A Perfect Partnership Between Man and Woman in Marriage

By Mark D. Roberts

June 16, 2015

Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed.”

Genesis 2:24-25


If the devotions in Life for Leaders were intended for family life, I would slow down right now and spend several days looking closely at Genesis 2:19-25, since this passage reveals much about God’s intentions for marriage. Given the leadership and work focus of Life for Leaders, however, I’ll offer a few thoughts on this passage before moving on tomorrow.

Genesis 2:19-25 confirms and expands what we saw in verse 18, namely, that God intended a perfect partnership between man and woman, not just in work, but also in family life. Verses 19-20 show that no other creature on earth is suitable to serve as the man’s partner (with apologies to “man’s best friend”). In verses 21-22, God forms the woman from a rib of the man, which emphasizes the physical unity of man and woman. Thus, the man exclaims, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (2:23). He names his partner Woman (ishah) because she was taken out of Man (ish). Even the names, Woman and Man, confirm the similarity and yet distinctiveness of the sexes. Woman and Man are to be, indeed, perfect partners.

As a result of their unique relationship and the man’s joy in meeting the woman for the first time, he “clings to his wife, and they become one flesh” (2:24). This serves as a model for all men in the future, who will leave their father and mother in order to be married to their wives. Verse 25 concludes the second creation account with a beautiful picture of intimacy in marriage. The man and the woman are naked yet unashamed. They can be fully themselves with each other, sharing all that they are without hesitation or hiding. This conclusion connects Genesis 2 with Genesis 1, where God created humankind as male and female, instructing them to be fruitful and multiply. This command, taken most literally, would commend sexual intimacy that leads to childbearing.

Once again, we are reminded by Genesis of the essential role of family within God’s plan for the world. Yes, the man is to till and keep the garden. And, yes, the woman will be his partner in this enterprise. But man and woman also contribute to the world’s goodness through marriage, which, in God’s plan, brings children into the world. Unfortunately, many of us prize work so much that we neglect our marriages and our spouses. We lose the wholistic vision of Genesis, which suggests, not so much work-life balance as profound unified integration of work and all of life.

Mark's dog, Sandy, resting in the bluebonnets
Photo courtesy of Mark Roberts. My dog, Sandy, is a sweet partner to me. But her partnership doesn’t come close to what I experience with my wife, Linda.


How do you respond to Genesis 2:18-25?
If you are married, how does this passage speak to your relationship with your husband or wife?
If you are not married, in what contexts of life do you experience deep intimacy with others?
Do you ever allow your work to hinder or even hurt your close relationships with others, including your spouse?


Gracious God, thank you for this moving picture of the perfect partnership between man and woman. Thank you for giving us a vision of marriage as profound intimacy between a man and a woman. Thank you for giving us, through marriage and other close relationships, the gifts of friendship, support, mutuality, and love. Thank you for creating us with the capacity to be fruitful, not only in our daily work, but also in the “work” of bearing and raising children.

Today I pray for those of us who are married. Because of sin, we will never experience exactly what you intended for marriage. But, by your grace, we can approach this ideal. Help us, Lord, to make our marriages a priority, not letting the demands of work injure our marriages.

I also pray for those who are not married, that they might find a husband or wife as you lead them. But, even more, I ask that the body of Christ be a place of deep intimacy among all people, so that we, whether married or single, might enjoy the community you have intended for us. Amen.

Mark D. Roberts

Senior Strategist

Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders,...

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