By Danni Moss
Copyright protected, all rights reserved
To understand marriage, marital roles and the principles governing divorce, it is critical to lay a foundation of understanding how God established the relationship between men and women from the beginning. Ironically, a simple misunderstanding of this basic point, can have significant ramifications to all the other understandings which are in any way based upon it.
In the beginning, God created all of the rest of creation before He started on humans. Once He had finished everything else, God created the first human, Adam. Right here is where we make our very first tiny step of thinking inside a box of our own human limitation that skews the rest of the picture.
God created a human being – the first of the human species. The Bible uses the word “man.” Later I will write more about how our English language has a tendency to limit our understanding, with some hazardous results. But for now, it is important to point out that gender was not the issue here. God created the first of the human species. This person was just the first human – but we read “male-gendered human” and then we miss some very important points later as a result.
The fact that gender was not the issue is clear from Gen. 1:27 where it states God created man male and female. When God created man, the point wasn’t that Adam was male. He was just the first human. Almost all the rest of living creatures are male and female and one of the human genders had to be created first in God’s plan, since He had a particular plan up His sleeve.
God carefully showed Adam all the rest of the living creatures so he could discover for himself that he was the only one who didn’t have a complementary pairing. Adam was the only living creature species that was not half of a male/female set, with each set making one complete whole. That statement is easy to fly past without realizing its importance, but it is very significant. Adam was the only species who was not presented in male/female sets, each making one complete whole.
God showed Adam this difference in his state deliberately so he would realize the significance of being alone, and that being alone was lonely and unsatisfactory. Other places in the Word, God talks about how two are better than one and the various reasons why. All the other species came in pairs, only the human species had a single variant. With only a single variant the human species was incomplete. The one human had no helper, and two are better than one.
Did God make a huge point of making sure Adam notice his singleness so he would appreciate his pairing? The Word doesn’t tell us. All we know for sure is that God made sure Adam realized he was the only species that didn’t have male/female sets.
AFTER God made sure Adam notice this deficiency, God created a second half of the human species set. This wording is very deliberate – notice it. God created a second half of the human species male/female set.
Here again, our English language trips us up. Adam was the first of the human species. The fact that he was male-gendered was not the point. He was just first. Somebody had to be first and there were only two options! God carefully made sure Adam noticed he was the only species that was not in male/female sets, which was incomplete and lonely.
But notice, the deficiency is that the human was alone. The deficiency was not that the male required a female in order to be complete! This is where we go astray in our understanding of male/female roles and the rest is skewed as a result.
The simple facts are these. Every species comes in male/female sets. Two are better than one. The same applies to the human species. We work better generally in male/female sets. One alone is incomplete and needs a helper to complete the whole. However, this is not a gender-specific issue. It is a human-condition issue.
The assumption in traditional teaching has been that God created Eve to complete Adam because the male gender needs a female-gendered human to complete him. We assume God created a male-gendered human, and the purpose of creating a female-gendered human was primarily, or solely, for the aid and completion of the male-gendered human.
However, this assumption reads more into the facts than are actually there. All God really defined was that the human species needed male/female sets like all the other species because one doesn’t function best alone. We read into the text, and thereby into our expectations of all human relationships, by viewing it through the lenses of gender limitations. But the gender limitations of the text are largely issues of dealing with the limitations of language, not God-inspired gender-role definitions.
This understanding can be further supported by the stated purpose of God when He created the first human. He said, “Let us make man in our image…” God is not alone – He is a tri-unity. He is three in one – one that is incomplete without all three.
Bottom line, God established male/female pairs because humans function better in sets of two rather than alone, as a general rule. This was not to establish a principle that women (female gender) were created for the purpose of completing men (male gender). It was simply because we are created in God’s image as creatures who are incomplete alone.