The other creation reading for the wedding lectionary, authored by the Yahwist or “J Source,” varies a bit from what we read in Genesis 1. If this reading isn’t the most popular of the Old Testament choices, it’s very close to the top. Here’s how it goes:
The LORD God said: “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him.” So the Lord God formed out of the ground various wild animals and various birds of the air, and he brought them to the man to see what he would call them; whatever the man called each of them would be its name. The man gave names to all the cattle, all the birds of the air, and all wild animals; but none proved to be the suitable partner for the man.
So the Lord God cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. The Lord God then built up into a woman the rib that he had taken from the man.
When he brought her to the man, the man said: “This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; This one shall be called ‘woman,’ for out of ‘her man’ this one has been taken.”
That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body.
Remember that Tobit quotes this passage on his wedding night as he prays with his beloved Sarah. I leave it for the Scripture scholars and Hebrew experts to dissect this section for word meanings and other interpretations.
In liturgy , the common feminist approach is to suggest the woman came not his foot or head, but from the man’s side, alluding to the partnership of equals. I’ve heard that point so often, it’s become a cliche. At least to my ears.
Although we didn’t choose this for our own wedding, there is one point that strikes me and resonates with my own fifteen years of post-college single adulthood. That interminably long time naming animals and finding nothing suitable.
Leaving aside any cracks about sexual preference, it is true that many single people spend huge amounts of time searching for a partner. As I grew older, it seemed I became less pliable for a marriage. And it’s true: as thirty-somethings, Anita and I brought some entrenched stubbornness to our relationship. She would tell you it took me years to wake up from a sleep to discover her.
For you couples in the reading audience, answer some questions. Has your courtship been preceded by a lot of searching? Has your marriage commitment including sacrifice of a personal and deep-rooted nature? Does your approach to your relationship with your beloved involve a desire unity so close that you are prepared to become one? If so, then this reading, rather than just following the crowd, as it were, might reflect appropriately and fruitfully on your relationship. And if the preacher can draw this meaning out for your guests, encouraging both you and the married folk present, then all the better.
Any comments on this?