Category: The Creation Narrative

Gender - Male and Female Gummy

Men Ruling Over Women

Keep Calm and Subvert PatriarchyIn Genesis 3, after Adam and Eve have disobeyed God, they’ve hidden from God in their shame. God calls for them, they grudgingly come out, and God explains the consequences of their decision. Within this “curse,” verse 16 says:

To the woman he said,

“I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing;
with pain you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband,
and he will rule over you.” (NIV)

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The Curse of the Earth

Within the consequences explained to Adam and Eve after “the Fall” lies an important but often-overlooked section on how the earth will suffer (God is speaking):

cursed is the fertile land because of you;
in pain you will eat from it
every day of your life.
Weeds and thistles will grow for you,
even as you eat the field’s plants;
by the sweat of your face you will eat bread—
until you return to the fertile land,
since from it you were taken;
you are soil,
to the soil you will return. (Genesis 3 CEB)

#HamOnNye

I did not watch the debate myself although I did follow it on Twitter. I’ve never been to the Answers in Genesis museum myself. I have read a lot of Ken Ham’s quote and seen video of him speaking. I know I’m hardly an expert on his opinion, but I think I’ve encountered enough to understand some major problems with his thought. Without even getting into the science, here are a few:

Bad Bible Study

We could go at the most surface level at point out that Ham doesn’t really know how to study the Bible. We could point out that the Hebrew word yom does not necessarily mean a 24-hour day but simply means a period of time. We could also point out that Hebrew genealogies were never meant to be a detailed history of every generation, even if we do presuppose that everybody in them are literal figures, so we can’t simply add up the numbers of generations to conclude the age of the Earth.

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Shame and Judgement in Social Justice

In Genesis 3, we see what is often referred to as “The Fall.” God’s world, which had been very good, is no longer. What causes this shift? Adam and Eve are said to eat of The Tree of The Knowledge of Good and Evil. There are a range of understanding about what exactly this tree and its name mean and many of those understandings are compatible with each other, but I’m going to focus on one particular idea and how it relates to social justice.

In this understanding, eating of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil does basically what it’s name implies: gives them the knowledge of good and evil. This might sound like a good thing, but I don’t mean simply having a conscience to help you discern ethical decisions, but I don’t think that’s what it’s saying. Rather than discerning for my own life between good and evil choices, I think (along with many others) that it is about gaining the ability to discern the good people vs the evil people.

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Doing Justice in Community

18 Then the Lord God said, “It’s not good that the human is alone. I will make him a helper that is perfect for him.” 19 So the Lord God formed from the fertile land all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky and brought them to the human to see what he would name them. The human gave each living being its name. 20 The human named all the livestock, all the birds in the sky, and all the wild animals. But a helper perfect for him was nowhere to be found.

21 So the Lord God put the human into a deep and heavy sleep, and took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh over it. 22 With the rib taken from the human, the Lord God fashioned a woman and brought her to the human being. 23 The human said,

“This one finally is bone from my bones
and flesh from my flesh.
She will be called a woman
because from a man she was taken.”

24 This is the reason that a man leaves his father and mother and embraces his wife, and they become one flesh. 25 The two of them were naked, the man and his wife, but they weren’t embarrassed.

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The Gender of God

Instead of writing the standard God, one of my seminary professors would spell it Godde, halfway between God (male) and Goddess (female). I generally have not adopted that practice but I do think it helps remind us of something very important: God is no more male than female. For some, this is a fairly radical concept because most people use male pronouns for God, equate Jesus with God (rightly) who happened to be biologically male, and we often associate the general concept of a god with the bearded old man in the sky that we inherited from the Greek image of Zeus.

But to the surprise of many, the Bible isn’t afraid of using female imagery for God. Here are a few quick samples:

So God created humankind in his image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27 NRSV)

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The Tselem of God

In a previous post I discussed the basic concept of human dignity as image-bearers of God. I’d like to tease that out a bit further, however, with a look at the Hebrew language used in this phrase. Typically we translate the Hebrew word צלם (tselem) into English as “image” or something similar and that is even the language I used in the previous post, but that could allow us to look past something helpful if we aren’t careful.

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Human Dignity

The starting point for any discussion of theological anthropology – how we understand humanity from the perspective of God – is with the creation account. There it makes this radical statement:

So God created humankind in his image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.

(Genesis 1:27 NRSV)

Act 2: Fall

As with Act 1: Creation, Act 2 is told in a small section of Scripture, only one chapter in Genesis. It is an important chapter, though, and does serve as a very important act within the grand story. It gives us three important themes which are relevant in our lives: the nature of sin, the unchanged nature of God in the face of our sin, and the nature of the enemy, Satan.

Act 1: Creation

The first act in the grand drama of Scripture is the act of creation. This act, while very important, makes up only two chapters of biblical text. These two chapters contain two back-to-back stories of God’s creation: Genesis 1:1-2:3 and Genesis 2:4-25. The first, in poetic form, approaches creation in broad terms, speaking of phases in creation. The second focuses on the pinnacle of the creation – humanity – including our work caring for creation and our need for relationship. This diversity in perspective is one of the most beautiful things about Scripture. From the two creation stories we can learn about three areas which are still very relevant to us now.