The warmth and beauty of this creation is fitting, a crown on all that God had created for the man and woman to prepare them for life in the world. Adam's response shows his pleasurable agreement with this added gift.
Feminists take issue with Scripture's reference to Eve as a “helper” (Genesis 2:18, 20), but there is nothing demeaning in the term. It simply means “one who helps.” God Himself is referred to as our “help” several times (see Psalm 115:10-11). Remember, Genesis 1:27 asserts, “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” With both sexes created in God's image, neither can claim superiority.
With our knowledge of DNA, it makes perfect sense for God to have built Eve from a small portion of Adam's body because his body already had within it every means for Eve to be his perfect female match. Adam did not know this technical, biological reality, but he was still in naming-mode after his experience with the animals. So, when he saw her he said, in effect, “She is me!” meaning she is like him, not like an animal, naming her “woman.” (In Hebrew, “man” is ish and “woman” is isha.) Each was made to be the perfect companion for the other. The concluding comment in Genesis 2:24—that a man and his wife are to become one flesh—reinforces this.
Today, marriage is not at its most stable state in our Western cultures. Yet, God's intention is plain. When asked about divorce and remarriage, Jesus declares God's original intent in Matthew 19:8-9. Mankind's marriage problems do not stem from God's creation of the institution. They lie in the hardness of heart of both men and women.
Jesus' clear statement is the reality that the modern demand for “equality”—especially from feminists—opposes, and such opposition affects the stability of marriages to such an extent that more than a third of all marriages end in divorce. Some remarry and divorce several times, throwing both family life and society into turmoil. The entire culture is badly fractured.
Feminist anger over God's making Eve for Adam reveals that they are anti-God in their outlook on marriage. They forget, or conveniently overlook, that Adam was made for Eve too, and in addition, that she was made from man, meaning that she was part of him. Genesis does not suggest in any way that she was created as man's servant. Adam himself perceived her as a delightful companion.
Are men and woman equal? The answer depends on the particular context. Generally, they are not equal in physical feats of strength, for instance, but they are equal in many ways, especially in mental and spiritual terms. Both are created in the image of God, which starts them on the path to being fit companions for each other. Both are under moral responsibility to God. No place in Scripture states either a man's or a woman's sins are the worse. Both men and women are recipients of God's grace and can be forgiven by the blood of Jesus Christ. Both are equal in terms of being offered salvation and receiving eternal life and reward in God's Kingdom.
The true cause of marital problems lies in the ignorance of both men and women of their responsibilities within a marriage. Compounding this is another reality: the self-centered, carnal character of each personality involved. These two factors—ignorance of responsibility and selfish carnality—result in multitudes of mistakes and misapplications in many areas of the relationship, creating discouragement and anguish rather than satisfaction and joy, as God intended.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Leadership and Covenants (Part Five)
This verse shows that two human personalities can become one flesh. Why, then, can God not be one with two distinct personalities who work independently yet in complete harmony? Paul adds in I Corinthians 6:17, "But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him." If a human can be one with God and remain entirely distinct, why cannot another spirit being with a separate personality be one with Him?
John W. Ritenbaugh
God Is . . . What?
In Genesis 2:24, when the marriage covenant is ordained, man and woman are designated as "one flesh"—one unit. God is indeed creating a Family modeled after His own characteristics, but not all Godlike characteristics are found in one sex or gender, any more than they are found in one race. It bears repeating that God did not create a superior and inferior sex, any more than He created a superior and inferior race.
God has characteristics (revealed throughout Scripture) that are considered to be masculine and feminine. Our own bodies mirror this. Human reproductive glands, for example, manufacture both male and female hormones. Women's ovaries produce small, but significant amounts of androgen (a male hormone). Likewise, men's testicular canals produce not only testosterone, but also a small but significant amount of estrogen (female hormones). God has also designed the human anatomy so that both sexes have vestigial equipment of the opposite sex. No one is 100% male or 100% female—not even the most muscular man or the curviest woman can claim this distinction.
Together, men and women make up a composite image of the living God. Individually, we are incomplete, partial, and lacking something in our personality. One of the reasons God gave us marriage state (a God-plane relationship) is to learn how the other half of the God-image behaves. We learn from our mate's traits and characteristics of the opposite sex in order to become complete God-beings. The Bruce Willis/Russell Crowe macho-warriors and the Nicole Kidman/Meg Ryan goddess stereotypes are insufficient models for a God-being. God the Father is not in the process of making macho-warriors or goddesses, but balanced members of His Family.
Part of this process—incredible as it sounds—involves the male incorporating Godlike feminine (not effeminate) characteristics such as tenderness, mercy, and patience. Similarly, the female needs to learn or adopt masculine (not tomboy or butch) characteristics such as strength, assertiveness, and decisiveness. If we make a thorough search of the Scripture, we would find the masculine and feminine traits of God equally distributed. Ironically, if gender-neutral advocates had their way, these delightful differences would be blotted out.
Space permits elaboration on only a few from each list. We see ample and abundant masculine traits in the Bible: strength, power, decisiveness, aggressiveness, provider, ruler, and leader. Feminine traits are also abundant: beauty, grace, mercy, tenderness, caring, and affectionate. In order to qualify as members of God's Family, both men and women need to incorporate all these characteristics into their personalities.
Men often have a hard time being as loving and affectionate as their wives are. Little boys know that Mommies make the best pillows, and Daddies make the best armrests. If some of the women in the congregation would enlist the aid of the men in the congregation to hold their babies, the men might break out in a cold sweat. Nevertheless, motherly feelings and instincts come from God. It did not bother Jesus Christ to express a motherly instinct: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem. . . ! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. . . !" (Matthew 23:37).
David F. Maas
Is God a Male Chauvinist?
Scripture is very clear about the place of nakedness—and it certainly is not in public! Genesis 2:24 establishes the bounds of nakedness: Between a man and his wife, there is no shame. Any exposure beyond these bounds incurs sin.
Leviticus 18 covers laws of sexual morality, using a euphemism, "uncovering nakedness," to represent sexual misconduct. For instance, verse 6, "None of you shall approach anyone who is near of kin to him, to uncover his nakedness: I am the LORD." Viewing the nakedness of someone who is not one's spouse, then, breaks the seventh commandment, "You shall not commit adultery" (Exodus 20:14). Jesus amplifies this in His Sermon on the Mount by saying, "But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:28). A person sexually aroused by the sight of another who is not his spouse, clothed or not, is guilty of sin.
To some, this may sound prudish and old-fashioned, but it is God's law, which does not "change" or "conform" to the times. The Bible consistently speaks of clothing in terms of righteousness, whereas nakedness represents sin and its corresponding shame. The upright are clothed in fine linen (Revelation 19:8), while the sinful are depicted in various states of undress (see Isaiah 47:2-3; Ezekiel 16:36; Revelation 3:17).
As such, a culture's view of nakedness reveals its proximity to God and the way of godly living. As it publicly strips, our culture exposes itself as far from God and in freefall. We should ask ourselves, "Where do our standards lie on this spectrum?"
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
A Culture in Freefall
In the New King James Version, Genesis 2:24 reads that the man and woman are to “be joined to” each other, while the King James Version uses the more traditional term, “cleave to.” These phrases are important because in them God is signaling to those studying into His purpose for marriage that achieving the oneness He desires in marriage is difficult. If the couple is not truly cleaving to one another, the marriage will not produce good fruit, and the two may slip apart from each other rather than grow ever closer.
The Hebrew term underlying “join” or “cleave,” dâbaq, is a strong word that has the literal sense of two being held together by force, as when one person captures another. It has a figurative sense of being “glued to” through positive family care. In a marriage-and-family situation, it portrays a bond of consistent, sacrificial loyalty and devotion.
The word appears in Ruth 1:14: “Then they lifted up their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung [dâbaq]to her.” The account shows Orpah remaining in the nation of her birth, distancing herself from Naomi, but Ruth, who clings to her mother-in-law, remains with her and accompanies her to Judea.
This same loyal devotion is what God is looking for from each partner in a marriage; a voluntary, sacrificial giving of themselves in loyalty, devotion, and affection so oneness is produced.
The loving efforts toward oneness in marriage are types of what is needed for the Christian to become one spiritually with the Father and the Son. Both partners in a marriage are to give themselves completely to achieving a human type of the oneness that the Father and Son exhibit in Their relationship. God created this process as a deliberate parallel in terms of our overall goals in life. The goals in both a physical marriage and a spiritual relationship with God are in principle essentially the same—achieving oneness. Some individual characteristics are different, of course, because one goal is physical and the other is spiritual.
These attitudes and actions have impact beyond an immediate family situation. As God unveils His truths through the beginning portions of the Bible, the reader is led to the logical conclusion that, as the populations increased and communities were formed, community needs were filled through family organization. There were no governments, churches, schools, businesses, etc., before marriage and family. Those other institutions took a long time to form. The meeting of community needs arose from the patterns in use within the organized family that the Creator God ordained.
God's creation of marriage and family provided the model. Following the pattern of the father's authority in the family, community government formed. The same basic process was involved in the founding of schools beyond the children's most basic needs. Thus, colleges, universities, and schools of all kinds were developed to meet the needs of communities. One would be hard pressed to name any community institution that does not have some direct or indirect connection to meeting family needs.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Leadership and Covenants (Part Six)
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Genesis 2:24:
1 Corinthians 11:3-15
1 John 5:3