With this post I want to begin a series on the subject of marriage. With each of these posts I’ll answer a question that pertains to the subject. Question #1 is: Where did the idea of marriage come from?
The answer to the question is simple. God gave us the idea of marriage. Genesis 2:18 says: And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make a helper comparable to him.” That “helper” was Eve. The Bible first uses the word “wife” in Genesis 2:24, which says: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”
It is noteworthy that the only thing that wasn’t “good” about creation was the fact that Adam was alone. Seven times in Genesis chapter 1 we find some variation of the phrase, “And God saw that it was good.” But that all stops when we get to Genesis 2:18, which says that it was “not good that man should be alone.”
Following that we would naturally assume that the next verse, verse 19, would give us the account of God creating Eve. That isn’t the way the story reads, though. Instead, verse 19 talks about Adam naming every beast of the field and bird of the air. What’s up with that? Why didn’t God immediately launch into creating Eve?
He didn’t do that because even though He knew that Adam needed Eve, Adam hadn’t realized it yet. And so God started bringing land animals and birds to Adam to let him name them. When Adam was finished naming a creature, he would watch as that creature joined back up with its mate and ran off or flew off. We know each of the creatures had a mate because God had previously said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28). Somewhere over the course of all that naming Adam had to think, “I don’t have one of those mates.” It was then that he was ready to get married, when he had seen his need of a wife.
Of course, the world’s first surgery had to be done before Adam could have a wife. God caused a deep sleep to fall upon him, and while he was sleeping God removed one of his ribs. From that rib God fashioned Eve.
God was the presiding minister over Adam and Eve’s marriage ceremony. The only vows that were spoken came from Adam as he said of Eve, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called Woman because she was taken out of Man” (Genesis 2:23). The Hebrew word that is translated in that verse as “Man” is Ish. The Hebrew word that is translated as “Woman” is Ishshah. The close relationship between the two is obvious. Eve was the shah to Adam’s Ish.
Now, here’s what I want to leave you with about this whole story: Since God is the one who gave the human race the idea of marriage, He is the one who gets to set the ground rules for it. He decides who can get married and who can’t. He decides what constitutes a marriage and what doesn’t. He decides what role the husband should play and what role the wife should play.
Over the course of this series, we’ll be looking at all these issues as well as some others. In each instance, though, we will always come back to the foundation of God and His revealed word. He certainly hasn’t left us in the dark concerning an institution as important as marriage. We just need to let the light shine and walk in it.