bone of bones, flesh of flesh

Genesis 2

21 So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

 23 The man said,
   “This is now bone of my bones
   and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
   for she was taken out of man.”

 24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

 25 Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.
I confess I do not feel particularly adequate for tackling this passage today – it’s been a long day; I’m tired and I feel the need to do more reading on it myself.  Nonetheless, I’ll have a go at reflecting on it, and hope I am not too vague.
Adam’s aloneness has only been emphasised by the parade of animals and birds brought before him, presumably both male and female in their kinds.  He, however, does not have his ‘other’, his matching counterpart.
Personally I take these verses as analogy and symbol rather than a literal removing of Adam’s rib. So what analogy, what symbol do I see?
Firstly, woman is made of the same stuff as man.  They are not opposing in substance; they are complementary.  Natural opposites but only within this same substance, what Adam calls bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh.  Today we might say: my flesh and blood.  There is a familial tie here, the establishment of a new relationship which completes the incomplete, while still being formed, ultimately, from the dust of the ground.
Adam reacts in joy – recognising his match, the one he has been lacking.  It’s a poetic response, one that also involves naming, but this time a name that derives from his own (the Hebrew ishah from the ish).
Here the narrator uses this as a reason for an application – that of marriage.  This, he says, is why a man leaves his family – his flesh and blood – for his wife, so together they become flesh and blood.  A re-union, if you like.
The two of them – the man and the woman – are relaxed with themselves, unabashed at their nakedness, not even particularly aware of it.
Further reflection:

Is this then, a suggestion that marriage is the ideal state for a person?  That if a man or a woman remain unmarried, they are somehow incomplete?
I do not believe this (and find this frustrating when both culture and church imply this).  This story may have been told as an analogy and reason for marriage in a certain culture, but even within the words of the text I see Adam, portrayed as without any human company whatsoever, very different from an unmarried man or woman today.  
From a Christian perspective, we are all one in Christ Jesus, regardless of gender or social background (Galatians 3:28), and our oneness comes from unity with Christ, not marital union.  Marriage certainly carries blessing, but it is not the only blessing in life: Paul, in 1 Corinthians 7 :32-35, writes of the benefits of remaining unmarried, that we are not always trying to please our husband or wife but are able to focus on the Lord himself.  Granted he was writing at a time when there were difficulties to be faced, but I think it’s a reasonable principle.  Jesus has become the focal point of our unity and our community (the body of Christ). This is the case regardless of whether we are married or not.
I am not trying to devalue marriage here, but I do feel that we have undervalued the single people in our churches and often we buy into this idea that we are ‘waiting for the right person’ to come along, as if this is the only norm and that for those who never marry or never have children, somehow they simply never ‘found the right person’ and are somehow lacking.  This focus feels a bit mixed up, in my opinion. We have been brought into an amazing community made up of men and women, celebrating their new re-unity in Christ.  ‘Family’ within a church context should be all encompassing – young or old, male or female, married or single.  
At least, that’s my opinion.

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