THE CREATION OF MAN AND WOMAN

Written by Vladimir Moss

On the sixth day, God proceeded to the crown of His creation, saying: “Let Us create man in our image and after Our likeness” (Genesis 1.26). The plural “Us” indicates that God exists in a plurality of Persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. So man in his spiritual aspect is created in the image of the Holy Trinity. In Genesis 2, we read that while man’s body is made of earth and water (the word “Adam” means “earth”), his soul is breathed into him by the Spirit of God Himself. So he is both material and spiritual by nature.

     St. Anastasius of Sinai points outthat before the reference to man’s creation in Genesis 1.26, God is referred to with one word only, “God”, whereas after that He has the double name, “Lord God”. This is a subtle prophecy that God would acquire a second nature when He became man in Jesus Christ! So already from the beginning God knew that, for the sake of salvation of his greatest creation, He would assume human nature, becoming, as the Holy Apostles Thomas said on the day of the Resurrection, “My Lord” (in his humanity) and “my God” (in His Divinity) (John 20.28). [1]

     The image of God in man has been interpreted variously by the Holy Fathers, but the general consensus is that it refers to that which distinguishes man from the animals – his free-will, his rationality and his eternity. According to St. Gregory of Nyssa, man is made in the image of God because he is made in the image of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity and the God-man. Like a painter and his model, God took the Incarnate Christ as His model in the creation of man.

     As for the relationship between image and likeness, St. Basil the Great writes: “We possess the one by creation, we acquire the other by free will.”[2] In other words, we use our free will in order to steer our created nature, which has the potential to acquire the likeness of God, to the actual possession of that likeness. The likeness of God in man is deification, holiness, the full indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Adam was holy and in the likeness of God in the beginning, but he lost that holiness in the Fall.

     Vladimir Lossky writes: “The image cannot be objectified, ‘naturalized’ we might say, by being attributed to some part or other of the human being. To be in the image of God, the Fathers affirm, in the last analysis is to be a personal being, that is to say, a free, responsible being. Why, one might ask, did God make man free and responsible? Precisely because He wanted to call him to a supreme vocation: deification; that is to say, to become by grace, in a movement as boundless as God, that which God is by nature. And this call demands a free response; God wishes that this movement be a movement of love…

     “A personal being is capable of loving someone more than his own nature, more than his own life. The person, that is to say, the image of God in man, is then man’s freedom with regard to his nature, ‘the fact of being freed from necessity and not being subject to the dominion of nature, but able to determine oneself freely’ (St. Gregory of Nyssa).”[3]

     Eve also partook of Adam’s God-likeness; both the unity and the distinction of the sexes is entailed in the words: “in the image of God He created them; male and female created He them” (Genesis 1.27). But in the very beginning there was only the male of the species, Adam, whose body was created from dust mixed with water, and his soul from the “inbreathing” of the Spirit of God (Genesis 2.7). In some texts man is said to be composed of spirit, soul and body (I Thessalonians 5.23). The “spirit” is the higher part of the soul, with which man enters into prayerful communion with God. In addition, as St. Seraphim of Sarov points out, the Divine Spirit (with a capital “S”) can be said to have been part of the original composition of man – before he lost It after the Fall.

     However, judging that Adam should not be alone and needed “a helper like him” (Genesis 2.18, 20), “the Lord God caused a deep sleep [“ecstasy” in the Greek Septuagint text] to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh; and the rib which the Lord God had taken from the man He made into a woman, and brought her to the man.” (21-22). The Hebrew word translated as “deep sleep” here, tardema, actually means “visionary trance”, which is close to the Septuagint’s “ecstasy”.[4]

     Nicholas J. Shaser writes: “The description of the woman made from the man’s “rib” has led to the mistaken conclusion that women are inferior to men because they originate from one small part of the male anatomy. Yet According to Exodus, for example, God told Moses to make four gold rings for the Ark of the Covenant, “two rings on one side (צלע; tsela) of it, and two rings on the other side of it” (Exodus 25:12). Likewise, when God takes one tsela from the man to make the woman, Eve comes from an entire side of Adam’s body, not a single rib.

     “Adam’s own words clarify that Eve comes from one of his sides when he declares of his wife, ‘Finally, this is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh!’ (Genesis 2:23). Had Eve been created from the man’s rib alone, Adam would only have been able to say that she was ‘bone of his bone.’ As Adam’s bone and flesh, the woman is the man’s ‘other half.’ When man and woman cleave to one another and return to being ‘one flesh’ (2:24), the two equal halves of humanity are brought back together. The primordial couple in Genesis represents God’s vision of equality and complementarity between the genders.[5]

     Why from the side? Because it is the antitype of the creation of the Church, the Bride of Christ, from the blood and water that flowed from His side in the sleep of death on the Cross. “It is not without significance,” writes St. Ambrose, “that the woman was made out of Adam’s rib. She was not made of the same earth as he, in order to show that the physical nature of man and woman is identical and that together they were the one source for the propagation of the human race. Thus neither was man created with a woman, nor were two men nor two women created at the beginning, but first a man and then a woman, God willing that human nature be established as one. Therefore from the very beginning of our race He eliminated the possibility that different natures could arise.”[6]

     And yet there is a difference, a difference. This difference is for the sake of sexual reproduction – but not only for that… Thus “Adam said, This is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be in one flesh.” (2.23-24) Thus “Adam,” writes St. Ephraim, “was both one and two, one in that he was man, two in that he was created male and female”.[7] Again: “He honoured [Eve]”, writes St. John Chrysostom, “and made them one, even before her creation”.[8] But “the wise counsel of God at the beginning divided the one into two; and wanting to show that even after division it still remains one, He did not allow that procreation should be possible through one person only….” And so, concludes the holy Father, “one may see that they are one, for she was made from his side, and they are, as it were, two halves.”[9]

     A more spiritual interpretation of the differentiation of the sexes is that through it God instilled in the nature of each one of us an intuitive understanding of the relationship between God and His creation, with God occupying the masculine, active role of saviour and protector, while man in relation to God adopts the feminine, passive role. Many Biblical passages portray God as the bridegroom of the human soul…

     Contemporary supporters of the LGBT ideology argue that the sexual distinctions are not important and therefore can be “renegotiated”, that men can become women and women – men. However, according to the Holy Scriptures, the distinction – and the attraction – between male and female was there from the very beginning, even before the fall. When Eve was created out of the side of Adam, he said of her: “This is now bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh: and she shall be called woman [isha in Hebrew] because she was taken out of man [ish]”[10]. Here he is acknowledging that they are of one flesh – in other words, that they are married – physically married. These words, as Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich writes, are “the foundation of, and the reason for, the mysterious attraction and union between man and woman”.[11] They “have become,” writes St. Asterius of Amasea, “a common admission, spoken in the name of all men to all women, to the whole female sex. These words bind all the rest. For that which took place in the beginning in these first-created ones passed into the nature of their descendants.”[12]

     “This is the origin,” writes Archpriest Lev Lebedev, “of the irresistible attraction of man to his ‘wife’ (the woman) as to the most necessary complement of his own nature. Union in love with the woman can be replaced only by union in love with God, which is immeasurably more profound. It is on such a union with God that monasticism is founded, which is why it does not lead to psychological complexes. But monasticism is not for everyone, it is the lot of special people, ‘who can accommodate’ this condition (Matthew 19.11-12). But for the majority the woman remains one of the most necessary conditions of a normal existence.”[13] Adam continues with the famous words which the Lord Jesus Christ, followed by the Apostle Paul, saw as the founding document of marriage: Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be in one flesh.

     Now it may be true, as St. Gregory of Nyssa argues, that the whole apparatus of sexual anatomical differences and sexual reproduction, being aspects of “the garments of skin” given to Adam and Eve after their fall, only came into being after the fall. If that is so, then sexual intercourse took place, as St. John of the Ladder points out, only after the fall. But the fact remains that Adam was a man and Eve a woman already in Paradise, before the fall, that they were married and of one flesh already in Paradise, and that even then they were attracted to each other in a natural, but sinless, unfallen manner. Thus St. Cyril of Alexandria writes of Adam’s body before the fall that it “was not entirely free from concupiscence of the flesh”.[14] For “while it was beyond corruption, it had indeed innate appetites, appetites for food and procreation. But the amazing thing was that his mind was not tyrannized by these tendencies. For he did freely what he wanted to do, seeing that his flesh was not yet subject to the passions consequent upon corruption.”[15]

     Now science has established that the intellectual and emotional differences between men and women may be related to hormonal differences and to different patterns of activity in the right and left hemispheres of the brain. Indeed, these hemispheral differences appear to complement each other rather like male and female.[16] It is as if each individual man and woman were one half of a single bisexual organism, so that each man appears to be “missing” certain feminine qualities that would make him more whole, while each woman appears to be missing certain masculine qualities that would make her more whole.

     Be that as it may, and whether or not such differences existed before the fall, the fall has accentuated and corrupted the differences between the sexes. Thus men tend to be crude, insensitive and boastful, and women – weak-willed, vain and easily led by all kinds of influences. But these fallen differences do not entail that in the beginning, before the fall, there was never meant to be any real and important difference.

     The restoration of the image of God in man involves, not the abolition of all sexual differences, but their return to their original, unfallen condition, not the abolition of sexuality but sexual integration. Thus men return to real masculinity together with those feminine qualities which fallen masculinity drives out; and vice-versa for women. After all, although Christ was the perfect man, with none of the weaknesses of fallen men, nobody would claim that He is anything but supremely masculine. And the Virgin Mary is supremely feminine…

     Again, modern medicine claims to be able to change men into women, and women into men. But sex-change operations appear to be far less successful than is commonly claimed.[17] And Dr. Paul R. McHugh, former psychiatrist-in-chief for John Hopkins Hospital and its current Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry, said that transgenderism is a “mental disorder” that merits treatment, that sex change is “biologically impossible,” and that people who promote sexual reassignment surgery are collaborating with and promoting a mental disorder.[18] And the reason for that seems to be that while you can (up to a point) change a man’s (or a woman’s) secondary, external secondary characteristics, you cannot change his primary, internal sexuality.For sexuality is not as superficial and “negotiable” as the modernists would like us to believe. There is more to sexuality than meets the eye…

     The deeper aspects of sexuality, even on the purely physical plane, appear to be immutable.[19] Thus every man has an X and a Y chromosome, while every woman has two X chromosomes; and there are at least 6,500 genetic differences between men and women which no amount of hormones or surgery can change. As a scientific journalist writes: “Although men and women sometimes act like separate species, scientists have long assumed that – in terms of their DNA – they are more or less the same. But a new study has shown that the sexes really are quite different, reports Nature magazine, and it all comes down to the X chromosome. Women carry two X chromosomes; men, by contrast, have one X, inherited from their mothers, and one Y. The Y is an ‘eroded’ version of the X chromosome with fewer than 100 working genes. The X, by contrast, has more than 1000, and is able to deploy them more intricately. “Because women have two X chromosomes, one is inactive. But that doesn’t mean it’s entirely silent. The new research has revealed that up to 25 % of genes in the so-called inactive chromosome are actually switched on. In other words, women are getting ‘double doses’ of some genes. ‘The effect of these genes from the inactive X chromosome could explain some of the differences between men and women that are not attributable to sex hormones,’ said Laura Carrel of Pennsylvania State University. These could include emotional, behavioural and physical differences, including susceptibility to disease. Although the X contains only 4% of all human genes, it accounts for almost 10% of those inherited diseases that are caused by a single gene. These ‘X-lined’ disorders include colour blindness, haemophilia, various forms of mental retardation and Duchenne muscular dystrophy. With no ‘spare’ X to make up for genetic deficiencies, men are more vulnerable to ‘X-linked’ conditions.”[20]

     Thus the scientific evidence, taken as a whole, supports both the thesis that the sexuality of a man or woman is immutable, and St. Gregory’s view that certain secondary sexual characteristics were “added” to the original man and woman after the fall. On the one hand, since, as the Lord says, there will be no marriage in the resurrection, it follows, as St. Gregory writes, that these secondary characteristics will not exist in the Kingdom: “If the organs of marriage exist for the sake of marriage, when that function does not exist we shall need none of the organs for that function”. [21]On the other hand,“male and female created He them”: the evidence also supports the position that there is a deeper, primary level of sexuality that is “wired into” the nature of men and women and cannot be removed or changed; from which it follows that the attempt to remove or reverse or “renegotiate” sexuality is unnatural and perverse…

August 13/26, 2019.

[1] St. Anastasius, Hexaemeron, Book VII, Part 2.

[2] St. Basil, in Rose, op. cit., p. 149.

[3] Lossky, In the Image and Likeness of God, Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Theological Seminary, 1989, pp. 71-72.

[4] Shaser, “Splitting the Adam”, Hebrew Bible Center, June 7, 2018.

[5] Shaset, “Did Eve Come from Adam’s ‘Rib’?” Israel Bible Weekly, June 6, 2018, https://weekly.israelbiblecenter.com/eve-come-adams-rib/?via=5051b71

However, the surgeon J.E. Shelley had a different interpretation: “The account in Genesis 2.18-25 is as factual as words can make it. It reads like the account which a surgeon writes for the records of the operating theatre! God performs a surgical operation under general anaesthesia, a rib re-section in this case. Note the detail: ‘He closed up the flesh instead thereof’. In just such a manner would a surgeon describe his closing up of an incision. Remarkably enough, provided that the surgeon is careful to leave the periosteum (the membrane which envelops the bones) of the removed rib, the rib will reform in a non-septic case, and the operation performed upon Adam was truly aseptic. So far as I remember, the rib is the only bone in the body of man which will do this. God gave it this property, which is why He chose it. With the vast reservoir of living cells contained in this rib, ‘He built up Eve’.” (How God created Man, a Bible Christian Unity Fellowship Study, p. 6. Out of the 206 bones in the human body, only the rib can regenerate itself when taken out of the body. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZVfqvmnViM

[6] St. Ambrose of Milan, On Paradise, IX, 48.

[7] St. Ephraim the Syrian, Commentary on Genesis, 2.12; quoted in Robert Murray, Symbols of Church and Kingdom, Cambridge University Press, 1975, p. 302.

[8] St. John Chrysostom, Homily 31 on I Corinthians, 5.

[9] St. John Chrysostom, Homily 12 on Colossians, 5.

[10] The Hebrew words “ish” and “isha” (like the English “man” and “woman”) emphasize the unity of the sexes in a single human nature. For “this name,” as St. John Chrysostom says, “should reveal their common creation and become the foundation of a durable love and the cement of their union” (Homily 6 on Genesis, 5).

[11] Velimirovich, The Prologue from Ochrid, Birmingham: Lazarica Press, 1986, volume IV, p. 241, November 25.

[12] St. Asterius, Sermon on Matthew 19.3, P.G. 40:228; in S.V. Troitsky, “Brak i Tserkov’”(“Marriage and the Church”), Russkoe Vozrozhdenie (Russian Regeneration), 1986 (III), № 35, pp. 25-26.

[13] Lebedev, “O masterakh i margaritakh” (“On Masters and Margaritas”), Pravoslavnaia Zhizn’ (Orthodox Life), 53, № 5 (640), May, 2003, p. 31.

[14] St. Cyril of Alexandria, On I Corinthians 7; quoted in Walter Burghardt, The Image of God in Man according to Cyril of Alexandria, Woodstock, Maryland: Woodstock College Press, 1957, p. 98.

[15] St. Cyril of Alexandria, Against Julian, 3, P.G. 76, 637; quoted in Burghardt, op. cit., p. 98.

[16] Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, The Essential Difference: Men, Women and the Extreme Male Brain, London: Allen Lane The Penguin Press, 2003.

[17] Walt Heyer, “’Sex change’ Surgery: What Bruce Jenner, Diane Sawyer, and you should Know”, http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/78949.htm, April 27, 2015.

[18] Michael W. Chapman, “Johns Hopkins Psychiatrist: Transgender is ‘Mental Disorder;’ Sex Change ‘Biologically Impossible’”, cnsnews.com, June 2, 2015. Cf. “The Transgender Tipping Point: America’s Next Civil Rights Frontier”, Time Magazine, June 9, 2104.

[19] Cf. Dorothy Kimura, «Sex Differences in the Brain», Scientific American, vol. 267, September, 1992, pp. 80-87.

[20] “The Difference between Men and Women”, This Week, March 26, 2005, p. 17.

[21] St. Gregory, On the Soul and the Resurrection, 10. However, Hieromonk Seraphim Rose writes that “Adam and Eve were created, like the whole of the first creation, in the bloom of youth and beauty, and already possessing the sexual distinction that would be needed in their fallen nature” (Genesis, Creation and Early Man, Platina, Ca.: St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 2000, p. 187)