- Date: September 10, 2023
- Bible Reading: Genesis 2:4b-25
- Free Resource: Narrative Lectionary Planning Tool
- Unit Theme (September 10—September 24): God Creates Family
- The Point: We are created to be partners in God’s work.
The creation story in Genesis 2, like the rest of Scripture, has been used to justify the exclusion and mistreatment of women and LGBTQIA+ people. This is antithetical to God’s unconditional love.
Welcome to the beginning of the Narrative Lectionary Year 2! You, of course, could be reading this for a different reason, but during the program year (roughly September to May/June), my weekly blog post is a reflection on the upcoming Narrative Lectionary reading with a focus on the broad scope of faith formation, not just preaching. This goes along with our offerings of faith formation resources for the NL. [During the summer, I chose a variety of general topics. This past summer included series on Insiders and Outsiders, Spirit & Truth’s Core Values, and Expansive/Inclusive Worship.]
Faith Formation Leaders
My primary audience for this blog is faith formation leaders. What do I mean by this? You can read elsewhere what I mean when I used the term “faith formation,” but for me, a faith formation leader is basically anyone in ministry, whether you are a pastor, a professional children’s or youth minister, a worship leader, or a volunteer Sunday school teacher. It is my goal to provide you with a different perspective and suggestions on how to teach, preach, guide small groups, or lead worship in terms of the upcoming Bible reading.
As I reflected on in my series on our Core Values, one of these values is inclusivity, which I see as a direct consequence of our value that Love Is Supreme. All too often, we in the church have used Scripture and our traditions to exclude entire groups of people. Sometimes we do this intentionally, but often this is unintentional. With our faith formation products, our goal is to use our words to be as inclusive as we know how to be, adapting and improving as we learn more.
Exclusionary Reading of Genesis 2: Women
To the surprise of absolutely no one, we broken humans can misuse Scripture to benefit ourselves and as a weapon against others. We find ways to choose the verses and interpretations that say what we want to say—and claim it’s God speaking. As faith formation leaders, it is important for us to become aware of how others have misused Scripture and attempt to avoid misusing Scripture as well.
One of the common ways that people have misused our assigned text in Genesis 2 is in the mistreatment of women. Roughly speaking, the argument that I’ve heard is that a man was created first and the woman was created to be subservient to the man. Thus, women are lesser and need to serve men to be following God’s will. While this has often been taught and practiced blatantly, there can also be more subtle ways that this misuse of Scripture can lead to misogyny.
Exclusionary Reading of Genesis 2: Binary
Another way that Genesis 2 has been used to exclude and harm people is as a proof text condemning queer people, especially those outside of the gender binary. You can learn more about the gender binary and other LGBTQ+ terminology here, but the gender binary is a concept that states that there are only two genders—male and female—and usually also goes along with a condemnation of all transgender people. You can see how the specific statement of male and female in Genesis 1:27 and the story of humanity’s creation here in Genesis 2 can lead someone to condemn anyone who does not fit within a person’s assumptions about gender.
Okay, so you want to avoid harm as you teach, preach, lead worship, etc. What do you do? Well, lots of different things, but here are a few suggestions:
- Be aware of the problem. You cannot help solve a problem if you aren’t aware of it (or do not admit it’s real).
- Seek out different voices. Especially seek out the voices of people who have been traditionally excluded or harmed by the church. Honor their lived experience and don’t argue with them.
- Watch your language. The words we use matter. As people whose work revolves around writing and editing words, this is something that we are keenly aware of. Learn about what language has been used to exclude others and try to avoid it.
- Be intentional about your focus. Perhaps you aren’t ready to wrestle with the issues of gender in Genesis 2, especially with your second graders (or whoever). That’s fine. But make sure that your teaching/preaching/etc. focus is on something else that does not include whatever problematic reading. In our materials, the first unit theme is “God Creates Family” and the main idea for this lesson is “We are created to be partners in God’s work.” These are important themes and ideas in this text.
Take your time as you prepare to lead your faith formation experience and consider how you can not only “do no harm” but also bring the inclusive, life-transforming, and unconditional love of God to those who desperately want to hear good news.
In God’s amazing love,
Gregory Rawn (Publisher)
During the main Narrative Lectionary year (this year: September 10 to May 19), we provide a free resource download from one of our products to help you in your faith formation ministry. This week, download our free resource, the Narrative Lectionary Planning Tool to help you as you prepare for your NL faith formation work.
Order Faith Formation Resources
The 2023-2024 program year has begun! Are you still looking for resources? Order easy-to-use, theologically sound, and effective resources now for the Narrative Lectionary, as well as for the Revised Common Lectionary, and even classic Sunday school Classroom curriculum for PK-2nd and 3rd-6th (check our blog post for a special discount)!
Looking for a resource for intergenerational events, whole-church series, or even something new for Sunday school? Check out our Learning Together series! These five-lesson units are available on six different topics, one of which is FREE! The other five are quite affordable with variable pricing starting at $25 for a program with 1-10 participants. Perfect for children’s and intergenerational ministries. The unit Bible 101 is perfect for starting the year in the Narrative Lectionary!
At Spirit & Truth Publishing, we might just have exactly what you are looking for:
- Resources for the Narrative Lectionary (2023-2024) (products for all ages)
- Classic Sunday School Curriculum (key Bible stories for PK-2nd and 3rd-6th)
- Learning Together: Five-lesson topical units for VBS, Sunday school, children, and intergenerational classes.
- Cross+Generational Confirmation
- Resource for the Revised Common Lectionary (2023-2024) (intergenerational classroom)
- Worship and Liturgy Education