Man is to woman as sodium is to chlorine

October 06, 2013
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By Jasbir T. Singh |

What on earth does sodium and chlorine have to do with man and woman? I may be out to lunch on this, but when I was reflecting on God's magnificent creation of the entire universe as we know it, I started thinking about mathematics and chemistry, probably because I used to teach these subjects in high school.

I was struck with the notion that the bond between one sodium atom and one chlorine atom is an interesting analogy to the bond between a man and a woman, or more precisely between husband and wife.

While reading the next few paragraphs about the chemistry of sodium and chlorine, keep the analogy in mind and see if you can spot some similarities.

If you think back to chemistry class in high school, you will recall that one atom of sodium (Na) and one atom of chlorine (Cl) combine to form a new compound, table salt (NaCl). But separately, they are completely different and have radically different properties. Sodium on its own is a soft, bright, silvery metal. It is highly reactive and may ignite spontaneously on water. Chlorine on the other hand is a greenish yellow gas that acts as an irritant, and a few breaths of it can be fatal. In liquid form, it will burn the skin.

However, when sodium and chlorine are in proximity, the sodium atom has a spare electron to give away, and it fits perfectly in the chlorine atom, which needs one electron to become stable. This donation creates an electrostatic force of attraction between the two, and bingo, a strong ionic bond is formed to create salt.
sodium and chlorine form an ionic bond to create table salt (NaCl)
image taken from Wikimedia Commons

Anyone who has studied ratios in mathematics class will also remember that a
ratio refers to a relationship between numbers of the same kind, often
expressed as a is to b or a:b.
Both terms in a ratio are considered to make up the whole. For instance, in the salt example, we can say that there is a one to one ratio of sodium to chlorine (1 Na: 1 Cl) to make up the whole (i.e. salt).

When you think about it, it's nothing short of miraculous that when
these two seemingly opposite elements unite, an entirely new product is
formed. Yes, I think the formation of salt is one example of God's miracles, yet we take it for granted, consuming it every day.

I think this basic review of chemistry and mathematics has a lot to say about men and women, and humanity in general. When a man is single, he yearns to find a woman in order to "donate his electron". Women have often been heard saying "he completes me". This may have to do with her desire for "stability".  Earlier I mentioned that chlorine needs sodium's electron to become stable. At first I thought this analogy was rather amusing, but then things started getting interesting.

Just as sodium and chlorine combine to produce something entirely new, i.e. salt, husband and wife unite to produce something new - a child. If the bond between sodium and chlorine is ionic, then the bond between husband and wife is love (marriage is a covenant relationship).

Unfortunately, we also know that when salt dissolves in water, then the ionic bonds can break to form individual sodium (Na+) and chlorine (Cl-) ions.
NaCl(s) → Na+(aq) + Cl-(aq)
It's quite common for boyfriends and girlfriends to break up; but the intent of the Catholic understanding of marriage is a life long commitment, "until death do us part".

Finally, here's the kicker. In the Bible there is actually a passage where Jesus tells us to be the salt of the earth:
"You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden under foot by men." (Matthew 5:13)
The Catholic Church teaches that there are certain characteristics of The People of God. Section 782 from the Catechism of the Catholic Church makes reference to "salt of the earth" as stated in bold text below:
Its mission is to be salt of the earth and light of the world. This people is "a most sure seed of unity, hope, and salvation for the whole human race."
So there you have it. I am inclined to believe that there is something more to salt than just meets the eye. Salt is essential for all known living creatures in small quantities. It regulates water balance in the body, and the sodium ion itself is used for electrical signaling in the nervous system.

Husbands and wives complement each other and are better when they are together than when they are apart. They depend on each other, and are responsible for the family unit, the fundamental building block of all healthy, well functioning societies. If the family unit breaks down, then societies will eventually break down.

Without salt, the world would be a lonely and tasteless place!

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