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 [Or man (Hebrew adam)] said,
“This one finally is bone from my bones
and flesh from my flesh.
She will be called a woman [Or wife (Hebrew ishshah)]
because from a man [Or husband (Hebrew ish)] 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
In an inhibited, probably veiled, culture, the Genesis 2 creation story included an unexpected picture of original human innocence: “The two of them were naked, the man and his wife, but they weren’t embarrassed.” “Only after gaining self-consciousness by eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil do humans recognize their nakedness (Genesis 3:6-7).” * God’s original intent for our sexuality, said Genesis, was the sheer delight and bonding reflected in verses 23-24.
• In Genesis 1, we read that all that God made (including all humans together) was “very good.” But in Genesis 2, we find that “It’s NOT GOOD that the human is alone.” What timeless principles do you see in this story that apply to all people? How did the human joy in meeting a well-matched partner and helper speak to what God intended sexual attraction to do for relationships?
• “One flesh” was a type of Hebrew euphemism for sex, but it touched a dimension far more than just physical. “Procreation does not require mutual commitment. Cleaving or sticking does not refer merely to the couple’s sexual union but to mutual commitment: Ruth sticks by Naomi when Naomi returns to Bethlehem; the Judean people stick by David when there is a civil war.” ** How did that story show the value of mental and spiritual commitment, not just physical attraction?
Loving Lord, “they become one flesh”? Wow—Genesis 2 pictured strong attraction for the first human couple! But it also said God made them to “stick together” through all of life’s ups and downs. Help me bring that quality to my important relationships. Amen.
* Theodore Hiebert, study note on Genesis 2:25 in The CEB Study Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2013, p. 9 OT.
** John Goldingay, Genesis for Everyone, Part 1: Chapters 1–16. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010, p. 42.
I’ll be honest with you. Writing about sex for the church’s GPS wasn’t something I ever expected to do when I agreed to this. Here I find myself struggling to think of what to write or how to say it. The number of times I’ve deleted a word, sentence, or paragraph is too large to count.
As I struggle, I feel my own embarrassment. I’m embarrassed to do this wrong, feel uncomfortable, or offend anyone. But maybe that’s what God is trying to show me in this very moment of struggle?
As I told my husband about this, he said something jokingly-–“you’re feeling this because we’re post-apple.” (Shame and blame only enter the story AFTER the humans eat from the tree--cf. Genesis 3:6-12).
The world God intended without shame and sin doesn’t exist, and we’re living in something much different. We’re living in a time where we are surrounded by things that could embarrass us constantly – like writing about sex to a church congregation. God didn’t create us for loneliness. God is providing us with people who love us and will surround us with love when our embarrassment is too much. Regardless of whether you’re married or single, this applies to all of us. God has brought relationships to our lives to fill us up with joy.
All this embarrassment has reminded me of my high school small group. We all were asked to write a letter to our future spouse. I’ve never read that letter to my husband, but I remember a few things I wrote:
Writing out that letter has always stuck with me. God was molding the both of us into the individuals we needed to be so that we could become life partners and best friends. My husband is my person. He’s the person I want to ride the highest high with and the lowest low. During our marriage we’ve grown to shed any embarrassment that could get in the way of the relationship God’s calling us to be in.
I’ve written this entire post about feeling awkward, and used the word "embarrassed" one too many times. More importantly, I’ve avoided talking about sex to this point!
So I’ll end with this from verse 25: “The two of them were naked, the man and his wife, but they weren’t embarrassed.”
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