As we make our way through the book of Genesis, we are stopping in chapter 2 today with the creation of man and woman and the first marriage. What is biblical marriage and where do we get our definitions for men’s and women’s roles? Let’s find out in Genesis chapter 2.
Book by Book Series
So, where do we get the definition of biblical marriage? And what about gender roles? Well it all starts here in Genesis chapter 2 and that’s what we will be discussing today.
But before we jump in, I have a small caveat. When I decided to start this series, I wanted to simply go through the Bible book by book, both for the podcast and the corresponding blog posts. So, I thought, “Why not just start in Genesis?” Well, I was forgetting just how foundational and pivotal the first few chapters of Genesis are.
We talked about this a bit in the last episode on Genesis because creation is so important. But especially in the first three chapters of Genesis we have a LOT of pivotal and important things going on. So that’s why for this second episode of my Book by Book series we are only taking on Genesis chapter 2. I don’t want to bypass these important topics that are introduced in the first three chapters of Genesis.
Then once we get past these first chapters, we will broaden our scope per episode so that we can cover a bit more ground. We’ll broaden not because the rest of Genesis is not important, all of the Bible is important. But because we’re going through the Bible book by book, not chapter by chapter.
Okay, so in episode 11 we covered Genesis 1 and the creation account, so now here in episode 14, let’s get into Genesis 2.
In the first couple verses of Genesis 2, we find that God saw all that He had created and it was good, so He took a rest. This is the first instance of the Sabbath. God set a precedent for us to follow in that He worked for 6 days and then rested on the seventh, setting it apart as a holy day. If you think about it now, the whole world does follow this pattern. We work for 6 days and then have rest at the weekend.
I really appreciated what John Calvin had to say about the Sabbath in his commentary on Genesis. He said that God didn’t need to rest, nor did He need to create the world in 6 days. Rather in the creation of the world and the resting afterward, God graciously gave us an example to follow. An example of hard work and rest. We need to rest from our labors. And another thing that Calvin specifically pointed out is that the rest we truly need from our labors is the type of rest that will cause us to reflect on the Lord and His kindnesses to us, and reflect on our sin and repent of them. Calvin’s comments were really helpful to me and I uploaded them to my blog so that you can read them in their entirety, just click the link in the description of this episode.
Creation of man (made in God’s image)
In verse 4 and following, we have a reiteration of the creation account of chapter 1. There are a few other details added like God breathing the breath of life into Adam and creating the garden of Eden. We’re also told where the garden was created and the rivers that flowed close by.
Because the account of creation in chapter 2 is different from chapter 1 some people try to explain away the chapter two account with the theory that Genesis had several different writers and a different writer wrote chapter 2 than the writer who wrote chapter 1. I would suggest to you that this is not the case. The whole of Genesis was written by Moses, including chapters 1 and 2.
We have to think of chapter 1 as an overview of all of creation and chapter 2 as zooming in on the creation of man and woman. It is similar to the Gospels in that the same events transpired, but the gospels were all written from different angles. It doesn’t make any of them less true, they just focus on different aspects. That’s how Genesis 1 and 2 work as well. They focus on different aspects of the same event: creation.
It is not good for man to be alone.
Remember from the first chapter that as God created the earth, He looked back over what He had created and saw that it was good. This is stated multiple times: “God saw that it was good, God saw that it was good, God saw that it was good.”
Then we come to Genesis 2:18 and what do we read? “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.’”
This is called a malediction. You’re probably familiar with a benediction, where you get blessed at the end of the church service. But when God said, “It is not good.” That is a bad saying, or a recognition of something bad. So the very first thing in the Bible that receives a bad saying or a malediction from God is human loneliness.
Now we all want to be alone sometimes. And I especially think of moms with young children when it comes to wanting peace and quiet and aloneness. But that is not what God is saying is bad here in Genesis 2:18. What He declares to be “not good” is that Adam doesn’t have anyone like him with which to live.
We’re made to be in community and living alone forever is not what God intended for Adam. So, what does God do to remedy this problem? Let’s keep reading.
Genesis 2:19-20 says, “Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him.”
So, God brings every single animal to Adam in order for them to be named, but also to find if there is a suitable helpmate for Adam. And their search turns up empty because Adam is not paired with a cow, or a horse, or even a dog. No, Adam still needed a helper suitable for him.
These verses where Adam names the animals and beasts point back to Genesis 1:26, where God said that He would make man in His image. Humans are set apart in many ways from animals and the naming of the animals by Adam is a direct result of that separation. He had dominion and authority over the animals in order to name them. That’s also why Adam did not find a suitable helper in an animal, not one beast was equal to him.
So because God and Adam did not find a suitable helper in the animals and beasts, God creates the woman.
Creation of the woman.
God and Adam searched through all of creation and did not find a helper for Adam, so God specially designed the perfect helper for man: woman.
Here’s what the text says, “So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man 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.’ For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife; and they become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”
Maybe you know this passage well, after all, I think many of us have heard it in Sunday School when we were young. But as I was studying these verses in the last week to get prepared for this episode I was struck by how gracious these verses are. They really show God’s graciousness toward man.
God graciously created male and female from the same origin. That makes women and men equals. They’re both created specially by God, formed by Him, and formed for a special purpose: to be together.
God also graciously gave us specific roles for both male and female to possess and live out. Because they were created equally, Adam could see himself in Eve, hence the line “bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh.” And because Eve was created out of Adam, she could willingly submit to him knowing that they were created equally by God. Calvin pointed out that if man and woman were created from two separate origins, there would be strife and contention because they would start off pitted against each other. And then Calvin went on to say, “Something was taken from Adam, in order that he might embrace, with greater benevolence, a part of himself.” God graciously created man and woman to have the same origin so that they could live together in harmony.
And, let’s just be very clear here, Eve was created not as an inferior being, but as one who was specially created by the hands of God.
And, as we see in the rest of the chapter, Eve was the perfect helpmate for Adam. That should be no surprise because God created her just for that purpose. And He brings them together in the last verses in marriage.
Institution of Marriage
The final verses of Genesis 2 bring the first marriage. Woman is made for man, and man is made for the woman. RC Sproul says that there is symmetry of suitability between male and female. We are truly made for each other. And they will still be male and female within marriage, but in the holy state of marriage, they will be one flesh.
These verses make it very clear that biblical marriage is only for one man and one woman. That’s how God instituted it for Adam and Eve and subsequently for all humans. And we know that this is God’s good plan from the last verse in the chapter which says that they lived together and were naked and not ashamed. God’s design for male and female, each complementing each other, was perfect. They did not have to hide or be afraid of one another. They were the ultimate companions for each other.
Again, it’s the graciousness of God on display as He created man and woman equally in His image and brought them together in marriage.
Men and women were both created in the image of God and both were created with special and specific purposes. But one was made out of the other. The woman was made out of the man.
I already touched on this a bit, but having the woman made out of man implies two things: the man is to love her as part of himself for she was made from him and the woman is to be submissive to the man out of which she was made. So then we see that God created humans with gender specific roles to play.
We see these roles further fleshed out in the New Testament. First Corinthians 11, Ephesians 5, Titus 2, and 1 Peter 3, are all passages that give more specifics as to how women and men should function in marriage.
Genesis 2 lays the important foundation for those New Testament passages and for us to know how we are to have a godly marriage. Woman was created out of man, making her the submissive helpmate while, at the same time, making the husband the leader and protector of the wife.
My good friend recently said, “We are not born submissive, obedient, discreet or chaste at all, but we were created to be.”
Now we have looked at some major themes and foundational verses here in Genesis chapter 2, but what does it mean for us today?
Well, I think one big takeaway is that God’s grace is clearly seen in how He created humans.
Not only did He create us uniquely in His image, but He gave us dominion over the animals and the earth. And then, He created the perfect pair in Adam and Eve. Adam wasn’t left alone to solitary confinement in the garden. God created the perfect partner for him. And God has not left us alone either, there are other people who we get to befriend and live life alongside. God’s grace is also shown in how He created man and woman to function together with the husband as the head and the wife submitting to him.
This is the biggest takeaway for us ladies, we were made for a specific purpose: and that purpose is to be submissive to our husbands. And this is such a big takeaway that it will actually take more time than I have to discuss it today. It’ll be a future episode. But, in a nutshell, it is so kind of God to give us a model to follow in the creation of woman. He created woman from man and made her to be submissive. Of course, we know from Genesis 3 that sin and fall has changed all of this for us. But how encouraging that we have a special, God-given role as women to submit to our husbands. I think this is actually the easy part of a marriage relationship. Sure, it’s not always easy to submit or defer to your husband’s authority. But in God’s hierarchy, it’s the husband that has the bigger responsibility. He’s responsible before God for his wife and for his family, not just for himself. That’s why the husband is described as the head of the wife.
Seeing God’s grace in these foundational doctrines fills me with awe of Him and thankfulness for His grace. And it’s that same grace that sent Jesus to make right the mess that is made in the next chapter of Genesis. It’s God’s grace that saves us from eternal death without Him and gives us eternal life when we become His children. Ephesians 2:8 says, “By grace you have been saved.” We are saved only by the grace of God. The grace that’s on display here in Genesis 2.
I hope this time in Genesis 2 has been encouraging for you. Let it remind you of God’s grace toward His people, toward you. And look for God’s grace in your own life today, then give Him glory for it. Thanks for listening to Naptime Theology today!