The first love story is recorded for us in Genesis 2. There we read about God creating Adam as, initially, the only human being. In mankind's earliest beginning, no Eve was to be found. "But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him," we read in Genesis 2:20. We do not know how long Adam remained alone, but at this time he was single, isolated, the only human being anywhere.
The Bible reveals that something was wrong with this scene.
After God created Adam, according to Genesis 2:15, "then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it." So Adam had a responsibility, a job that surely proved to be fascinating for him. Adam explored and learned all about the world—animals, plants, the beautiful and intricate variations of God's creation. Not only was he learning, but God gave him the privilege of naming all the birds and animals and other living creatures (verse 19).
A helper for the first man
Whether Adam knew it or not, God knew something was not right. "And the Lord God said, 'It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him' " (Genesis 2:18). Let's think for a moment about why it was not good for Adam to be alone. He, of all the physical living creation, was without a helper on his own level (verse 20).
If Adam were by himself for any significant amount of time, imagine how he must have felt when he observed that even animals had their mates. Through Adam's observations of the animal kingdom, in its maleness and femaleness, he would have been constantly reminded that he was the lone human being on the planet. He was a male with no corresponding female.
Single people often find themselves in lonely circumstances. They wants friendships and feel the isolation of being alone. Because of situations all too common in our world, even married people can experience loneliness.
God recognized that Adam had a problem and provided him the perfect solution—a woman to be his wife. God, as the source of every perfect gift, knew just how to form the woman (James 1:17).
God had made Adam from the ground. Adam is simply a shortened form of the Hebrew word adamah, which means "ground." But, instead of using more soil to make Eve, God caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep and made Eve out of one of his ribs (Genesis 2:21-22). The Hebrew word for "made" is banah and is translated "build." God literally built Eve. Ever loving, kind and merciful, God took great delight in forming Eve, physically and mentally, to be the perfect complement for Adam.
Scripture emphasizes another aspect of the first marital relationship. Because God made Eve from one of Adam's ribs, an undeniable bond existed between Adam and Eve. This point was undoubtedly significant to Adam. His first recorded words regarding Eve were, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman because she was taken out of Man" (Genesis 2:23). Adam recognized his link to this creature named Eve. She was part of him, and he was part of her.
The first marriage
The simple, historical account does not tell us what Adam and Eve were thinking or how they felt while they got to know each other. But in the next two verses we learn the outline of the basis of marriage as established by God. "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed" (Genesis 2:24-25).
An important aspect of marriage is leaving "father and mother," establishing a new family unit. Adam and Eve did not have physical parents to leave, but future generations would need to apply this instruction.
Honoring parents and seeking their advice is advisable, but newlyweds need to remember they are a new family unit. Just because things were done a particular way in your family does not mean your mate will want to do things the same way.
Two people must learn to work together in marriage, showing respect and love to each other. Such an approach follows the biblical principles of wives submitting to their husbands and husbands loving and honoring their wives (Ephesians 5:22, 25; 1 Peter 3:1, 7). Establishing family guidelines and traditions in an atmosphere of love and respect gives the newly married a foundation upon which to build their life together.
Genesis 2:24 says a husband should be "joined" to his wife. Other translations say he should cling or cleave to her. Today we would say he should bond with her. Besides God, she should be his highest commitment.
The biblical text is clear that a man should build this special, close relationship with his wife. The idea of clinging to multiple wives is foreign to these verses in Genesis. Even though God allowed some men in the Old Testament to have several wives at the same time, such arrangements were not God's intent from the beginning. In listing the qualifications of bishops, or overseers, of the Church, 1 Timothy 3:2 makes clear that such a man must follow God's instructions and "be blameless, the husband of one wife."
How can husbands and wives bind with each other and make their relationships loving and lasting? Simple actions like hugs, kisses and pledges of love build and strengthen the bond God intended for marital partners. When husbands and wives constantly work at building their relationship, they find it easier to agree on workable options in settling family disagreements.
Some people think love is a magical, mysterious emotion that two people fall into or out of for no apparent reason. The truth is different: Loving relationships must be nurtured. They take work. Love is care and consideration directed toward another person, not just an ethereal emotion.
Nurturing the relationship
The work involved in building and preserving the marital bond is well worth the time and effort. Husbands and wives who are committed to this positive process often describe their mates as their best friends. This is simply another way of describing the kind of bond God desires for every marriage.
A marriage built around this godly bond includes two people who are willing to listen and talk about their problems in a spirit of humility. If they cannot solve their problems on their own, they seek counsel because they value their relationship and don't want to lose it.
Recent studies confirm that measuring the level of conflict in a relationship can accurately predict whether a marriage will survive.
People whose marriages are failing often say they have lost the desire for a special relationship with their mate. Some marriage partners have rekindled this desire by asking God for a loving, humble attitude and doing things to show love to their mate, even when they don't feel like it.
Many married people have found that the feelings they longed for returned when they decided to do the things that bind two people together.
Becoming one flesh
The next principle from Genesis 2 says that a husband and wife shall become one flesh; that is, enjoy an intimate sexual relationship (verse 24; 1 Corinthians 6:16).
The steps that lead to a loving and proper sexual relationship are vital to a successful marriage. God reveals that candidates for marriage should develop a deep and lasting friendship but should not indulge in a sexual relationship until after the marriage ceremony. Most people fail miserably to follow God's instructions in this matter. "Dating" someone often means "sleeping" with someone. In Western societies the overwhelming majority of young adults of both sexes engage in sexual intercourse before marriage. They take the supposedly enlightened view that sex is not part of a sacred, loving relationship but simply a biological function to be indulged in without restraint.
God intended sex to be part of the marriage relationship and not take place outside of marriage. Only in the married state does God permit sexual relations (Hebrews 13:4; 1 Corinthians 7:2). His instruction for us to refrain from fornication (sex before marriage) and adultery (sex when one or both sex partners is married to someone else) is a safeguard for our marriages (1 Corinthians 6:9, 18).
God intended sex to be an intimate, binding experience for a man and woman and meant for it to help marriages survive and flourish. Since one in three married males and one in four married females in the United States now admits to having indulged in adulterous affairs, we should not be surprised that half of American marriages end in divorce. An admirable way to reverse the trend of broken marriages and safeguard one's own relationship is to accept and practice God's instruction to restrict sex to marriage.
Modern research verifies that God's instructions, given thousands of years ago to Adam and Eve, are still the best recipe for success in marriage. Couples who do not live together before marriage handle conflict more easily, communicate better and are less likely to divorce. A majority of men and women (60 percent) believe that the sexual relationship is more satisfying within the marriage union. Considering that one of every four Americans will contract a sexually transmitted disease, a disorder preventable by practicing godly guidelines, it becomes obvious that God's teachings are superior to anything devised by man.
The last principle from God's inspired guideline for marriage reveals that Adam and Eve were naked but not embarrassed by their nakedness (Genesis 2:25). Since they were the only two humans on the planet, privacy was not an issue. Sexuality was not and is not intrinsically dirty or shameful.
Within marriage a husband and wife should feel comfortable with each other's masculinity or femininity. But revealing too much of one's body to other members of the opposite sex can invite the breaking of God's commands against lust and unlawful sexual relations. Jesus warned that "whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:28). Males and females alike need to control their minds and dress modestly to discourage sexual arousal outside of marriage.
Paul told the early Church to remember that God calls Christians to holiness and not to defraud or mistreat others in marriage or the relationships leading up to it (1 Thessalonians 4:6-7): "For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel [spouse] in sanctification and honor" (verses 3-4).
Marriage is one of God's wonderful gifts to mankind. It is something to treasure and sustain. The guidelines He gives in Genesis 2 are as valid as ever. To follow them is to make the honorable, godly choice. No shame comes from following God's instructions. Only rewards result from godly behavior in marriage. Why not make God's ways your ways? GN