Why did God make Eve? Why not just stop with Adam? God made Eve for the same reason God makes anything—as a celebration of his own glory.
[Note: this essay was first published by Crisis Magazine and is reprinted with permission.]
God was up to something of eternal importance in making his special image-bearers male and female. When God made Eve he was magnifying his supreme glory. He was making a womanly creature who could enjoy him and reflect his glory back to him forever. I would like to suggest to you that Paul says “woman was made for man” (1 Cor. 11:9), ultimately, because the Church is made for Christ (Rev. 21:2).
Eve was not Adam’s original idea. Our first parents did not woo, solicit, or choose each other. This was an arranged marriage, a match literally made in heaven: “Then God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him’” (Gen. 2:18-24).
Eve was God’s original idea. God approaches Adam with the blueprints for a male-and-female creation. If it were not for God, Adam would have never realized that it was not good for him to be alone. He did not know any better. He was not lonely, and if he was he didn’t know it. In an unfallen world, walking with God is not lonely.
So why did God say “it is not good that man should be alone”? When we read this passage, we tend to automatically insert a few extra words, “it is not good for Adam that Adam should be alone.” But in doing so, we have slightly missed the point. God’s creativity is not about us. God’s creativity is God’s way of seeing and savoring God’s own glory. “Everything comes from God alone. Everything lives by his power, and everything is for his glory” (Rom. 11:36). “The Lord made everything for his own purposes” (Prov. 16:4). If this is true of creation in general, it is especially true of the creatures made in God’s own image and likeness. The woman is good “for the man” only because she completes God’s pattern for his special creatures to reflect God’s glory back to God (1 Cor. 11:9). The reason it is not good for Adam to be alone is ultimately because it is not good for God’s glory that Adam should be alone, “everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory” (Isa. 43:7).
Adam did not design Eve’s female body or her feminine heart for his own pleasure. Eve was not made merely to help Adam with the dishes and laundry. Adam is not Eve’s ultimate ground and final goal. Eve is the absolute pinnacle of creation, the crown of Adam, “the glory of the man” (1 Cor. 11:7). She was sculpted to “make known the riches of God’s glory upon vessels of mercy” (Rom. 9:23). And Eve was made to join Adam in knowing and treasuring and showing the glory of God above all else.
Eve was God’s idea, made for God’s glory.
Eve is a Gift…
Without Eve, the image of God’s own Trinitarian glory in man would be insufficient, lacking. So God sovereignly declares, “it is not good that man should be alone.” Then he immediately follows up with his special divine solution: “I will make him a helper fit for him.”
But what happens next? Don’t we tend to jump immediately to the creation of Eve? God says it is not good that Adam is alone … so God makes Eve. But this is not how the story goes. By jumping to the creation of Eve, we miss the scene in between the “it is not good” announcement and the creation of Eve. The text reads:
Then God said,
“It is not good that man should be alone;
I will make him a helper fit for him.”
So out of the ground God had formed
every kind of animal and brought them to the man
to see what he would call them.
What just happened? We were reading about the creation of Eve, but now we are reading about a day at the zoo? Instead of getting a few helpful tips about sex and romance, Adam gets a lesson in taxonomy, in the scientific study and classification of animals? There is something here that is often missed. The story reads on:
Whatever the man called the animals, that was their name.
But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him.
So God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man,
and took one of his ribs and made it into a woman
and brought her to the man.
So why did God wait to make Eve? Why this season of delay and aloneness? And why the field trip to the zoo? The answer, I think, is that God wanted to teach Adam something. But what? The moral of the story cannot be that Adam is “just another animal.” Adam alone has God’s breath; he alone has dominion over the rest of creation, and this is witnessed in the naming of the animals, for the authority to name something is an enormous power. Adam is a creature, but he is not just another organism among organisms. So what was God trying to teach Adam in the naming of the animals?
What if by bringing Adam the animals “two by two,” as it were, God was showing him not only that he has an authority over these animals, but that there is a fundamental need of the two sexes for each other? You see, the other animals had a completeness Adam did not have. The man had no complement, no “helper.” The text gives us a strong clue that this is the moral of the story: “But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him.” In the naming of the animals, God was drawing Adam’s attention to an arrangement, a norm.
Only after Adam realizes that he is missing out on the fullness of God’s male-and-female design do we read: “So God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and took one of his ribs and made it into a woman and brought her to the man.” Immediately, as the direct result of God’s creation, the text says: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” This one-fleshness and rich otherness, this cleaving and completing and complementing of being male and female, is paradigmatic of human flourishing. It is essential to worship. It is a foreshadowing of Christ and the Church (Eph. 5:32).
In delaying the creation of Eve, God was giving Adam a lesson in the basic pattern and design of how humanity is to bear God’s own image and to bring him glory: as man and woman. Adam and Eve together complete the wondrous monument to God’s name that is man. Eve was made to join Adam in loving God, to help him in bringing God glory. God’s gift to Adam is ultimately a gift for God’s own exultation.
By spacing out the creation of Adam and Eve, God was also drawing Adam’s attention to the gift of Eve. Failing to notice a gift dishonors it … and the giver. But to turn the gift in your hands, to say, “This is beautiful”—this honors the gift and the giver. Maybe this is what God was trying to teach Adam in delaying the gift of Eve: Notice the gift. Be astonished by it. Be glad for it, and care about it. To treasure the gift is the greatest gift Adam can give in return. And to remember what the gift is for—enjoying and sharing the beauty of the Lord. “You are worthy, O Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being” (Rev. 4:11).
… Made from Adam’s Side
With his own hands and breath, God personally formed Adam from the mud of the land. Then he personally cut a rib from Adam’s flesh and formed Eve out of it and brought her to the man. This is not merely history. This is parable.
“At last,” Adam says. “This is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken from Man.” The woman is an divine gift, Adam’s ezer kenegdo, his “lifesaver suited for him,” or “helpmeet” (2:18). Later, Adam names herEve, “mother of all living.”
Why didn’t God make Eve from the ground, like Adam? Why from Adam’s own flesh? And notice that Adam did not have to do anything. The man was fast asleep when God cut the rib from his flesh and formed the woman out of it. Adam could never say, “I did that.” Eve was an unmerited gift.
I would like to suggest to you that the creation of Eve is a parable burdened with meaning that will only get heavier throughout the biblical story: a man, God’s life giving breath or “spirit,” a pierced side, a death-like sleep, the building of a bride, undertones of salvation: in other words, the new Adam on the cross giving over his spirit to his new Eve, drawn from his pierced side.
“Woman was made for man” (1 Cor. 11:9), ultimately, because the Church is made for Christ (Rev. 21:2). The church is the bride of Christ, the new Adam’s new Eve. She was prefigured in creation, prepared for in the Old Testament and announced by John the Baptist, founded by Christ, fulfilled by his cross and resurrection, and has been empowered with the filling of the Holy Spirit. She will be perfected in the glory of the Father as the assembly of all the baptized faithful (Rev. 14:4).
God’s Enduring Passion
Think of the juxtaposition of the sexes as a manual for the maximization for the glory of God. This is the rock bottom reason God looked at Adam and Eve and said, “It is very good.” God designed people in such a way that they could join God in loving God. This is why sexual differentiation is a “good” thing. This is why God created a person likeAdam yet very unlike Adam. It is a unity and a fruitfulness that would otherwise have been impossible. Together, Adam and Eve are able to tell the story of God’s glory. Together, they are specially designed to be able to enjoy and to share the beauty of the most adorable Trinity.
The creation story issues a clarion reminder of God’s enduring passion to glorify himself through the unity-in-diversity of his male-and-female creation. It comes to a climax in the incarnation, when Christ became the new Adam born of a daughter of Eve. Adam and Eve are a parable of Christ and the Church, the marriage feast of heaven and earth.
Without Eve, we would not know the eternal Son of God as the incarnate Son of Man. Without Eve, we would not be God’s beloved “coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband” (Rev. 21:2). Without Eve, Jesus would not be the Bridegroom (Mark 2:19), and the Church would not be his “betrothed” (Matt 22:1-14; 25:1-13; 1 Cor. 6:15-17; 2 Cor. 11:2). Eve is a parable of the Church, and she is the spotless bride of the spotless Lamb (Rev. 22:17; Eph. 1:4). And this is the gospel treasure: “Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her” (Eph. 5:25-26).
God has joined us to himself in an everlasting covenant. We are flesh of Christ’s flesh and bone of Christ’s bones. What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.
Read it in Crisis Magazine.