The First Marriage

Genesis 2:19-24 reads,

Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field.

But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘Woman’,
because she was taken out of Man.”

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

1) Animals Brought To Adam

Last time we were together, we unpacked that the purpose of mankind is to rule.

Today, we see from the passage that Adam exercises his authority by naming the animals. This was understood to mean that Adam was assigning roles to the animals when he named them.

Everything has a name and a purpose and in this way, Adam is imaging God who brought order to chaos in the opening verses of Genesis 1.

I also think it’s noteworthy that God doesn’t name them, Adam does. This is very important theologically. God doesn’t abandon his creation because “he brought them to the man to see what he would name them” (verse 19, NIV). God is very involved and is interested in how Adam is going to rule. At the same time, God doesn’t do everything either. Adam is naming them, not God.

Not only is this theological, it is practical.

God doesn’t do everything for you, he does it with you. God prefers to build his relationship with you by sharing his life with you. Fascinating!

Before we read any laws in the Bible, we read about God building a friendship with humanity. God is certainly different than the other gods who apparently are just as cut-throat and heartless as humanity at its worst.

2) A Suitable Helper Brought to Adam

The other practicality we can glean from this passage is marriage.

God brought the animals to Adam so that he could assign their roles. That’s not the only reason.

“The LORD God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make him a helper fit for him’” (verse 18).

Why was it not good for Adam to rule by himself? The answer is found a few lines down in the passage: “The man gave names to all the livestock… but for Adam no suitable helper was found” (verse 20, NIV).

Adam needed help. He needed someone suitable, comparable, fit for him. He can’t rule by himself, neither can he reflect the image of God alone.

(If you’re a woman reading this, there is no need to get offended. God is described as a helping the saints [Hebrews 13:6]. Being a helper doesn’t mean you’re weak or inferior, it means you share the honor of imaging God. Yes, this is one of the ways you reflect the image of God.)

He needs her. I remember what I was like as a bachelor. I needed help because I did my laundry twice a month and rarely cleaned my house. Half the food in my refrigerator was rotten; in a word, I was careless. After being married going on three years now, I see the many ways my wife has enriched my life. I needed help!

3) Marriage (Conclusion)

Back to the scene: God brought all the animals to Adam and it is very clear that none of the animals can help Adam image God. So God brings Adam a woman after making her from his rib while he was deep in sleep. She came from his side, not his head, feet, or rear. She’s not his superior or subservient to him.

She is his equal. To say it another way that translates into worldview: this is not patriarchy or feminism, this is complementarianism. They are fit for each other.

“That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh” (verse 24, NIV). This is the strongest case for marriage.

The Bible here lays out the two-step process into manhood: leave and unite. Leaving means you grow up. Get your own faith, money, place, etc. You can’t depend on your mom and dad anymore. You need to be a man. Uniting means that you are starting your own family. You’re leaving your family of origin and starting a new one.

Marriage is when God brings a man and a woman together. It is a match that God puts together himself and we get to witness that at weddings.

Later on in the Bible, Paul will reflect on this passage and conclude that marriage is a profound mystery that symbolizes Christ’s union with the Church.

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By Michael Furlonger

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