Explorations of Genesis 2 intent on recovering God's ideal for the interrelationship between male and female often zoom in on the creation of Eve. We are better able to appreciate how the narrative supports that ideal when we engage the whole chapter.
The attitude of Jesus of Nazareth toward women bearing sexual stigma was quite exceptional compared to that of his contemporaries. Behind this we can see, for instance, the radical idea of a woman being an individual capable of making independent decisions.
When rightly understood, Gen. 2:24-25 and Eph. 5: 21-33 provide an almost formula-like description for a pleasurable, loving, faithful marriage of oneness built on equality and mutuality. Modern science teaches what the writers of Genesis and Ephesians could not have known.
Hidden behind much patriarchal thinking is a pervasive patrilineal worldview. The belief that the family line is a male line and that males own and inherit the resources, has colored nearly all our cultures in the past and still accounts for much oppression and sidelining of women. Beulah will speak from her experience in south Asian culture, recognizing that, within families, women often become the perpetrators of discrimination against females. Does that happen to some extent near all of us? The Bible culture too is patrilineal. How shall we view that?
The Bible presents a three-part story of human relationship with God and with each other. This story reveals that both man and woman were created equally in the image of God to fulfill an ideal—a “one flesh,” “naked and not ashamed” relationship. That was the crowning act of creation. The second part of the story recounts our fall from grace and the loss of the fearless love for which God created us. The final chapter of the story finds us redeemed, restored to wholeness with God and with each other, a new man and new woman, restored to new life in Christ.
As a change agent in the community, the body of Christ must come to an understanding of the biblical concept of the image of God. An understanding of humanity as the bearer of that image—regardless of any classification society or culture might impose—is intrinsic to the church’s engagement in seeking justice.