Having finished our overview of biblical ethics through our study of how the Ten Commandments are fulfilled in the New Testament, we will now look at some of the practical applications of this ethical teaching in the areas of marriage and family. Genesis 2:18–25 is the foundational text on marriage in Scripture, and it is to this important passage that we now turn.
As we see in these verses, God instituted marriage to make up for something that was lacking in man. Up until this point in the book of Genesis, the Lord’s evaluation of His work has been positive, with each successive act of creation being declared good (1:1–2:3). After Adam is placed in the garden of Eden, however, we get the first declaration that things are not good. He is alone without a helper fit to aid him in fulfilling the Creator’s mandate for humanity to multiply and exercise wise dominion over the earth (1:28). Though made in the image of God, a personal and triune being, the first man cannot yet bear the image of God fully because he has no peer with whom he can relate (like the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit do).
The Lord solves this problem by creating a “helper,” which translates the Hebrew term ezer, a word that points to one who is equal to Adam intellectually and spiritually, able to work with him to fulfill their common destiny to rule over the earth for the glory of God. We are talking, of course, about Eve, the first woman and mother of all the living (2:18–25; 3:20). Men and women may have different parts to play in the mandate to steward the earth for the glory of God, but neither is inferior to the other. Matthew Henry comments, “The woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near to his heart to be beloved.”
Adam is overjoyed to see the gift of the woman and bursts forth into poetry (2:23). Clearly, he is at ease with Eve and she is at ease with him, neither one of them fearing that they will be exploited in the relationship. This is God’s design for marriage — that husband and wife will relate to each other in love, serving one another and not seeking to use the other for selfish ends (1 Peter 3:1–7).