Description / Transcription
God, we come to You again, not merely out of habit or custom, but out of a sincere sense of our need, that You would speak to us. Whether we have heard from this chapter in the Bible hundreds of times or it is our first time considering it, we pray that You would teach us something new, You would encourage us, You would strengthen us, You would change and correct us, and that You would lift high Jesus. We pray in His name. Amen.
We come this morning in our study of Genesis to chapter 2. Genesis is a big book, 50 chapters, and if we hope to ever make our way through it, we will have to take some parts faster than perhaps we would like. I use “we,” maybe than I would like, and this is one of those. There are several weeks’ worth of things we could say about Genesis chapter 2 but we’re going to hope to get through it here this morning, looking at verses through the end of the chapter.
“These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created,
in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.”
“When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground— then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there He put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”
“A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers. The name of the first is the Pishon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. And the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. The name of the second river is the Gihon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Cush. And the name of the third river is the Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.”
“The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.'”
“Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.’ 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. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”
This second chapter of Genesis is a picture of the good life, of the way things are supposed to be, the way things will be once again. You notice in verse 4 we are introduced to the first of these 10 toledoth sections. Remember toledoth is the Hebrew word translated “generations.”
So after the opening prelude to the symphony in which God creates the heavens and the earth and all things in seven days, now we begin with the first of the toledoths. These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.
Some commentators point out the reversal of the order there. In verse 4 the beginning, heavens and earth, second half of the verse, earth and heavens, that perhaps it’s telling us that we are now moving from the cosmic scene of looking at how God created the cosmos in its entirety to now focusing in on the earth. It isn’t that we have two rival creation stories in chapter 1 and chapter 2, let alone that we have two different sources that are coming together, but rather I think we can all understand quite easily that there’s a big picture creation story and now we’re going to zoom in to see in particular how God made the man and the woman and the garden and the trees. In other words, what did this paradise look like.
The natural world, we see, is good. It’s a striking image that the Lord planted a garden. He provided for every shrub and bush. The picture is of streams coming up from the earth to water the ground and some sort of underground aquifer. Birds are flying, fish are swimming. To quite Louis Armstrong, “what a wonderful world.”
It’s a good world that God has made. There’s nothing but cooperation from nature. There’s no strife, there’s no painful toil. The ground is fertile. The moisture is enough but it’s not too much. The trees are growing tall and strong, they’re bearing fruit. The animals come peaceably before Adam that he might name them. He doesn’t have to run from them, they don’t run from him. They come gently before him that he might name each one. It’s a picture of the natural world as God created it, in all of its intricacy, in all of its wonder and splendor.
Some of you in reading science or apologetic books may have come across Hugh Ross’ anthropic principle. He’s a scientist and the anthropic principle simply means all of the various phenomena of the universe and our galaxy that must be just as they are in order to support human life. Anthropos. So he notes that we have on earth in order to sustain human life just the right galaxy size that we are a part of, just the right galaxy type, galaxy location. We have just the precise star location, star mass, even the right star color. He explains, and I’ll take his word for it, that it has something to do with the right kind of white dwarf binary types. He points out that the tilt of the earth’s axis is exactly right to allow for human life. The tidal forces in the oceans, the magnetic field, the precise thickness of the earth’s crust, the oceans to continents ratio, the oxygen quantity in the atmosphere, the water vapor level, the tectonic activity… All of these, he says, are necessary in order to sustain human life. And not just necessary, but necessary in minute intricacy and they all fit together just so that God would provide this good natural world for us that we may inhabit.
The natural world is good. We see in Genesis 2 the creation of man is good. After the panoramic view, the Good Year blimp view of creation, now we look in particular at the creation of man. We see that the man is made from the dust of the earth. He is on the one hand the dust of the earth quite literally, but also the crown of creation. If you could but always remember those two things are true about you.
Remember Psalm 103, He remembers our frame, He knows that we are dust.
That’s who we are. Don’t get too full of yourself. You came from the ground, the man did, and then the woman we’ll see from the man.
But we’re not just dust. We’re the crown of creation. We’re the pinnacle, we’re the climax of the creation week made in His image and likeness. We alone are brought to life by the very breath of God. So we’re dependent upon God, and at the same time we have from Him this God-given nobility that no other creature has except for man.
Perhaps Winston Churchill was on to something when he said, “We are all worms, but I do believe that I am a glow worm.” Sort of sums up the human condition.
The creation of man is good.
Work is good. We saw last week how creation comes to its finality with cessation, with rest, with finishing and sitting back to enjoy and rest. Rest was the invention of God, but work was also the invention of God. Don’t think that work is a result of the fall. We’ll see that the way in which we experience work has been a result of the fall, but even before the fall man was given tasks, responsibilities, labors. We are made to work. We are made to be active.
And that’s what’s difficult when you fall ill or you have a chronic illness, or simply with old age and you’re not able to do all the things that you once did. There’s a real sense of loss, understandably, because God made us to be active, to work. He put Adam into the garden that he might be His sub-gardener underneath God.
It took effort, it took skill, but it was joyous work. No broken tractors, no thorns and thistles, no computer crashes, no anxious deadlines, no bad bosses, no incompetent employees, no work room gossip, just an honest day’s work under the smiling face of God. He made us to work. Work is good.
The garden is good. We’ve talked about nature in general. Look at the garden more particularly. As I made the argument last week that the garden is a type of cosmic temple in miniature and the cosmos is a sort of temple writ large across the universe. Eden is called in Ezekiel “the garden of God,” a kind of temple. Because what’s a temple? A temple is the place where God dwells.
We’ll see that the garden is going to be surrounded by cherubim, just as later the ark of the covenant will be guarded by the presence of the cherubim on top. The temple was built as a kind of garden with carved cherubim, with palm trees, with open flowers, with a night sky. Man was to be a kind of priest who would work in the temple, to honor the holiness of God, to enjoy His presence.
So the garden is good. The garden is a temple.
And in the midst of the garden, there are two trees. We have the tree of life, symbolizing that men and women will live and move and have their being in God. He is the source of their first life, He will be the source of their ongoing life. In other words, we do not live unto ourselves or by ourselves; that’s the point of the tree of life. Only by feeding on the food that God provides will Adam and Eve have ongoing physical, moral, spiritual life. There’s the tree of life. You must eat of the food that God prepares for you if you are to live.
And then there’s the second tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Now it’s a good tree, but man must not eat from it. Why? What exactly does it mean, verse 17, “Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat for in the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die.” Why?
At first it sounds sort of strange, the knowledge of good and evil. Wouldn’t you want Adam and Eve to know something? What’s wrong with this sort of moral discernment?
Well, knowledge here means “experiencing a decision between two alternatives.” That is, knowing the choice of good and evil. That’s why if you look ahead at chapter 3, verse 22, “the Lord God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us in knowing good and evil.” Now that’s not God panicking, “Oh no, he’s become like one of Us. He ate from the tree and now he’s going to have God-like powers. We better put a stop to it.” Rather in saying “he has become like Us in knowing good and evil,” He means that Adam knew for himself what it was to stake out his own path. The tree was a symbol of moral autonomy, the right to decide for ourselves what is best for us.
Don’t have time to go there, but Ezekiel 28 in very exalted terms is talking about one of the kings of the region and looks back and describes this man who is proud as being in the garden of Eden and saying that he became wise as a god, and likely that’s what the tree of the knowledge of good and evil entails. That eating it was not knowledge to just gain information, but it was the experience of choosing for yourself what is good and what is evil. That’s why the tree was off limits. It was a test of obedience. It’s God saying, “Will you listen to Me? Will you trust Me? I provided a tree of life. Will you acknowledge that your whole life depends on Me? I am your Lord, your Director, your Creator, your Sustainer, your Law-giver, your Ruler. Listen to Me. You can eat from any tree of the garden, but that tree you may not eat from. Why? Because you do not have the right to decide for yourself what is good and what is evil, so eat freely from the garden except for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
If only we would trust God’s generosity.
Now we’ll look next week, Lord willing, at chapter 3 and look in detail about the nature of this first sin, but we can already see that at least part of the first sin is a failure to believe that God is good. A failure to believe in divine generosity, that He does not withhold one good thing from those He loves.
We can see this in our spirit, we can see it in our children. If you were to tell them you can have anything you want for dessert, you just can’t have that one thing. What do they want? That one thing.
Why? Because they think the thing that you’re not letting me have must be the very best thing. It’s doubting our parental goodness and wisdom, just as they disbelieved in God’s divine goodness and wisdom. They thought God is keeping us from something. Why would He plant a tree that I can’t eat from?
Maybe you think why would He give me these sexual desires that I can’t act on? We fail to see God’s generosity around us. We’re like little children on vacation at Disney World and our parents tell us the whole park is ours. We can do whatever we want, we can ride any ride, buy any trinket, eat any food, but we’re just not tall enough to go on Space Mountain. You feel like this is the worst trip ever, I couldn’t go on Space Mountain. You have, the entire park is yours. It’s for your safety. You can’t go on this one ride.
But you doubt the goodness and wisdom of your parents as we doubt the goodness and wisdom of God.
So into this scene of paradise, is an ominous foreshadowing, a warning, of what will be if man tries to be God. If he tries to assert his own moral autonomy in knowing for himself good and evil. On that day, there will be death. Physical death, more importantly spiritual death, an end to all that is symbolized in the tree of life, until God will make a way to redeem His people.
True worship, joyful work, pure relationships, rest, serenity, calm, a clean conscience, upright nature, pristine world… All of it is going to be lost.
But we’ll get to the bad news next week. Here the focus is on all that is good; the goodness of work, the goodness of the world, the goodness of the garden, the goodness of nature. Beauty and delight everywhere in Eden. For two chapters we have been having this constant refrain: And God looked and behold it was good, it was good, it was good. After day six, it was very good.
Which is why verse 18 is so striking. Even before the fall, even in this paradise, there was one thing which if left undone would not have been good. It is not good that the man should be alone. We do not know that Adam was lonely, or he felt isolated. The man doesn’t complain to God. Rather, God Himself declares that it is not good.
So obviously in chapter 2 we are zooming in on the creation, because in chapter 1 it simply says He made them man, and made them male and female, and after day 6 He pronounces it very good. So now we’re sort of backing up, zooming in more closely, into the framework and the operation in day 6 so that God created man, and so this is before the declaration of very good at the end of day 6. There is a moment when there is a man and there’s no woman, and God says that’s not yet good.
Every other aspect of creation had its counterpart. The day had its sun, the night had its moon, the waters its fish, the sky its birds, the ground its animals, but the man did not have a woman.
Now this does not mean that our lives are incomplete without marriage. I know that there are many of you who aren’t married. Some who want to be and haven’t gotten there yet, or maybe trusting the Lord and not knowing what will happen. Some who have experienced divorce and others who will, will think with fondness and sadness throughout these next moments of the sermon about your husband or wife who has proceeded you in death. We know from the examples of Jesus and Paul that while marriage is glorious, a creation ordinance, it’s not the norm for all. Singleness is precious in the sight of the Lord.
But the focus here in Genesis 2 is on the goodness of God making them male and female.
I want you to notice three things that are good. The sameness, the difference, and the union of the man and the woman.
First, their sameness is good. What do I mean by sameness? Well, I mean both the man and the woman are created in the image of God. We saw that in chapter 1. This has profound implications that would have been radical for Moses’ day. None of Israel’s neighbors in the ancient world had a separate account for the creation of woman. No one else elevated the status of women as the Genesis account does. We see from the very first chapters that the woman is not a lesser creature, she is not an inferior being. She has equal access to God. She is equal in worth in dignity.
1 Peter 3:7: “In Christ we are co-heirs of the grace of life.”
So there’s a sameness of their ontology, their being, their fundamental worth and value, and not just that, but notice both the male and the female were given joint rule over creation. Go back to chapter 1, verse 26: Let Us make man in Our image… Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over all the earth, over ever creeping thing.
Verse 28: God blessed them and said, ‘Be fruitful and multiply… Fill the earth… Have dominion.”
This creation mandate is given not just to the man, but to the man and to the woman. Together God blessed them, plural. God told them, plural, to have dominion over every living thing.
So the male adam and the female adam, remember adam is just the Hebrew word for man, it’s also going to the name of the first male. The male adam and the female adam were not made as a superior and an inferior. They were created in the same image, meant to be interdependent.
If you go down to chapter 2, verse 23, when Adam exclaims, “She shall be called woman because she was taken out of man.” It’s a wonderful bit of the Lord’s providence that the play on words in Hebrew comes out in the play on words in English. In Hebrew she shall be called “ishah,” for she was taken out of “ish.” She shall be called woman for she is taken out of man.
What a woman is a female adam. A womb-man. A human being with a womb, to nurture life.
So when some people want to spell “woman” “w-o-m-y-n” or I’ve seen it with an “x” in there somehow, something that says, “no, no, no, we’re not going to have the word ‘man’ in the word ‘woman.'” It’s profoundly out of step with the pattern of Scripture. We are meant to see something about our mutual interdependence, that the “ishah” was formed out of the “ish,” that the woman comes out of the man. We lose all verbal recognition that the woman came from the man, the man was irreversibly was connected to the woman.
This is Paul’s point in 1 Corinthians 11. In the Lord, woman is not independent of man nor man of woman, for a woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman.
Rather than wanting to divide man against woman, the Bible wants to show the interdependence, that woman as a species, I’m using that in a non-technical way, comes from man. Every woman has her origin ultimately as Eve did from the side of man. She came from man. And every man has his origin from a woman. Even the Lord Jesus.
So we same their sameness. Their equality, their interdependence is good.
And then we see, second, their difference. Their distinction is good.
Now even though biology, neuroscience, embryology, point to, genetics point to all sorts of innate differences between men and women, we know that many, many voices in our world despise any notion of sexual distinction or gender difference. And in fact the way I just used those two terms interchangeably is found problematic by most people today. No, sex is maybe just, you know, the organ that you happen to be born with, but gender is a whole societal, social construction that you determine for yourself.
Or maybe the categories are so fluid as to have no meaning whatsoever. I don’t have to tell you how confused our world is that on the one hand they want to say men and women, there’s nothing different. There’s nothing that one can’t do than the other and how dare you point to any distinctions, any differences in roles or in relationships between men and women. We eradicate all distinction.
And yet we celebrate every time it’s the first woman to do this, the first woman to do that, so at the same time there is no distinction and yet absolutely we must put the two in opposite corners from each other. Our world is confused.
Notice within their joint rule, the man and woman were given different tasks and created in different realms. Verse 15, the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. Adam was created outside of the garden and charged with cultivating it and protecting it. A protection under which the woman was meant to flourish. The man was created outside the garden, Eve was created within the garden, suggesting, as one author puts it, a special relationship to the inner world of the garden. The creation mandate, remember filling the earth, subduing it, have dominion, it applies to both sexes, but asymmetrically. That means it applies to each in a different way. The man, endowed with greater biological strength, that’s not true with every woman and every man, we recognize that. I’m sure I could get beat up by lots of women around the world. But as a general biological fact, there’s no denying it. Men are created with greater strength on average. And so it makes sense that the man is fitted especially for tilling the soil, taming the garden, while the woman, possessing within her, again biologically, factually, undeniably, possessing within her the capacity to cultivate new life, is fitted especially for filling the earth, tending the communal aspects of the garden.
Now in teasing out some of this, we need to distinguish between the Bible’s prescriptions and then its postures and its patterns. What I’m dealing with here largely are not prescriptions. There’s a few of those, but it’s largely not men, you do these five things; women, you do these five things. Men, don’t do this; women, don’t do that. That’s now what we have in the Genesis account. Rather, what we have are certain postures and patterns, meaning here is the design in which God made man and woman, and though it is sometimes frustrated by sin, always frustrated by sin, yet we are meant to flourish in embracing these postures and patterns.
Paul, in 1 Timothy 2, will make the point that man was created before the woman. Now we won’t get into that passage, it’s one of the reasons Paul gives for why a woman is not to teach or have authority over a man. And it often seems strange. Well, what’s the big deal that man was created before the woman? After all, didn’t God create beavers and badgers and blue jays before He created man? If we’re just doing who was picked first on God’s kickball team, then all the animals and the fish were made before the man.
But first the point is not that, well, He made Adam first and so He must like Adam best, or he’s the most important. Rather, the order matters because it indicates Adam’s position in the creation narrative, as priest, as protector. And Eve’s position as coming under the man’s protection, made from his side, to be protected and made from his side to be his support.
This is the point made explicit in verse 18: I will make him a helper, fit for him.
So Eve was created from man, equal in worth. She was also created for man, verse 20: There was not a helper fit for him so the Lord God made a deep sleep to come upon him and He made for the man a woman, a helper.
Now “helper” is not a demeaning term. It carries no connotations of diminished worth or status. You know who is often in the Old Testament called a helper? God. Exodus 18, Psalm 33, Psalm 146… The word is “ezer,” helper, ebenezer, ebenha, etzer, stone of help.
Helper is a functional term, not a demeaning one. Just as God at times comes alongside to help His people, so the role of woman in relationship to her husband is that of a helper.
You see in verse 18, “fit for him,” or you see the footnote there, “or corresponding to him.”
We tend to psychologize Adam’s aloneness, and perhaps well-meaning wedding homilies do this, and we interpret helper along the lines of comfort and companionship, and certainly that’s not inappropriate, there’s one possible aspect of the term.
But helper cannot be divorced from the broader concerns for the creation mandate. It was not good for man to be alone because by himself he could not be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. So here again we see the complementarity of male and female. If Adam’s aloneness was mainly a psychological aloneness, he needed companionship, God could have created a golden retriever. If he just needed help to till the garden, why not make a brawny man to help alongside him? Or give Adam a gift of oxen, or a fraternity of manly friends, all of which would have been useful. Could have been delightful, but none of them would have been a helper fit for him. A helper corresponding to him, because they would not have helped the man to fulfill the task of producing and rearing children.
If mankind is to have dominion on the earth, there must be a man to work the garden and there must be a woman to be his help-mate.
We’ll come back to this complementarity when we get to the last of these three points.
But notice just a few other things as we talk about their difference, their distinction. Adam is reckoned as the head and representative of the couple. Notice that Adam is given the initial command regarding the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in verses 16 and 17. Not Eve. Adam gets the command. And as we’ll see next week, even though Eve, tempted by the serpent, commits the initial crime, Adam is addressed first because he is held responsible, he is the federal head of the human race.
Why is when Eve actually technically sinned first does Paul make the argument in Romans 5 that sin came into the world and was imputed through one man? Through Adam? Because Adam sinned in Eve’s sin, because Eve’s sin was a failure on Adam’s part. And then of course he, too, took and ate. Adam, not Eve, was the federal head of the human race.
The man was given responsibility for naming every living creature. It was part of his priestly role, exercising dominion. Twice he named the woman, in verse 23 where he calls her “ishah” because she was taken out of “ish,” and then in verse 20 of chapter 3, the man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. Adam, in other words, is given a possession of leadership. In receiving their names from Adam, the rest of the living creatures, including the woman, benign from the man’s cultivation and his authority. This is authority as it is meant to be exercised.
Man was given the priest-like task of maintaining the holiness of the garden.
In sum, the man and the woman were created in different ways. Genesis 1 describes the making of male and female as a generic act of creation. The zoom lens, now chapter 2, we see that God’s created each in his own way, so the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, while the Lord God built the woman from the rib he had taken from the man. So not surprisingly, the man is tasked with tending to the health and vitality of the ground to which he came. See, part of what I want you to see in this is God’s order and design and that the New Testament rules and exhortations regarding men and women and the church and the home are not arbitrary conclusions, but rather they have everything to do with the sort of people that God made men and women to be.
So the man came from the ground and so he is given the task of his chief responsibility being with the ground. The woman, who comes from the man, not surprisingly then, is tasked with helping the man from whom she came.
The way in which each one was crated suggests the special work they will do in the wider world. The man in the establishment of the external world of industry, the woman in the nurturer of the inner world of the family that will come from her and her help-mate.
Now again, these are not prescriptions, these are not telling us that a woman cannot have a job outside of the home. Look at the quintessential godly woman in Proverbs 31. She is active, she is entrepreneur, she is selling, she’s buying, she’s staying up all night, she’s an idealized woman who probably didn’t really exist, so I know she makes everyone feel bad.
So these are not exact formulas, you may do this, you may not do that. Remember the entire Bible was written in an agrarian context, well before an industrial revolution where you have a clear distinction between home and then I drive somewhere or I go somewhere else and then I come back to home. So those are our own categories.
But it is worth noting the way in which God made the man and the woman in different realms with different tasks. So that the man’s work will be in the establishment of the external world of industry and the woman in the nurture of the inner world of the family. Those will be their chief tasks, their, to use that word, their posture, the pattern that we see laid out in Genesis and we will see consistently throughout the rest of Scripture.
So the sameness of the man and the woman is good, their difference is good, and now, quickly, their union is good.
Look at what the man says in verse 23. Remember, the animals have come before him. He’s named them. And God says, nope, that’s not it, and Adam recognizes that’s not it. None of these are the right person, the right thing for me. And then when the woman is presented, he says this… You could translate it this, this time you’ve outdone yourself, God.
I just have in my mind, it’s always a great privilege to stand and do a wedding, and you stand there, usually the pastor stands with the groom, you know the doors open and the bride comes and she looks stunning and he looks goofy. But he just has a look like, we better do this before she changes her mind ’cause this is really good, I can’t believe that the Lord has given her to me.
It’s a picture of Adam the first time he sees Eve. This, this is it. The first poem in the Bible, isn’t it fitting, is a love poem. Isn’t it fitting, the very first recorded words in human history, the first thing any human being said that we have record of, is a husband delighting in his wife.
Husbands, are those the sort of words that your friends, your kids, your coworkers, hear come out of your mouth? Delight in your rib made for you?
The two come together to become one flesh. Adam says this is bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh. Quite literally, this person, this ishah, came from this ish. Men and women made of the same stuff, meant for each other, not so that one dissolves into the other, but that the two may become one.
Marriage, listen carefully, must be and only can be, between a man and a woman because marriage is not just the union of two persons, but in a profound way the re-union of a complementary pair. Marriage, our world wants to define marriage simply as people who have a special relationship with each other and a closeness that they then express in some sexual way. That’s not how the Bible defines marriage. The Bible says it must be an ishah and an ish. It must be a womb-man and a man, that is marriage. Because it isn’t just two people saying “we’re going to be BFFs.” It is a re-union. You are the sort of person who was taken from the sort of person that I am. You’re my rib. You’re my ishah.
And so of course we come together in this re-union of a complementary pair. This is the logic of monogamy. Why, why monogamy? I mean, it sounds good, there’s sort of this lingering tradition, even those who would espouse “gay marriage,” and I do put that in quotation marks, not to be offensive but because I don’t believe biblically that it is marriage, why would there be monogamy?
Well, it sounds good, you know, it’s better and til death do us part. But there’s no moral logic to it. The moral logic to monogamy from Genesis 2 has everything to do with their purpose in fulfilling the creation mandate: You are the one that was fit for me, you are the woman for man, and we come together because only in this union can we produce the offspring of children and then our commitment til death do us part is for the good of the children who, if everything is working, will come from our union. Fitted to be fruitful.
And so there is a profound sense. Yes, you cannot reduce marriage to simply procreation, and we know that on the other side of the fall, because of age, infirmity, because of unexplained infertility, we all know, some of us too personally, of the pain of not being able to have children that we wanted to have. That’s on the other side of the fall.
But marriage is that sort of relationship where the man and the woman, if all of the plumbing is working correctly, ought to produce this offspring in fulfillment of this divine mandate.
Calvin says something was taken from Adam in order that he might embrace with greater benevolence a part of himself. Adam may have lost a rib, but he gained a far richer reward. Calvin says since he obtained a faithful associate of life for he now saw himself, who had before been imperfect, rendered complete in his wife.
You didn’t know that Jerry Maguire stole it from Calvin: You complete me.
Calvin said he is rendered complete in his wife.
Or Matthew Henry, the puritan, though perhaps it’s not the best exegesis, it’s lovely theology: The woman is not made out of his head to top him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved.
In marriage, the man leaves his family and holds fast to his wife, verse 24.
Now real quickly, with everything we’ve seen about the man being the head of the household, the man being the federal head of the human race, the woman being his support, his helper, wouldn’t you expect it would say that therefore the woman leaves her parents and holds fast to her husband? And indeed, in the ancient world it would usually work that way geographically, that usually the woman would come under the auspices of her husband’s family, but here in a rich and significant metaphysical sense, the man leaves his father and mother to hold fast to his wife.
You say, well, isn’t he the keeper of the garden? Isn’t he the protector? Didn’t he exercise authority in naming the woman? Surely the helper leaves her family to join her husband. But we’re told the opposite. Which makes sense when we realize that sexual differentiation is not about first place man, second place woman, it’s about order and design.
Remember I said the inner world of the garden is of chief concern for the woman, radiating out from the family, is shaped by the help and the nurture of the woman. So I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say emotional intimacy, communion, are fostered and formed in a unique way by women. As such, in a relational sense, her familial order takes precedence over the man’s.
Don’t we see this usually, again not always, but usually, that the woman is the one through whom the bonds of relationship and communion are fostered? The husband is often sort of along for the ride and I’m glad my wife has friends so I can have some friends, too. Don’t you find this? I bet if we were just to, again there’d be exceptions, but just take an informal poll of how often a daughter communicates with her mom versus a son with his mom.
We would see there is a uniqueness, that the husband, and what a striking phrase, considering how much more deference and authority they gave to parents in their day than we do in ours, that the husband sets apart his family of origin. He says I’m starting something new, starting to cleave to my wife.
Of all the things that are good in the garden, God spends the most time showing us how the design of male and female is good. There co-equality, but also their difference and distinction, which is what makes their coming together in one flesh so amazingly good. It’s a one-flesh union fitted for the purpose of creation that is to be fruitful and multiply. Why is it the sexual act that is considered the consummation of marriage? Why can’t you just, you know, promise yourself to one another? Why aren’t you, why isn’t the symbolism of marriage to hold someone’s hand, or to give them a wet willy in there, you know, ear or something? Mom and dad, we did it? What? That, you don’t. You know, instinctively you realize that doesn’t make you one. Now you’re still together, but it’s not oneness because it’s not oneness for the fitted purpose that God gave to Adam and Eve. The male sexual organ, the female sexual organ, are meant to come together in marriage, consummated by that sexual act, that they might fulfill uniquely the creation mandate.
So it really is amazing. We’ve had two chapters and a fourth of what, or more if you count day 6, of what God is wanting to talk about is how He made man male and female. It tells you something about the significance. Again, understand that not all of us married. Some of us won’t be married, some of us have painful experiences with marriage, some of us are mourning a spouse who is no longer with us. But we see how significant it is.
Life in the garden is good, a paradise, the way things were supposed to be. The land was good, creation was good, work was good, and most importantly male and female, marriage, was good. A perfect innocence, naked and unashamed.
Now, yes, that has something to do about sex, but more than that, Adam and Eve were naked before each other and God. They had nothing to hide, no shame, no embarrassment, fully upright, fully honorable, perfect relationship, perfect relations, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, perfect relationship man with good, male with female, perfect worship, perfect work, perfect obedient, perfect love. This is what we long for. What we return to.
Now if you think to the very end of the Bible, we have another wedding. It tells you how significant this is in the Bible. You can’t just say, well, the Bible hardly says anything about men and women or marriage. No, the Bible literally starts with marriage and it ends with marriage. It ends with the marriage supper of the Lamb, and there, as we’re ushered into a new heaven and a new earth, you might be glad to know that there the standard is not nudity anymore, but remember they’re given white linen robes. It speaks to the same reality: Clean, unafraid, washed, redeemed.
Heaven grants us the return to innocence, the reclamation of righteousness. It’s the same idea in the garden. There they stood, unashamed. And if you were to take some time and think deeply about your life, you would conclude that though you want to be distracted from it, you want to have your mind free from it, you want to be in front of your phone so you don’t have to consider it, all of us are plagued by the sense that we are ashamed, something that was done, something that we said, of something that we’ve become, of some fear of being found out, of being discovered, of being disrobed. None of us enjoys this naked and unashamed as they did in the garden, but all of us can enjoy the white robes and the marriage supper that is to come.
Because the union of the husband and the wife is giving way to an even greater union, a more important union, one that does not depend upon marital status and whether God finds for you a husband or a wife, but depends upon faith and repentance, as the bride of Christ is joined to the groom, and we are His and He is ours.
Let’s pray. Gracious heavenly Father, would You recalibrate us according to Your Word. There are few things in Your Word that will put us more quickly out of step with the world than talking about men and women, talking about sex, talking about marriage. But You have given this to us for our good. You only want to bless us, You only want to help us, You only want us to find fulfillment, so may we not doubt Your generosity, may we not question Your kindness to us, but help us to walk in the ways and follow the postures and the patterns that You have designed. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.