Genesis chapters 1 and 2 paint a beautiful narrative of the creation of the world with a remarkable climax that depicts the creation of humans. God created Adam from the dust, breathing his very life into this being. And, while God was pleased with the new creation, it seems God quickly evaluated the situation and suggested, “This is not yet good” (see Genesis 2:18). For, just as God is not alone, this man made in God’s very image could not be alone. God seems to say, “Adam, let me show you everything else I have made. You’ll see there isn’t anything else like you. You are special, and there’s not yet a creature on this earth that could be a suitable partner to you.”
And so God creates Eve, who together with Adam fully reflects God’s image to the world. Adam is amazed and perhaps a bit overwhelmed when he sees Eve. “Aha! This is the one who is like me. This is the one I have been looking for.” And together they weren’t just good. They were very good. They were opposite yet equal. They were relational, physical, spiritual beings in whom God found great delight.
Ever since Adam and Eve were cast out of the garden, the narrative of God’s creation of man and woman has been filtered through the shattered lens of the fall. Ancient texts and current narratives alike illustrate social systems built upon hierarchy and, more specifically, patriarchy. In some cultures, like those we read about in the Bible, the patriarchy is as overt as a woman being denied the right to own property and guaranteed certain destitution should her husband and sons die. In other cultures, it appears more subtly in the form of things like lower wages, decision-making groups made up solely or disparately of men, and disproportionately male homebuyers.
The church has long since bought into this idea of male dominance. And, once the patriarchal system was established, it became comfortable and normal, especially for the gender in power. The reality that men are often physically bigger and stronger coupled with the idea that it’s socially acceptable for men to assert power and force cement the mix. Little boys and little girls are raised with these ideas ingrained in them from the time they are born. It’s a cultural norm that runs so deep, most didn’t think to question it. For generation after generation, we in the church have spun elaborate narratives of “complementarian” marriages naming the husband as the head of the home. In the process, we’ve devalued women and restricted the work of the church. We’ve been willing, albeit perhaps naïve, participants in the brokenness of creation.