More Than a Love Story
As I sit down to sort my thoughts for this column, I want to say so much about so many women.
I want to talk about the “cool Christian girl” we so often paint in our heads—the one who belittles us for failing to live up to her (mythical) perfect marriage, family, or home. I want to talk about the Proverbs 31 woman and how she’s not a law for our day-to-day lives, but a tableau for all kinds of facets of womanhood. I want to talk about Deborah. Priscilla. Phoebe.
But first, we need to start with Eve.
Dear Eve, the only woman to know how it felt to be perfect. The first woman to see the tenuous nature of perfection.
Not Just a Love Story
When I was in ninth grade, my humanities teacher assigned us with retelling stories from the Bible. I rewrote Genesis 2 as a love story.
In my version, God created Adam to fulfill a specific earthly calling, but he couldn’t accomplish it alone, because he needed two things: companionship and the means to create other little Adams.
Yet reading Adam and Eve as a love story made my teenage self feel like I needed to be married in order to really glorify God as a woman. After all, God created the first woman as the helper to the first man, her husband. How could I own my created purpose if I wasn’t a helpmate?
In my teen mind, Adam was lonely until Eve arrived. Companionship was her top priority.
When I thought of my own story, I was convinced that my real life wasn’t going to start until I found my Adam. I saw myself as Eve the moment before God woke Adam up to show her off: waiting.
Fifteen years later, I’m convinced that’s not the whole story.
More Than a Marriage
Adam’s need for Eve went beyond that of a warm body and a uterus.
And Eve was not created to simply satisfy Adam’s loneliness. Her story centers on the fact that he was alone.
“It is not good for man to be alone” has more than a romantic meaning. The concept is repeated throughout the epistles, particularly in Paul’s call for community among believers (Romans 12:1–5). We were not made to walk through this life alone, even if we do have a spouse. We were made for scriptural community (Ephesians 4:15–16). Our growth happens best in that context (Hebrews 10:24–25).
Throughout his epistles, Paul makes it clear that we were not meant to live alone. The important work of sanctification that God is doing in our lives happens best in community (Proverbs 27:17).
We were not made to be lone wolves. That was true for Adam as well. But romance is only a facet of the love that we need to thrive. The first man and woman only had each other, but we have myriad “one anothers” in our Christian life. God has fashioned a family, a place for us to belong, to weep, to heal, and to remember the hope that we share. That community is the reason why this column exists: he created us for fellowship.
From Community to Humanity
Eve was a necessary part of humanity, not just because of her built-in human-making capabilities.
Again and again in the creation story, we see the phrase “after their own kind.” Before God created Adam, he told everything he made—the plants, the birds, the beasts—to be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth. He made each and every one of them “after their own kind,” not as singular agents, but with corresponding parts.
When God made a corresponding part for Adam, he completed something that was incomplete (Genesis 2:23). And that completion reaches beyond Adam to humanity itself. Male and female are made in God’s image (Genesis 5:2). Eve was not composed of spare parts. She was an integral part of humankind.
Yes, she was Adam’s wife. But fulfilling her dominion call was not limited to wifehood.
What kind of helper?
Often, dominion is characterized as men’s work, because the command was given to Adam before Eve was created (Genesis 1:28). Women only enter in to the “fruitful and multiply” part.
But when we understand the meaning of the word helper, it broadens our understanding. The Old Testament repeatedly uses the Hebrew term ezer to describe God’s lifesaving help with the nation of Israel. That changes the way we see Eve. She’s not a helper in the same way my toddler “helps” me cook dinner by banging pans and lifting his head up for the occasional kiss.
The command in Genesis 1:28 is for both Adam and Eve and we see it expanded and enriched with Jesus’ final words to his disciples:
“All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18–20
The Real Love Story
The story of Adam and Eve doesn’t end in garden perfection. In Genesis 3, they fall into sin and God responds with the promise a savior (vv. 14–15).
Eve is more than a picture of wifehood or motherhood, though she was the first wife and mother of humankind. She’s not even a purely aspirational figure. She faltered. Horrifically.
When I think of Eve, I think of the lamb slaughtered to clothe her as she exited the garden (Genesis 3:20). God looked upon her shame and nakedness and made the first sacrifice to cover her. He wrapped her in tangible evidence of his care.
Her story is more than her romance with Adam. It is the story of the loving provision of our savior. Marriage and babies were important in Eve’s life, but their ultimate purpose was to point to the coming savior.
Daughter of Eve, God has slain another Lamb to clothe you in a righteousness that you did not deserve (1 John 2:2). This Lamb was born in Bethlehem as the fulfillment of the promise that God made to Eve in the garden. This Lamb has reconciled us to the Father and united us to the community of his children.
In him, our shame is obliterated.
Whether married, single, mothers, or childless, we all point to that same savior. Your story is all about him. Just like hers. Just like mine. It’s a story of family. It’s a story of redemption. And he writes it so well.