So GOD formed from the dirt of the ground all the animals of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the Man to see what he would name them. Whatever the Man called each living creature, that was its name. (Genesis 2:19) Hippopotamus. Platypus. Rhinoceros. The Man named the cattle, named the birds of the air, named the wild animals; but he didn’t find a suitable companion. (Genesis 2:20) Cow. Salamander. Zebra. Not one called "Friend." GOD put the Man into a deep sleep. As he slept he removed one of his ribs and replaced it with flesh. GOD then used the rib that he had taken from the Man to make Woman and presented her to the Man. (Genesis 2:21, 22) This one God named. "Woman," he called her. And the "good" Garden was "very good." "Finally! Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh!” (Genesis 2:23) And man said, “Wow! This is good! This is really really good! She’s more beautiful than Peacock, more graceful than Eagle, better conversation than Monkey. She’s perfect. I don’t ever want her to leave. I can’t believe I ever lived without her. I must have been living half as much.” Therefore a man leaves his father and mother and embraces his wife. They become one flesh. The two of them, the Man and his Wife, were naked, but they felt no shame. (Genesis 2:24, 25) One. Not by paper or principality. Naked. She stands bare before him, untainted by corrosive self-doubt injected by magazines and peers. She has no peer. She has no ideal. She is pleased because her Maker is, confident and prized because she is His. Then flesh rests against flesh. Blessed. Belonging. The depths of two souls woven together. No shame. No lonely. No distance. Day and night, waters and skies, birds and cattle. All of this was incomplete without man and man was incomplete without her. And she is so treasured and essential that God couldn’t pull His pen through even one book of His epic without her flowing from His heart and onto the page. Before misogynists demeaned her and husbands betrayed her. Before religion veiled her and preachers silenced her. Before media shamed her and employers underpaid her. Before the world fell and in its amnesia forgot her worth – she was Woman. Prized. Honored. Essential. Loved. She can be still. She should be.
Do you have to believe the world is 6,000 years old to be a Christian? No. Yesterday, I learned of a man who cannot take Christianity's claims about Jesus seriously because those asking him to also insist that he must take their interpretation of Genesis seriously...and he just can't. These Christians have behaved as if belief in a young earth is as important as belief in Jesus. The idea of a "young earth" is fairly new acually - not appearing in Church history until hundreds of years after Christ, and not gaining traction here in American until the 1960s. There are at least five possible interpretations of the creation story from Genesis 1 & 2 that I know of - all of them held by Christians who very much love God and respect the authority of scripture. To explore a few of them, check out Seven Days That Divide The World by Dr. John Lennox - the chair of the Mathematics Department at Oxford University who was an atheist until he met C.S. Lewis...who also did not believe in a 6,000 year-old earth. To understand perhaps the oldest interpretation of Genesis 1 & 2 - the Jewish rabbinical interpretation - read Genesis Unbound by Dr. John Sailhamer. If you want to read these books but can't afford them right now? Drop me a line. These books won't so much help you nail down the right answer as they will expose you to a variety of answers proposed by followers of Jesus over the last 2,000 years. What all of those followers have in common is Jesus - not an interpretation of Genesis. What we believe about Jesus unites us and matters most.