In Genesis 1:27-28 we read that God created man, a creature unique in all of creation; he created man as male and female. Humans are unique because we were created in the image of God. Both male and female were given the same mandate at creation, the same mission statement.
God did something else distinctive with the creation of man: He delayed the creation of the woman, Eve, until after Adam was created and had been given specific tasks to accomplish without her. By doing things in this order God established that Adam and Eve, male and female, were designed to work alongside each other rather than having one subservient to the other. Let me draw this out: Adam was commanded to guard and keep the garden and to name the animals, the first steps in establishing man’s dominion over the earth. It is after the completion of these tasks that God says that it is not good for man to be alone:
The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. ‘I will make a helper suitable for him.’
Adam was lacking his wife; without her, he was not whole. The Hebrew text highlights this by saying that they were made to fit together; this design was not just for sexual relations but for accomplishing the creation mandate. Thus, the creation of Eve was to complete Adam, it was to complete the image of God in humanity. Adam was “good” as was the rest of God’s creation; God’s image, however, was not complete without Eve. Adam and Eve were to be a good “fit” together as they carried out the mandate that God gave to both of them. Again, the separation of time between the creation of Adam and the creation of Eve out of Adam is instructive. We learn that both male and female are incomplete without the other in the tasks God commissioned them to do at creation.
So God made a helper suitable for Adam. She was not inferior, but essential to bringing the dominion of God to the earth. Marriage is designed for the express purpose of both covenant partners working together to bring about God’s rule upon the earth. The husband is to accept the responsibility of sacrificial leadership. The wife is to accept the responsibility of being the essential helper that is needed for them both to bring honor to God in their marriage. Husband and wife are fit together for this magnificent purpose.
I realize that marriage is seldom talked about in these terms; but I am persuaded that this is what God designed marriage to be. It is tragic that wives are ever seen as inferior or secondary or even separate from their husbands. The wife is to help her husband to do what God has called both of them to do. The husband simply cannot fulfill this calling by himself – just as the wife cannot fulfill the calling by herself! The marriage brings two people together to become more than what either could be alone; indeed, marriage, the one-flesh relationship, brings about a whole, a sum, that is even greater than its parts. The two partners are not merely two separate, distinct people working on the same tasks; the fabric of marriage is more than jobs that you do. The essence of marriage is two people bringing honor to God through the unique fitting together of their gifts, abilities and passions. In this context, rather than merely enablers or lackeys, wives truly must be helpers, allies – partners with their husbands.
Rethinking marriage in the context of creation can and will bring honor to God and help to your husband.