Creation Story Reboot: Part 1
As I continue my look at bad theology I want to go all the way back to the beginning.
Origins matter. They provide the seeds that will later grow into full blown ideologies, worldviews, theologies, practices and systems that guide individuals and institutions.
This is certainly true when we look at the origin stories from the Hebrew Bible, Genesis 2-3 specifically, which are foundational for both Jewish and Christian faith traditions. We all know the stories, they are famous not only in Sunday school but also in popular culture. These give an account of the creation of the world…the first humans…their amazing home and and they lost their place in paradise.
God creates….Adam & Eve…sneaky snake…disobedient woman….weak man…shameful bodies…curses all around.
Simple story, right? And, innocent enough…funny even. Until you stop laughing at the apple jokes and about how eve persuaded her husband to discover that these mask a much more sinister and serious problem with these stories. The way these stories have been handled have had serious consequences on the lives of men and women for centuries.
Is this what God really meant?
Genesis 2-3 are often combined to paint a picture of humanity that is strictly ordered and essentialized; where humans are assigned specific attributes and roles based on gender that dictate how each should function in the world. which allows little room for disagreement or difference.
- Male god God made man first and woman last: he is more important and she is inferior
- Women was made for the sake of man as his helper: she is to serve him
- Woman came from man’s body: thus she is dependent and subordinate
- Woman gave into her appetites: she is weak and out of control
- She seduces man to sin: she is a temptress and seducer and manipulator
- God made 1 man and 1 women: Gender, marriage and sexuality are strictly defined
These interpretations have been used for centuries as the justification for constructing harmful power structures in our faith communities and as the foundation for oppressing women and other marginalized groups in society.
BUT….what if these stereotypes and traditional readings aren’t true? What if we haven’t read them correctly? Or is there a way to engage it that brings life instead? Can they be reimagined and brought back into our to bring life and justice?
For many people, these are just myths that they rejected as meaningful years ago. But there are others of you, myself included, who have struggled mightily to decide to do with these stories of our faith. We have been naming and laying down harmful theologies because our lives depend on it, but…they we still wondering if there is something here of value. Is there something that can be salvaged in a text that has been so meaningful in their lives.
As I have looked a little deeper, I have learned that these passages are rife with controversy and disagreement about what they mean. I was taught that there was one answer, one interpretation, but thats just not true. Because there are infinite ways to handle the text, it becomes vulnerable to potentially sloppy, or even harmful interpretations. And maybe those interpretations have caused trauma for you or people you love.
In this series, I want to invite you along on my journey that has reignited my curiosity around these creations texts and spurred hope that these violent applications are not what God intended.
Stay tuned for more!
More additions to the series are coming soon:
- Peeking behind the curtain: Part II
- The text says what? Part III
- Ackkk. Did you just call me a heretic?: Part IV