Adam was created first from a little bit of soil and the Lord God Himself breathed the breath of life into his nostrils. So far so good with the image-bearer of the Almighty.
But the first thing God ever said was not good was that the first man Adam was alone.
If anyone but God had said it, the typical trendy Christian literature response might be to say that Adam had his relationship with the Creator. That should have been enough.
But Adam’s relationship with the good Lord was not enough as God saw it. And thus God made a helpmeet suitable for Adam.
From then ’til now, I am convinced most of the dysfunction in how we approach marriage has to do with our either not knowing, underestimating, or else actively rebelling against what Genesis says here about our origin story as a species.
A Good Thing
Proverbs tells us that the man who finds a wife finds a good thing. And yet how we approach and steward marriage goes a long way in our appreciating this. To get an answer for how we should, I propose we look at the origin story of how God made man.
Some might complain that we don’t have a lot to go on there, but I disagree. Every detail and every nuance in the Genesis account is borne out in the rest of what we read in the Bible from cover to cover. Every feature here carries with it profound implications for understanding ourselves and one another rightly.
When it says God created woman in a certain way at a certain time and for two reasons – because it was not good for the man to be alone and because she was to be a helpmeet suitable for the man – we would be wise to lean in and listen close and see whether that bears out when we view this primary relationship in such simplified terms.
In the context of marriage, should a man’s wife not be the best antidote to his loneliness?
God Himself says that loneliness is not good. It’s the very first thing He says is not good in all Creation. But the remedy God provides to loneliness is found in marriage. We should be able to work backwards from that fact to some helpful conclusions about what a healthy marriage looks like.
And when Genesis describes the woman as a helpmeet suitable we should ask what Eve was created to help Adam with. What was she made suitable for?
The Purpose of Man
Before we can answer such questions about woman, we have to in some measure shed radical egalitarianism and examine more closely the preeminent man. What did God make Adam to be and do? Here also Genesis provides us with the answer.
For one thing, God made Adam to be His image-bearer.
For another, God put Adam in the garden to keep – to tend it, work it, and take care of it.
And these two things taken together should elevate our appreciation for gardeners and cultivators of soil in general.
But only after the making of woman does God give instructions to Adam and Eve to “be fruitful and multiply, fill the Earth and subdue it.” And this too makes logical sense. Procreation is hardly an easy task without a breeding pair, and Adam would be incapable of managing it without help.
Now I reckon here that even my referring to those two, or married couples in general, in such terms is sure to cause some to shift uncomfortably in their seats. But there you have it, and there is no avoiding it. The good Lord made this a core part of marriage. And I for one cannot leave it unattended in good conscience.
So then it would seem that in order to talk intelligently about marriage, and to think rightly about it, and to steward it well and productively, we have to build on this foundation that marriage was instituted by God in a certain context and for a certain purpose.
Man was made to bear God’s image and work the garden. Woman was made as an antidote to man’s loneliness, and to help the man – her husband. And together, the two were given the mandate to have children and spread out all over the globe.
Whatever radical egalitarians say, it is no coincidence that God made Adam first, then made Eve. It was intentional on God’s part, just like everything God does is intentional.
But Eve was made because it was not good for man to be alone, and so she could help Adam in fulfilling the purpose for which God had made him. And Adam was made to reflect God’s image and to attend to Creation with authority and intentionality.
While perhaps not all, at least a large portion of the purpose God made man for was to exercise dominion over the Earth – to fill it and subdue it, to work the ground, to reproduce himself and spread God’s representation through all of Creation.
But is this how we think of marriage? Is this how we treat the thing, whether on the front-end or in the thick of it? Is this how we think of ourselves and one another in relation to marriage?
I think not, and it feels like putting things mildly to say so little and leave it at that.
But of course we won’t leave it at that, and we can’t. And that’s why I’m writing this book on marriage. I want us to remedy our misalignment rather than being content with it, firmly believing that a blessing for all parties concerned comes with the rectification of certain untruths we have come to believe as a matter of course, as though we could ever be liberated by believing lies about God and ourselves.
The reality is entirely other. The most liberating thing possible is to know the truth of God’s Word – and the context of marriage is no exception.
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