After years of exposure to premarital ministry material in contemporary evangelical circles, I get the distinct impression that lots of American Christians hear God’s words in Genesis 2:18 that “it is not good for the man to be alone” and think it has something to do with the Creator recognizing and addressing the inevitable loneliness in the frail psychological constitution of the man he made. In other words, we instinctively read the narrative of the first marriage through the cultural lenses of the modern American pursuit of and purpose for marriage. We see loneliness, the loneliness is identified as not a good thing, and the solution to the loneliness is a spouse.
Let me first suggest that loneliness as a passion or suffering in humanity is largely a product of the Fall rather than the original creation. It’s a particular expression of the alienation that we feel in the world if we give ourselves five minutes of quiet to hear the sound of our restless and empty souls.
The passage is simply and straightforwardly telling us that when God made Adam, he then made an assessment of the situation like so many other decrees about goodness in the creation. Given the context of God’s charge to fill and subdue the earth and the unfolding of the story in Genesis and beyond in Scripture, I’d assert that the woman as the man’s wife is not the end God had in mind when he judged Adam’s aloneness. Eve is not the ultimate answer to Adam’s aloneness. She is Adam’s “suitable helper” or well-matched ally in their pursuit of the answer to the problem of aloneness. The ultimate answer to the problem of aloneness, the grand purpose that God had in mind, is not that the man has a wife but that the world has a civilization.
I’m grateful to Jeremy Erickson for his article at Spiritual Friendship that finally made this issue clear up and ‘click’ for me.