For the next few weeks, we will be engaging in a short series on marriage by one of our blog contributors, Linda Rice. Read below to see the latest part in this marriage series, and if you need to catch up on previous posts, head to our “Blog” tab!
While the ultimate purpose for all of life, including marriage, is the glory of God, Genesis makes clear that, on a human level, marriage is for companionship (though that companionship has a further aim). Consider Scripture’s emphasis on companionship in marriage. Genesis 2:18-20 says,
“Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” And 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. And 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”(emphasis added).
The Problem Identified
This passage exposes Adam’s aloneness – “not good for the man to be alone.” (He didn’t seem to be lonely, so there must be something else unhelpful about aloneness.) Then it is bookended with “helper suitable.” Between the bookends which identify the problem, the record states that God occupied Adam with naming animals, something that seems totally unrelated. Why?
God gave him an object lesson. As Adam named the animals, he learned that there was more than one of each kind of animal; they came in sets of two. He learned about genders and gender suitability within species. He could see for himself that on an earth teaming with male-female combos, he was alone.
Adam’s aloneness was not in a lack of any other living creature. Since he communicated with God, his aloneness was not in a lack of communion with another intelligent being. It was in a lack of another in his humanity and, specifically, a gender complement who could work with him to fulfill God’s command to subdue and rule the earth.
The Solution Provided
The term “helper suitable” means “fitting help,” “one who completes.” Adam didn’t need just any companion. He needed one who would complete him. As a gender complement, Eve contributed characteristics that enhanced their union so that together they imaged God perfectly as man and animal or man and angel or man and man could not.
Eve was not created to be a baby factory, but to be a companion. Children are important, but there is much more to marriage than children. Not just a method of procreation, sex expresses union and intimacy. Suitable to him, she made a fitting help in all aspects of living and ruling.
The Companionship Hallmark
Other passages reinforce the marital characteristic of companionship. Deuteronomy 24:5 records God’s command that newly married men stay home from military service and any other compelling duties for one year. Their priority for that year was to make their wives happy and build a solid foundation for the marriage.
Proverbs 2:17 warns against the adulteress “that leaves the companion of her youth, and forgets the covenant of her God” (emphasis added). This verse ties the covenant of marriage to the companionship of marriage.
Through the prophet Malachi God rebuked those who had divorced their wives. He said, “though she is your companion and your wife by covenant” (Mal. 2:14, emphasis added). The two hallmarks of marriage are covenant and companionship.
A Higher Objective
When we say that marriage is for companionship or that God made Eve to solve Adam’s aloneness, we can end up with a horizontal view of marriage. It seems to imply that the wife is there to keep the husband from being lonely (a little one-sided), or the purpose of marriage is to prevent loneliness (value only on humanity).
Marriage does prevent loneliness and provide the joy of togetherness and friendship, but there is more. Notice that Eve is a “helper.” Helping with what? In Genesis 1:26-27, God made man (male and female) in His image and commissioned them to “…fill the earth and subdue it; and rule over” all that is in it (Gen. 1:28). It is Adam and Eve together who comprise a team in co-regency.
So, Genesis 1 and 2 place the married couple into a context of a purpose beyond themselves. Therefore, marital companionship has a vertical component. The two together image God. The two together form a team for ruling creation with an effectiveness that Adam could not achieve on his own. Avoiding loneliness is important, but the good and delightful companionship is intended for achieving God’s purposes.
An Evaluation Moment
Generally speaking, women tend to pursue relational intimacy more than men do. That tempts us to become frustrated with a husband who isn’t relating with us as we want, and to pursue gaining companionship more than giving it.
However, if we are to love others as we love ourselves, to serve rather than be served, then being a companion to your husband is not about what he is doing for you; it is about what you are doing for him. (I don’t mean being a doormat. For example, it may require lovingly speaking hard truths when you would rather avoid conflict). Being a biblical companion is a vital way that a wife can glorify God.
- On a scale of 1-10, how are you at being a companion to your husband? How would your husband rate you?
- What are you doing to help your husband rule the part of creation that is his responsibility – his job, the property, the kids, etc.?