Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Complementarity in Genesis 1

from here
I led the church service on Sunday. When asked, I’d explained to our pastor how much I hate standing (let alone speaking!) in front of groups of people and how my hands shake and I feel like vomiting or crying or both simultaneously and that saying yes would most certainly mean I’d spend the whole month prior to the date feeling anxious and insomnia-prone and so I’d really rather not, thanks. He said, “It’s just that we’d like to see more women--” and I said, “I’LL DO IT.” It turns out my husband was on crèche this week, which made me smile. I’d been thinking about Genesis 1-2 (and particularly 1:26-28) thanks to a recent post on Ben’s blog:
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

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

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
I love this glimpse of true complementarity, of man and woman working in harmony with each other on exactly the same stuffI can picture the scene in Eden: one morning, Eve would yawn and say, “Ugh, I don’t really feel like ruling today,” and Adam would say, “Would you like me to do it? Give you a break?” and Eve would say, “Do you mind? And I could take over the subduing the earth for a bit?” and Adam would say, “Of course I don’t mind! It’s a plan!” and then they’d high five each other and Eve would make a cheeky comment about being fruitful a little later on, and they’d kiss and then set out to work feeling that kind of oneness and mutuality and beauty that you see in good marriages.

In this kind of relationship there can be no simple assumptions that the man will do these things and the woman will do those; it has to involve listening and talking and compromise, which, done with respect and in submission to each other, can only breed deeper intimacy. In Genesis, God doesn’t send Eve to the crèche and Adam to the pulpit, He lets them figure out together where they’ll work best. And if He calls that plan “very good,” then who am I to argue with Him?

As it turns out, I think my husband and I may be having a similar conversation to Adam and Eve’s in future, except with service leading instead of ruling, and crèche instead of subduing the earth. Obviously (to me, at least), the fact that I’m not a comfortable and charming up-the-front person has nothing to do with my femaleness and everything to do with the fact that I feel it’s wise to avoid things that steal my sleep and make me ill. If I explain to my husband that at least when I hang out with the crèche kids I know the spew and tears will not be my own, I’m pretty sure he’ll swap with me. Though these kinds of discussions at our place probably wouldn’t reach Eden’s perfection, they’re almost always very good.


Post a Comment