Pop-Up Theology*

Written by Molly Hawkins

As college students, reading and interpreting scripture on a progressive campus can be challenging. As a young woman, experiencing the social impact of a new era of feminism, overflowing with passion and a demand for change, it can make reading scripture especially challenging.

At the beginning of the semester, Pastor Kate read a passage from Genesis chapter 2:

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.

This passage left some students feeling a sense of hope and others feeling discouraged. As a result, a few of us met Pastor Kate the following week to have a theology discussion about this passage and how it contradicts or reinforces our beliefs about feminism, unity, and gender.

As we dove deeper into the passage, and learned more about feminist biblical interpretation, I walked away with a few new insights:

  • The first is that God provided the man with an abundance of natural life and that simply wasn’t enough. Until the creation of a woman, the man was lonely. I believe that this enforces the idea that women are important companions. Maybe the fact that God created women last does not mean our value is any less than that of a man’s, but maybe it reinforces how valuable we actually are. My favorite Christian blogger, Ann Voskamp, once wrote “Every life needs a woman. Every woman needs an advocate. Every advocate needs a dream. Every life-giving dream needs a woman. And we never stop circling back to the gift of women, the hope of women — the promise of women.” I think this quote encompasses the idea that God intended for women to be a hope and a promise.  Jesus turned to women, trusted women, and relied on women. I believe that women are a hope and a promise for the world.   and that was highlighted in this passage.
  • The second thing that stood out to me about this passage is that a woman came from a man’s rib. Within our theology discussion, we brought up many different ideas about what this may mean. When I read this, I immediately thought about gender. I believe that what God was trying to say is that we are more alike than we are different. Society likes to put things in boxes because it feels certain and comfortable. But I believe the things in this world that are most real are the things you cannot put in a box.

Faith necessitates being comfortable with the uncomfortable. As we wrestled with this passage, I wondered if God might be trying to tell us to stop looking for what makes us different and start looking at what makes us the same. If I walk away with nothing else from this passage, I know that it’s true that we came from each other for each other.

*LCM-TC looks forward to hosting more “pop-up theology” gatherings throughout the semester, where we dig deeper into a question that was posed in worship, and lift up student voices as they make meaning while reading scripture. Keep an eye out for more student bloggers talking about their understanding of how scripture is meeting the young adult experience!