I say an answer on purpose (as opposed to the answer). I don’t claim to have an exhaustive revelation on what was going on in the heart of God at creation. But I think considering who He is, what He wants from humanity and what His emotions are like sure give us a pretty good picture.
As a recap, the question was: Why did God create Adam alone, especially since He knew that such a thing was “not good”?
My good friend Tom Snow already said it so clearly and concisely in the comment thread, I figured I’d repost it here.
My thought is that he was created without Eve to produce longing. Longing for partnership. God wanted Adam to feel this because God himself longs for a bride. God was giving Adam an invitation to the emotions of God.
I absolutely agree. And I would add that if we think of God primarily an authoritarian ruler, we are all the more prone to miss this beautiful picture.
Let me be clear that I love the sovereignty of God. If you’ve been tracking with this blog you may remember that I love the book of Daniel, in part because of the stunning picture of God’s sovereignty that is set forth in it. (Hmm, that’s another series I need to get back to!) God does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. He raises up kings and removes them. No one can restrain His hand. He is absolutely, 100% sovereign, and I love Him for it.
However, God is not sovereign only. He is deeply and passionately emotional. He loves. He is a God who has always and only existed in the context of fellowship. I believe that His love — His self-giving, overflowing love — is a massive driving force behind all He says and does. If you’ve studied the attributes of God, and especially if you’ve taken the IHOPU class, you’ll recognize this quote by A.W. Tozer in The Knowledge of the Holy: “God does not suspend one attribute to exercise another.” There is never a moment in time where God is not being profoundly, deeply affected by His loving heart and His desire for intimacy and partnership with human beings.
If we have an idea of God as firstly and foremostly sovereign, a King who knows His place and wants to ensure everyone else knows theirs, we will probably ask the question of why God created Adam first. We will begin drawing conclusions about authority and hierarchy, priveleges and responsibility. Because obviously, the pressing thought that was on God’s mind in creation was that everything should be properly governed.
Now again, God is sovereign. It’s an indelible aspect of who He is. He cares a lot about proper order and about submission to godly authority. I don’t seek to deny any of that. But I would propose that it was not the driving force behind His decision to create.
What if we look at the Creation narrative a different way? What if our starting point is not a heavenly Boss setting up an org chart? What if our starting point is a God who is rejoicing in the fellowship of the Trinity, and desiring to bring a united Body of created human beings into that relationship of love and delight?
“First” or “second” doesn’t really even enter into this picture. The pressing question here is, “Why would God create Adam alone?” Our God, who is all about relationship, created a solitary human being. Adam was the only living thing on that planet that did not have a partner. He was the only one in the entire created order who was truly and completely alone.
That was no oversight on the Lord’s part. It’s not as if He just hadn’t considered the concept of “female” yet — He had already made (at least) two of each animal as male and female. It’s not as if God made man in His own image, and then paused and wondered, “Wait a minute. Why doesn’t he look happy being alone, like I am?” — because, remember, God is not a lonesome Being, but Three-in-One. When God said, “It is not good that man should be alone” (Gen 2:18), that was not an announcement of discovery. That was something He knew and planned all along.
So what did God do next? He already knew that He was going to make (not find) a helper suitable for Adam (2:18b). The next logical step would be to create a woman already. But instead, He had Adam name all the animals.
Now, this again is where your inward image of God will affect how you see this story. Approaching this from the viewpoint of that heavenly Boss and His divine org chart, we get the idea that Adam is doing this to take dominion. Look at that man go, giving names to all those animals. Look at the authority he exercises. Bet they know who’s in charge now. But I wonder why God wanted to get this out of the way before the woman came on board?
However, if we see it from the position of a deeply loving, relational God, we get a different picture. God already knows it’s not good for Adam to be alone. And then He has him name the animals — animals who had all been created male and female. It was not good for man to be alone. Man was never designed to be alone. God knew this, but Adam needed to figure it out.
But beyond simply causing him to realize his need for his own bride, I believe that the Lord was absolutely giving Adam a glimpse into the desires of God’s own heart. Marriage has always been a picture of one profoud, glorious truth: Christ and the Church (see Ephesians 5). Marriage is a picture of the God-Man who desires a people who would love Him and would be with Him where He is (see John 17). God wasn’t just convincing Adam of a need. He was giving him a taste of what longing love felt like.
So why did God create Adam alone? It was for the purpose of the greatest love and fellowship. Yes, now he would appreciate his wife, but he also had a touchpoint with his Creator that he never would have experienced otherwise. Eve was brought into the world in a marriage that didn’t exist simply because that was all there was, but because her husband intensely desired her. Both the first man and the first woman were brought forth into the ideal context of love for one another, and the ideal context to foster a greater measure of understanding of the One who made them.
In short — it’s all about love. Authority does not need to be discovered, cultivated, and searched out. Longing love does. And I believe that journey of love is what God had in mind for His image-bearers from the very beginning.