God, the Garden, and Gays: Homosexuality in Genesis
In the beginning.
Seems like a good place to start, right? The beginning.
In the beginning, God created Adam & Eve—not Adam and Steve.
— Wait! — It doesn’t really say that.
If we’re going to dive into scripture and try to make sense of what it means for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, I figure Genesis is as a good of a place as any to begin. So, let’s begin.
This is the cliffnotes version of the story I was told growing up:
God created Adam. God created Eve to be with Adam. God threatened to kill them if they ate from a tree. They ate from the tree so God kicked them out of Eden, made it tough to grow food and hurt like hell to give birth.
And from that we’re also supposed to extrapolate that women are the ones who messed it up for everyone and every man needs to marry a woman.
Does that sound about like what you learned?
That’s pretty much what I was told—and what I believed—since I was a kid. Then, I sat down and read Genesis 1, 2, and 3. And what I found something beautiful and liberating.
In the beginning there was nothing. And out of that nothing God created everything. Everything. And in one account of creation—the version in Genesis 2, which b.t.w. Is different than the version in Genesis 1—a man was the first living creature that God created. And that man was all alone, so God set out to help him find companionship.
God created a bunch of animals—all of the animals, really—one at a time as possible mates for Adam. It’s kinda funny, really. God trying—and not knowing—what a suitable partner for Adam might be.
“No thanks God, but we’ll call that an otter.”
Eventually, God creates a woman for Adam.
And this is the remarkable part. Adam—not God—chooses the woman for himself. He could have just as easily picked the porcupine, but he didn’t.
“Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh,” he says. And this… this is the helper suitable for me.
Choice. Agency. Partnership. Kinship.
In other parts of the Bible, we see the importance of choice. Jesus talks about how some are born eunuchs, some are made eunuchs by men, and some choose to make themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of God. Then he goes on to say—get this—“He who is able to accept this, let him accept this.”
And Paul. Paul, my man, encourages his followers to choose celibacy, if they can.
Choice. God gives Adam the choice of partner.
It was there all along. Staring me in my face.
We never addressed that whole “Adam and Steve” business though, did we? Or didn’t we?
We’re starting at the beginning, aren’t we? And, if we’re all the way back in the beginning it only makes sense that a man and a woman capable of bearing children would be the first couple.
One of my family members is adopted. His mom and dad are wonderful people, people he’s learned a lot from, but they’d be poor candidates for the start of the human line, don’t ya think?
Maybe the creation story isn’t a one-size fits all Dating For Dummies manual. When I read Genesis, I see something bigger, grander.
I see a story that points to the big questions: Who are we? Where did we come from? How did things get to be this way?
And this is what I find it telling me.
That we’re all connected. All of us. All genders, all nationalities, all ethnicities… we’re all one big human family.
And there’s something special about the life we’ve been given. Something good. In fact, it is very good.
I see that we’re social, relational creatures—a Truth which resonates in my own life. It’s not good for me to be all alone. In fact, solitary confinement is considered a form of torture. Go figure.
It’s only logical that in the beginning we’d start with a man and a woman.
But that’s the beginning, not the ending. The story continues.
Throughout the Bible we see all sorts of different relationships: single individuals, powerful women, polygamous marriages, happy couplings, deep abiding friendships. And there’s something to be learned from all of them.
My parents are straight, but when what I learn from their relationship applies to my relationships as well. The story of Adam & Eve can resonate and be instructive even for those of us not in lifelong opposite sex couplings. It’s one type of relationship… a common type of relationship.
I see myself as a lonely person alone in a world that feels big and empty and overwhelming sometimes. But I’m not alone.
I see myself as a person looking for and trying to create meaning in the world around me. And I know that it is good. Very good.
I see myself as a person who desires a relationship and I’m excited that to read that God is willing to play wingman, to help me find the partner that works, and to ultimately trust my decision for who that partner is.
Now that’s a story I want to be part of.
Questions For Reflection
- What has being queer taught you about faith? How have you read the Bible with new eyes?
- What do you look for in a partner?
- What you have you learned from people in straight/cisgender relationships? What have you learned from LGBTQ people in relationships?