There couldn’t be a better introduction to the Bible than the two creation stories in the Book of Genesis. For starters, these stories immediately show us that the Bible teaches a kind of truth not found in history or science books. With two incompatible explanations of the beginnings of the human race, we quickly realize that Genesis speaks to us of meaning and truth, not mere facts.
Therefore, when someone asked Jesus about relationships, he started with the meaning of the story of Adam and Eve in Genesis.
The author of the second chapter of Genesis had a deep awareness of what makes us images of God. The writer weaves a story of God fashioning a creature with divine characteristics. Then, feeling compassion for the loneliness of this one-of-a-kind creature, God created other living creatures, all of whom the new human could name, but none of which could answer him.
So God had the idea of making another person: one like the first, only different. (We might wonder why a Triune God didn’t understand this in the first place, but the author of Genesis 2 was telling the story to make a particular point.)
The author of Genesis 1 wanted us to realize that human beings are the supreme image of God in creation: the best kept until the end. The author of Genesis 2 gave more thought to who we can be to each other. Explained through the symbol of a couple, the story reflects the fact that we become fully human through the communication that builds relationships.
Adam was nothing more than an animal keeper and gardener before he met Eve. Then, when the two met as a thinking and speaking person, their life became fertile. They realized that they were made for each other in a unique way. Learning to love, they grew in their resemblance to their creator.
As Teilhard de Chardin would teach a few thousand years later, when Adam met Eve, creation was returning to its creator.
It was the backdrop to the scriptures when some Pharisees tried to draw Jesus into a debate about the legality of dismissing a woman as if she were a worn coat or an inconvenient piece of furniture. Their question was about what was “lawful”.
Jesus amplified the question, trying to open their minds. Jesus admitted what the law said and reminded them that the law served the narrow purpose of overpowering hard hearts. Then he got right to the point by reminding them that God created human beings for each other and that no person can be sidelined, rejected or marginalized without diminishing the entire order of creation.
There is no doubt that Jesus wanted to shake up his interlocutors. Basing his answer on Genesis rather than on the law of Moses, he invited his audience to consider not only Israel and its law, but God’s purpose in creation. Then, reinterpreting the law of Moses in this light, he supplanted their male-dominated patriarchal mindset with an approach that honored gender equality.
Under current law, only men had the right to initiate a divorce and adultery was considered a violation of human property rights. Jesus’ teaching accorded women the same dignity and responsibility as their male counterparts.
While Jesus’ teaching specifically referred to marriage, the idea behind his answer defended the inalienable dignity of all and the fact that we are made for one another.
Because Jesus spoke of his prohibition on divorce in a particular historical context, it would be anachronistic to assume that it applies literally and in detail to other times and very different cultural circumstances. What is and must be inculturated at all times and in all places is the human vocation to love one another in ever greater fullness and unity.
Mark told us that the Pharisees were trying to test Jesus. They should have known better. No one has ever succeeded in this effort. Jesus had the gift of overturning hypocrisy, of questioning questioners, and of exposing those trapped by narrowness to a larger and more attractive view.
Some will hear today’s liturgy of the Word as a justification for upholding the letter of the law and setting limits on our ecclesial communion. Others may experience the grace of being caught up in Genesis’s vision of humanity’s potential for union with God and neighbor, or be challenged by Jesus’ invitation to view each person as a unique gift. of God.
Genesis 1 and 2 teach that God placed us in the midst of creation to enjoy and grow in fellowship with one another in the image of the Trinity. Jesus invites us to live in this truth for the rest of our lives.