Thursday, September 21, 2006

Hebrew Bible: In the beginning

It has been really refreshing to read some of Genesis from a new perspective.

It is sad to me that I often need to be told when there is humor in the Bible... We are so used to hearing the Bible in a slow, serious, (possibly Brittish accented) voice. when my Frick text pointed out the humor of Adam naming each animal, but not finding a suitable companion, I suddenly pictured an old Hebrew grandparented telling the story to their kids. "And then Adam named the giraffe, but the giraffe wasn't the right companion. So then Adam named the bear, but the bear wasn't the right companion..." It sounds like a story book for kids.

It was also pointed out in some of my readings, that Genesis 1-3 doesn't talk about sin or the people being "cursed." Rather, one could read God's speech about the fate of man and woman as God pointing out the way things are. It doesn't matter who ate the apple... someone would have after awhile even if Eve didn't. When I was 13 I liked to joke that Adam was probably whining for Eve to make him a sandwich, so she gave him the apple. I still think that in the story, Adam is oddly passive (from my biased perspective this reminds me of lazy men who would rather let women make decisions for them and who drift through relationships). And because of my own personal... quirks... I imagine Eve being restless and curious and possibly wanting to impress Adam with her knowledge and guts. (Clearly this is my own imagination at work).

Regardless of the whos and whys of the removal from Eden, it is clear that in Eden there was partnership and equality. In nakedness there was openness and lack of status or rank or guise. Outside of Eden there was strife and inequality and hard work and pain. In being clothed there was separation, and shame, and (eventually) status and separation. To me, the truth of this story is not that it tells us why life is like this, but that it tells us how life is and points out to us that it could be different. Am I content to seek out a husband to rule over me as punishment for my fallen state? Instead, why wouldn't we try to live under the conditions of Eden? In other words, why wouldn't we treat others with equality, listen to God, and trust in God's provision?

Personally, I want to marry a man whom I trust to lead me, but not because I think if he doesn't rule over me I'll run amok or violate God's will. I want a husband who is a partner, who will put me before himself even as he is sometimes leading me. And I want to be a wife who helps as God helps, hopefully selflessly and occasionally doing things because I know what's best for my family. And while I don't suggest all Christians live on a nudist organic farm, I think it would do us some good to think about what it means to live as a community or faith that doesn't use clothing to denote status, and treats everyone as equals and partners in ministry, and that does its best to take care of the world that God has created for us.


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