The narrative of Genesis 2 intends to show us that without woman, mankind and creation itself are incomplete. In His wisdom, the Lord shows this to the man. He does so by bringing the animals before Adam to name them, but that is not all God is doing. The Lord is revealing to the man that the animals exist in pairs (male and female), but he does not have a “helper” suitable or fit for him. Notably, God shows the man his need so that when God meets that need, he will glory in the creation of woman. It is crucial to understand that the Hebrew term for “helper” (2:18, 20) does not convey inferiority or servitude; it conveys need. Man needs someone to help him carry out God’s creation mandate. The same term occurs elsewhere referring to God as the “helper” of Israel (e.g., Hos. 13:9). So instead of the notion of being a slave or servant, woman as helper means she occupies a place of honor and purpose.
You cannot read the Scriptures without encountering the central importance of the family in God’s purpose for both creation and redemption. The union of husband and wife forms the foundation on which the family grows and future generations develop. We can see that not only is the family the basis for the procreation of humanity, but it is also the basis for culture and its flourishing. Even though history testifies to the dysfunctional nature of families in the past and present, God’s creational purpose for the family has not changed. By examining the creation of the household, we will see its purpose as the first institution for human society and hopefully elevate our perception of this crucial cornerstone of humanity for today and the future.
The first three chapters of Genesis outline God’s work as the Creator of all things, humanity’s central role within the creation, and the fall of humanity into sin. As Genesis 1 draws to a close, the creation of humanity serves as the climax of the creation week. No other creature garners the attention that the Lord gives to human beings. The passage (Gen. 1:26–28) begins with the proclamation by God, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” In this statement, God calls attention to the uniqueness of this creation as those who are made in the image and likeness of the Creator Himself:
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Both male and female together are created in the image and likeness of God and so imitate their Creator by ruling over the creation. Human beings were given a royal calling to represent the Creator King as they bring order to the creation (i.e., “subdue,” “have dominion”) similar to God’s ordering of creation on days one through three. They were also commanded to fill the earth by multiplying, imitating the Lord’s filling of creation with creatures on days four through six. God’s charge for humanity is often called the creational/cultural mandate.