David would like me to note that when putting the creation story in, I neglected the MOST IMPORTANT VERSE, which was the seventh day, when God rested, the creation of the Sabbath. This is particularly important if you are a Seventh Day Adventist but perhaps less important if you are not. Slightly less. I did not leave it out because of that, I left it out because I was just using a website for my Bible verses and the seventh day is in the second chapter and I just didn’t do that. It was not a deeply meaningful omission, I swear.
That said. Now that I have mentioned it, I’m gonna move on.
The creation of Adam and Eve. This is a big deal, children. This is where God forms us out of the dust of the earth with his own two hands. Makes us human. Makes us breathe. Gives us his own breath and makes us in his own image. Again, these are pivotal things to Christianity. What does it mean to be made in the “image of God”? That was one of those phrases you heard everywhere. It is fundamental.
I definitely feel like more weight was given to the Fall in the churches I grew up in than to creation itself. I remember talk about how when Adam first saw Eve, he immediately composed a poem. I remember how it was important that God gave Adam the power to name the animals, our ability to name was extremely important (I found myself thinking about that as my American Indian Studies teacher talked about naming as a power of the conqueror. I have always believed in the power and beauty of being able to name, but he talked about it as an issue of power over someone else, which is not a way I had ever thought of it before.) While I did not really grow up in churches that were tremendously fixated on the place of the man and the woman, I went through a brief (less brief than I would prefer to admit) phase of being very into Mark Driscoll’s teachings and so I definitely heard a lot as I was getting older about how it was important to note that God took woman from man, how he took her from his side, because her place was at his side, the incredible importance of the phrase “helpmate.”
I will also say how much I used to love that last verse. They were both naked and they felt no shame. There are other verses like that in the Bible that talk about a lack of shame and I loved the idea of those, even as I felt like I did not see how they resembled a legitimate possibility. Of course eventually you were supposed to feel no shame with your husband or wife but I wanted something beyond that, something bigger than that. I was deeply tired of feeling ashamed.
Honestly there are probably like a million more things that we talked about in relation to this story because it is definitely one of the big ones. But when I think of it, those are my immediate associations.
Adam and Eve
4 This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, when the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.
5 Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth[a] and no plant had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground, 6 but streams[b] came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground. 7 Then the Lord God formed a man[c] from the dustof the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
8 Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. 9 The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
10 A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters.11 The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold.12 (The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin[d] and onyx are also there.) 13 The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush.[e] 14 The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Ashur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.
15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
19 Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.
But for Adam[f] no suitable helper was found. 21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs[g] and then closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib[h] he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
23 The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
for she was taken out of man.”
24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
25 Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.
Reading this there is the obvious response, that it reads like a myth, a legend. But I’m going to skip past that because I think I covered some of that in the last one. I actually will frequently skip past that unless it seems important because I imagine it would get tedious for me to repeat it. So what is the story actually saying? What do I see in it when I read it, what would it say about a character of a god?
As a person who is in dire need of my closest people most of the time, I suppose I think it’s nice that this god didn’t think it was good for us to be alone. But you know. At this point in my life I always think of like the stories of Lilith and such. Because what if Eve hadn’t liked him? What if he was mean or cruel to her? I know he seems happy to see her right now when she’s literally the only other person around but what about later? Will it hold? It seems unnecessary to build a power difference in from the start. Why couldn’t god just make man and woman at the same time, make them equal and the same? Unless, of course, the legend was written by men.
Then of course there’s always the matter of that damn tree. When raising children, a good rule of thumb is generally to not put anything in their reach that can make them surely die. For example, we might not consider a parent to be particularly prudent who had a loaded gun laying in plain sight of their child and the only precaution they took was “now if you touch that, you are definitely going to die. You can touch anything else in the house but definitely do not touch that gun.” Or who perhaps left a tasty looking but deadly poison next to the candy and said “you may eat any of this candy but if you eat that, you are definitely going to die, don’t eat that.” We might point out that people are curious, kids particularly so. That we lack context, that it is natural and even appropriate to want to explore and experience things. We might even point out that when you say something like DO NOT HIT THAT BUTTON, for example, it becomes increasingly hard not to hit the button. Is that sin? Or is that just curiosity? Is a curse on you and every generation after you the fair and appropriate response to such an error in judgment? I would argue that perhaps it is not. And that perhaps a god who thinks it is has more than a few control issues.