Jewish sages wrote the Book of Genesis as a series of meditations on the origin of the universe and the genesis of humankind. A popular form of Jewish writing was employed setting forth very profound ideas in simple forms of storytelling.
Everything happened, they told us, because a caring and loving Creator in the beginning willed it so. All that has happened comes from His personal love and inner drive to share Himself. All lovers know of that inner drive. God did not create anything by chance – everything is purpose made, especially man and woman who are created in God’s own image and likeness so that He can share Himself with them as He does with no other creatures. He breathed His life, Genesis tells us, only into man and woman, not into His other creatures.
Note that the creation of man was prior to the creation of any other form of life. Into man God breathed His Spirit, His very life and love. Then God created the garden and all of the other wonderful creations found in the universe and in our world. Then God said that it was not good that man should be alone. So He brought all sorts of creatures to Adam and had Adam name them. But none of them could overcome Adam’s aloneness. God did not again back to the soil to create a woman. No. God went into Adam’s very nature and from that part of his body closest to his heart, Adam’s rib, God fashioned a woman… and then had Adam give her a name.
In that moment Adam realized that his aloneness had been overcome and that he was now complete. He had found in her the other half of his heart and soul and he gave her a name that identified her as essential to his very own nature. He called her “woman,” his other half.
Bonded together they form a living being; they became one flesh.
God, in His nature, is not solitude. God, in His nature, is impelled to share love. God is so good that He cannot keep it all to himself. In making man and woman with an inner drive to find themselves in each other, each finding their self in the other, God was expressing in our humanity His own inner reality. We are made to belong. In belonging to each other we mirror our belonging to God. In belonging to each other we share in God’s love and in His own drive to belong to us.
“I” need a “you” for me to love. We all need an other for the purposes of sharing our selves. We need an other whom we can know and who can know us. We need to speak and understand, to communicate. But we need more – we need an other to whom we can give our selves in love. No animal, no other living creature can fulfill that need, a need that is so deeply a part of our inner nature.
We need to note that man did not cause God to create woman. No, it was the God of love who made woman so that the man and the woman would be awakened to what kind of a good God truly is – the God of Love.
God created the woman not from the clay of the earth but from the man’s very own nature. Adam was awakened and cried out: “This at last is bone from my bones, and flesh from my flesh.” And the two together made a world. That’s still true. Two together, man and woman, still make a world today.
But the story of our origins has another part to it, the dark side of sin. The Jewish authors of the story of our creation had to face the origins of sin, that dark side of us that has so devastated our relationships, our relationships with God as well as our relationships with each other.
Love, by necessity, results from freely made human choices. A love that is compelled is no love at all. If God had pre-programmed us so that we would always choose what is right and good there would have been no love in us. God, our tremendous lover, would never have been freely chosen, would never have been loved freely. How could that sort of programmed bogus love have possibly satisfied God’s love? It couldn’t! He had to allow us to make our own choices… and therein lies the origin and nature of sin.
Sin is not merely the breaking of a law. Sin is not simply stepping over some boundary. Sin, rather, has to do with damaging or destroying our relationships with those around us, damaging or destroying our relationships with those whom we love, and damaging or destroying our relationship with God. Sin is placing self before all else, and before God.
Sin is the opposite of love.
Divorce was not in God’s plan. Divorce was never intended by God. Divorce tears apart the bonding and the union that love impels us to attain. Divorce is something that is the business of lawyers, and Jesus knew it was lawyers with whom He was talking in today’s Gospel account. They were trying to enmesh Jesus in their legal distinctions and in their appeals to Jewish laws. Jesus would have none of it.
Instead Jesus took them to radically deeper level, one with which they were perhaps unfamiliar and certainly uncomfortable. Divorce, Jesus says, has to do with laws. Marriage has to do with love. Moreover, what is in the mind of God when it comes to life, love, and commitment? Is life, love, and commitment all about when and how often we can divorce?
The focus, Jesus is telling us, must be kept on what it is that God has in mind for us when it comes to love and marriage. Are not love and marriage sacraments of God’s love? Shouldn’t they be revelations of what kind of a good God is? Didn’t Jesus give us God’s eternal and everlasting commitment to us when He celebrated the Last Supper, the Wedding Feast of the Lamb, and gave us His Body and Blood in an everlasting covenant of marriage?
The Last Supper is, after all, a marriage feast, a marriage feast in which God presents Himself to us and says: “This is my Body, take it. This is my Blood, mingle it with yours. I am marrying you. I am yours forever.”
Marriage is far more than merely a license to live together. Marriage takes us back to our beginnings, to Adam and Eve. Marriage takes us back to the reason God made us in the first place, so that together a man and a woman with their children can make a whole new world.