eggs in a carton? Why isn’t everything based on ten. After all, that is when our numeric system moves toward double digits… only after googling “dozen” I discovered what you probably already know –  a ten based system is only one of the world’s many number systems.

We use the decimal numeral system, which is ten based. There is also the duodecimal numeral system, which is twelve based — this means the system becomes double digits at twelve.1 Our clock and calendar are still twelve based. Which makes sense, because there are about twelve moon cycles in a calendar year.

1 Decimal system: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
Duodecimal system: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, ᘔ, Ɛ, 10
In the Duodecimal system – 11 equals thirteen, 20 equals twenty-four, 100 equals one hundred and forty four (rather than ten ten’s, 100 would be twelve twelve’s)

It may not seem like a big change, but if we switched our number system, we would see the world differently. Decades would last longer. For that matter, we would be nowhere close to the new millennium. A millionaire would be richer. We would no longer count by our fingers – though Wikipedia states we would use our thumbs to count our finger’s digits (see the photo). Think of the radical change to mathematics! Twelve inches in a foot would finally make sense, and we would wonder why the silly metric based folks would not come on board!

But if taught from birth, the duodecimal system would make total sense. We could not image a ten based system. It would be insanity.

How you approach marriage can change everything. In Ephessians 5, Paul takes up the discussion of marriage. We often get hung up on the idea of submission and miss the other concepts in the passage. A key portion is repeating the Genesis idea that husband and wife become one in the flesh. “In this same way, husbands ought to love their wive as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself” (v28).

Can we grasp this idea to love our wife is to love ourselves? Or to love our husband is to love ourselves? This selfless love runs counter to the rest of our experience growing up. When the world is hard and difficult – selfishness is built into our existence. We need to fill our own cup… but this image of marriage would have us fill our spouse’s cup, while they fill ours.

This is risky. It only works if both individuals are submitting in love to each other (if only one participates it could devolve into abuse). And yet a marriage with you both pouring into each other… how good is that married life?! No longer a ball and chain, holding one another back. Instead married life is overflowing into a river. It propels each person forward by love.

This week let us break with selfishness. And find ways to love our spouse as they desire.


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