12 Sep Bonus Episode: The Creation of Eve & The First Marriage
From time to time throughout this series, we’ll release bonus episodes consisting of interviews with experts who are able to bring a little more nuance and depth to some of the themes and characters in the books we’re studying than I’m able to teach in a single episode about that book.
In this first Bonus Episode in our Cover to Cover series, I spoke with with Dr. Michael Lawson about the creation of Eve and the first marriage.
Dr. Lawson invested seventeen years in pastoral work and Christian education before returning to teach at DTS in 1986. His special concern for Christian education in the developing world has guided his international preaching and teaching schedule to scores of countries around the world. In recent years numerous international Bible colleges and seminaries have requested his help in curriculum design and faculty development. His recentfocus has been on developing the Family Ministry, Advanced Academic Ministry, and Chinese cohorts within the Doctor of Educational Ministry Degree program.
Many thanks to Dr. Lawson for his time and expertise!
The word “Helper” is not actually a bad word. Jesus uses it to describe the ministry of the Holy Spirit in John’s gospel (John 14:26)
When a man reads that text he says, “Great! I always need somebody to help me get my job done!” But this isn’t a helper to help a man get his work done, it’s help to get the Lord’s will done.
The helper suitable – this is a special fashioning, a different word than anywhere else in the creation story.
The Creation of Eve:
The best word I can come up with for this is handcrafted.
This is a unique situation. Everywhere else, God just speaks things into existence – but here, the Lord God actually comes and does something specific on the earth. Here he actually is present. He performs this surgery by taking out a rib, and then He’s going to step out into the garden and He’s going to fashion her – handcraft her – this is just special. She is the glory of man. She is the special companion for Adam.
We know this story too well and read it too quickly, and we miss phrases like, “and He brought her to him.”
“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.” – Matthew Henry’s Commentary (original source unknown, often ascribed to Matthew Henry)
The flesh and bone feature of this fashioning is quoted by Jesus and by Paul in the New Testament, indicating this may be more important than we give credit to.
We learn in Revelation that the man and woman will become one flesh, but in Genesis Adam and Eve were one flesh.
The First Marriage
Dr. E: The Bible begins and ends with a wedding, and has wedding language throughout. How many of us miss that?
Marriage is the centerpiece of creation. We undervalue marriage.
Matthew 19:8 – Jesus says “it was not so in the beginning,” which catapults you right back to Genesis – divorce is not what God intended, one flesh is what God intended.
Jesus also states that marriages moving forward are God-ordained: “what God has joined together-”
We need to think about what God has been doing, it’s not just about our self-importance and pursuit of happiness.
Dr. E: In the church, we’ve got what I call “I, Me, My” Christianity, it’s this horizontal view that’s all about my vision, plans, wants; and we’ve done a disservice in the church by not turning the light on to say, “no, you’re to glorify God’s vision, God’s plans.”
In this first wedding ceremony, God fashions Eve and then he brings her to Adam.
What do we do with the average man or woman who is stumbling along in marriage?
One exercise is to remind them that man and woman are created in the image of God. In the Bible, Israel was not allowed to have carved images.
Why? Because, in your marriage, you’re living images (of God).
I have couples sit down, hold hands, look each other in the eye, and say, “how do you remind me of God?” and they take turns back and forth sharing their answers.
The image is not just physical, the image of God is His character – what He is like. Even though it is broken by sin, we still reflect that image.
Dr. Easley: If I were sitting with Cindy right here, the first thing that pops into my mind is forgiving. And Patience.
That exercise is helpful. Give us some more – Why does it matter that she’s a suitable helper?
Dr. Lawson: In the Ephesians passage where this is quoted, it’s my opinion that Paul is telling us what we should’ve known:
That marriage was intended to teach theology.
It was intended that we should know more about God by our interactions with this other image bearer.
I learn from my wife how to be a church member, I learn submission from her. If I’m loving her as Christ loves the church-
Dr. E: Can I interrupt here?
I camp out on that: the husbands’ instruction from God. Forget ever bringing up the word “submission.” If the husband would do a 20% better job at loving his wife as Christ loves the church, giving himself up for her, loving her, cherishing her, we’d never have a ‘role’ problem.
Gentlemen, you go home and love her as Jesus Christ loves you, and a lot of the other stuff will take care of itself.
Dr. Lawson: Exactly. During a training in Guatemala, I was trying to get this idea of image-bearers across. It’s somewhat a male-dominant culture, the man is the center.
I brought a crucifix with me and slammed it down on the table. They [the attendees] all jumped, and I said, “hey, guys, what are you concerned about? That’s just an image,” and they got it. I said, “if you wouldn’t treat an image like that – what about a living image? What about your wife? She’s not a piece of stone like that was. You have to understand that she is a living image bearer of God, today, and how you treat her is significant. You are teaching your children about God by the way that you treat her. She is an image-bearer. She is a gift to you from God. And, by the way, she is also the temple of the Holy Spirit.”
Dr. Easley: And a co-heir of the Kingdom of God.
Dr. Lawson: Husbands must become re-acquainted with who God intended their wives to be for them. My wife has been one of the best teachers for me in the very things you talked about: her patience! Patience is supposed to be a characteristic of love, but patience is not a characteristic of me. If you ever see patience in me, you know it is God working in me, because I am not patient.
I ask couples: What are your children learning about God when they see you interact?
Dr. Easley: This is a sacred, mysterious, wonderful thing when two become one.
Your marriage is far more important to Christ than a lot of things you and I spend time on.