Why Marriage is Not the Fix-All You Think it Is
Chances are, you’ve heard the story of Adam and Eve. And if you’ve heard even one sermon on marriage, you’ve heard Genesis 2:18: “It’s not good that the man should be alone.”
Did you come away from the message believing that being single meant being incomplete or somehow broken? And did you get the message—intended or not—that marriage would “fix” you? Well, I don’t buy it. Singles are neither broken nor incomplete. Read on, and see if you agree with me.
The Old View
Many years ago, I heard a teaching that included Genesis 2:18. It emphasized that “it wasn’t good for man to be alone,” and left me thinking that Adam was alone, lonely, and incomplete, all because he was unmarried. After all, the animals were paired up, but Adam didn’t have a mate. And the Bible seemed to confirm that assumption when God gave Adam a wife. So, marriage was meant to “fix” Adam. Right?
I’m convinced there’s much more to that passage, and that it’s good news for any singles who feel incomplete. First, let’s talk about loneliness. Who says Adam was moping around feeling lonely? He walked with and talked face to face with God! He was in the presence of Perfection every day! And there was so much for him to see and do and learn. Nearly everything around him must have amazed Adam, because everything was new! I think Adam’s heart was too full for loneliness to take up space there. Full of love for His Father, and full of wonder at God’s amazing creation.
If Adam wan’t lonely, why was Eve created? Well, Genesis tells us that of all the creatures around Adam, none was found that was suitable to him. I believe that’s because the animals weren’t created to be his peers. Not only did they differ from Adam physically, but they couldn’t communicate or make choices, or show emotions the way Adam could. They were not made in the image of God or brought to life by the breath of God and couldn’t connect with him socially.
But God had a solution. He went to work and hand-sculpted Eve using a part of Adam’s own body. God presented her to Adam, and Adam seemed to think this new creation was a really good idea. After creating Eve, did God tell Adam she was created to cure his loneliness or to “complete” him? We don’t know everything God said, but we see no such suggestion in the Bible. At least none that I’ve seen.
The Bible tells us God described Eve as “a suitable, adapted, and complimentary” helper. (Gen. 2:20 -Amplified Bible) We like to think of God fixing poor lonely Adam by creating a devastatingly beautiful wife and presenting her in dramatic fashion. It’s so much more romantic that way. But God’s statement was practical. Non-emotional.
Eve was there to help him. Now, don’t get caught up thinking about Eve doing the dishes solo while Adam was out horseback riding! I’m saying that God gave Adam an assignment, and Eve was given to help him get it done. Why? Because it wasn’t good for Adam to tackle his assignment alone. Eve’s role was not trivial; it was so important that she was hand-crafted for the job.
Is Genesis 2:18 For Modern Singles?
It’s easy to read Bible passages and apply them incorrectly. And while I’m not a theologian, I believe it’s easy to misapply this one. I’ll give you two reasons for my belief that the passage doesn’t apply to today’s singles the way I’ve heard it taught in the past:
First, Adam’s Unique Position
Adam wasn’t fully alone–God was there, and so was a boatload of creatures—but Adam was alone in other ways. He was the only human and therefore, the only man on the planet. There was no one else like him. According to God, that aloneness was not good. But no modern single will ever be alone like that. (So Believers, no more pressuring singles into marriage based on Genesis 2:18.)
Second, Eve Wasn’t a “Fix”
Some may think marriage is the prescription that will “fix” single people, because God answered Adam’s aloneness with a wife. I disagree. Yes, Adam got a wife, and she was a blessing for him. But she was given as an instrumental part of a much bigger plan.
She wasn’t made just to fill Adam’s aloneness. Here’s what I mean: Adam needed a “suitable helper,” right? Well, God could have given Adam a brother—Benjamin, for example—to help him tend the Garden and to be his BFF. That would have solved Adam’s aloneness, given him a peer to hang out with, and supplied him with a strong helper. But God is efficient, farsighted and purposeful. So by giving Adam Eve instead of Benjamin, God gave Adam a “suitable helper” for his daily work AND the means to complete God’s big, bold purpose—to populate and subdue the earth.
Eve gave Adam a family, a community and other men in his life. Never again would he be alone as he was in the beginning. And because of their joint purpose, Eve was the most “suitable” helper for him. As a bonus, Adam received all the benefits that come with having a wife instead of a brother. (Can I get an amen?)
I’m OK and So Are You
So there you have it. The Bible doesn’t call singles broken or incomplete. Nor does it tell us that marriage will fix us. In fact, I Corinthians 7:28 tells us we’ll have troubles in this life if we marry.
A good marriage is a great thing, but it’s not duct tape; it won’t fix everything. Marriage creates an entirely new state of being that the Bible calls “one flesh.” As spouses, we have a bond–a deep spiritual, emotional, and physical connection. So husbands and wives may feel incomplete without one another at times. But that “incompleteness,” if we can call it that, comes AFTER the vows, not before.
MUST You “Replenish the Earth”?
You also may have heard the Biblical mandate to “go forth and replenish the earth” and assumed all Christians must marry and reproduce . Again, I’m no theologian, and I’m not suggesting you should NOT do this. But I’m pretty sure God never meant for us to do everything he commanded a individual in the Bible to do. For example, He told the prophet Hosea to marry a prostitute (Hosea 1:1-2).
The Apostle Paul, I think, would agree with me. See what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:7: Sometimes I wish everyone were single like me—a simpler life in many ways! But celibacy is not for everyone any more than marriage is. God gives the gift of the single life to some, the gift of the married life to others. –The Message Bible
If you’re single, you have a unique opportunity to focus on your God-given destiny with fewer distractions. So don’t put your life on hold waiting for a husband or wife to show up. Singleness is a gift. Use it well. Get out there and pursue your destiny so you’ll be ready when the time comes to leave your singleness behind.