First Reading: Genesis 2:18-24

Creation of Man and Woman

2:18 YHWH God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him." 2:19 Out of the ground YHWH God formed every animal of the field, and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. Whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 2:20 The man gave names to all livestock, and to the birds of the sky, and to every animal of the field; but for man there was not found a helper suitable for him. 2:21 YHWH God caused a deep sleep to fall on the man, and he slept; and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. 2:22 He made the rib, which YHWH God had taken from the man, into a woman, and brought her to the man. 2:23 The man said, "This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh. She will be called 'woman,' because she was taken out of Man." 2:24 Therefore a man will leave his father and his mother, and will join with his wife, and they will be one flesh.

World English Bible

This reading focuses upon the place of marriage in the plan of creation.

Genesis 2:18-24 represents the height of the second creation story in Genesis. The first creation story (Genesis 1) begins with water and the furthest reaches of the (then known) universe. Over the course of seven days, creation becomes closer and closer until it touches the person in the creation of man and woman. (One can think of this story as "creation by the sea.")

In the second creation story (Genesis), a desert appears. God orders a spring to appear and, from the mud of the sand and the water, he creates the first human being. But, God realizes the loneliness of the first person [18], so he creates animals and plant life [19]. In giving the animals and plant life names, the first person defines their power in purpose in creation [19-20]. In this sense, the first person was God's "co-creator." But even this activity does not satisfy the first person's loneliness [20].

Up to this point, the first person did not have a sexual function; the word "man" is used in a generic sense for "human being." Only with the deep sleep and the removal of the rib [21] did the first person become male. God creates the woman and presents her to the man [22]; the man repeats the "creation naming" [19-20] by giving his partner a name (and a function) [23]. This is the high point of the second creation story God creates while man "co-creates."

The editorial comment about marriage [24] only defines the previous passage. The fullness of humanity is expressed in the marriage bond. Marriage is the exercise of co-creation with God. A good marriage brings happiness and joy to the couple; loneliness is banished.

Marriage has taken a beating in our culture, but it will never completely disappear. The second creation story speaks a universal truth; marriage is the world-wide symbol of human fulfillment.