The Bible teaches that God placed Adam in the garden and gave him a job to do. But the man was incapable of accomplishing that task alone. Adam needed help and Woman was created to meet that need. (Gen 2:19-24)
We should now understand the connection between Adam’s work of naming the animals and the next phrase “…no suitable helper for him….” Adam has just given each animal a name suitable to its nature. As he named the animals, he realizes he has found no suitable helper – no animal with a nature comparable to his. He couldn’t just give the name “helper” to any animal.
God had already noted in a prior passage that this was not good that the man should be alone. Everything else was pronounced good. The statement that it is not good is a clear indication that the creation of man was incomplete (since good referred also to completion in previous verses). Adam was incomplete because he lacked a companion, one who could be a helper comparable to him.
The New Testament applies this truth in 1 Cor 11:9. The creation order orients man and woman to one another differently. They both need one another but they each need the other differently. The man needs the help; the woman needs to help.
One of the things that man cannot do alone is reproduce. In filling the earth, which is what God commanded, a man alone is completely helpless. So Malachi tells us that another purpose of marriage is the blessing of godly offspring. (Mal 2:15)
God tells us that one of the purposes for marriage is procreation. If it is a godly marriage then it should be godly procreation. God has said that He wants godly offspring. Malachi states that the means to that end is the importance of treating wives with honor. A man who treats his wife in an ill way will also have a negative effect on the children. Godly children are not said to give purpose to parenting, but rather they are a purpose of marriage.
Adam needed help before the Fall. He was also unable to multiply descendants alone before the Fall. So the first two reasons mentioned were necessary prior to the Fall and are not related to sin. But the third reason why Christians should marry is related to the presence of sin and temptation. Paul explains in 1 Cor 7:2-3.
We live in a fallen world and Christians frequently struggle with temptations to lust, fornication, and adultery. Scripture does not teach that these temptations will painlessly go away through some mysterious process of “trusting God.” In reality, the struggle for many is much more like sweating bullets than “letting go and letting God.” This should not surprise anyone for Scripture explains it. Peter says we are to “abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul…” (1 Pe 2:11). Paul uses the same violent metaphor when he says we must “put to death their members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” (Col 3:5)
Much teaching on “trusting God” these days is filled with unbiblical mysticism but God provides a very practical help as they struggle with sexual temptation; the help is called sexual activity. Sexual protection is provided by frequent sexual relations with a spouse. There needs to be frequent protection, especially for the husband. At the same time, the benefit of sexual relationships should not be measured merely on how frequent it occurs. There needs to be qualitative protection, especially for the benefit of the woman.
When they read the bible, Christians frequently confuse indicatives and impreratives. An indicative “indicates” something. It is a statement of fact – there is no ought in it. The snow is cold, the man is strong, the car is red. Such indicative statements tell us the way things are. An imperative, on the other hand, is a command. It tells us what we must do. Close the door! Pick up your clothes! Go to bed! Thus if one says, the “shoes are outside” that is an indicative while “put your shoes outside” is an imperative.
Many Christians misunderstand the Scriptures by attempting to turn indicatives into imperatives. When it comes to the Gospel, the carnal mind loves to make this mistake. The Gospel itself is the Great Indicative. Faithful preachers proclaim what God has already done in the cross to save sinners, while sinful men try to turn the gospel message into something they may do to earn salvation.
The same confusion of grammar occurs when husbands seek to understand the Bible’s teaching on headship and authority in marriage. The Bible says the “husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church” (Eph 5:23) Paul clearly does not say that husbands ought to be the heads of their wives. He says that they are. In the verse, Paul is not telling us how marriages ought to function (that will follow). Rather he is telling what the marriage relationship between husband and wife is. Marriage is defined in part as the headship of a husband over a wife.
In the verses that follow some basic imperatives are given (love your wife) but nowhere are husbands commanded to be head to his wife. Why? Because he already is the head of his wife, by the very nature of marriage. If he does not love her, he is a poor head, but he is still the head.
Because the husband is the head, he finds himself in a position of inescapable leadership. He cannot successfully refuse to lead. If he attempts to dodge this in some way, he may, in his rebellion, lead poorly. But no matter what he does, or where he goes, he does so as the head of his wife. God has designed marriage in a way that men will always be dominant in marriage. If the husband is godly, then the dominance will not be harsh but will be the same self-sacrificial love demonstrated by Christ. If a husband runs away from headship, that weakness will dominate the home. If he leaves his family altogether, he will dominate in and by his absence. Think about how many children have grown up in homes dominated by an empty chair at the table. In homes where the “woman wears the pants”, the wimpiness of the husband is the most obvious thing about the marriage, creating a miserable marriage. His abdication dominates.
In the Ephesians passage, Paul tells us that husbands provide a picture of Christ and the church. Because of sin and rebellion, many of these pictures are slanderous lies concerning Christ but a husband can never stop talking about Christ and church. If he is attempting to obey by the Grace of God, then he is preaching the truth in his marriage; if he does not love his wife, he is speaking apostasy and lies – but he is talking. If he deserts his wife he is saying that “…this is the way that Christ deserts his bride” – a lie! If he is harsh with his wife and beats her, he is saying that Christ is harsh with the Church – a lie. If he sleeps with another woman he is an adulterer and a blasphemer. How could Christ love anyone other than His Church? How could Christ be unfaithful? For a few moments of pleasure, some men bring themselves to slander the faithfulness of Christ.
That this seems so strange to many in the Church is a testimony to how much feminism and unbiblical ideas of marriage have infected the Church from the world. Nonetheless, the dominance of the husband is an indicative in Scripture. It is a fact. It is inescapable. The only choice left is whether the dominance will be a loving and constructive dominion or a hateful and destructive tyranny. Arguing over the fact of male headship is quite like arguing with the fact of gravity. You can argue with gravity all you want but you’re still going to fall to the ground if you jump off a building.
All the compromise with worldly ideas of equality cannot undo what God has ordained and stated. But what the compromise does do is bring in rebellion and sin. This rebellion keeps husbands from obeying the imperative – to love their wives. The result is husbands who deny their headship and, consequently, refuse to love their wives as instructed.1
1 Doug Wilson, Reforming Marriage