The first record has already been broken at the Rio Olympics and the games won’t even start for almost three weeks. As The Guardian‘s Chitra Ramaswamy reports, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will provide 450,000 condoms for the Olympians at this year’s event—an average of forty-two per athlete. That’s roughly three times the amount given out in London four years ago that prompted tabloids to call it “the raunchiest games ever.” And while fears over Zika likely contributed to the historic number, the decision to provide 100,000 female condoms for the first time increased the total number quite a bit as well.
If that number seems excessive, keep in mind that the environment around the Olympic village once the athletes finish their competition quickly devolves into “a frat party with a very nice gene pool,” in the words of soccer player Julie Foudy. As US goalie Hope Solo added in an interview with ESPN’s Sam Alipour, “Athletes are extremists. When they’re training, it’s laser focus. When they go out for a drink, it’s twenty drinks. With a once-in-a-lifetime experience, you want to build memories, whether it’s sexual, partying, or on the field.”
And while the opportunity to finally relax after dedicating the better part of one’s life to preparing for the Olympic games fuels much of the debauchery, Alipour notes that other motives come into play as well: “Many on-the-prowl athletes maintain that they’re driven by a simple human need: intimacy . . . For most Olympians, the ramp-up to the Games is lonely . . . the Olympics represent the perfect opportunity to find a partner who understands where they’re coming from.” To that end, American water polo captain Tony Azevedo remarked, “Think about how hard it is to meet someone. Now take an Olympian who trains from 6 a.m. until 5 p.m. every day. When the [heck] are you supposed to meet someone? Now the pressure is done, you’re meeting like-minded people . . . and boom.”
While most of us can’t understand what it’s like to be one of the top handful of people on the planet at our chosen profession, we have all felt that sense of loneliness and the desire for intimacy at some point in our lives. God’s statement in the garden that “it is not good for the man to be alone” was about far more than sex and procreation (Genesis 2:18). In the midst of an otherwise perfect environment and at a time well before sin ever entered the world, God revealed that we are incomplete without a sense of community and connection with other people.
Many attempt to fill that need with brief encounters and fleeting moments of pleasure. However, we will never sate that desire until we realize and accept that it emanates from a place far deeper than physical contact can ever reach. That’s a scary proposition because it means admitting that we are incapable of meeting that need on our own terms. Rather, the kind of community we crave must be built around equality and mutual respect if it is to satisfy those innate needs.
God had a plan for that as well. In the second part of that verse from Genesis, we are told that God created Eve to be a “helper” for Adam. The word used there for helper, ezer, is also used of God at several points in the Old Testament and refers to the ability to deliver indispensable aid and support. The psalmist used it in Psalm 121:1–2 to describe how the Lord rescued him from his enemies and Moses used the term to describe how God delivered him from Pharaoh (Exodus 18:4). As the Revised English Bible translates it, ezer essentially denotes an “indispensable partner.”
While the term may have first related to Adam’s spouse, the role Eve was meant to play in God’s plan for humanity also reveals that we all are incapable of fulfilling our role in that plan without the help of others. At times, that help will come from a spouse or loved one. At other times, it may come from a friend or co-worker. The one person who can never provide that help in your life, however, is you. That may not be a popular notion in our culture today, but it’s a reality as old as creation.
So whom has God placed in your life to provide that help? Whom has he called you to help? The answers to those questions are essential to forming the kind of community our Father created us to need. Are you doing your part in it?