And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” (Genesis 2:21-23)
Archimandrite Aimilianos comments on the biblical text:
As you know, God took a rib from Adam’s side (Genesis 2:21), and, having done that, Adam was no longer whole, no longer complete. So what did God do? He immediately remade it and closed the wound without Adam feeling any pain. Adam was now whole again. And as all of this was taking place, it says that God had caused Adam to fall into a state of ecstasy (Genesis 2:21).
God did not put Adam to sleep or in a kind of trance, because what God did required Adam’s consent. How God respects our freedom! Adam was able to see what was happening, even though he didn’t fully understand it. God opened up his side, removed one of his ribs, and from it fashioned a new human being, Eve, whom God gave to Adam (Genesis 2:23).
When God showed Eve to Adam, he was amazed; completely dumbfounded. At first he thought he was seeing another version of himself, and said, this is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh (Genesis 2:23). (THE WAY OF THE SPIRIT, p 305-306)
Archimandrite Aimilianos makes several interesting points. First, to make a woman, God uses one of Adam’s ribs. Taking the rib from him, made Adam less whole, but God healed him. In making Eve, God made Adam whole in a new way – Adam’s wholeness was now related to another human, his wife. God saw Adam as incomplete before creating Eve (Genesis 2:18-20). So, God creates a co-equal partner for Adam. For Aimilianos this required Adam’s consent, even if Adam didn’t fully understand what God was doing [in the Septuagint version of Genesis 2 (which the Orthodox Church uses as its official scripture) God puts Adam in a trance (ecstasy- ecstasin) rather than putting him to sleep – Adam is put into a hypnotic state (hypnose)]. Aimilianos’ second point is God allows humans to cooperate in fulfilling His will – God doesn’t impose His will on the unconscious Adam. There is synergy between God and humans which means God also relies on us (and our free choice to cooperate with Him) to accomplish His will. Finally, Adam sees Eve as another version of himself, which means Eve is also created in God’s image and likeness. If Adam sees himself in Eve, he is also seeing God in her because he is created in God’s image and likeness. [see yesterday’s post Dust and Breath in which Adam’s first look at ‘himself’ is when he opens his eyes for the first time and sees God in whose image and likeness he was made.] Humans were created male and female to cooperate with each other, to make each other whole, and to work together to fulfill God’s plan for humanity and the entire cosmos. The competition or rivalry between males and females is misguided. We were created to work together, not to compete against each other, not for one to have dominion over the other, but to love one another as God loves us.
Jesus answered, “Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.” (Matthew 19:4-6)
Although God creates us with different genders, God’s plan is that the genders are to cooperate with each other in order to share in the unity which is God’s. God doesn’t intend the differences in humans to be divisive but complementary. God wants us to work toward unity and marriage is one way that we work out God’s plan. St Paul takes this a step further claiming that marriage is a sign of God’s relationship with humans – in Christ we are to become one. And this is why the Messiah is often portrayed in marital imagery with Christ portrayed as the bridegroom.
“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is a profound one, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church; however, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Ephesians 5:31-33)
[Note in many icons of Christ as the Bridegroom, his hands are tied, a sign that He voluntarily limits his self-will in order to love and serve us. It is how each of us is to behave in love, not seeking our own will, but the good of the other. The wedding custom of bride and groom ‘tying the knot’ is to remind us that in marriage we freely choose to submit our will to the other in order to love them, serve them and help them become holy (Ephesians 5:25-27).]