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Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (Genesis 2:18).
If you are interpreting Adam’s situation through the lens of contentment, your understanding of why the Lord said it was not good for him to be alone will be different. The tendency is to look at Genesis 2:18 from your experience of loneliness and needs, which can tempt you to upload the text with a sin-centered, dirty window perspective. You look back at the text while mapping your experience over it.
There was no sin in Adam. The things that Adam thought and felt were remarkably different from how you and I experience life. It had not occurred to Adam that there was a problem with not having a wife since there was no such thing created at that time. The cliche “you can’t know what you can’t know” has an important application here.
It reminds me of a newly hatched duck that sees a dog before seeing anything else. What does it do? It follows the dog. The dog becomes the duck’s parent. A duck does not know what you know, so it follows the dog. Adam was living large: he was benefiting from all the Lord created. To speculate that Adam longed for something that did not exist would be pushing the text too far.
Adam was the hatched duckling. Life was good, but the Lord was in creative mode. He had more plans. He knew what needed to happen, and Adam was not part of the decision-making Committee (Genesis 1:26-27). His role was to be the happy recipient of whatever the Lord decided to bring his way.
What Adam lacked was not someone to fill his empty love cup, but someone who would permit him to put God fully on display in the Lord’s world. Adam was like the world’s greatest baseball player with no place to play. He was suited up and equipped but had no place to do the one thing God designed him to do: image the divine community. Adam did not need love but needed someone to be the recipient of his love.
Love is active, moving from the giver to the recipient. When Jesus talked about relationships, He did not talk about what we needed but what we needed to do. For example, when He spoke of how to live out the Bible well, He said to love Him and to love others most of all (Matthew 22:36-40). Love’s primary direction is always toward others, not toward ourselves (John 3:16).
When Paul talked about man’s relationship with his wife, he said that he should give his life for her (Ephesians 5:25). When Paul gave his version of the two great commandments, he stated that we should count others as more significant than ourselves (Philippians 2:3-4). In a God-centered world, your thoughts are always directed to God and others more than yourself, which is critical insight when you think about Adam’s world.
He did not need Eve as though there was something wrong with him. He needed Eve so he could more effectively image the Community that created him. Eve did not need Adam’s love because there was nothing wrong with her. She needed Adam so she could have the opportunity to put the Trinity on display.