In Genesis 2:18 God said, “It is not good for man to be alone; I will make him a helpmeet (helper).” Read or listen to this chapter from Your Marriage God’s Way to learn why it was not and still is not good for man to be alone.
Table of Contents
- Why It Was not and Still Is not Good…
- First, it is not good for man to be alone, because he would not have the help he needs.
- Second, it is not good for man to be alone, because he would not be able to fulfill God’s second command.
- Third, it is not good for man to be alone, because he would not be able to enjoy certain desires.
- Fourth, it is not good for man to be alone, because he would not have the benefit of a woman’s positive influence.
- Fifth, it is not good for man to be alone, because he would not experience the sanctifying effects of marriage itself.
- Moving from “Not Good” to “Very Good”
- Are There Any Exceptions?
- Marriage Is the Expected Lifestyle
For six straight days, God created dry land, sun, moon, stars, sea creatures, birds, and animals. At the end of each day God saw what He created and saw that it was good (Genesis 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25). But after God created Adam, for the first time in the creation account He saw something that was not good—man being alone: “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helpmeet comparable to him” (Genesis 2:18).
God’s statement is even more interesting when we consider that Adam and Eve had not yet disobeyed Him. We do not typically think of anything being “not good” until after the fall. Because Adam had not sinned yet, it was not Adam himself who was not good. Neither was it anything he had or had not done that was not good. It was simply Adam being alone that was not good.
Why It Was not and Still Is not Good…
Let’s understand why it was not—and still is not—good for man to be alone.
First, it is not good for man to be alone, because he would not have the help he needs.
Leading and providing for a family is a lot of work. There is a significant load on men’s shoulders, and a wife can help lighten it. This is why the apostle Paul states, “Nor was man created for woman, but woman for the man” (1 Corinthians 11:9). A lot of discouragement can come a man’s way, and if he does not receive encouragement from his wife, where will he get it? Yes, there are other resources such as Scripture and relying on the Lord, but if those were all God wanted men to have, He would not have said, “I will make him a helpmeet.”
Second, it is not good for man to be alone, because he would not be able to fulfill God’s second command.
“Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28). Children are one of God’s greatest blessings.
Third, it is not good for man to be alone, because he would not be able to enjoy certain desires.
God has given men and women healthy sexual desires to enjoy within marriage (Hebrews 13:4).
Some of these desires go beyond physical intimacy. God creates people as relational beings with emotional, mental, and social longings that are best fulfilled in marriage. People can serve as great friends, but they do not take the place of a spouse. For those who choose to get married, God wants them to have a steadfast companion all through life, and part of the reason He created the marriage relationship is to make that possible.
Fourth, it is not good for man to be alone, because he would not have the benefit of a woman’s positive influence.
While it is not always the case, it is common for married men to become gentler and more sensitive. After Katie and I were married, my parents frequently told me how much she influenced me for the better.
Fifth, it is not good for man to be alone, because he would not experience the sanctifying effects of marriage itself.
God accomplishes much of the work He wants to do in our lives through marriage. After Scripture and the Holy Spirit, marriage is the greatest way God teaches us forgiveness, sacrifice, patience, dying to self, and more. When people remain single, they are more vulnerable to selfishness as they get used to living only for themselves. A married person has the obligation to care for their spouse, and this is wonderfully sanctifying.
A nice companion verse to Genesis 2:18 is Proverbs 18:22: “He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the Lord.” When a man receives a wife, he should understand he is not receiving a gift that is neutral or amoral. Instead, he is receiving a gift that is positive and moral. To illustrate how much of a good thing a wife is, consider God’s observation when He finished creating the heavens and the earth: “God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day” (Genesis 1:31). This is the end of the sixth day, but earlier in the day, in Genesis 2:18, God observed, “[This] is not good.” What had changed in between “not good” and “good”? God had created a woman. That is how much of “a good thing” a wife is. The addition of a woman can transform a situation from “not good” to “very good.”
Moving from “Not Good” to “Very Good”
A husband should see his wife as someone who takes him from “not good” to “very good.” When a wife thinks about her husband, she should see her role as helping him move from “not good” to “very good,” and treat him in such a way that he can see her as “a good thing” and as “favor from the Lord.” She should gladly strive to give him the help he needs and, most importantly, the help God wants him to have.
Are There Any Exceptions?
Paul discussed some exceptions. In 1 Corinthians 7:7-9 he wrote:
I wish that all men were even as I myself. But each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that. But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am; but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
While Paul calls marriage a gift, it almost sounds as though he is saying singleness is better than marriage. The only way to understand these verses is by considering Paul’s words at the end of the chapter, where he explains why singleness was a gift for him and can be a gift for others. In 1 Corinthians 7:32–34, he wrote:
I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord—how he may please the Lord. But he who is married cares about the things of the world—how he may please his wife. There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world—how she may please her husband.
Paul is referring to people being without the responsibilities that come with having a spouse. Every married person—especially those with children—recognizes that a family takes a lot of time and energy that could be committed directly to serving the Lord. I pastor a church, but my most important ministry is to my wife and children. If I were unmarried, I would be able to commit even more time to studying, meeting with people, teaching, and so on. The apostle Paul himself is a good example. He had a ministry that a man with the responsibilities of a family could not have fulfilled. He wanted others to be able to serve the Lord with the same singleness of mind he was able to have.
Paul further clarifies his view of marriage in verses 27-29, where he points out:
Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for a man to remain as he is. Are you pledged to a woman? Do not seek to be released. Are you free from such a commitment? Do not look for a wife. But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this. What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short.
When Paul was writing, the early Christians were facing increasing persecution that led to one of the darkest eras in church history. It culminated with the Roman emperor Nero throwing Christians to the lions while committing many other atrocities against them. Paul knew these Christians could get married but then find themselves fleeing for their lives. This is not a safe situation for anyone starting a family. Jesus made a similar statement when forecasting the coming destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70: “Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days!” (Matthew 24:19).
Paul’s advice might apply today to a missionary heading into an area of the world too dangerous to take a family or to a young couple risking discovery in an underground church in a closed country. The important point to notice is Paul’s words were never meant to imply that singleness is somehow superior or more spiritual than being married.
Marriage Is the Expected Lifestyle
In fact, when Paul wrote to his son in the faith, Timothy, he warned, “In latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1). Paul then gave two examples of these demonic doctrines, one of which is forbidding people to marry (verse 3). When we consider the problems caused by people attempting to remain single who are not called to singleness, we can see why demons desire this. Marriage should be viewed as the normal, healthy pattern for all men and women save those few who have the gift of singleness as Paul did.