The Bible isn't a dead, static book. It's alive and inspired because God's people are alive and inspired. Just as nature, when studied carefully, reveals the dynamic evolutionary process which shaped it over billions of years, so Scripture, when studied carefully, reveals the stages of faith-evolution which God's followers have undergone through the centuries. People of God are always changing and growing.

Nowhere is this growth more evident than in our quest to become one with all God's creation.

The beginning of this evolution goes back to the earliest written Torah tradition, the 3,000-year-old "Yahwistic Source." The Genesis author uses this source to open the possibility of man becoming completely one with a part of God's creation from which many preferred to keep their distance: woman (Gen 2:18-24).

Key question

Scholars regard these well-known lines as "etiology:" an answer to a "Mommy or Daddy why?" question. Rarely historically accurate, a biblical etiological response is always theologically significant. The question here is, "Where do marriage and intercourse come from?"

Though the Yahwistic author knows almost no sexual biology or sociological history, he or she is an expert in our relationships with God and one another. The theological message flows from this expertise. "It is not good for the man to be alone." Work and other life forms aren't able to take away the man's loneliness. Relief arrives only when Yahweh, using part of the man himself, creates a woman. "this one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh," the man exclaims.

Our writer teaches that the man and the woman originally were one; they came from the same substance. This is a tremendous step in the evolution of man's relationship with woman. Flying in the face of contemporary, pagan etiological explanations of woman's origins and of the beginnings of marriage and intercourse, the author declares: "That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to (has intercourse with) his wife, and the two of them become one body."

Etiologically speaking, God created marriage and intercourse in order to lead humans back to that original state when man and woman were one. Instead of being something "dirty" or, at most, tolerated for the preservation of the species, physical love-making is an everyday, practical way of achieving God's plan for the oneness of creation.

Oneness

Jesus uses this Genesis theology to defend His teaching on the unacceptability of divorce (Mk 10:2-16). Living in a culture and religion in which divorce was permitted (especially if the man initiated it), Jesus reminds His listeners that it originally wasn't that way.

No matter what Moses later allowed "because of your stubbornness," from the beginning "God made them male and female....What God has joined together, no human being must separate." For Jesus, the commitment to oneness is just as important as the act of love which demonstrates and nourishes the oneness.

Mark follows this section with an important teaching. He has Jesus show how this oneness must be extended even to those whom society regards as unworthy of our attention. In this case, Jesus uses His disciples' attitudes toward children to convey His beliefs.

"Let them come to me," He chides them. "The kingdom of God belongs to such as these." Then, He immediately turns the tables on His followers. "I assure you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it." In other words, "Kids are better able to understand God's plan than you are."

The author of the letter to the Hebrews especially sees this oneness break through in Jesus, God's son, who completely became one with the human race, not only by His birth into it, but also by His suffering for and along with it (Heb 2:9-11).

"It is fitting," he writes, "that God from whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. For this reason, Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters."

Evolutionists remind us that the process never stops. If that's true, who will we discover tomorrow that God want us to be one with today?


(10-02-97)