Twenty-five years ago a book came out entitled, ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus’ it was intended to deal with the complicated relationships between men and women. And though it did give us a different perspective and a few good quotes that one could chuckle over it only scratched the surface of the complicated relationships between men or women. In the end, it still left men and women seemingly separated on distant planets struggling to understand the customs and languages that the other used.
But, none of us really believe that this is how God had originally intended the relationship between a man and a woman to be. Men were never from Mars and women definitely are not from Venus. We have all come to realize that because of the ‘fall’ the original relationship between man and woman has gone through a horrific downward spiral leaving mankind falling far short of God’s original intention.
In the beginning, before the creation of woman, man was made in the image and likeness of God and contained both the fullness of masculinity and femininity. Later God said in Gen 2:18, “It is not good for the man to be alone, I will make a helper suitable for him.” Right after God said this He had the man come forward and He brought the animals before him so that he could name them. Gen 2:20, “So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. But for the man no suitable helper was found.” Gen. 2:21-22. “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 closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.” While mankind was asleep God took out all the attributes that comprised femininity that was in mankind and formed the perfect, ‘suitable helper’ for man now referred to as woman, leaving all the attributes that comprised masculinity within the man.
A Suitable Helper
What then would this suitable helper look like? The very things that made her a suitable helper were the very things that characterized her inner qualities. Mankind has made the words ‘suitable helper’ into a kind of ‘hamburger helper’ that you add to something to make it different not necessarily better.
The Hebrew word kenegdo, usually translated as “suitable” in Gen. 2, gives the meaning that Eve was designed to be a corresponding and equal partner for Adam. Here we find no sense of subordination stated or implied, or even hinted at, in this passage in Gen. 2. Ezer or “helper” is the name that the Holy Spirit uses to describe the first woman. Ezer is also used in describing aspects of God’s character: he is our strength, our rescuer, our protector, and our help! Eve was created by God as someone who would provide valuable and vital strength and assistance to Adam.
Kenegdo Ezer —“a suitable helper”—is used in reference to the first woman without any narrow qualifications, prescribed limits, or carefully crafted cultural restrictions. In other words, it is not specified anywhere in Gen. 2 how the first women was to express and apply her help towards her husband, but presumably it was to alleviate the man’s “alone-ness” and partner with him in their joint commission, given in Gen. 1:28.
Unfortunately too many people have just presumed that the woman’s role was to be subservient. But too often they are reading Gen. Chapter 2 with narrow preconceived notions, and have failed to see the wonderful expressions of equality, affinity, and unity in this passage.
The whole purpose of the Creation of Eve found in Gen. 2 is to emphasize the unity and mutuality of husband and wife. To read it any other way is to miss the point and distort its meaning and purpose. The first woman was “taken out” of the first human being. Before her creation, Eve was already a part of Adam in some way. When Adam looked at his new partner he exclaimed that she was “flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone!” This is a profound expression of similarity and equality. There is no hint of hierarchy here. But to further emphasize the point, verse 24 says that when a husband and wife join in marriage, they become one flesh – a point which Jesus also highlighted (Matt. 19:4-5; Mark 10:6-7). God’s ideal at creation was that the husband and wife compliment and complete each other as they rule over nature (and not each other) together (Gen. 1:26-28). Perhaps gender appreciation is the Godly ideal we should aim for, especially if we note that in heaven there will be no giving of each other in marriage. It would seem that prior to the fall that God felt that woman could stand alone in heaven on equal footing with men.
Then our Lord brought and presented the woman to the man who realized that this was substance of my substance or bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. The marriage covenant was established as Father God presented her to Adam. Gen. 2:24. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”
Adam and Eve were made in the likeness and image of God. Martin Luther in one of his papers said this concerning Adam and Eve. “I am fully convinced that before they sinned their eyes were so sharp and clear that they surpassed those of the lynx and eagle. They were stronger than the lions and the bears, whose strength is very great; and they handled them the way we would handle puppies.”
I found it interesting that mankind was so intelligent that they could actually see God’s purpose in the creation of each of the animals and correctly identify them with a name befitting God’s purpose and reason for their creation. It would not be hard to assume that Adam and Eve’s intelligence were such that they were capable of having an intelligent discussion with the creator of the universe who made it a daily ritual to come, meet and converse with them in the cool of the garden.
God also gave them authority. Gen 1:28-30. “God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.”
God’s charge to them was to be fruitful and multiply, to fill the earth with children that bore his likeness and image. They were also to rule over the fish, birds, beasts and every living creature. Even to the extent of having every seed-bearing plant and tree under their dominion. Which would mean that you had to have more than just a passing knowledge of each specie of animals and category of plants. To subdue the earth is most interesting as the term ‘subdue’ means to conquer, defeat and overthrow by force or strategy, to gain mastery over. Something they failed to do when Satan showed up on the scene.
It was a world not devoid of conflict but a land of promise that needed to be nurtured and cared for. Adam and Eve were not only husband and wife, friends and lovers, skilled at husbandry but also charged by God to protect the land by subduing the forces that would do it harm.