- God Created You to Need Other People
- We All Need a Suitable Helper
- Marriage Is a Great Community—But Not the Only One!
- You Need Community and Community Needs You!
We’ve been trying to understand just what God says about us—who we are, why we’re here—and distance ourselves from what the world says about us. So far we know that we’re made in God’s image, unique in all of creation. But the creation story didn’t end in Genesis 1. There’s another story within that story that needs to be told. And it begins in Genesis 2:18.
Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. (Genesis 2:18-25)
It Is NOT Good
This story focuses on a single tension, a single problem. If you remember from Genesis 1, you know that God says “it was good,” “it was good,” “good,” “good,” “good,” “good,” and now finally something is—not good. Something is wrong with creation.
What’s the problem? “It is not good for man to be alone.”
Now is this Adam’s fault? Is Adam the problem? Did God make an “oops”? No. This was part of God’s plan. God intended Adam to be incomplete. God designed Adam to need someone else. And this is before the Fall! You know what that tells us? God designed you to need other people.
Now think about this for a moment: Adam already had God. We know God is sufficient for all of our needs. Yet God created Adam to need more than God. In other words, “you plus God” is not enough!
And that might sound scary at first, but think about it: even as we believe God is “enough” for us, we know that He provides for us through other things. He created us with a need for food, for air, for water. Nobody says “all I need is God” then stops eating. It’s no sin to recognize that we need more than God—the sin would be to think He had nothing to do with providing for those needs.
What Did Adam Need?
So what exactly did Adam need? What’s the problem again?
It’s not that he’s single—although that would be a problem if Grandpa never got married. That would make for a really short story. We know from Paul’s teachings on marriage in 1 Corinthians 7:25–40 that being single can be very good, maybe even preferable to marriage. So even though it’s not good for the father of the human race to be single, the problem is bigger than that. The problem is he’s alone.
Now the solution tells us a little more about the problem. What solution does God have in mind? “A suitable helper.” Sometimes we get the idea that a helper is the subordinate—like you have the administrator and the administrative assistant. But that’s not the case here. The word for “helper” is used in other places to describe God. Just because someone brings you help doesn’t mean they are lower than you.
And this idea of “suitable” has to do with complementing. Not like “Wow, Chad, looking sharp in that suit today!” It’s the idea that one makes up what the other lacks. Adam is just one guy, and even before the Fall he had his unique set of strengths and weaknesses. On top of that he has a whole lot of responsibilities. He needs someone who can provide what he lacks, someone who can help shoulder the burden.
One last clue about the problem and solution is where God has Adam begin his search: the animals. Surely some animals can be useful for tending to the garden. They offer some help, but nowhere near what Adam needs. And if Adam were looking for a mate, he would never have looked here. Even though God is going to provide a wife, I think this search shows us that a suitable helper could be someone else. Just because a suitable helper could be a spouse and was one here doesn’t mean it has to be.
Marriage as an Example of Community
Now we’ve been dancing around the subject, but we might as well come out and say it: this whole passage is about marriage. It’s obvious! God gave Adam a wife, and Eve is the suitable helper God graciously provided for him. They begin as “one flesh” since Eve was made from Adam, and they define for us what marriage is: one man and one woman committed to each other for life. This is the example Jesus points to and the example we should tend to.
This passage is about marriage—but it’s not JUST about marriage.
Because we know God designed us to need other people, and because we know there’s nothing wrong with being single, we know that man’s real need is for community. And as this passage defines marriage for us it gives us an example of community. In fact, I think we could say that a healthy marriage is the purest example of community we can see. (For the purest example we can’t see, think about the Trinity—one essence, yet three persons in perfect harmony.)
But in our lives today, we are surrounded by community. We’re part of families, businesses, neighborhoods, teams, clubs, churches, and more. Thankfully we almost never have to worry about being alone. If we have any problem today it’s probably that our relationships don’t go deep enough. Our communities lack the quality they should have—the quality that we need.
So how do we work on this? What is the goal? I think we can learn a lot about what our communities should look like by looking at a healthy marriage. In a healthy marriage, there is sameness and difference, commonness and complement. There’s good communication—and sometimes tough communication. There’s acceptance, affirmation, encouragement, praise. Servant-heartedness. Self-sacrifice. And that’s the tip of the iceberg.
Now please understand: I’m not trying to make you feel guilty about your marriage! Nobody is perfect. Every marriage has its struggles. The point isn’t to see how well or poorly your marriage measures up, but to see what we can learn from marriage itself about how to live together in other communities.
You Need Community—and Community Needs You!
Not only do we need to pursue quality in the communities we’re in, we need a special kind of community. We don’t just need a bunch of relationships, we need those few relationships that matter most—our suitable helpers. And we need to be suitable helpers as well.
So where is that community for you? Where do you belong? Where are your strengths and weaknesses complemented? Where are you known and accepted and affirmed? You’ll probably never find that kind of community at work, maybe not even in your neighborhood. You should find it in your marriage, if you are married. But if all else fails you should at least be able to find it in the Body of Christ, your local church.
And often times we need more than one person. Even if you have the best marriage in the world, you’re still two fallen people in a fallen world. Your spouse can’t be everything you need—and you can’t be everything your spouse needs either.
Sometimes we isolate ourselves, whether by accident or on purpose, and we rob ourselves of something God created us to need. The fact that we need others is a good thing! It’s part of our design! Don’t fight that. You need community.
But the flipside is even better: your community needs you! Instead of looking for people to serve us or complete us or make us feel better, we should be looking for people we can serve, people we can encourage and listen to. You can be that suitable helper, that complementary equal that rescues another from being alone.
Self-centeredness destroys community. But in a world that praises the self-made man, we serve a God that praises the self-giving man. And that should come as no surprise; after all, that’s the example God has set for us time and again. God is always giving of Himself, graciously, and not for His own gain. He gave us His Son who gave Himself up on the cross for us when we were His enemies.
So finally—and this is my plea—look around you. This Sunday School class is your community. Your community needs you. And you need good community. We’re not the only community you have, maybe not even the most important community in your life. But as brothers and sisters in Christ, members of this class together, we can be there for each other. We can make this a good community, a place where no one has to be alone, a place where we pool our strengths to cover our weaknesses. And it won’t be easy, but I promise you if we’re all on board, it will be worth it.
Random Bonus Notes
The Creation of Woman & Institution of Marriage
- Women, be proud: God spent a lot more time telling us about Eve’s creation than Adam’s. And believe it or not, the Bible is the only Ancient Near Eastern text that says anything about the creation of woman!
- Just think: God didn’t make Eve from the dirt like He did Adam. They aren’t two separate creations, two separate races. They are intimately related, physically connected as members of the same race. It’s like the mystery of having a child, where this person is a part of you but completely separate and unique.
- Adam was not involved in Eve’s creation. She was a gracious gift from God.
- Something for the softies: Matthew Henry wrote “. . . 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 his heart to be beloved.” (Cited in Constable’s Notes on Genesis.)
Community and Alonenes
- For more on this idea that you + God is not enough, Moses and Elijah are good examples. For Moses, see Exodus 18 and Numbers 11; for Elijah, check out 1 Kings 18 & 19.)
- One powerful passage about the importance of community can be found in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12.
- Not to beat a dead horse, but Adam looking among the animals for a suitable helper and not finding one hammers home the truth that we are not one of them!
- For more on the church as community, check out Acts 2:41-47 and Philippians 2:1-8.
- It’s hard to have deep community in a big group. We as a Sunday School meet in order to be a better community within West Cannon. But if you want to go deeper still, you need to get into a small group. That’s the only place you will find the personal accountability and encouragement that you need!
- The world says we are independent, self-sufficient, and self-made. But God made us interdependent, insufficient, and self-giving.