The Genesis of Marriage – Part 2: God Created It for Companionship

“The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’” – Genesis 2:18

Last week we introduced this study about what God teaches us about marriage in the book of Genesis. By looking at several of those early married couples, we can learn truths for our marriage from their walk with God and life examples.

This week we begin with the very first couple—Adam and Eve. We read the account of their marriage in Genesis 2:19-25:

“Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. 21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. 23 The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called “woman,” for she was taken out of man.’ 24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. 25 Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.”

In this passage, we can learn several things God intended to be true about marriage from the beginning. These are still to be true in our marriages today.

This passage is the basis for almost everything else the Bible teaches about marriage, for it explains God’s reason for creating marriage. He designed marriage to meet our need for companionship. Marriage also provides an illustration of our relationship with God Himself.

These are the principles which, if applied, will enable us to a build marriage which honors God and brings us lasting joy. Jesus affirmed this by quoting from this passage in His teaching on marriage in Mark 10:6-9. Paul also quotes from this passage in Ephesians 5:31.

So let’s examine these two purposes God has for marriage and see what we can learn from Genesis 1-2 that are still true in marriage today.

The first reason God created marriage is for companionship.

Throughout the creation account in Genesis 1 we find the the words “it was good” (vv. 4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25). But to His concluding act of creation—creating man and woman–He proclaimed it to be “very good” (v. 31).

A more in-depth account of the creation of man, woman, and marriage is told in Genesis 2.  There we see how it became “very good.” Adam had been given everything he needed in this perfect environment God had created for him.

God permitted Adam to name every animal. And in the process of doing so, God allowed Adam to realize that while every other living creature had companions, he did not. Part of this description is found in Genesis 2:18: “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’”

This is the only part of God’s creation He describes as “not good.” All the other animals had companions, but not Adam. He was alone. This was not part of God’s perfect plan. A part was still missing.

So God completed His plan and made it perfect by creating a companion for man. The phrase “helper suitable” is a translation of the Hebrew word “ezer kenegedo.” The word “ezer” means one who aids, helps, or supports.

Note there is no indication of this helper being inferior. In fact, David uses this same word of himself and God in Psalm 54:4: Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me” (bold mine). David is certainly not saying here that God is inferior to him or his subordinate.

God is providing in Eve someone to come alongside Adam to work with and help him. She is not to be a servant to him. She is his companion. It points to the fact that the husband needs—and even depends—on his wife’s support and help.

This is clarified by the Hebrew word translated “suitable” in Genesis 2:18. It is the word “kenegedo.” It means to be like someone or something, yet different; almost opposite in some ways.

Thus Eve was physically like, or compatible, to Adam, yet in some ways she was different. This difference included not only some physical attributes, but also personality, preferences, and skills. And in these differences, they complimented each other.

This equality is seen in Genesis 1:26-27: “Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’ 27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

There is no difference in this overview passage between male and female in value. They are both part of God’s creation of “mankind.” They are both created in God’s image.

The difference is in their sex and gender—“male and female.” We have already named some of those differences. Different roles are given to each, as described in the New Testament, but their worth is the same in God’s plan (see Ephesians 5:21-33).

This companionship was to be between one man—Adam, and one woman—Eve. They were “united” and became “one flesh” as God declared in Genesis 2:24: “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” Jesus used this verse to affirm the permanence of marriage in God’s plan (see Matthew 19:4-6).

The word translated “united” in Hebrew is “vedavak.” It means to join together, to hold fast to or cling to. It is described more fully in the phrase “they become one flesh.” This is still the picture of God’s model for marriage today.

This oneness certainly includes physical oneness. It refers to the sexual relationship God designed as part of marriage, in which a husband and wife become united physically and intimately, as almost literally “one flesh.”

This is why we should regard sex in marriage as God’s good gift. It is designed for our pleasure and to meet our God-given need for human companionship. It is something holy to be enjoyed within the context of marriage.

It is this aspect of oneness that leads God to the command given to Adam and Eve in Genesis 1:28a: “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, ‘Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.’”

But oneness is more than this. The word “flesh” (Genesis 2:24) means more than just the physical in Hebrew.

It also represents all of a person, including their mind and spirit. Therefore, a married couple complete each other through their different attributes of being male and female. Men have the privilege of seeing the world through their wives’ female eyes, just as women have the opportunity to have their husbands’ masculine perspective.

This type of oneness occurs when both the husband and wife have made Jesus their Savior and Lord. When we do this, the Holy Spirit comes and lives within us. He brings the fruit—or attributes—that allow us to live in unity (Galatians 5:22-23; Ephesians 4:2-3).

The Holy Spirit allows us to see God’s will for us together. He allows us to agree as we pray in unity together. This leads to confidence that God will help us as we ask Him (Matthew 18:19).

This type of companionship in our marriage also requires that our union be the primary relationship in our lives. This means above any friendship, work, or even other family members. It is why God teaches in Genesis 2:24 that we must leave our fathers and mothers and be united to one another.

This does not mean that we abandon or cut off contact with our parents. We still honor them (Ephesians 6:2), but it does mean that we must break away from dependence on them. Also as parents ourselves, we need to raise our children with a view to releasing them to follow God as He leads them when they become adults.

God created us, and so He knew what we would need. He created us to need each other. And marriage meets that need in a way that no other human relationship does.

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QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION

♦  Read this week’s teaching together. Discuss what God has taught you through it.

♦  We stated in this week’s teaching that the type of marriage God intends for us can only occur when “both the husband and wife have made Jesus their Savior and Lord.” If you have never done this, go here to find out how: Meet Jesus.

♦  Discuss ways you think you complement each other; ways you help each other grow in your walk with God; ways they help your family to function well. Discuss your similarities and differences and how God uses them for good in your marriage.

♦  Discuss your roles in your marriage and family. Talk about how God created you allows you to fulfill those roles. Thank each other for specific ways you use the gifts, personalities, and attributes God has given each of you to help each other, your marriage, and your family.

♦  Close your time together in prayer. Thank God for bringing you together with your personalities, attributes, and abilities to complement and complete each other so you can serve Him together.

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Next week we will discuss the second truth we learn about marriage from the creation story in Genesis. It is that marriage is to be an illustration of God’s relationship to us.

Until then, may God bless you in all His wonderful ways,
David

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Photo by Allie Milot on Unsplash , (CC0), cropped/text added.

 

About David Penley

A devoted husband and father, former pastor and seminary professor, who longs to grow closer to the likeness of Christ each day and share God's love and truth with everyone.