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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, October 8, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Genesis 2:18–24

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.” So out of the ground the Lord God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every animal of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper as his partner.

So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called Woman, for out of Man this one was taken.” Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh. (NRSV)

I enjoy the challenge and layers of meaning in these verses from our earliest biblical creation story. Today’s words are ancient, powerful, and primal as our Hebrew forebears sought to make sense of how we humans came into being. Two phrases caught my attention, both in the opening verse.

“It is not good that the man should be alone.” A single human being was not sufficient in God’s eyes. I remain deeply grateful that we were created for relationships, one with another. Yes, this is a faithful root for married relationships in all their current wide variety. And I am thankful for the rich gifts of friendships and family, which provide the companionship that God yearned to create for God’s people as well.

“I will make him a helper as his partner.” The translation of “helper” has been a source of ongoing controversy and debate, especially when a patriarchal society has applied it to women.

Scholars now enable us to see that there was no subordination intended in the original Hebrew. The word partner follows immediately. I believe that the core meaning of “helper” expresses mutuality and interdependence. This is a very high bar for our closest human relationships!

Thank you, wondrous Creator, that you made your human creatures for life together. I am grateful for the gifts of marriage, friendship, and family. Nurture and challenge us in these relationships, we pray. Amen.

Written by Jeffrey Doane, Parish Associate for Older Adults

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