“And it was good…”
Those words reverberate throughout the first two chapters of Genesis. That’s why the hollow thud of Genesis 2:18 packs so much power. “It is not good that the man should be alone.” Those words don’t seem to belong in a pre-Genesis 3 world. Yet, they are here to highlight the importance of the woman to the man. His aloneness is not good.
But what of that aloneness. Why is it not good?
Early in our marriage, in my pre barbeque grill days, I loathed the times when my wife would leave for a few days to visit family. I knew that I had a steady diet of McDonalds, fish sticks, and pizza rolls until she returned. I was helpless without her mad cooking skills. So it was certainly not good that Mike was alone. But this cannot be what the text means. Adam could have been a fine cook, I’m sure.
Maybe it’s not good for Adam because he is a sexual being. Every other creature had a mate. They could all reproduce. But not Adam. Is he burning with sexual desire and so it’s not good for him to be alone? Or is it some other need which Adam has within himself that cannot be met apart from a woman? Is it an emotional need? A physical need? A spiritual need?
Yes and no.
I believe all of those are part of the answer for why it is not good for Adam to be alone. But there is a much greater reason why it’s not good for him to be alone and it’s found in the text. When God said in Genesis 1:26, “Let us make man in our image…” and then in Genesis 1:28 tasked them with being fruitful and multiply and have dominion over the earth he was tasking humanity with spreading His glory throughout the whole world. He was calling upon humanity to accurately image Him.
J.I. Packer puts it this way, referring to the task of the church:
“The task of the church is to make the invisible kingdom visible through faithful Christian living and witness-bearing.” (Concise Theology, 194)
So the fundamental reason why it was not good for Adam to be alone was not because of a need to fulfilled within Adam, but rather because of a deficiency in his ability to accurately image God. He couldn’t make the invisible kingdom visible while he was alone because the invisible kingdom is a community. Adam needed Eve to accurately reflect God.
Yes, we needed a first couple in order to have humanity be fruitful and multiply. But foundational to this is that Adam and Eve needed to live in unity with one another, “the two become one flesh” so that the inter-Trinitarian relationship of Father, Son, and Spirit could be properly modeled.
This is helpful for us to think about with our marriages. Our spouse is not given to us to fundamentally be for us and our enjoyment. It is primarily so that we can live as one flesh and represent the glory of God to the nations. My wife was given to me to help me be more like Jesus and to better represent him. That perspective certainly changes they way I view the purpose of our marriage and the reason God has given me this gift.
I feel a brief note here is needed to say that I am not intending to say here that one who is single cannot accurately image God. There is not some deficit in you which needs fulfilled by a spouse. Yet, you are called to live in community and to be fruitful and multiply in the ways in which God calls you. More could be said, but I felt a brief note about what I am NOT saying would be wise.
Photo source: here