This morning, I sat down to begin my Bible reading plan for the year.
Yes, I know I’m four days late. While I’m confessing things, I’ll tell you that this is probably my fifteenth time starting Bible reading plan in the new year, and I have yet to finish. But I’ll save those thoughts for my memoir, “Confessions Of A Lapsed Pastor’s Kid.”
Anyway, I’m hoping it will be easy to catch up because I’m doing the five-day Bible reading plan this year (or this month; hopefully longer than this week). Today, I started where all good Bible plans start: at the beginning.
The first three chapters of the Bible are as foundational as the first three chapters of any book; more importantly, of course, because this Book lays out the guiding purpose of our lives (“To glorify God and enjoy him forever” comes to mind, so I suppose I’m not a completely lapsed pastor’s kid).
The story of the beginning is foundational. The well-trodden battlegrounds of our day — the sanctity of life, gender, sexuality, race, stewardship, and authority — all begin at the very beginning of this Book. We turn to Genesis and learn that God is the author of humanity and that we are created in his image (Genesis 1:27). We learn that God created us male and female, with discernable differences (Genesis 1:18). We learn that God’s purpose for creating us was to take dominion over the earth he created (Genesis 1:28).
And we begin to shape our understanding of gender roles.
And It Was Good
This morning, as I read, I found myself underlining a few key phrases over and over. (I’m reading through the CSB this year): “And it was so.” “And God saw that it was good.” “According to their kinds.” “Be fruitful and multiply.”
And It Was So
The fact that God (the Word, we learn in John 1:3), breathed the universe into existence is something that I don’t stop to reflect upon enough. He speaks, and it is so. Instantly. Without hesitation. Just as he decrees.
Light, land, vegetation, moon, stars, sun, sea, animals… he speaks, and it is so.
And God Saw That It Was Good
Not only can God speak, and it is so… he speaks, and it is good. Over and over again, God surveys his creation and is pleased. Not only is it perfectly as he envisions, but it is perfectly good, not just from an aesthetic standpoint, but from a moral standpoint. It is right.
Sin hasn’t entered the world yet. It is just as God desires it to be. There is not a trace of ugliness. Not an ounce of pain. Not a single error.
It is perfect.
Be Fruitful And Multiply
I love this term because it shows that God has a plan for the sustaining of the world that he has created.
He could continue to speak every plant and animal into existence, generation after generation, if he so pleased. But he made each plant and each animal with mechanisms of reproduction. He makes them servants to carry out his decree throughout creation.
Male and female, he created them. It’s the most natural thing in the world.
After Their Own Kind
God takes special care with making Adam.
He forms him from the dust of the ground, breathing life into his nostrils. (Genesis 2:1). After Adam is made, God plants a garden for him to tend (Genesis 2:8) and places him there on a mission (Genesis 2:15). He gives Adam a law to live by (Genesis 1:17).
Up until this point, God has been telling everything else he’s made — the plants, the birds, the beasts — to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. Not only that, but he’s made them “after their own kinds,” not singular agents, but corresponding parts.
So, in Genesis 2, God decides to make Adam a corresponding part. Not because Adam is lonely and needs a companion (although he might very well have been), but because Adam is alone and needs a corresponding part for his mission.
Eve is created, not as an afterthought, but as an integral part in humankind’s mission here on earth:
“Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and ever creature that crawls on earth” (Genesis 1:28)
Already, in the very first phrase of God’s command for mankind, Adam is up a creek without a paddle; he can’t be fruitful on his own, nor can he fill the earth on his own. The entire command is for both Adam and Eve. Not only that, but the command is expanded and enriched with Christ’s final words to his disciples:
“All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
So even if we never marry, or even if we never bear children, we can still be marked by the Gospel fruitfulness of proclaiming the Good News and making disciples. The commands are for us all.
The story of Adam and Eve, then, isn’t merely a love story, or even just a story about marriage (although, yes, marriage is established as part of the story — Genesis 2:24). It’s the story of how God made us, male and female, to carry out his work here in creation. It’s been echoed in his creation of other things, but its elevated by the fact that we were made to rule the rest of creation, and we were made in his image.
In The Beginning
It’s a brand new year, but I’m planning on writing about the same old thing: biblical womanhood. That topic has myriad layers, from its theological implications to the practical, day-to-day aspects of being a woman of God, whether that’s lived out in singleness, wifehood, or motherhood, in the home or in the workplace.
But as I begin this year of writing, as as I continue my journey of learning, I’m so grateful that I started right at the beginning. Because the story of womanhood can’t be told apart from the story of creation. In a sense, we’re just like everything else God has created; corresponding parts that exist to bring God glory through their cooperation. But in a broader sense, of course, humankind is something different entirely, and woman finds her identity under that umbrella: flesh of Adam’s flesh, made distinctly in God’s image, co-heirs and co-regents in this beautiful world that he has created for us to subdue.
We’re so used to battling out the minutiae of woman’s identity. I’m not saying that that’s not sometimes good work (although I’m willing to say that a lot of it is overthinking and overburdening and laced with shame). But today, I invite you to take a moment to pull back to the bigger picture of mankind’s calling, and of the wise Creator that we serve.