The Joining of Adam and Eve
When the Lord God first set man in the Garden, He did an interesting thing. He allowed the newly formed human to experience what it was like not to have a counterpart right from the beginning as all the other creatures did. It was the only thing in the whole of creation that God said was “not good.” Why did the Lord follow this plan? Why did He not establish man and woman at the same time, and give them to one another in the fullness of intimacy that He intended humans to experience together?
Was there something churning in God’s heart that could only be understood by Adam through the sense of being incomplete, knowing first-hand the experience of loneliness and deprivation? Why the man’s sense of exhilaration and wonder at the completeness he realized only when the woman came on the scene? Surely from his observation of the animal realm, he sensed there was something “wrong,” something “missing,” and yet how could that be, since Adam had known no other existence? How can one long for something that does not exist?
C.S. Lewis wrote that the fact that a man is hungry does not ensure that he will be fed, but it certainly indicates that somewhere there is food designed to meet his need. In the same way, the fact that Adam knew he was incomplete demanded the existence of a fulfilling reality. Adam’s longing had to have its root somewhere other than in his own experience.
And what of the strange idea that a man must therefore leave father and mother, and cling to his wife? Adam left no one to cling to Eve. Was this merely the starting point for future reference, or was there already a reference point in place, one that stretched backward beyond the boundaries of time? The understanding comes much later through the writings of Paul the apostle. In Ephesians 5, he quotes some of the same phrases as the basis for commitment in human marriage, then shows us that the reference point for these ideas is none other than Christ and the Church.[i] The statement about leaving and cleaving was an early reflection of God’s plan for Jesus to come in the flesh, leaving the heavenly home of the Father to cling to a human Bride.
Adam’s longing, his sense of being unfulfilled, his exhilaration at the discovery of his counterpart, had its genesis in the heart of Christ and His desire for the Bride that was the standard before mankind was ever created! Adam’s experience of longing was, from the first moment, a reflection of the chosen longing in the heart of the Triune God to have a counterpart suitable for His beloved Son, the living Word in Whom was formed everything that exists.
The taking of the woman from the side of the man, out of his very flesh and bone, must have seemed to Adam a bizarre methodology compared with the one God employed for the rest of creation. We see it now as a picture of the Bride taken from the riven side of the crucified Christ, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.[ii] He identified permanently with her humanity without negating His divinity, thereby leaving Himself with no alternative but to exalt her to the incredible place of fellowship and partnership in the triune life of God. Truly a magnificent picture! And it’s only the beginning.
[i]See Ephesians 5:30-32.
[ii]See Revelation 13:10.