The story of Creation and the Garden of Eden is well-travelled ground for the Christians (and some non-Christians) in the Manosphere. I want to discuss an aspect of it that I have never realized before last night, and have never seen discussed–though I might have just missed it. Each part is a really short bit that isn’t talked about in scripture explicitly, but is unavoidable once you see it between the lines. By unavoidable, I do not mean that I have the answer, but that it is a question that should definitely be asked.
One of the ways in which the stories of the Bible, and the parables of Jesus, are so good is because they are the field in which new treasures are always being found.
44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”
This is part VI of a series in digging for what is under the surface. I was going to do several parts, but I have some things I want to say, and I need to get through this so I can build upon it. You can find the other parts here: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V.
Before we move on, I need to do a quick recap of everything that’s taken place. Sure, you can just click the links and go back, but it seems better to me to keep a semblance of coherency.
There was darkness and void, and God made everything; starting with light and ending with man. This took six days. After thinking about it, particularly in the context of Unger’s excellent comment, I don’t know if it means anything other than the plain reading, but it definitely indicates God’s solitude, His holiness as the secret of secrets, and His desire to love someone. Another thing that I thought about is that it is much easier to see a light in the dark, than it is to see dark in the light. It simply doesn’t work. Dark can’t banish light, but it only works the other way around.
God has somewhat revealed Himself in three persons. The Spirit is there, moving over the waters, and His Word takes action; creating things. We also see that God withholds His judgment on whether a thing is good or not, until He has seen it. If anyone could be sure that what He is going to do is good, it should be God. Since we also know that it is His Word that is creating things, this is (the first?) instance of God complimenting the Son, in Whom He is well-pleased.
I just realized: He speaks everything into existence except man himself. Man is not from His Word. Man is the first “work” that God does with His own “hands”. The creation of man is describe in two parts. First, men and women are described being created together, and then in chapter 2 we get a fuller account, and man is made alone, in a barren landscape, as God was alone. Man, the one thing God formed HImself, is not stated to be good until he is given work to do, as God has been working. God creates the Garden of Eden (fully-formed, unlike the rest of the earth), and brings Adam, the first man, to it, to care for it. To this point, there has been an order to each aspect. God does not create light to help the plants. He creates light, and then makes things that grow in the light. There is order all the way down. In fact, when the order is described, it is a knot-work of sentences that begin with “And”; denoting that these things exists in an order, and yet side-by-side. (This is not the last time we will see this.) At no point during the explanatory process does God say, “It is good for you to do this…”, or, “It is good that animals do such…” It is simply to be taken on faith, and revelation. I compared this order to a knot of string, with a definite path, but also around and atop, and beneath each other.
Adam’s job is to tend the Garden, and in the Garden is “every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food” and also in the midst of the garden are two trees that are different from the rest. One is the Tree of Life, of which nothing else is yet said. The other is the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The fruit of this tree is not to be eaten, and from that we can reasonably deduce that its fruit bears no seeds. It does not perpetuate itself. The these two trees are named side-by-side, but not described the same (indeed, one is not described at all) so we can assume that they are related, but different.
God also rests on the seventh day–a day we still have with us. Calendars have changed, and not just names. Months, and years all had different characteristics, but there are still seven days in a week. We know this rest is not necessary for God because He does not have a body, and therefore cannot tire. He is resting with man; an instance of His desire to live truly with us.
He gives no prohibitions except to not eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and states that the day he eats it, he shall surely die. Not even the Tree of Life is explicitly prohibited.
We don’t know from the text we’ve covered so far, but we know from later scripture that Satan exists, and that there has been a rebellion in Heaven, led by Lucifer, who is Satan. We also know from the book of Job that Satan is like an unethical prosecutor; trying to lure man into sin, that he might be damned. “Satan” means “Adversary”, the opposite of an advocate.
18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”
Notice, God sees this before Adam does, and for the first time God says something is not good. His solution is to do for Adam what God did for Himself; doing for him as Adam would have done for himself, and without Adam asking. Indeed, without Adam knowing. This prefigures what Christ will say several thousands of years later: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It’s also another picture of husbandry; anticipating the needs of Adam before he is even aware. In this, we see that the Golden Rule is not just an ethic of reciprocity, but an ethic of manliness itself. To whatever extent we don’t do this, we are ungodly, and unmanly. This is important to remember since everything around us is screaming the opposite; encouraging us to forget no wrong, and never give more than we receive.
In Luke we find this verse right in the midst of a statement on how to treat our enemies, and so it also prefigures the solution to the animosities of the sexes that was to come, and is still with us.
27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
How many husbands and wives have made this same enemies complaint against each other? I would guess all of them. Yet, the solution was right there in the beginning from before there were wives. However; we should not be deceived. Not everything that is good for our enemies will feel like pleasure for either side. In fact, it is often the opposite, as our God loves paradox. Pain is the hallmark of the teacher. It is more likely that the moneychangers were thrown out for their own good, than for the good of the people they were cheating. You can’t con an honest man, and God is not mocked.
19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam[g] there was not found a helper fit for him.
This is describes two things:
- God is actively submitting all of creation to Adam’s will. God doesn’t name the animals, Adam does, at God’s behest and under God’s power.
- This procession has the effect of bringing Adam to understand that he is alone. God is with him, but God is so very beyond him. Adam would see the animals: rooster and hen, ram and ewe, bull and cow, lion and lioness, but not other man.
21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.
The same location where our Lord was pierced on the cross, after His heart broke, and He died.
22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,
“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.”[i]
24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
Notice the genetic implications: this woman is fully him; more him than a twin would be; as a female twin would be fraternal. Also, like Adam, she is formed by God’s “hands”, and not simply spoken into existence; the only other true creation, but Adam. She is a sister, and a bride; younger in time and knowledge, almost like a daughter. She is the complete female companion. Also, she is presented to Adam, and he names her kind just as he did all the rest of creation. She, too, is under his authority.
25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
On one hand, it’s almost easy to see how they were not ashamed. First, they don’t know much. Second, they’re alone in the Garden, except for God.
I want to talk about some concepts that go back to the original idea of this series: negatives and unfairness. We can infer from the last verse that there should be shame associated with nakedness; at least, we know from our own experience that these two states of being walk together: nakedness, and shame. But God is there, so why no shame? I’d suggest that because the Garden of Eden is a God’s dwelling, and we know that God exists in holy darkness. He is the Secret of the universe, sacred and beyond. We understand that God is everywhere, but He designates this Garden as His home on earth. Later, when the tabernacle is built for the Israelites so that God may dwell with them, the inside is dark. The inside of the Ark of the Covenant is dark. The entrance to the Holy of Holies in the temple is shrouded in thick curtains, to keep the light out. To return to the text we’re reading: our clothes create darkness, and holiness. We can see that modesty itself is part and parcel of holiness.
Further, the most sacred place on a woman is hidden between her legs, and is not a protrusion, but a well. Her physical essence is predicated on the idea of modesty, and she has been constructed in such a way as to easily maintain it. That is: womanhood is primarily concerned with remaining holy. This is unlike the man whose manhood not only is a protrusion, but when he is aroused to action it becomes impossible to miss. Her arousal is hidden, yet the blood flow opens the curtains to the sanctuary, and waters flow out; easing the lover into discovery of what is so holy.
Simultaneously, we men know that the sexes are not wholly segregated. After all, woman is the sister of man, bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh. We speak vulgarly of the man’s bone penetrating the woman’s flesh, but this process is accompanied. Another bone, the rib, is having a similar effect on the man near where it left, and rightfully belongs: his heart. As surely as a man penetrates a woman, she penetrates his heart. There, she sows seeds that will bring a man to grow many things he had not before known. She is as meant to bring forth love in a holy heart, as he is meant to bring forth life in her body.
And all of this is part of a pattern of knots and whorls that has existed and progressed in a definite order, but also around, and atop, and beneath, and has been taking place in a largely dark universe created by a God who works in secret, and then reveals and pronounces the goodness of it to us.