Sermon by Pastor Robert Green, October 18, 2009, Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost, Yr. B, No. 770, Ascension
Evangelical Lutheran Church, W.E.L.S., Harrisburg and Lewisburg, PA based on Genesis 2:18-24
Our God is a great and gracious Creator for not only did he create a perfect world for us to live in, he created the
perfect order of society with his gift of marriage. Chapter one of Genesis gives us the big picture, the overview of
creation, as God sets forth what he did day by day. God tells us that on the sixth day of creation he created mankind,
both male and female. Man is the crown of God’s creation and so in Chapter 2 God takes us back to the sixth day to
give us the details of how he created man and woman and for what purposes.
Hear once again how God created man and woman from Genesis 2:18-24 (NIV). “The LORD God said, “It is
not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” 19 Now the LORD God had formed
out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what
he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave
names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. But for Adam no suitable helper
was found. 21 So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took
one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib
he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. 23 The man said, “This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” 24 For this reason a man will
leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” May God’s account of
creation help us to always cherish marriage as a divine gift graciously instituted by God; deserving of
commitment and honor!
Cherish marriage as a divine gift
I. graciously instituted by God;
God instituted marriage during the six days of creation. At the end of creation God looked upon all he had made,
including the institution of marriage and pronounced of creation “very good.” By God’s Word and decree, marriage
is a very good institution. Indeed, since all that God created was perfect, the estate of marriage, as instituted by God
was a perfect estate.
The creation was not perfect until God completed his work of creating. We see this for while he created the first
man, Adam, to be perfect in every way, all was not yet perfect or complete for the man, for he was alone. That is
why God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” The language
means it was not good for the man to continue to be alone. It was not good for the man to be alone for God later
would command the man and is wife Eve to procreate, to fill the earth and subdue it. In this Adam would need a
helper, one suitable or corresponding to him.
Notice how God lovingly and graciously prepared Adam to appreciate and love his wife by first leading him to
see his need for and the value of a corresponding helpmate. God did this by bringing all the animals to Adam so that
he could name them. Naming the animals reflected the authority God gave Adam to rule over the created earth, for
whatever he named an animal that became the animal’s name. Yet as Adam viewed each set of animals, no doubt
coming to him in pairs, he found no animal that was suitable or corresponding to him.
Then God, in his grace, caused a deep sleep to come over Adam and removed one of his ribs, closing up the
place with flesh. God used the rib to make or build or fashion the first woman, Eve. God never explains why he
made Eve from the flesh and bone of Adam, but Adam understood what it meant for him. He offered up the first love
poem by a human saying, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for
she was taken out of man.” Eve’s coming from his own flesh and bone made it clear that she was suitable, like
Adam of his kind, but different, corresponding to him in every way. This created a longing and love for Eve in
Adam’s heart as his poem so beautifully reflects.
God created Eve to be a suitable helper, but what does that mean? The word for helper simply means to one who
helps another without regard to status or place. Indeed the same word for helper, in the Hebrew, is used to describe
God, as in Psalm 27:9 (NIV) in which the psalmist speaking to God says, “Do not hide your face from me, do not
turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper.” But, God shows what he meant by Eve being a
helper telling us here that first she was to be a suitable or corresponding helper. She was to be matched to Adam in
such a way she could offer help to him in whatever he was to do to subdue and rule over the earth as well as to enjoy
the blessings of marriage of procreation, companionship and God pleasing intimacy. Thus, in instituting5 marriage
God defined the role of Eve as a corresponding helper.
That does not complete the picture of what it meant for Eve to be a suitable helper, for God made Adam to be the
head of the house and family and so the role of Eve as suitable helper was to be under the headship of her husband.
We see a picture of this role assignment in Adam’s authority to name the female sex “woman.” In the New
Testament Paul uses this account to explain the role of men and women, saying that the order of creation, that Adam
was created first and then Eve was taken from him, was God’s declaration of the role of headship being assigned to
the man. The greatest evidence of the headship of the man is that God blames Adam, not Eve, for bringing sin and
death into the world. Adam was the first to sin for he abdicated his role as head and became a silent follower of his
In this reading, God defines marriage as being when a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife
and the two become one flesh. God defines marriage and we have no right to change what God has declared
marriage to be, a life-long union between a man and a woman. The two becoming one flesh shows the unity of the
husband and wife. That unity is captured by Paul in Ephesians 5 when he speaks of the obligation of the husband.
Paul says, Eph. 5:29-30, “Husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves
himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the
church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and
be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” All this gives us reason to cherish marriage as a
divine gift and therefore deserving of commitment and honor! The question for each of us is do we cherish and
honor marriage as God defines it for yourself and for all others?
II. deserving of commitment and honor!
God calls for us to grasp his Word, to embrace it; to proclaim it and to live by it. We have no right to change
what he has written. Therefore, let us believe and boldly proclaim that marriage is a good institution to be honored
by all. We honor marriage when we treat it as the life long commitment God intended it to be. God teaches that
unless sin enters the picture, marriage is over only at the death of one of the spouses. Had Adam and Eve not fallen
into sin, death would never have come and they would still be married. Jesus taught this in the gospel reading for
today saying, Mark 10:2-16 (NIV) saying, “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’
‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, 8 and the two will become
one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let man not
separate.” The decision to be married binds a man and woman by far more than a legal status before man, for the
institution of marriage means the wedding vows are binding before God. Man is not to separate what God has joined
There are sins that may cause a marital relationship to end. Marriage is based on mutual trust and when that trust
is broken, God says that he would allow divorce. Eslewhere, Jesus makes it very clear that the only way for the
marriage bond to be broken by sin is if one of the parties commits adultery. Paul adds in 1 Corinthians that if one
spouse leaves and deserts the other, then the marriage can be broken. In severe cases of abuse, one may say that
desertion has taken place though the abusing spouse remains in the household.
Though marriage is a wonderful blessing from God, because of the sinful nature that so often demands the self
be put first in its needs and desires, a Christian marriage will demand commitment in sickness, in good times and
bad, tight times or not, indeed all the time. It demands the individuals commitment to make the marriage work
finding no excuse to fail or for a way out. To honor marriage demands, as Jesus has commanded all his believers,
that each spouse denying his or her sinful self and pick up the cross and follow Jesus. The cross is the struggle and
suffering that comes with denying the self to make a marriage work.
To be committed to and honor marriage does not mean to get married. Indeed, God says through the Apostle
Paul, in 1 Corinthians 7:1-2 (NIV) “It is good for a man not to marry. 2 But since there is so much immorality,
each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband.” A better translation would be “it is a
good estate if a man is not married” and Genesis 2 says it is a good estate if a man is married. We are free to marry
or not marry.
Thus marriage matters to God and it must matter to us for marriage is important for the family unit for it is the
best way to rear a child in the fear and knowledge of the Lord. Listen to Jesus tell us not to hinder a little child to
come to him, Mark 10:14, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God
belongs to such as these.” Marriage is the best vehicle God gives us to bring children to him as mother and father
teach their children to fear and love God.
The gospel news is that our God is good and gracious and though he has instituted and defined marriage, he
knows that because of sin, we will not honor it as we should. In his love and grace he fully forgives us all our sins.
He does this because he wants us to be his family, and his family matters to him. He proved this in sending his Son
to die for our sins. May we always strive to always cherish marriage as a divine gift graciously instituted by
God; deserving of commitment and honor! To God be all glory, amen!