The Blessing of Marriage

Genesis 2:18-25

By familiarizing ourselves with Genesis, esp. the first two chapters, we can reaffirm God’s purpose for our lives. And it is important that we reaffirm God’s purpose for what we will look at today – the foundational institution of marriage – because we have certainly lost our way as a society on this matter.

We laugh at marriage, are scared of marriage, avoid marriage, rush into, bail out of marriage, and refuse to improve or fill our role in marriage. And thanks to the incredibly unbrilliant 2015 Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, we’ve even defined marriage.

So let us refresh, reset, and review God’s purpose and intentions for marriage. By doing so, we can better respond to the challenges that marriage is facing today. Let us recommit ourselves to a biblical, godly view of marriage, not only in the voting booth but at home and as a church.

In this look at Gen 2:18-25, we’ll survey basic concepts of marriage from God’s perspective. We’ll do so in a positive, objective way, though, sadly, our sinful nature doesn’t automatically view these concepts in a positive way. In a later week, we’ll look more closely at some core difficulties and root problems we encounter in marriage due to sin. But today, we’ll see that marriage – properly understood – is a blessing from God.

God affirms the importance of human partnership.

And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone…”

COVID aside, a study published in 2023 indicates that before the pandemic shutdown, about half of American adults reported “measurable levels of loneliness.” The same study indicated that across various age groups, people spend less time with other people than they did two decades ago. This reduced social interaction was most pronounced among young people 15-24 yrs., who experienced 70% less social interaction than the same age group did twenty years prior.

Such loneliness is a problem not only because an isolated lifestyle increases certain mental and physical health risks but also because God made us as social beings. We see God’s thoughts about this when we read that God himself said, “It is not good that a man should be alone.”

As it is written in Hebrew, the words “not good” appear at the front of the sentence, like “not good to be a man alone.” This kind of sentence construction places strongly emphasizes “not good,” much like placing words in bold or italics do today, or like adding “really” or “very” would do, as well.

This observation by God is true of all people. No matter if you consider yourself an extrovert, introvert, or ambivert (an ambivert is someone on the spectrum such as an extroverted introvert or an introverted extrovert), you were made to be a social person.
God intended for people to have close and meaningful relationships. He intended for us to be community-oriented, to cooperate with other people, to be interdependent. He did not intend for us to be isolated, independent, and lonely.

God provided the first man with a partner.

By the way that Gen 2 is written, we see that God introduced marriage as his primary solution for human loneliness and isolation. As with the Sabbath, God did not make man for the purpose of sabbath, but he made sabbath for the purpose of serving man. So it is with marriage; God did not make man for the purpose of getting marriage, but he made marriage for the purpose of benefiting man in a crucial way.

Before God introduced Adam to Eve, he presented him with every kind of land and air animal to be named by him.

This was apparently for the twofold purpose of acquainting him with his responsibilities relative to the animal kingdom (Gen 1:28) and also of emphasizing to him that, though he could exercise rulership over them, he could not have fellowship with them. (Henry Morris)

As a result, Adam concluded that no other created being was like him. So, God created not only for Adam but from Adam another human being. Just as other animals had a male and female counterpart, so God would create a counterpart for Adam, too.

As we read Gen 2, we must observe who did this. It was not Adam who declared his need for a human counterpart, nor was it Adam who created or even influenced the solution to this need. It was God who did this himself. God caused Adam to be asleep during Eve’s creation and God brought her to him when he had finished his work.

That partner was to be comparable in nature and value.

I will make him a helper comparable to him.”

But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him.

The word comparable means equivalent, similar, or “of the same kind and nature.” This description makes clear that women are equal in nature and value to men. Neither a man nor a woman is superior to the other in essence or significance. One is not more important or special in ability, appearance, capacity, function, or role. Both are equally important and of equal significance and value in the world.

That God created the first woman from the rib of the first man likely indicates by way of demonstration and illustration a woman’s equal nature and value. We see this since Eve was formed from Adam, meaning she was of the same nature, essence, and substance. We also see this hinted at by God making her from Adam’s rib.

“For since the woman should not have ‘authority over the man’ (1 Tim 2:12) it would not have been fitting for her to have been formed from his head, nor since she is not to be despised by the man, as if she were but his servile subject, would it have been fitting for her to be formed from his feet.” Aquinas’s Summa Theologiae (1a, 92, 3c):

If weighed on a scale or evaluated for merit and qualities, both men and women would measure equally, balancing the scales in God’s sight. But at the same time, there is another reality we must also affirm.

That partner was to be a helper with a different role.

I will make him a helper comparable to him.”

But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him.


The word helper means something like associate, assistant, or supporter. This title recognizes on one hand that a man is not self-sufficient or complete in his capacity to reflect of God’s nature, nor is he singularly competent to fulfil God’s purpose for humanity. To be complete and effective, men need women to make up the difference and to counterbalance them in areas of deficiency and weakness. The same is true for women.

At the same time, by God’s choice, this word indicates that God has assigned to men the function and role of leadership and decision-making role in the home. This means that he has assigned the duty and role of followship and support in the home to women.

For whatever reason, we tend to take a higher view of supervisory people and roles. We conclude that the more decision-making power and leadership responsibilities a person has, the more important and valuable that person is to the world. But this is a false assumption.

Just because our society and human nature glamorizes leadership roles and imbues them with more meaning and value that assistant and support roles doesn’t mean that such a hierarchy of value truly exists, for it does not. Christ himself, who is equally God as the Father and the Spirit, not only submitted himself to God the Father despite being his equal, he also submitted himself as a servant to sinful humanity, whom he had created and who should have submitted themselves to him instead.

Such humility and submission did not demean, demote, or diminish his identity, significance, or value. If anything, it elevated him instead as he showed us the kind of noble dignity and effective service that such willing submission achieves. As followers of Christ, we must renew a high view of what it means to be a submissive and supportive wife has as her goal to assist and support her husband’s leadership efforts.

That partner was a woman.

Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.”

Though this is obvious, we seem to have forgotten how basic and obvious this is – there are two and only two genders. What’s more, these two genders are not merely assigned at birth by medical personnel or parents, but they are designed by God at conception. In many places, Scripture refers to all people generically as “adam,” or “mankind.” But here, God names each gender differently as “ish” (man) and “isha” (woman). In Gen 1:27, he used additional distinct words to do the same, with “zakar” being a man and “neqevah” being a woman.

What’s more, the two genders are clearly distinguished in multiple, universal, scientific and biological ways. First of all, men and women (male and female) differ anatomically. That is, each gender possesses certain identifiable and distinct physical features.

Second of all, and more significantly, male and female people differ physiologically. That is, each gender differs at the genetic level, in our DNA and chromosomes. For this reason, one cannot change or transition their gender from one to the other by merely altering or changing certain distinguishing physical features and physiological functions. One must also alter their DNA – which is a biological impossibility.

To be accurate and intellectually honest in this discussion, we must recognize that increasing numbers of people distinguish between a person’s sexual identity and their gender, with the former describing their physical and physiological qualities and the latter (“gender”) referring to how they “feel” or “identify,” regardless of those qualities. About this, Dr. Daniel Howell makes the following observations:

According to the online Cambridge Dictionary, transgenderism is “the condition of someone feeling that they are not the same gender (= sex) as the one they had or were said to have at birth.” The related gender dysphoria is the feeling of disconnection, discomfort, or distress surrounding the conflict between the gender with which one identifies and the gender assigned at birth. Dr. Paul R. McHugh, former psychiatrist-in-chief for Johns Hopkins Hospital, identified transgenderism as a mental disorder deserving compassionate treatment (rather than affirmation) and noted that any attempt at sex change is biologically impossible.

Dr. McHugh is correct; it is biologically impossible to change one’s sex. Sex is not assigned by decree at birth by a parent or medical professional; it is assigned genetically at fertilization by the pairing of sex chromosomes (XX or XY). The genetic assignment is then expressed by the development of anatomical structures … and the initiation of physiological processes … To conceivably convert a person genetically from one sex to the other, the DNA in every cell of the body must be altered from XX to XY (or vice versa). … To call … surgeries sex changes is to be biologically and medically dishonest.[1]


As Gen 1:27 clearly states, “Male and female [God] created them.” Gen 2 reaffirms this universal fact, and empirical, evidence-based science continues to bear this out. It is correct and not merely old-fashioned or antiquated to affirm this today.

For those who suggest that the creation account of Gen 1 is poetry, we can point out that not until Gen 2:23 does the first poetry appear in the Bible. This poetry tells us both how Adam responded at his introduction to Eve (he responded with an outburst of poetic expression) and also what he said. In this poetic expression, he acknowledged both the equality of the woman to the man and also the distinction between them. He recognized her as a fellow human being on one hand, but a different human being as well – not another man but a woman.

Just as it has become somewhat popular for protestors of various things to damage and deface famous works of art, so it has become prevalent for society at large to mock and look down upon a traditional, original view of men and women. This God-given equality and difference remains amazing and beautiful today. We should not be ashamed to insist upon these things, not only in our political views but even more importantly in our family roles and church practices.

God affirmed the importance of marriage.

Now that we have affirmed what God says about the importance of human relationship and the importance of affirming two equal but distinct genders, we must also affirm the importance of the special relationship we call marriage, which is the joining of one man and one woman before God into a new family.

Marriage forms a new family.

Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife

This is a loaded statement from God. First, it recognizes that though God created the first man and woman and then joined them in marriage, future men and woman would not be created from dust but would be conceived through the union of marriage, from fathers and mothers. What’s more, those children who would be born would grow up over time and would themselves, then, marry as their fathers and mothers did before them.

Additionally, this passage points out that a marriage occurs at the initiative of the man. It is the man whom God calls and intends to be sent out from his parents’ home to marry a wife and form a new home.

The New Testament relies heavily on this passage to affirm the sanctity of marriage. In Eph 5:31, Paul quotes this passage directly to affirm that (1) a husband must lead and care for his wife and family and that (2) he must do so in a loving, Christlike way.

Furthermore, this passage affirms that a marriage is the union of one man and one woman before God. As such, it should only occur between one man and one woman, which means that polygamy (a man having multiple wives at once), polyamory (romantic relationships between a consenting group of people), homosexual marriage (the union of two people of the same gender), and whatever other strange variations we conjure up are sinful and outside God’s original design and purpose for mankind.

Marriage forms a permanent relationship.

and they shall become one flesh.

Christ himself directly quotes from this passage to affirm not only the exclusivity of marriage between one man and one woman, but the permanence of marriage, as well. The words “joined” and “one flesh” make permanence God’s clearly intended purpose for marriage.

“Joined,” here, describes the state of “clinging together” or being “stuck together.” “One flesh,” then, describes a kind of personal, human union that is deeper and stronger than bloodline. As illustrated by Eve’s means of creation, “A part of him [Adam] is missing and is, in effect, beckoning him” (John Walton).

So, God intends for the marriage union to be strong and more meaningful than hereditary family relationships. Perhaps this is why the NT compares our relationship to Christ and between each other as members of his church as a marriage, for what draws us together is not our shared human, ethnic, or social heritage and connections but our new and more meaningful, permanent relationship with Christ by faith.

If any doubts remain about God’s intention of insisting on permanence in the marriage relationship here, Christ directly quotes this passage to affirm the permanence of marriage from God’s point of view.

He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matt 19:4-6)

Here, Christ affirms without doubt that God not only intended for marriage to be between one man and one woman, but that he intended for this relationship to be for life – or, “until death do us part.” Now, we know that there is an exception to this expectation called “divorce.” God provided this exception in the Mosaic Law, spec. Deut 24:1-4; yet even so, this was supposed to be a rare exception for certain extreme and unfortunate circumstances which violated the marriage covenant on an egregious, endangering level.

Today we categorize legitimate, biblical reasons for divorce as egregious abuse, abandonment, or adultery. Even then, forgiveness and reconciliation should be considered, if at all possible, not jumping to divorce as an immediate solution.

“For the Lord God of Israel says that He hates divorce, for it covers one’s garment with violence,” Says the Lord of hosts. Therefore take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.” (Mal 2:16)

God’s view towards divorce has not changed. Today as in the beginning, he intends for marriage to be a permanent, lifelong relationship, even if that means we must endure some suffering and hardship along the way. This means that permanence should be our commitment in marriage. This also means that “at fault” divorce should be avoided if at all possible and that no-fault divorce should never be considered at all (irreconcilable differences, incompatibility, and irretrievable breakdown).

Additionally, because marriage is such a permanent commitment, prospective couples should give serious consideration and evaluation first before being married. Believers must insist on marrying only another committed follower of Christ who has made that profession clear through believer’s baptism (we call this credobaptism).

They should also honestly evaluate whether their prospective spouse has any major or serious points of difference which may make a close marriage unnecessarily difficult to maintain. Once a couple is married, such matters are never grounds for divorce, but they may be grounds not to marry a person in the first place. As Amos 3:3 states: “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?”

For this reason, let us affirm that entering into a marriage should not be conditioned alone on whether or not a man and woman (or even a Christian man and Christian woman) have romantic feelings of attraction towards one another. While such attraction is important, it should be guided and governed first of all by a clear-headed evaluation of the prospective spouses real and observable commitment to Christ, existing family relationships, and overall character and compatibility.

Marriage forms an intimate relationship.

And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

Finally, we must affirm that marriage not only forms a new family and forms a permanent relationship, but it also forms an intimate relationship. By “intimate” I mean a relationship that is more aware, familiar, close, communicative, trusting, open, and transparent than any other human relationship – even more than parent/child or best friend relationships.

This intimacy of relationship derives from the “one flesh” terminology, which describes an all-encompassing closeness that is distinct to the marriage relationship. This means that a husband and wife should reserve this level of special closeness for themselves, making marriage an exclusive relationship in this sense. This is why many marriage vows say something like “forsaking all others.” This means that both spouse are committing to reserve intimate conversations and interactions – relationally, emotionally, and romantically – for one another and no one else.

To not do so is considered flirtatious, fornication, unfaithfulness, and adultery. This commitment should apply to both before and after marriage, meaning that we are not free to behave this way with others until we are married, but that we should refrain from this kind of activity, reserving it only for the one we will marry.

Also, this reference to “and they were both naked and were not ashamed” refers not only to wearing clothing (or not). It most likely refers to all aspects of the husband/wife relationship. It speaks to the full range of how a husband and wife should relate to one another romantically, noting that they should be able to do so without feeling ashamed.

As with previous affirmations we’ve made, we should recognize here as well that the NT also affirms this teaching of marriage.

Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge. (Heb 13:4)

Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. (1 Cor 7:3-4)

Ironically, such teaching is unpopular today. Yet the NT describes a spouse’s refusal of this aspect of marriage to be “depriving” one’s spouse, a word which means to “steal, rob, defraud, or to withhold something unjustly.”

From Gen 2:18-25, we see that marriage – properly understood – is a blessing from God. We have affirmed this by simply walking through this passage about God’s original design and intention for gender and marriage. Do you agree with all of these affirmations? If not, why – and what can you do to better align with God’s good design for marriage.

For the reasons we’ve considered today from Scripture, we have agreed to the following statement of shared belief about gender and marriage as a church:

We believe that God has designed the male and female genders as spiritually equal before him and mutually significant in the home, the church, and society, assigning to men and women distinct and special purposes and roles. Marriage is the union of one man and one woman for life, and God prohibits any sexual activity outside of or contrary to this union.

May God enable us to affirm this belief through the conduct of our lives! As one person has wisely said, “A great marriage isn't something that just happens; it's something that must be created” (Fawn Weaver). And we can add that it must be created by following the principles given to us by the God who created marriage and who also created us as human beings.

May we commit ourselves to doing so by the grace of God and in complete submission to Christ as our Lord.

Discussion Questions
  • Marriage is foundational to God’s plan for man to bring dominion to creation, and to a godly society. What does this mean for us? How does marriage’s foundational influence play out in our lives?
  • How might this explain the attacks on marriage that we are experiencing now?
  • How should Christians respond to a culture and consumer market that so promotes and enables an isolated lifestyle?
  • How can we help others to be less isolated? How can we be less isolated?
  • Thinking of the narrative in Genesis 2, how might we respond to those who are “loners” and say they have no need for companionship or fellowship?
  • Is our need for community with others always so apparent?
  • If marriage is the solution to loneliness, what then could we say about the way that a marriage should be?
  • How can we say that women and men are equal in value but not the same in their level of authority?
  • What is a Biblical perspective on being a follower? How is this different from the world?
  • How does the relationship of God the Son to God the Father help us to understand coequal leaders and followers?
  • Meditate on Genesis 2:23. What truths about the relationship between men and women do we understand from this text?
  • How can we embody these truths in godly marriages?
  • Consider God’s requirements for marriage: (1) That it be between only two people. (2) That it be between a man and a woman. (3) That it be a permanent relationship. (4) That it be a close relationship. (5) That it be a preeminent relationship among humans. (6) That it be a complementary relationship.
  • This is not an exhaustive list even. With our meditation on the theology of marriage over the last week as a church and in life group, should we rejoice in these duties and rules? Is it right for us to say, “I wish the Bible didn’t say so but it does?”


*****
[1] Cited from https://answersresearchjournal.org/biology/biological-case-for-two-genders/ on June 6th, 2024 at 4:36 p.m., CST.

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