Thus ends the second chapter of Genesis, the second chapter in the Bible, and an alternative to the creation story in Genesis 1.
In Genesis 1, God creates humankind on the sixth day, creating a male and a female in God’s image (Gen. 1:27). The very first thing God says to these new human beings? “Be fruitful and multiply” (Gen. 1:28) or in other words, “Go have sex and make babies.”
Genesis 2 is believed by most Biblical historians to have been written at an earlier time than Genesis 1 and is an alternative story of the creation. After creating Adam, God recognizes that Adam needs a companion and a helper: “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner” (Gen. 2:18). This version goes on to say that God then formed every animal and every bird, and brought them to the man, but Adam did not find among them a suitable “helper as a partner.” It is only after rejecting the animals as partners that God put the man into a deep sleep, and created Woman.
And then the words of Genesis 2:24–25 follow. They tell us the man and the woman were naked, they engaged in sexual intercourse, and they were not ashamed of their bodies or their sexuality. Procreation is never mentioned in this version of the creation story.
Side by side, the very two first chapters of the Bible emphasize the equality of men and women, recognize that we need a mate who is a helper, partner and lover, and affirm sexual acts as potentially procreative, but also joyous and re-creative without procreation. At the end of the sixth day, God “saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good” (italics mine; Gen. 1:31). Everything — including our sexuality.
These passages remind me of a moment in Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. Shug says in response to Celie’s protest to an allusion about sexual response:
“Oh, she say. God love all them feelings. That’s some of the best stuff God did. And when you know God loves ’em you enjoys ’em a lot more. You can just relax, go with everything that’s going, and praise God by liking what you like . . . . Listen, God love everything you love — and a mess of stuff you don’t.”Rather than viewing sexuality as sinful, these opening chapters of the Bible teach that sexuality is God’s life-giving and life-fulfilling gift to us. Many people mistakenly believe that the Bible only contains two messages about sexuality: “Don’t” and “Sex Is Only for Procreation in Marriage.” The Bible’s view on sexuality is much richer and more complex than most people know. Indeed, the Bible teaches that our bodies are wonderful and to be enjoyed, that there are many forms of blessed relationships and that we must not abuse or exploit this sacred gift.
I hope you enjoyed this excerpt from Meditations on the Good News. Please feel free to forward it to anyone you think may be blessed to read it.
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