God Called Her Human

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A_Amy

At some point, on creation day six, God concocted an unfinished community. We know this because God announced plans to make a human who would be part of a larger unit. It’s odd, really, the way it came together. God announced the creation of one human in the same breath as explaining the purpose of all [soon-to-be] humans:

“Let us make humankind[1] in our image, according to our likeness; and let them[2] have dominion … ” (Gen. 1:26, NRSV)

Until then, God’s words had achieved spectacular design—infinite space, heavenly bodies, the earth, vegetation, land, sea, and animal life. Prior to gathering some dust, and breathing the first human to life, God envisioned a fuller composition. One would culminate in two according to a meticulous blueprint and process:

“When God created human beings he made them to be like himself. He created them male and female, and he blessed them and called them ‘human.’” (Gen. 5:1b-2, NLT)

God called the man and woman human—or adam—meaning Mr. and Mrs. Humankind. Knowing this, it’s not so bizarre that God shaped the woman from a bone in the man’s body. Reading on, it makes sense that God brought her to life after a profound object lesson.

I imagine God—Creator, Word, Spirit—beaming as dust particles mysteriously transform into human DNA, cells, flesh, organs, bones. Eyes flicker open. The man studies his arms, extending fingers, feeling nails, touching hair, stretching his legs.

The man stands, runs, leaps. God ushers him on a tour of the world he will till and keep: “See the heavens, sun, stars, moon, sky, clouds. It’s all good. That’s water. Those are fish, insects, birds, flowers, bushes, ferns. Yes, good. There’s an animal. Another animal. Those are trees. All good. Just don’t eat that one or death will swallow you in a grave.[3]”

Watching the man explore paradise, one expects to hear God proclaim: “It is good.” Instead, strange words spill across the page: “It is not good that the man is alone. I will make a helper corresponding to him[4].”

Surprisingly, God lines up some animals before constructing the woman: “Study them. Know them. Give them names.[5]”

How long did the man wrack his brains over what to call each one as animals paraded by? What did he think as they sputtered phlegm, chewed grass, and rolled in dung? How did his smooth skin compare to their horns, fur, and feathers? Did he notice he did not have a tail? Did he wish for their input? How many creatures did he name before realizing it would take an extraordinary amount of time and work?

Outnumbered by creatures so unlike himself, did a loneliness not overcome the man? Did he not yearn for someone who looked, reasoned, and felt like him? Did he not wish for someone to speak, work, eat, play, and rest with him? Did he not ache to share life with another human? (Gen. 2:20)

In the words of theologian Gilbert Bilizekian, “The full expression of humanity necessitated the creation of woman … as the indispensable counterpart to man in God’s perfect creation[6].” The man couldn’t reflect the multipersonality of God—Creator, Word, Spirit—alone[7].

Thus far, God’s words and sculpting abilities have formed half a community. It makes perfect sense when God sends the man to dreamland, and shapes a she from a bone of his chest. “At last!” The man recognizes what God has been up to when he wakes. “This one is bone from my bone, and flesh from my flesh!
 She will be called ‘woman,’
 because she was taken from ‘man[8].’”

God leaves no room for ambiguity about their mutual human purposes: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” (Gen. 1:28, NRSV)

We don’t know how long the man and woman enjoyed overseeing God’s garden before it all fell apart. Scripture turns to the confusion and conflicts stirred up by the serpent. Many debate who slipped up first and why. I question if it matters when the woman and man—deceived or not—gambled the future, and their very lives, for a bite. We miss the point of the story when weighing who is most to blame. Both fell when trying to be like God.

“Where are you[9]?” God called out.

I imagine the couple hiding in the trees, gripping wilted plants over their genitalia.

“I heard the sound of you in the garden,” the man answered, “and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself[10].”

“Who told you that you were naked?” God asked. “Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat[11]?”

The couple shuffles nervously, perhaps reaching for more leaves to cover gaps.

“The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate,” the man dodges responsibility[12].

“The serpent tricked me, and I ate,” the woman sidesteps culpability[13].

Neither the man nor the woman takes responsibility. 

“Because you have done this,” God turns to the serpent, “cursed are you among all animals …” (Gen. 3:14, NRSV)

God only explains the consequences to the couple after assuring their redemption. The man will wrestle the earth to survive, but hope isn’t lost. The woman will suffer the birth of children, and man dominating humanity, but it’s not the end of the story.

“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.” (Gen. 3:15, NRSV)

God promises the woman’s descendant will conquer Satan. Her seed—Messiah—will overpower sin and death. To God’s Enemy, she has become a dangerous woman. And those bearing the seeds of Jesus’ presence, and purposes are, in the words of Walter Brueggemann, dangerous people.

Idelette’s words, kicking off our March theme, challenged us to dig into what it means to be dangerous women: “This kind of dangerous is rooted in Love, not power. Love, not fear. Love, not control.”

“Sometimes, the most dangerous thing a friend can do is show up. She shows up when the going is tough …”

Idelette reminded us that dangerous women also stand against abusive powerThey break the silence and cover shame. They topple empires and ask hard questions that lead to connection, relationship and ultimately freedom.

Her words remind me of the support you offered victims and survivors of domestic and sexual violence through the Stop the Silence Initiative. In 2014, you opened the way for their stories, breaking down barriers that leave many feeling isolated, worthless, and hopeless. Victims and survivors of varying forms of abuse received validation, and helpful support. Whether or not you knew it, your participation—uncovering injustices, validating pain, offering encouragement, kindness, practical support, and healing in Jesus’ name—was work as dangerous women. And your collective voice called for Christian communities to respond in Jesus’ name.

You are a community of courageous women who love deeply. Thank you for the investments you made in more lives than you know. Although the Stop the Silence Initiative has concluded, I look forward to new work on the horizon of our community.

In Jesus,

Amy Buckley

“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign forever and ever.” (Rev. 11:15 NRSV)

__________________

[1] adam: a male human; the singular form of humankind/human (Hebrew) [2] Here, a plural pronoun (them) refers back to the singular subject (adam). The sentence structure points to the process God will use to bring humanity (male and female) to full composition. [3] Gen. 2:16-17 NRSV [4] Gen. 2:18. The word “corresponding” does the best job explaining that the woman is like the man in substance (physiology, intellect, emotion) yet unique. Her position is before him, face to face, not behind or under him. Together humanity (male and female) reflects God as Creator, Word, Spirit. [5] Gen. 2:19-20 [6] Beyond Sex Roles: What the Bible Says About a Woman’s Place in Church and Family, Dr. Gilbert Bilezikian, p. 27-28. [7] Beyond Sex Roles: What the Bible Says About a Woman’s Place in Church and Family, Dr. Gilbert Bilezikian, p. 23. [8] Gen. 2:23 NLT [9] Gen. 3:9 [10] Gen. 3:10 [11] Gen. 3:11 [12] Gen. 3:12 [13] Gen. 3:13

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Amy R. Buckley
I am passionate about men and women reclaiming their truest, best selves, rooted in Jesus, reflected in life together (Gen. 5: 1-2, Gal. 3:28). I write for RELEVANT, Mutuality, PRISM, SheLoves.com, Shared Justice, and Catapult. I have contributed to Strengthening Families and Ending Abuse: Churches and Their Leaders Look to the Future (Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2013). In my free time, I enjoy reading fairy tales with my two adopted daughters, or kayaking and fishing with my husband in the Gulf of Mexico. Find me @AmyR_Buckley and www.amyrbuckley.com.
Amy R. Buckley
Amy R. Buckley

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Amy R. Buckley
  • I love the way you’ve unpacked this familiar story with a unique perspective and attention to detail. It breathes fresh life and new thoughts into the text for me. 🙂

    • Hi Sarah, thanks for commenting. I’m thrilled that it offers a unique perspective. Yes, many details. I wrestled over what to say and not say. So much. Reading it always yields something new.

  • Bev Murrill

    Oh gosh, Amy, what a fantastic expose of the realities of what God was actually doing there in the garden – He was busy with the genesis of the human family, and I love that you’ve made it clear that Adam is ‘human – man and woman’… (We all get so tired of that hackneyed line – that Adam saw her and said Wo-Man!’)

    You are so gifted to tackle difficult subjects with clarity, intelligence and wisdom, without muddying the waters. Love it!!!

    • Bev, first, I’m grateful for your edits to this piece. Excellent. I’m with you about the hackneyed line “Adam saw and said Wo-man!” What the….?

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  • Your re-telling of the creation account is the most skilled and riveting I have ever heard. It shimmers with life and prickles with angst. Blessings on your ministry!

  • sandyhay

    WOW Amy, you’ve unpacked this in a fantastic way like I’ve never thought of
    before. The many members of the body of Christ are so amazing… revealing God and ourselves as we each expand on our individual gifts of expression. Thank you.

    • Thanks, Sandy, for your kind words. I’m glad the piece brought something fresh to you. Yes, it’s amazing–the many ways Christ moves in different people.

  • HBurns

    Wow! This is a stunning piece of writing Amy… absolutely beautiful and it speaks so expressively into the wonder of creation and our place and purpose in God’s redemptive plan. When so much seems lost, our God always makes a way…’God promises the woman’s descendant will conquer Satan. Her seed—Messiah—will overpower sin and death. To God’s Enemy, she has become a dangerous woman’. Thank you for this beautiful gift today. xo

    • Helen, Thanks for your encouraging comment. As mentioned to Terri (above), this was an experiment in some ways. I’m glad to hear it spoke to you. Owning the imago dei in ourselves is beautifully transforming.

  • terrikraus

    So well done, Amy! Your words paint compelling pictures and unpack the creation of man and woman so well. Thanks for this beautiful piece.

    • Terri, thanks for the vote of confidence. This was an experiment, trying to bring nuances of the context and first language to readers without it being scary-academic. I’m glad it resonated with you!

  • Bethany Olsen

    Great words, Amy. I know I’ve said, this, but thank you so much for the work you’ve done on Stop the Silence. What you did was so important, and it’s initiatives like that which make me proud to be part of the SLM community. I hope we keep hearing more from you!

    • Bethany, I’m grateful for your support and editing! I look forward to contributing to SL in the future. Thanks for all you do to build our community. xox

  • Anne-Marie

    Amy, so grateful for you as a person, and for the incredible spark and passion you’ve brought to the topics you write on and the people you support. It’s been so good to get to interact with just a few, and hopefully be a blessing. Thank you so much!

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