When we last left Adam, he had discovered, under God’s guidance, that he was alone in the world. He was a body among bodies, but he was the only one conscious of the meaning of his body, or able to deliberately use it to cultivate the Earth – he discovered his original solitude. Now we will study the creation of Eve and discover the mystery of original unity.
The LORD God said: It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suited to him… So the LORD God cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. The LORD God then built the rib that he had taken from the man into a woman. When he brought her to the man, the man said: “This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called ‘woman,’ for out of man this one has been taken.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body. ~Genesis 2
John Paul draws insight from each aspect of the brief story.
Deep Sleep: The word chosen here suggests something dramatic – it can be read as a return to nonexistence. God draws Adam back to the moment of his creation and he reemerges as a pair, make and female. The creation of man is incomplete until the creation of the woman. In another sense, you could say that Adam dreamed of another person, a companion and helper, “another I.”
One of his ribs: The author is emphasizing that Eve comes from the same humanity as Adam. Her body looks somewhat different, but they share everything that makes them human. She, also, experience original solitude, the meaning of her body, personhood, and a unique relationship to God.
At Last! Adam cries out in joy at the sight of the woman. This is perhaps his first experience of joy, as there was no reason for it when he was alone. This original, pure, innocent joy at the gift of Eve is an unrepeatable moment of human history, truly love at first sight. He experiences her humanity, like his, and her femininity, beautifully unlike. Every couple finds some of this joy on their wedding day, and every time they reconsummate their marriage.
Flesh from my flesh: Again we find that the body reveals man. At the sight of her body, Adam knows Eve to be another person.
Leaves his father and mother: We belong to our parents by nature, but we belong to our spouses by choice. It is this choice, made at the moment of wedding vows, that permanently seals the marriage covenant or contract. God witnesses the agreement, and he doesn’t let us out of it. Because man (and woman) has free will, he can make this choice. Animals can’t get married.
One flesh: When a man and his wife unite in sex, they return to the original solitude and virginity of creation, rediscover each other as another person, masculine or feminine, and call each other by name. They see their own humanity, in their unity and their complimentary. Sex is physical and instinctual, but for humans, it is also personal. Each person takes on the solitude of the other as his or her own, and their solitude is, to some degree, broken. We discover the need for communion through our bodies, and we constitute our union as one flesh in our bodies. Angels can’t get married, either, because they have no body and no gender.
Adam and Eve, men and women, are both fully human. They are the same kind of being. They are experience humanity in two complimentary ways. John Paul explains that each has value, or is a value, a good, for God, for himself or herself, and for the other. You are created for God, for yourself, and for others.
In his original solitude, Adam longed for another person to whom he could relate. He needed to be with someone and for someone. He was created for communion. You are created for communion, to exist with and for others. Because we are not animals, because we think and reflect and have free will, we need other thinking, choosing people to relate to. An animal can’t talk with us or accept us as a unique, good, beautiful part of the universe, receiving our love and our gift and loving us in return.
In the first creation story, we learn that God created man in His image, male and female. One solitary man is not sufficient to represent God, because God is not a solitary person. God is a communion of three people. Adam isn’t really an image of God until he is united with Eve, and even more, when their union brings about a third person. The woman takes her humanity from the man, becomes a wife through him, and becomes a mother through him. The creation of each new human reveals each time the original unity of humanity.
I’ve been traveling the last couple of weeks, so I haven’t had time to write much and there’s no reflection with this post. I may write one later. I’m using a tablet, so the format may be weird. The next post will discuss original nakedness.