A High Degree of Correspondence

Man and woman
Image credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/serendipitys/3436932007/">Benedetta Anghileri</a>

Genesis 2:15-25

God put the earthling in God’s garden to take care of it and cultivate it. God gave the earthling instructions: “You’re free to eat anything on any of the trees, except the tree of moral discernment. If you eat from that tree, you’ll die.”

Then God said, “It’s not good for the earthling to be alone. I’ll make him a helper to be his partner.” So God molded from earth all kinds of animals and birds, and brought them to the earthling to see what he would call them. The earthling gave them all names, deciding what to call all the domesticated animals, wild animals, and birds. Still, none of them was suitable enough of a helper to be called a partner. So God anesthetized the earthling and took one of his ribs, closing over the skin. God made the earthling’s rib into a partner, and presented her to the earthling, who said,

“This, at last, is my very bone and flesh.
I’ll call her woman, because she corresponds to man”

So, ever since, a man leaves his parents to be attached to his wife. Both of them share the same essence, together naked, without shame.

It should go without saying, but unfortunately it doesn’t.

This is about partnership and equality, not domination and hierarchy. The point isn’t that woman is a derivative or essentially different. The point is that she is correspondent and essentially the same.

In its entirety, the story is about the human need for community. The earthling cannot exist alone in a vacuum. “No man is an island,” as John Donne put it. We cannot thrive in isolation.

Genesis recognizes that partnership, collegiality, equality, and community are divine gifts. Even more so when that partnership and community leads to the formation of intimate, life-affirming connections between people.