Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Male and Female

There is increasing societal pressure to accept homosexual behavior as just another way of being. In addition, there is ongoing pressure to understand gender as something that is or should be self-constructed. This notion includes a complete dismissal of claims that biological categories have anything at all to do with whether one identifies as male or female. 

One of the two texts in my devotional reading this morning was Gen. 2, the "other" creation account. I have read this text many times but one thing that struck me this morning was the loneliness of the first man. God creates man (adam) from the dust of the ground (adamah), an interesting Hebrew play on words. He puts the man in a garden, in Eden, so the story goes.

After reading the whole first chapter of Genesis where creation is repeatedly affirmed as good, God comes along in this sequel and says here that something is not good. "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper." 

No suitable helper is found among the animals, so God crafts another person especially for this man. God could have made any sort of person. God could have created another man. In fact, God could have created these first persons androgynous. But curiously, God does not. The person God creates as the suitable helper for the man is a woman, a female. The man responds with poetic glee: "This  is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh (emphasis mine)."

The man has seen other options and realizes that this creature, this woman, is exactly the being God intended for him to become "one flesh" with, a fact Jesus himself refers to.

What struck me as I pondered and re-read this ancient text, is how deeply creational this relationship of man and woman is. This is the way God intended things to be. This created male/female distinction in relation is God's design.

The Levitical and Pauline prohibitions aside, this text seems to me to be the central teaching on gender and sexuality for Reformed folks like myself, who take the goodness of creation seriously.

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