This might make some people grumpy, but the gist of Adam and Eve has nothing to do with God communicating to us what marriage is supposed to look like. The message goes way deeper. But, since the author wasn’t a white Evangelical, the meaning can get easily missed.
The story goes like something like this: God creates some stuff, then sits back and says “Wow, that’s good.” Then He creates some more stuff and sits back again and says “Wow, that’s good.” This happens a few more times, then He creates Adam, sits back and says, “not good.” The author has set us up to expect God to really pat himself on the back at Adam’s advent, but we get the opposite. Very strategic.
What’s not good is the fact that Adam is “alone.” So the author brings in Eve (in Hebrew “Ish,” not sure how we got “Eve”). Then God declares that she will be Adam’s helper. This is traditionally interpreted as “Adam’s the leader, Eve’s the follower” and has been used throughout history to bolster the philosophy that the husband should always be in control – never questioned, always followed. People also mistakenly use this passage to defend the idea that everyone’s supposed to be married. I’ve been a part of too many churches where single folk are looked down upon.
What’s actually happening here is that God doesn’t want Adam to be the only person on the planet, so he brings in Eve, to co-labor with Adam (ie help him) to bring in more people. What’s fascinating is that this is the first time that God ceases to create by Himself. From this point forward, – throughout the remainder of the Ancient Jewish and Christian Scriptures (commonly referred to as “The Bible”) – God doesn’t make a move without people being involved on some level. Whenever God creates, moves forward, develops something, etc., He’ll be doing it with people from now on.
So again, this wasn’t written to serve as some kind of blueprint for marriage, it’s given to make two very important, often overlooked points. God’s first act was to make a place for people, then make people. He’s still making people and we can infer from other areas of Scripture that these people are important to Him. God’s really serious about this apparently. God’s also really serious about working with us, including us in what He’s doing, so much so that if we don’t respond, it doesn’t get done.
This is God’s first order of business – so it should be ours. We should place people- the importance of people – at the center of our understanding and at the center of our religious life – and figure out what God’s up to so that we might join Him. Whatever it is, it’s going to have something to do with people.
Religious activities that put traditions, behavior, facilities, places of influence, affluence, etc. at their core have sorely missed the point. Adherents of this type of religion are typically folk who place importance on almost anything but people, and can, many times, find themselves fighting for the wrong side. Alone. Not good.