God before Wife (Genesis 2)

I love my wife. She’s incredible. I’ve been blessed with an amazing and beautiful woman to be my companion for this life, and it’s my pleasure and God-given duty to love her. In this second post on Genesis I make no apology for skipping on a few verses, because this blog is not meant to exhaustively discuss Genesis, but instead to share those thoughts that most struck me as I read. So while I’m aware that the creation accounts of man and woman seem to differ slightly in Genesis 1 and Genesis 2, what most stood out to me was the fact that, according to the second chapter, man had a relationship with God before he had a relationship with woman. I think that’s significant, and has much to tell us about where our priorities should be.

In 2:7 we’re told that ‘God formed a man from the dust of the ground’, and goes on to set him to work in the Garden of Eden. But it’s not until verse 18, when an unknown length of time had elapsed, that God said ‘It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’ Then along comes Eve in verse 22. I’d like to talk a bit more about Adam and Eve in later posts, but for now what I’d like to focus on is what this order of creation tells us about how life should be lived. Man didn’t meet woman first, and then discover God. If he did, we as a species could be forgiven for treating God as an after-thought. But in fact God was alone with Adam for some time before Eve was made. Man’s relationship with God is older than his relationship with woman. I will go further: it is more important.

Now that’s not to say that man’s relationship with woman isn’t important – of course it is. Very important. God’s words in verse 18 make it clear that man needed someone like himself to exist with, and in chapter 1 creation wasn’t deemed ‘very good’ until both men and women were in existence. God delights in relationship, and thus His commands, in both Old and New Testaments (e.g. Proverbs 5:18; Ephesians 5:25) encourage men to love and rejoice in their wives. There is no excuse or Biblical mandate for a man doing anything other than cherishing, protecting and blessing his wife. But she’s not the be all and end all.

Man needs God more than he needs woman. Men and women can’t give each other that deep soul satisfaction and purpose that comes from God alone. Looking for such things in another person puts impossible pressure and unrealistic expectations on that person, and a relationship under such strain is unlikely to flourish, even if it lasts at all. Likewise, even a lifetime of happiness in relationship with someone else can’t compare to the eternal life that is found in Christ alone. Men and women in relationship will be far healthier if they are rooted first and foremost in God, because only then will they be able to give selflessly to each other, and love sacrificially and faithfully. The very passage commanding husbands to love their wives (Ephesians 5:25-32) also makes clear that marriage itself is a living metaphor for the love and relationship which exists between Christ and His church.

So God should be our first and ultimate priority. A man who abandons God for the sake of a woman will be far worse off, with his soul doomed, than the man who stays faithful to God and loses his wife as a result, for the latter’s pain is only temporary. So I go away from this reminded of the order of my priorities, but also reassured, that in putting God first, both myself and my wife will be far better off.

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