Male and Female: Sex, Flesh, and Rib-Bones

 Here is a guest post from our youth pastor Rev. Brad Acton: 

If you’ve spent any time in the church you’ve read the Creation story. It’s dangerously over-familiar so that when we re-read it, we gloss over it or skim. We know how it goes. We know the idea. I’m guilty when it comes to the speedy read through, but tonight at our church small group we found deep truths hidden behind the common words.

Our group is currently working through a curriculum about marriage, and this week focused on the story in Genesis 2:18-24, the creation of Ishah (Heb. – Woman) from Ish (Man). This story is the first account of God naming Creation as being “not good.” God creates all the firmament of heaven, the earth has exploded with life, and the Man has just been sculpted from dust and taken on the very Breath or Spirit of God. But not long after we read: “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone.'”The following scene tells of Adam naming every creature upon the earth before falling into a deep sleep in his loneliness, unable to find a creature that corresponds to his nature. Yet as he sleeps, God fashions a woman from his rib, taking her from his flesh. And when he wakes, the Hebrew literally reads, “This time, she-is-it! Bone from my bones, flesh from my flesh!”

To understand Creation is to probe the mystery of God’s nature. To know the Creation is to know the Creator in some ways. What then can be said that God makes us in need of community? To be alone is not good, so God fashions us within us the desire for the other, the one taken from our flesh or the one from whom we have been taken. The Woman is the only being not fashioned from the earth in the Creation story; instead she is taken from the nature of man. And in that occurrence the nature of humankind develops more fully than before.

When we asked why God would make us with these intense desires for relationship and the need to love and be loved, one of the women in our group said that is the nature of the Trinity. To discover love is to know love with another and the other’s love for ourselves. That is why it was “not good” for Adam to be alone; not just because he was lonely. That simply follows from what was already lacking. No, the fact that Creation did not adequately express the mind of God was “not good.” Marriage then functions as the sign or sacrament of this grace in the world by joining the two natures to one another as a step towards seeing deeper into the mind of God.

In my own marriage, what I thought was love and the pursuit of mutual felicity changed incredibly when my marriage began to change ME. Our culture only speaks of marriage as one person’s individual, independent self being joined to another independent self, and only as long as neither impedes the freedom of the other the marriage is successful. What a horrible view of this gift.

Marriage does not say, ‘come as you are and stay that way forever.’ Marriage bids you come and love. It is not simply getting your needs met by another, it is the pouring out of our lives to one another while receiving the gift the spouse offers us. And it is worth it because God has fashioned us to ‘hold fast’ to one another.

The pain and joy and turbulence of this life has required me and my wife to hold fast to one another at times. And I think it may be the mystery of such unconditional love, a love not meant for just happy times but a love meant for the deepest horrors of this life that lets us know Christ’s love for his Church. I don’t know where I’d be without my wife. It’s not always easy, but in the wonder of marriage I have found peace in her gifts to me. And when life and (sometimes) death make it almost impossible to keep going, I know she is my bride, the flesh from my flesh, and that gives me great joy.

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