As we prepare to see a son and then a daughter wed soon (he at the end of May, she the first week of June), my wife and I rejoice over the Lord’s goodness to our children. In so many ways we see how He has brought to them spouses who, designed by His gracious hand, complement them and will make their lives much more fruitful in many ways. As I have been praying for them and reflecting on the first recorded marriage in Genesis 2:18-25, here’s a question I have pondered. When the Lord God saw that it was not good for the original man, Adam, to be alone (Genesis 2:18), why did He bring the animals of the garden to him (Genesis 2:19)?
Clearly the Scriptures teach that it was to see what Adam would name them (Genesis 2:19). Yet given the context of God recognizing that Adam needed a helper, and the Lord forming one for him immediately after this animal-naming process was complete, more is going on here. Certainly Adam would have become more cognizant that he was created uniquely above all other earthly creatures, being made in God’s own image, and that would have led him to feel more acutely his loneliness. Surely that is the answer in part to this “new zoo review,” as many commentators teach. Yet how did this process not only reveal to him his loneliness but also point to a solution?
Certainly we are not to imagine the Lord told Adam he needed a helper and then actually instructed him to look among the animals for one. No, I believe the text indicates the Lord was working more subtly than that. It appears that, in bringing the animals to Adam and having him name them, the Lord had the answer in the object lesson that He wanted to dawn slowly upon Adam’s mind as he reviewed this parade.
For think about the other place in Genesis when the Lord brought animals to a man. In planning to begin a new creation after the flood, God promised Noah that after he built the ark “two of every kind will come to you to keep them alive” (Genesis 6:20). Then right on schedule, “they went into the ark to Noah, by twos of all flesh in which was the breath of life. Those that entered, male and female of all flesh, entered as God commanded him” (Genesis 6:15-16). Though it does not state exactly in the text that the animals came in pairs, it does not take that much imagination to assume that as Adam observed a bull and a cow, for instance, he began to realize more and more there was “not a helper for (or one corresponding to) him” (Genesis 2:20). As Kent Hughes says of Adam, “In the process he also realized that many of the animals had a social companionship that he lacked.”[i]
Thus, even nature reveals to us a complementary maleness and femaleness. Of course, this knowledge is not as full and perfect as the revelation found in the Bible, where it clearly states “male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27) and “for this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one” (Genesis 2:24). Yet it still remains that even children are to be able to look at the common animal world and, as the aardvarks to zebras show them in their alphabet books, see that for every Mr. there is a corresponding Mrs.
Sadly, many in our age are missing this basic lesson as they exchange “the natural for that which is unnatural,” as Paul said in Romans. The church has a lot of work to do to be salt and light to this generation. As the wedding season approaches, let us begin by renewing our commitment to celebrate godly marriages and then, as the witnesses we are called to be, support them throughout their lifetime.
[i] R. Kent Hughes, “Man and Woman,” Genesis (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2004), p. 59.