The Ache for Friendship

"God created man for society and not for solitude."

The first problem in human history, the first problem on the pages of Scripture, the first problem in any human life, was not sin—it was solitude. This means that the not-goodness of Adam’s aloneness was not a result of his fallenness. Adam stood there in Eden without fault, yet he also stood alone and therefore incomplete. He was missing something essential enough to warrant the divine declaration of “not good.” Adam, untouched by sin, needed a friend.

 

The Bible’s first pages show our inescapable need for relationships. Several times the creation story in Genesis 1 repeats the phrase “and God saw that it was good” (1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25). It climaxes with the seventh occurrence: “It was very good” (v. 31). Then in chapter 2, we read of one thing that is not good: “It is not good that the man should be alone” (2:18). Adam, the first human, lives, but he lives in isolation. And that’s a problem. As Martin Luther put it, “God created man for society and not for solitude.”[1]Thus we can each make this statement our own: it is not good that [your name] should be alone.

God announces Adam’s problem and then parades the animals before him. Why this, and why now? So that Adam might feel his need for community. The animal parade made a point: apparently pets alone won’t do. Even “man’s best friend” passed by without special notice. This was because Adam didn’t need a pet; he needed another person. Animals are special, but human friendship is of a higher order.

This takes place before sin enters the world. That’s significant. Satan has not yet slithered in, the forbidden fruit has no fingerprints, and Adam’s conscience remains clear. The first problem in human history, the first problem on the pages of Scripture, the first problem in any human life, was not sin—it was solitude.

This means that the not-goodness of Adam’s aloneness was not a result of his fallenness. Adam stood there in Eden without fault, yet he also stood alone and therefore incomplete. He was missing something essential enough to warrant the divine declaration of “not good.” Adam, untouched by sin, needed a friend. Every soul reverberates with the echoes of this Edenic ache for friendship. It’s an ancient and primal longing. We are inescapably communal.

The opening chapters of Genesis cast a vision of the good life, full of shalom—a Hebrew concept referring in its fullest sense to flourishing, joy, and harmony. And this shalom exists between God, humanity, and creation. Each sphere of the physical world—land, sea, and sky—teems with life. Yet Adam stands in the middle of this exuberant wonder world—alone. Adam has life, and that’s a start. But he also needs community.

The Divine Affirmation of Friendship

So, on the sixth day God made Adam and he made Eve—the first friendship—and behold, it was very good.

It was Eve’s presence that finally made the creation “very good.” Consider when she arrives in the story. The creation account has two parts: part one overviews the entire seven-day creation week (Gen. 1:3–2:4). On the sixth day of that week, God made humanity—both Adam and Eve. Only after the completion of the sixth day, with Adam and Eve both created, do we hear the climactic “very good” (1:31).

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