Today, I am reading and commenting on Genesis 1-3.
This passage is really three stories. The first is an account of how the Universe came to be and stands alone, separate from the other two. This account of the creation of the Universe is clearly poetic. It is written to show that everything was created in an orderly, planned fashion. I struggle with describing this story as literally true. On the one hand, declaring that this story is literally true leads to a much more rigid interpretation of what it has to say than I believe God intends. On the other hand, declaring that it is not literally true makes it much too easy to reject the truths which it teaches. Among the truths which this story teaches is that God created the Universe in an orderly, understandable fashion. Further, He did so by declaring it to be so. The Universe, and everything in it, was created by the word of God. One of the key factors here for me is that my theology says that death did not enter into the world until the first man sinned. Which is discussed in the third story.
The second and third stories are linked and there are several points that fit them together. The second story is about the origin of man and woman, family, and society. Once again this story is composed in a very poetic manner, but I have the same issues with making a declarative statement as to whether it is literally true as I did with the first story. The first truth of this story is that it is not good for a man to be alone in this world. The second truth is that man and woman are created to be partners and to help each other. There are two things about this that are important. First, human sexuality is designed to form a bond between a man and a woman. When sexual pleasure is obtained outside of that scenario it is a distortion of what God intended. Second, that bond is intended to be for the rest of the lives of those involved. Once again, when sexual pleasure is obtained outside of that scenario, whether because of infidelity, or divorce, or some other reason, it is a distortion of what God intended and is less than the joy which God intended for us.
The third story tells us how sin came into the world, and about how we react to our having sinned. First, Eve ate of the fruit, contrary to God’s command, because she sought knowledge and wisdom. Seeking knowledge and wisdom is, in and of itself, a good thing. However, the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom does not justify doing wrong. Eve was seeking a shortcut to knowledge, further she wanted to be God-like. She was not satisfied with being made in the image of God, she wanted to be God. In many ways this is the original sin, the desire to be able to determine right and wrong independently of God, the wish to be able to declare something to be right because we desire it to be so. I want to point out that Adam was standing right there. He failed to offer any counter arguments to those made by the serpent because he, also, wanted to be God-like. But Adam wanted to be able to blame someone else if things went wrong. There is an important lesson here. When you do wrong, you will pay the consequences, even if you were following someone else’s lead.