So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
~ Genesis 1:27
But in chapter 2, God does something a little unusual, He creates a mate for every animal except man, and then asks man to choose a mate from the animals!
The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man… but for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God… made a woman… and he brought her to the man.
~ Genesis 2:18-22
What the hell was that about!? The Bible doesn’t go into much detail, so I’m just going to imagine the story went down like this…
“Choose ye now a suitable helper from one of my many animal creations,” God ordered in a somber tone. At first Adam was a bit apprehensive. “Surely,” he thought, “This must be the first practical joke! Why else would God make a mate for everyone but me?” But Adam didn’t want to seem rude. After all, he was new at this, and God knew everything about everything.
Adam politely shopped around, inspecting all the animals, pretending to fancy some more than others. He paused for a moment by the horse, and pretended to be impressed by its smooth curves and flowing mane. He gave God a small nod as if only to acknowledge His fine work, and God felt proud (indeed, God had worked a second longer on the horse, and was pleased that Adam had taken notice).
As Adam strolled along, God leaned forward, intensely curious which of His creations Adam would choose to know (yes, in the Biblical sense). Finding no suitable mate, Adam returned to God and sheepishly said, “Uh, yes Lord… all these are really great… very fine work, indeed… but, um… I, I just can’t see myself being with any of of them. May I have something else?” “Something else!?” God roared, “How dare ye object to all I have set before thee! Is my work not sufficient for thee? Have I erred in my judgement? For this request I shall forever curse thee with a mate as demanding as thee, and she shall forever be your undoing.” And with that, Adam fell into a deep sleep.”
All kidding aside, this Genesis story is difficult to believe for several reasons:
- It stands in stark contract to Genesis 1, where Adam and Eve are created as mates from day one… er… day six.
- The idea that a perfect creator would, in His perfect garden, ask Adam to choose a partner from the animals, is just… bizarre.
- It’s difficult to imagine that God actually had an alternate plan for Adam had he actually chosen to propagate with one of the animals.
- The Bible says Adam was a man, so like the other male animals, he must’ve had male genitalia. What was the point of making only half of a human reproductive system?
- It wasn’t fair of God to give Adam an order he knew Adam would have to disobey.
Apologetics meets bestiality
We could try to salvage the story by suggesting that God never actually intended Adam to choose an animal, but instead God wanted Adam to learn for himself that none were suitable. But this still puts Adam in the awkward position of having to question God’s wisdom and instruction (which God could’ve avoided by simply including a woman in the line-up). In fact, the next time Adam questions the soundness of God’s instructions, he gets evicted from Eden!
Perhaps, as Adam ate the forbidden fruit, he thought to himself “Well… God was wrong about the whole animal thing, maybe He’s wrong about this, too.”
A match made in Eden?
It does make me wonder… what would’ve happened if Adam had selected one of the animals as a suitable partner? Where would we be today? What would our children look like? Perhaps we men have made a horrible mistake by not choosing an animal helpmate as God instructed. Perhaps, if we had, we’d still be romping around Eden with a beautiful horse, or swan, or lioness!
I think the simple truth is that the storyteller wanted to emphasize how women are a unique fit for men, and that this event never actually took place… because… it’s just too bizarre.
But suggesting that this was not a literal event is a slippery slope; if we say this didn’t happen, then what about other bits? Like the talking snake? Or the 6 day creation? How much of it isn’t true? Did any of it happen at all? It’s safer for the believer to try and find alternate explanations for the story than to doubt its authenticity. But I have yet to hear an explanation that makes this story seem any less awkward.