Friday, May 17, 2013

Why didn't God make Eve First?

Dear Rev. Know-it-all,

Don’t you think it’s degrading that  God took a rib from Adam’s side to make Eve? Why didn’t he make Eve first?

Earl Lee Byrd

Dear Earl,

Lots of male chauvinist humor comes to mind, but I will take the high road and keep the jokes to myself. Personally I think it’s a beautiful thing that God made Adam first. The Rabbis explain it this way.

Man was made on the Sixth day, the same day as the beasts. Eve wasn’t really created on the sixth day, she was created in the twilight, just before the 7th day. Remember that the Jewish day starts in the evening because the Book of Genesis says,  “It was evening and morning, the first day.” (Genesis1:5) Most people think the Jewish Sabbath, as well as every other Jewish day starts at sundown. This is not quite true. It is Sabbath when one sees the first two stars in the heavens, or when one can no longer distinguish between a black and a white thread by natural light.  There is an intermittent period that is not quite Sabbath, but it isn’t quite Friday either. Adam fell into a deep sleep before God took a rib from his side. 

When does one sleep? When the sun goes down. When Adam woke up on Saturday morning, there was his bride, the very personification of Sabbath, the promise of heaven. It is Eve who humanized Adam by drawing him into the joy of Sabbath. Eve was a creation nearer and more conformed to Sabbath. She was the summit of nature, not just an afterthought. That she was a “helpmate” means not that she was to be less than Adam. 

The Scriptures say elsewhere “Blessed are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord?  He is your shield and helper and your glorious sword.” (Deut. 33:26,29) The Hebrew word for helper is “Ezer.”  It appears about twenty times in the Bible and usually refers to God. It is a quality of Godliness, not of inferiority. Eve “civilized” man who shares his creation with the beasts. Adam is made from dust. Eve is made from humanity. Thus, it is in the relationship of man and woman that the image of God, and true humanity are found. 

Men, left to their own devices, can be pretty uncivilized. I know. I am one. It is in the give and take, the yielding and the asking of vastly different men and women and especially their submission to the needs of the children their love may produce that the man and the woman are divinized. It is in the service of complimentary and sometimes discordant needs that humanity learns sacrificial love. Man and woman don’t simply take pleasure from one another, but they learn the very nature of God in their mutual sacrifice, and in the sacrifices they make for the sake of their children, if it please Heaven.

The rabbis tell us that woman was not taken from man’s feet that she might be beneath him, nor was he taken from his head lest she boast, but that she was taken from his side, that they might walk hand in hand, side by side.  There is one more thing to remember. It is the job of the rib to protect the heart.

Sabbath is all about marriage and family and the royal dignity of God’s people. Sabbath is regarded by the Jews as a bride. There is a beautiful song, sung on Friday nights in the Synagogue. All in the synagogue turn toward the door and sing the “Lekah Dodi”

Come, my beloved friend, to meet the bride, and let us welcome the presence of Shabbat. .........In fame and splendor and praiseful song.....For she is the wellspring of blessing, Arise! Leave from the midst of the turmoil.......Long enough have you sat in the valley of tears....He will take great pity upon you compassionately.....Shake yourself free, rise from the dust...Dress in your garments of splendor, my people...Your God will rejoice concerning you as a groom rejoices over a bride....  Come in peace, crown of her husband...Come O Bride! Come O Bride!

I ponder and ponder and ponder what the heck happened. In 1865, Lewis Carroll wrote a book called “Through the Looking Glass.” It is the sequel to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. In it Alice walks through a mirror (a looking glass) into a world turned inside out, like a mirror image, precise, but backwards. There she meets the brothers Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee. They wonder if everything isn’t just a dream. Alice herself might be just a figment of their imagination. 

Well, we in this age are definitely “through the looking glass.” In our attempt to redefine marriage, we are trying to live in the figment that marriage is not about man and woman, and most certainly not about children. We are trying to pretend that a behavior, that I shall not mention here, is the equivalent of the act by which an immortal human being is brought into the world. We insist that babies in the womb are not human life. We insist that we don’t have slaves because we can’t see them, far away in China or India or Latin America. We insist that we are a free people though we are enslaved by our desires and spied on by government drones. I could go on indefinitely, but our prosperity, our freedoms, our educational system and our values have all become figments of our imagination. I maintain that it started when in the name of freedom we introduced a new kind of slavery into the society because we wanted to have more freedom.

When I was a boy, there things called Sunday blue laws. All businesses were closed down on Sunday. You went to church, had dinner with your family and then went out to play with your friends. Someone somewhere decided that Sunday closings were discriminatory against those who did not observe Sunday as a quasi-Sabbath. Jews, Seventh Day Adventist, non- Christians should not be restricted by Christian custom in a secular state. People should be free to buy and to sell on Sunday if they so chose. A blow for freedom! 

Now we, like slaves, work seven days a week, plus shift work, husbands and wives never have a day together and on Sunday as well as Saturday, the kids have sports, ballet, piano, yadda, yadda and so on. There is never a moment to enjoy the freedom of the garden in which we were designed to live. Family and marriage never have a place, a time. Husbands and wives are roommates who see each other between shifts at work and the kids are farmed out to other shift workers.  For the sake of an imaginary freedom we have become slaves. Through the looking glass. The chaos began there, at least in my experience. I am sure there are a thousand causes, but the rejection of this first gift of God to humanity, the Sabbath-Bride, has caused untold misery. 

We work harder and harder just to keep up with our own luxuries and the government taxes imposed on them. A slave works 24/7. A free man has some leisure. We have become slaves. Our children, our spouses and our homes have been devastated by our voluntary slavery, our worship of wealth.  “When will the New Moon be over that we may sell grain, and the Sabbath be ended that we may market wheat, skimping on the measure, boosting the price and cheating with dishonest scales?”
(Amos 8:5) We are all about money and not about love. We are about pleasure, not the gift of life.

I have the strangest idea. If we lost the battle for sanity in this country when we threw away any restriction on avarice by opening the stores on Sunday, why not undo the harm by restoring the Sabbath. We Catholics are forbidden to work on Sunday. Read your catechism.  Paragraph 2185
 “On Sundays and other holy days of obligation, the faithful are to refrain from engaging in work or activities that hinder the worship owed to God, the joy proper to the Lord's Day, the performance of the works of mercy, and the appropriate relaxation of mind and body. Family needs or important social service can legitimately excuse from the obligation of Sunday rest. The faithful should see to it that legitimate excuses do not lead to habits prejudicial to religion, family life, and health.” 
And paragraph 2194 
“The institution of Sunday helps all to be allowed sufficient rest and leisure to cultivate their familial, cultural, social, and religious lives.” 
 I can hear you say, “The canoe is over the waterfall! If I tell my boss that I won’t work on Sunday, He’ll fire me!” Alright, we can’t turn back the clock, but we can do something else. We can refuse to spend money on Sunday. No fast food, no restaurants, no theater, no K-mart, no dry cleaner, no trip to the gas station. We eat at home, we don’t go to the show, we don’t go out for pizza or for ice cream after Junior’s tiddlywinks tournament.  We don’t even go to the tiddlywinks tournament.

"But Junior loves his competitive tiddlywinks. If we forbid him sports on Sunday or say no to him, he won’t like us. Tiddlywinks builds character and sportsmanship." 

Believe me, when Junior is fat, balding and 40, he wont remember getting creamed as a third string tiddlywinks player, but he will remember that he had a family and parents who loved him if Sabbath is kept as a festival of marital and familial love. There is a saying among the Jews. “If you keep Sabbath, Sabbath will keep you.” We do our shopping on Saturday and if it doesn’t happen on Saturday, it won’t happen until Monday. No shopping!!! No spending money.

There are 91.76 million Evangelicals in this country and 77.7 million Catholics. That’s almost 170 million people, more than half the US population. If half the country refused to shop on Sunday, you had better believe that stores would close, and even Mexican migrants would get to come out of the restaurant kitchens and go to their parks with spouses and children instead of sweating in some cramped back room for your dining pleasure. It is a matter of justice. Do realize that by going to a restaurant on Sunday, you are forcing your Mexican co-religionists to work, and thus endangering their families and their souls?  We may not be able to turn back the clock, but we can rediscover the Sabbath. We can no longer impose our will on the country. We can still impose our will on ourselves. If we rediscover the Sabbath in our own lives as Catholic Christians, perhaps we will rediscover the Sabbath Bride and the exalted role of Eve who creates a home in a way that Adam never could and still can’t. 

Come my beloved let us greet the Bride, the Sabbath” (from the Lekah Dodi) and “the Spirit and the Bride say 'come!'” Rev. 22:17

Yours, the Rev. Know-it-all.

PS I am going to try to do this in my own life. Baby steps! Start with Baby Steps!


  1. Kudos to Christian business owners who keep their doors closed on Sunday, such as David Green, owner of Hobby Lobby.

  2. Thank you Father!

    You show us that WE are the true feminists.

    You suggest a more socially justice program than any NPR broadcast dare dream i.e. considering the familial and spiritual lives of OUR co-religionists who, as wage slaves, serve OUR indulgent lifestyles.

    Thank you for suggesting that WE dare to live OUR culture. That WE accept OUR inheritance as adopted children of God.

    Please keep it up. It's words like your's that encourage people like me to stop behaving like a drunken Philistine and live the life of grace.

    Thank you again.

    One of your sons in Chicago,
    Nicky C

  3. Thank you for that. It was very helpful!