There is much debate about whether Genesis was meant to be taken literally in terms of a historical account by the writers. A belief in evolution suggests Genesis is not a literal account. Others point to grammatical indicators to suggest Genesis was intended to be a historical account of the beginning of the world. Since neither view can be proven over two thousand years after the fact when written, it is unwise to insist on either belief. Many who disagree if literal or not would say though that Genesis was written to at least convey spiritual food for thought.
What spiritual truths might God wish to convey through the writings of the first few chapters in Genesis?
- The writers of Genesis believe in there being a Creator in the beginning. God didn’t have to create, but apparently God desired relationships with humans. There are some advantages in believing in a Creator or taking a leap of faith if on the fence. A creator knows what is best for their creation or design. A car designer can advise what is best for the car to run smoothly. A Creator of human beings can be a source of wisdom in advising what decisions are in one’s best interests and those they interact with.
- It is written we were created in God’s image (1:27), which suggests we are God’s representatives here on earth. The majority of people born on this earth never had a copy of the Bible. We might assume God has given us intuitively a sense of how to represent or act like God toward others. God’s love is surely the same as perfect human love which we all strive more. God’s morals are the same as the highest of human morals.
- God felt Adam needed a companion to not be alone (2:18). Some translations said “a helper suitable for him.” This is an example of where it is critical to not insist on one’s interpretation as the truth. The English implication of the word “helper” translated from the Hebrew word ezer is nowhere to be found in the Bible (2:18). Ezer is used of God and implies or often is translated as “strength” (Deut. 33:29). Since interpretations are fallible, it is best to error on the side less prone to abuse. Men often interpret Genesis to suggest leadership is making final decisions when there is a stalemate. Jesus suggested we lead by serving, so perhaps the man should always submit to the woman’s final decision. Truly, in any dyad relationship, there are many creative ways to resolve impasses. Each couple must decide in their relationships how decisions are best made.
- Things obviously went wrong in the garden when the first couple didn’t take God’s advice to trust God’s guidance. I know one could see this as a deliberate attempt on God’s part to tempt humans (3:5). I am convinced God only wanted to warn Adam and Eve that decisions exist that may be harmful in a free world. Freedom was clearly important to God. God obviously knew what human parents know. Love can’t be forced. Freedom is the only path to authentic relationships. There is no greater feeling than your partner, child, or friend loving you because of choice than obligation. “Controlling love” is a contradiction in terms.
I know many may suggest it is inappropriate to not consider the Genesis story as an historical account. Maybe the writer intended it to be or not. But, at least one purpose for recording this story was to teach certain truths about God. Don’t read the Bible as a book of rules or act dogmatic toward others in what you believe the Bible is teaching. Allow each if they are convinced there is a Creator to discern for themselves what might be valuable lessons and applications in their own lives as a result of the stories about our beginnings with a Creator.