I’m going to be induced in three days. I’m not going to lie; my heart sank a little bit when I found out that I wouldn’t give birth naturally. We currently live in a time where “natural birth plans” are praised. We wait for our bodies to be ready, wait for the baby to take her time – and there is nothing wrong with that. There is also nothing wrong with emergency C-section, or inducing for the health of the mother and child. These medical short-cuts not natural – but I also must point out – neither is spontaneous labor.
Yes, I did write that. Labor is not natural. Pregnancy is not natural. Squeezing a tiny human out of another human is not natural.
It’s necessary, but it’s not natural. Genesis 2 and 3 have convinced me of this.
It seems that everyone knows the story of Adam & Eve. It’s the first story we read in our Bibles, even children’s Bibles. It’s common even in today’s Biblically illiterate world. But this story is hard. It’s difficult. And I assure you, it is not a children’s story. It’s apocalyptic in nature, it’s full of imagery, and loaded statements. And somehow, we have turned this heavy material into a black-and-white story about an idiotic woman who eats a piece of fruit!
So give me a chance. Give me a chance to tell the story the way I see it culturally, linguistically, and most important, theologically. And let me tell you – it impacts the way I am going into the birthing process!
See, Genesis 2:5 opens up saying that before there was the world we see – before there were plants, and seasons, and an order to the world (basically, before there was the story of Genesis chapter 1), there was a chaotic mist of waters that covered the land. And these waters were hostile; they weren’t ordered by seasons and vegetation. They were nothing but a foggy mist springing up from unknown salty depths. This mist was not of God.
God is Life. But this ancient mist was chaos and death.
So, in this time of deathly mist, God fashioned out of the dead ground, Man. And that man was nothing but the dusty, acrid, ground until God breathed into his nostrils.
And that is when Life as Creation began.
And this is where in 2:8 God plants a garden. As God plants His garden he places the man – the man who was once in a misty chaotic world – into the garden.
This is where in verse 9, God creates a Tree. But not just any tree: a perfect tree; a complete tree; an entire tree that is in the very center of the garden (I do not think our English translations should be translated as “God sprouted up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food”). Instead, it should be “God sprouted up a whole/complete/perfect/entire tree”. And from this tree there flowed a river out of the garden and into all the world – the misty, desolate, chaotic world. And wherever the river flowed, order was brought to the chaotic, deadly, desolate, mist that existed before God’s creation.
But the text also mentions another tree. A tree of Knowledge – the knowledge to know what is good and what is evil. But, a weird thing that we miss in our translation is that the location of this tree is never specified. We know that the Tree of Life itself is in the the very center of the garden. But this other tree is simply there – tagged on like an afterthought in the text. From where does it come? We will get to that later.
But for now, we know that God puts man in the garden to work the ground and keep it. For the man was always one with the creation – because man himself is creation. There is harmony in working the ground – the ground that is being fed by the Tree of Life in the center of the garden. The man also eats from the Tree of Life and from it’s river. For all Life comes from this whole/complete/entire tree in the middle of the garden.
And this is where we first hear the command that God gives man. God says, “From the entire tree in the garden you may eat aplenty, but from the tree of knowledge of good and evil – you should not eat from it. For when you eat apart from us you will truly die”.
It seems we finally have our first clue as to where this Tree of Knowledge comes from – it literally comes from somewhere that is apart from God. It’s not connected to the Creator, not connected to the land that the man works. It’s not connected to the Tree of Life, or to the river that flows out from it. No – it comes from something else – something that is apart from Life itself. But again, we will have to see where the story goes to find out it’s location.
So after this command is given God tells the man in verse 18, “It is not good for the man to belong to himself alone, I shall make help for him, one to face him.” And this is how God goes about making the birds and beasts of the field. And as he does, each creature is brought before the man to see if the man would call anything out for himself. And as the man called out, each animal’s very essence was named – and yet there was no help for the man. He was a part of creation, yet he was alone.
And this is when God puts the man into a sleep, and as the man slept, God built a woman out of the man’s own flesh. She did not come from the dead dust of the earth has the man did – for that would make her separate from the man. No, she was fashioned out of the man’s very nature.
They are together. They are emeshed. They are united. They are truly one. And so she is called “from man” (notice her name is not yet Eve). Together, they are Man (AKA: complete humanity).
It’s it a beautiful story? Isn’t is peachy keen? Genesis 2 is so rich! So full of philosophical material! But alas, the story is not over. No, the stage is simply set.
See, there is a serpent in this story – and as any original audience member would know – when a serpent speaks, you listen. Serpents, tricky and clever, are the most wise of all the animals. So when one speaks to you, you might want to be weary, but you should definitely listen to their words – for there is always some sort of worldly wisdom they are wanting to impart.
So the serpent, the wise, wily serpent (who is not wrong in his assessment) asks the woman if God really commanded them not to eat from the perfect tree of the garden?
And the woman clarifies saying that they can eat from the perfect tree, but it is from the other tree which is now in the midst of the garden that they can’t eat – and the command gets more specific than it was the first time we heard it. It still includes, “don’t eat apart from us”, but now it also includes “don’t even touch it, lest you both shall die”!
And the serpent denies God’s statement by saying, “you won’t die, you will simply be like God” instead of being with God in His creation. In other words, if you eat of this other tree, then there will be two sources in this garden instead of one. Instead of one whole/entire/complete tree watering the whole world in the unity of Life, there will be two trees. Two ways. And as the serpent seems to suggest, two different ways of understanding what life is.
Furthermore, it seems as if this conversation between the serpent and the woman is causing this Tree of Knowledge to move into the center of the garden. This garden where there is one Tree in the center is starting to get a little crowded. Now this other tree; a tree that comes from a place that is apart from God is encroaching closer and closer to the center of the garden.
And I say this because in the next verse (3:6), this other tree starts to take on the attributes of the tree of Life! Just like God’s perfect Tree of Life was “pleasing to the eye” and “good for food” so too does the woman see that this other tree is also “good for food” and “desired in her eye” (something that was never stated about this tree before).
And she took the fruit. (She was not supposed to touch it!)
But nothing happens . . .
And she ate it. (Oh No!)
Again, nothing . . .
And she gave it to her husband. BAM!
Just like that – there eyes were opened and they saw that they were naked! Because the command was that Man (AKA: complete humanity – man and woman together) should not eat from this Tree of Knowledge. Now, Man (complete humanity) is no longer together, emeshed, united, one. No: Man (complete humanity) is now separate, other, different, two. And this is why they are naked and ashamed. They are ashamed of the fracture they caused – one that fundamentally did not exist before – and all of Creation can feel it. And so they sewed together fig leaves to hide the fact that they are no longer one.
And this is where the story gets even weirder! God is walking in the garden and he can’t find the man and the woman! How is it that in this perfect garden where all life comes from one source, how is it that the Creator can’t find his creation?
Because they ate from a tree that is apart from him – they chose to be a part of a very different sort of creation – a creation of their own making.
They ate from a tree that was never meant to be in the garden. Could it be that this particular tree of Knowledge was brought in from outside the garden? If so, who would be able to do that? Not the animals, for they came into existence within the garden. Not the vegetation, for they came into existence within the garden. No, the only thing that was brought into the garden from outside it was Man. He was fashioned out of the dust of the earth before there even was a garden. Man was created in the desolate, misty, chaotic land before there was anything else and then he was placed in the perfect garden with the perfect tree.
And when they ate from the tree apart from God, the world flew apart – apart from God. First the serpent lessened. The serpent would no longer hold wisdom above the other “normal” animals. Now the serpent would be like any other animal and would live in tension with humanity for the rest of time.
The man, who had always worked and been a part of the land through the Tree of Life would now toil and sweat and live in tension with creation itself. Land and Man no longer shared in the Tree of Life. They too are fractured, apart, separate.
And the woman, the woman who was once together, emeshed, united, one, with the man would develop a fundamentally different name. Now we are introduced to Eve for the first time. Since life is no longer sourced in the Tree of Life, it would have to be sourced somewhere else – within herself.
For God commands, “I will cause you much conception in great pain. In that pain you shall beget generations.” Isn’t it interesting that Eve (literally “life comes forth”) is not named until after this fracture from the Tree of Life. God had to cut off the garden that He created from Creation itself. For if that garden remained, there would always be two ways. But by cutting it off, he offers everyone – all of Creation a way back in.
We made the fracture. We made the world a little bit more chaotic, desolate, and misty.
We ate from a tree that we brought with us. And we entertained that tree slowly overtime. And overtime that tree creeped closer and closer to the center of God’s perfect Life.
This is the complicated story of how Man (complete humanity) became Adam and Eve. It’s not child friendly. It’s not easy to wrap your head around.
So, three days from now, when I’m induced, I will be reminded that being hooked up to an IV and being pumped with hormones is not natural. But neither is waiting for my water to break, or my contractions to start. Because Life was never supposed to come forth from me. It was, is, and always will be sourced in a Tree of Life.
I may birth a daughter – but she is not mine – she is God’s. The only reason I am the one to birth her is because I put a tree that is apart from God within the center of God’s garden. I decided that is was pleasing to the eye and good for food.
And I ate.
But the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil is not natural.
This unnatural event of birth is both beautiful and painful because it is necessary.
I birth life so one day, my daughter – no, God’s daughter, will receive a begetting of life.
It’s not natural.
But it’s necessary.