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Genesis 2.

18-25
Relationship
30.01.2011
Introduction

The King’s Speech

Questions can and have been asked about the relation between The King’s
Speech and history, but there can be little doubt that
George VI and Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, did play a significant
part in the support of our Nation during the Second World War and that
George VI, ‘Bertie’, felt a tremendous burden to fulfil the responsibility
that had been thrust upon him by the abdication of his brother, Edward.

The opening question I want to pose this morning, reminiscent of my


introduction a couple of weeks back, is where did the values that shaped
the life of King George and, for that matter, the British people at a time of
great crisis, come from? My answer is that just as it was the eclipse of
Christian belief and values led to the rise of Nazism in Germany, so it was
the adherence, broadly speaking, to Christian belief and values in the
United Kingdom, that led to our commitment, albeit belated, to stand by
those countries that had become the victims of German aggression.

This talk of values might appear somewhat abstract, but it does relate
closely to what we are doing today by way of baptising Blake. Let me ask
another question. Is it right to teach children about the Christian faith at
school? The Pop Connection, held here on Thursday, was extremely well
received, but I have heard people say that such events are a subtle form of
indoctrination. My reply has always been, yes, but so too is the every TV
programme, magazine and PC game. In other words, there is no ‘neutral’
territory. If we don’t seek to teach our kids values, then someone else will.
That doesn’t mean, by the way, that I think children should not be exposed
to what others think.
Christian values come from Christian belief which, in turn, comes from the
Christian story and there is no place in the bible is more important in
framing that story than Genesis 1-3 which is why we are spending time in
these chapters currently.

The poster outside the church says it all…


I. Human beings are SOCIAL

Although this passage very much centres on the interaction between male
and female, the man and woman, Adam and Eve - indeed these verses tell
could be viewed solely as a description of the first ever wedding ceremony
– its scope is far broader, taking in the whole of human existence.

In the creation account of Ch.1, we heard the Lord pronounce the world
He had brought into being ‘good’ six times (1.4,10,12,18,21,25) and then,
following the creation of humanity, ‘very good’ (1.31). It therefore comes
as something of a surprise to hear so soon the discordant note of v.18.
18
The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper
suitable for him.”

What we learn here is that men and women are made for relationship or
community. We are social beings (hence the slide). Animals can provide
some company (vv.19.20), but are unable to offer the depth of relationship
that we need to prosper. Sorry Max! Indeed, the passage seems to me to
suggest that others are necessary for us to understand and relate to
ourselves
23
The man said,

“This is now bone of my bones


and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
for she was taken out of man.”

c.f. Blocher p.96

This is a startling admission. The bible is teaching us that God, on His


own, in spite of His great power and glory, is incapable of Himself fully
satisfying our needs. Not that this represents a failure on His part, rather it
is part of his design, His intention being (c.f. 1.18) that humankind reflect
His own character which is relational.
There are a number of important implications for us:

i. As society

The ‘bottom line’ alone cannot be regarded as the sole measure of a


healthy society or even a successful one. Attention must be given to
people’s need for community e.g.

Nature & conditions of work - time off, holidays, breaks & shift patterns
Social space
The design of buildings
Freedom of speech
Education
Support for the elderly & housebound

c.f. my visit to York

The Rowntree family


Seebohm Rowntree and the Welfare State
ii. As church

Church should be a place where people are able to explore more fully what
it means to be human. Of course, we mustn’t seek to simply replicate what
takes place successfully in wider society and so form ourselves into some
sort of ghetto. But where this need is not being met, as a matter of service
to our fellow men and women, and as part of a broader strategy by which
we also share out Christian convictions, we should play our part e.g.

o Club 55+
o Church Café
o It’s OK
o ACORNS
o Book Club
o Children’s & Youth clubs

It also goes without saying that relationships within the church should be
exemplary as we seek, with God’s help, to model what community means.
Here the community formed by Jesus – the first disciples – and the early
church provide fine models
42
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the
breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many
wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and
had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone
who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts.
They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47
praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their
number daily those who were being saved. Acts 2,42
iii. As individuals

o How we think of ourselves

‘No man is an island’, wrote John Donne, and yet some many of us are

o How we relate to others

It is through the giving and receiving of love that we become fully human

c.f. The Velveteen Rabbit

o The decisions we make in life

o where we shop
o where we live
o the sort of houses we live in
o our attitude to our neighbours
o our attitude to our neighbourhood
o the way we run our businesses
o where we send our kids to school
o where we attend church
o the sort of church we attend

Mark Greene book


II. Human beings are SEXUAL

Human beings are made for relationships with one another. More
specifically, women are made for men and men are made for women, In
the context, of Genesis 2, this means that human society finds its most
fundamental expression in marriage and family life. Not exclusively so,
however, not least because the one person who, as far as Christians are
concerned, is the most complete human being who has ever lived, was
both single and didn’t relate that well to His family. I’m talking, of
course, about Jesus Christ.

There is a vast amount of material that could be covered under this


heading. I want to offer a quick overview under three points

i. Sex

We might as well get that one out the way first 

It is not an area where the church has scored particularly highly over the
years

o Yves of Chartres – a Christian should abstain from sex on at least five


out of seven days of the week

….on Thursdays in memory of the arrest of our Lord, on Fridays in honour of his
death, on Saturdays in honour of the Virgin Mary, on Sundays in commemoration of
the resurrection and on Mondays out of respect for the faithful departed

o Bernard of Clairvaux – 86 sermons of the Song of Songs not one of


which mentions the dreaded deed

The bible is absolutely clear that sex is a very wonderful and precious gift
of God

c.f. the poetry of v.23


ii. Marriage

According to the bible in general and Genesis 2 in particular, sex is to be


experienced within the context of marriage. Indeed sex is part of the glue
that holds a marriage together (v.30), the RC teaching that sex is only
permissible where there is the possibility of children resulting providing an
incredible distortion of human sexuality which most Catholics wisely
ignore..

As I said at the start, this passage could be viewed as the description of a


wedding, so what does Genesis 2.18-25 tell us about marriage?

o Its centrality – with every new marriage, a new micro community is


born
o Its nature – an exclusive, implicitly lifelong, commitment between a
man and a woman
o Its secret – a love modelled on that of God Himself
o Its heart – a depth of relationship unrivalled anywhere else

Does this mean that the bible condemns people who live together and are
not married, or have sex before or outside of marriage, or whose marriage
does not last a lifetime? The bible doesn’t condemn anybody! However,
it does tell us what is best and best means that

o Sex should be viewed as part of an exclusive, committed, relationship


that is best described as ‘marriage’, though clearly there is a vast
difference between those who ‘sleep around’ and those who are
‘married’ in all but name only.
o That it is ‘better to wait’ in spite of all the pressure that puts on people,
especially given the large gap between puberty and the average age of
marriage
o That we shouldn’t lightly give up on a marriage, though there should
also be understanding, support and the opportunity of a fresh start for
those whose marriages come to an end
iii. Sexism

Sky Sports video

Andy Gray and Richard Key’s comments this week are a gift to the
preacher on Genesis 2 because they highlight the issue of sexism which
some would say has its roots in religious texts such as this

Kinder, kuche, kirke Martin Luther

On first sight, it can look that way…


18
The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper
suitable for him.”
19
Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the
birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and
whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave
names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.

But for Adam[f] no suitable helper was found. 21 So the LORD God caused the man
to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s
ribs[g]and then closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the LORD God made a woman
from the rib[h] he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
23
The man said,

“This is now bone of my bones


and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
for she was taken out of man.”
However, a closer reading reveals no sexism here

o The term ‘helper’ is in no way belittling, in fact it is most commonly


used in the bible as a description of the Lord Himself
o The fact that the woman is created after the man in no way implies
inferiority (c.f. the animals in Ch.1). If anything, the opposite is the
case, the woman forming the pinnacle of creation. It is true that Paul, in
1 Corinthians 11 and 1 Timothy 2 seems to see significance in the order
of the creation of Adam and Eve, but the meaning of these passages is
widely disputed and such an interpretation, in my view, runs completely
counter to the tenor of the bible’s teaching, including that of Paul
himself.
o The man does not ‘name’ the woman as he does the animals. His words
in v.23 are more of a love song than a claim to authority.

Overall, I would suggest, there is a wonderful mutuality and reciprocity


about the relation between the man and the woman as described in Genesis
2.

Not out of his head to rule over him, nor our of his feet to be trampled on by him, but
out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected and near his heart
to be loved Matthew Henry

What are the implications for us?

o Men and women are to value each other – for sexism cuts both ways –
and to learn to appreciate, indeed thrive upon the differences that exist
between us c.f. language used in 1.23
o The church has to accept that its attitude to women in the past has been
seriously compromised by its misreading of scripture, its man centred
approach to authority and, at times, its outright sexism.

Not many years back I regularly heard people telling us that women
couldn’t possibly be clergy because they were too emotional, or had
periods, or lacked the necessary leadership qualities. I probably did it
myself. That’s Andy Gray talk and should be treated as such 
III. Human beings are SPIRITUAL

We are social beings, we are sexual beings and, finally, we are spiritual
beings.

God is not absent from this part of the chapter, He is present at every point
in the story
18
The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper
suitable for him.”
19
Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all
the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them;
and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man
gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.

But for Adam[f] no suitable helper was found. 21 So the LORD God caused the
man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s
ribs[g]and then closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the LORD God made a
woman from the rib[h] he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

Then as now, if we leave God out of the picture, we miss so much of the
meaning. We also fail to give thanks to the One who makes it all possible.

But we can and must take things further than that. God is not only the
author and sustainer of life, He is its goal too. In the NT, Paul in
Ephesians 5 points to marriage as a powerful lived out model of what
God’s love looks and feels like and as a pointer to that greater love that
awaits us in Him as we get to know Him. What we experience I human
society and sexuality is only a feint echo of that.

Which is why GK Chesterton was not wrong when he said that


"Every man who knocks on the door of a brothel is looking for God."

Of course, it is not an either or but a both and. We are made relationship


with other people and we are also made for God (c.f. 1.18).