Monday, July 25, 2011

King James Got It Wrong, Caitlin and Ben Got It Right

On Saturday I co-officiated the wedding of Caitlin and Ben with my friend and colleague, Dr. Bill Longsworth, at his beautiful historic church, FUMC of Fort Worth. Here are the personal remarks I shared with Caitlin, Ben and their guests:

Caitlin and Ben marry in an auspicious year, the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible. This translation of the ancient text had a profound effect on the development of our culture in the English speaking world. So profound is its effect, that even erroneous translations in the King James Bible have eclipsed the correct meaning of those words. One of the best examples of this is in the Second Creation Narrative in Genesis Chapter 2. We all know the story. God creates Adam or “the Man”, and unsuccessfully tries to find him a partner among the animals. So, God puts Adam under, takes one of his ribs, and from it “builds” “the Woman”, right? Well, wrong. What really happened there? Caitlin and Ben tell us.

When I asked Caitlin why she wanted to marry Ben, she wrote following, “Ben makes me a happy and a whole person. I know, with everything in me, that he will always take care of me, worry about me, make me happy, and love me.” Ben writes, in turn, “I consider her my backbone. Without her support I don’t think I would be the same person I am today.” Now, each of them wrote these comments separately without seeing what the other wrote. That fascinated me, because, again, when you take their comments and put them together, they reflect what the Bible is really saying in that ancient myth.

You see, the Bible does not say that God took Adam’s rib. It uses the word “tzela”, which sometimes means rib, but which more often means “side”. The Bible imagines God creating not the first man, but the first human, the first Ah-dahm, as an androgynous being with two sides, two faces, one female and one male, back to back. When God performs his surgery on this being, he splits it into two halves, man and woman. This is why the Bible tells us that man leaves his mother and father, cleaves to his wife, and they become, whole again, one flesh. What this myth is, in fact, telling us is what Caitlin and Ben are telling us. Marriage is where one finds one’s backbone, marriage is where one becomes whole.

So, Caitlin and Ben, thank you for reminding us of this important lesson. May you throughout your lives together share a profound and mutual love, where you make each other feel more complete more whole than you ever felt alone. And, may each of us be so fortunate to so deeply appreciate our lovers, as you appreciate each other.

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