After teaching Genesis 1–3, I’m persuaded that this narrative of the primal pair teaches that God made them for mutuality. I see no indicators of hierarchy — whether in creation order or in the so-called “curse” after the fall. I present today seven theses of mutuality.
First, the “let us” of Genesis 1:26 indicates that God’s “relationality” creates a human relationality. Here’s the appropriate line: “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness.” Some have said the “us” indicates a divine deliberative (God talking to himself; like this: “let’s get ourselves out of bed, Scot”) or God speaking to the angelic hosts (see Job 38:4-7). But, I do think the absolute absence of this “us” in other passages about God in Genesis 1–11 may well indicate that the “us” of Gen 1:26 is special.
If my point is sustained, the passage indicates that God is himself a relational community of persons and this inherent nature springs forth into creating humans in such a way they can enjoy a similar relationality within themselves.
Some will dispute this point; if one sees the “us” as merely a divine deliberative, there is perhaps nothing here for mutuality, or if one sees it as the “angelic hosts” then there is a slighter indicator of mutuality.
Second, the Bible says God made male and female “in the image of God.” It is well known that the Hebrew word behind “image” is tselem and that this term was used in the Ancient Near East for the king who “represented” his god and for his representative role in this world for that king’s god. The Bible takes that category and makes two moves:
1. The tselem is now used for both male and female, for each male and female, and not just for kings. The tselem is therefore democratized.
2. The tselem may well be feminized here; I know of no use of this term for queens (I could be wrong). I have no intent for “feminized” meaning feminism in this context; only that the tselem applies now both to males and females.
Third, Genesis 2 is the “Story of the Adam.” Now the word “adam” means “human being” in Genesis 1:26 and not “Adam, the name, the first male created.” God then “splits The Adam” (I don’t know where I first saw this) into an Ish (male) and Ishah (female). Then God draws the ish and ishah back together to re-unionize the split Adam. This is the story of Genesis 2. I believe it indicates mutuality — the two from one and the two back into one to be a union with each being a mutual part of that union. (By the way, this has nothing to do with the viability of singleness.)
Fourth, God gives to The Adam (the Ish) a companion in Genesis 2. After the Ish/the Adam is given the task of naming animals, God sees that The Adam has no suitable companion (ezer kenego). So, from Adam’s side (rib: tsela) God makes a companion suitable to The Adam. Adam recognizes the woman as “This time!” I’ve found one that matches up with me. In other words, this is a story of mutuality: of finding an equal, one who is a companion just like Adam. In later Hebrew terms, Adam has found his habibi — the one he loves, his friend.
Fifth, in Genesis 2:23 the Adam finds one who is just like him. Here are his words:
â??This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called â??woman,â?? for she was taken out of man.â?
The words here indicate identity, ontological similarity, and sameness. There is a profound mutuality of existence in this verse.
Sixth, many contend that the “curse” of Genesis 3 indicates that the woman is submit to her husband. Wait a minute, I say (with many others).
1. The word “curse” is used only of the serpent and the ground; neither the Adam nor the Eve are said to be cursed.
2. The impact of the Fall on the Eve seems to be multiply her efforts — she not only gives childbirth but she toils alongside the Adam.
3. Most importantly, the so-called curse deserves a different reading. Here is Gen 3:16:
To the woman he said,
â?? Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.â?
Here’s the million dollar question: Is this a prediction of “fact” or a demand for order? Is this how things “will be” or how things “should be”? I suggest the former — this is how males will manifest themselves in sin and how females will manifest themselves in sin.
Which leads to the big one…
Seventh, we are now a “new creation” (2 Cor 5:17). If so, is not the New Creation the undoing of the Fall? If so, the “fact” of male assertiveness over the female belongs to the Era of the Fall as does the female desire to subdue her husband, it is a manifestation of the flesh; it is not indicative of the New Creation. That is why Paul says in Christ there is neither “the Adam nor the Eve” (neither male nor female). We are now one in Christ — when God “split the Adam” into the male and female, that splitting did not find its final resolution until it is found in Christ.