What is written in the second half of Genesis 2 sets the moral and theological trajectory of the Bible’s teachings on sex, gender, human dignity, and marriage. Of these verses, Derek Kidner writes:
The naming of the animals, a scene which portrays man as monarch of all he surveys, poignantly reveals him as a social being, made for fellowship, not power: he will not live until he loves, giving himself away (vs. 24) to another on his own level. So the woman is presented wholly as his partner and counterpart; nothing is yet said of her as child-bearer. She is valued for herself alone (p. 65).
God made the man to be irreducibly relational. That is, he can never be fully man apart from being relationship with other humans. The first human community was constituted through marriage between the man and woman. It was not until Adam saw the woman that he truly understood what he was. Not until the creation of the woman did man have a complete understanding of his role and his place in the world. He would never have fully understood himself fully in isolation – or without an allied and complementary partner. Adam experienced what he was when he first met his complementary opposite, and he accepted the female as complementing his maleness. “This is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.”
Though marriage is ordinary and necessary for the fulfillment of the creation mandate, it is not essential in order to be fully human. God does not call everyone to marriage. Our Lord was not married. The Apostle Paul was not married nor were others who, down through the generations, contributed mightily to the good of God’s people. But relationships are essential to human fullness.
Supremely, mankind is equipped to have relationship with God. It is necessary that God initiate that relationship. This is grace. But it is the unique capacity of man to know himself and his Maker. As Francis Schaeffer writes, “I understand the possibility of fellowship and of personality. I understand that because I am made in the image of God and because God is personal, both a personal relationship with God and the concept of fellowship has validity” (p. 47).