A year or so ago, I did a wedding for some friends in Texas. In order for their wedding to be inclusive of the many faith perspectives and the sexual identities of those attending the wedding, Maegan and Jonathan were careful to choose a Scripture reading that would not offend, but challenge those who shared their day with them.
I wrote this interpretive adaptation of the creation stories for them:
In the beginning of time, the story goes,
“Let us make human beings in our image,
make them reflecting our nature
So they can be responsible for the fish in the sea,
the birds in the air, the cattle,
And, yes, Earth itself,
and every animal that moves on the face of Earth.
And so God created human beings;
he created them godlike,
Reflecting God’s nature.
He created them male and female.
And God blessed them.[i]
These are verses from the creation story preserved in the first chapter of Genesis. In the second chapter another story is told that is believed by Biblical scholars to be considerably older than the first. In this story, God is more personal and intimate. Man and woman are created not from the cosmic boom of the voice of creation, but by the hands of God himself.
The first person, we’re told, is “hand made,” uniquely inspired, shaped, and formed from the earth. adamah.[ii] God names the personality after “adamah”, a lump of earth. The first human being is named “Dust” or “Red” or “Clay.” Yes, God created the first human being with a name … with personality, ego, conscience, self-awareness, and the same longing for companionship that God, himself, had suffered. And, although this being is given life and soul by the very breath of God, Clay is alone.
“It is not good for the human to be alone.” And, so, God seeks to design a suitable companion for Clay. God creates every species of animal on earth and presents them one by one to the human. One by one Clay accepts them and labels them, but none of them fill the longing in the heart for a friend, a sympathizer and a partner in life.
So God puts Clay to sleep … and takes a piece of flesh, not another lump of earth, but the very flesh and blood of “Clay” … and from that first piece of humanity, God fashions another being … separate, distinct, unique, yet born of the same essence … the same spirit and flesh. And God introduces this one to Clay.
“This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.”
And so it is, that we grow independent of the parents who raised us, and embrace our life[iii]partner … wife, husband, companion, friend, lover … two people, one flesh.
[i] Genesis 1:26-28 paraphrased in The Message
[ii] Hebrew word upon which the proper noun Adam is based.
[iii] In Genesis 3, the second person is named “Eve,” which is a Hebraic allusion to the word for “living”; if I were to name “Eve” in my story, I would choose “Zoe,” the Greek word for Life.
I wrote this to give light to my own understanding of these verses, but also to challenge some of the assumptions we make as we read these stories. Comments?