I am writing a Grove booklet on the biblical texts relating to same-sex unions.This is the first draft of my section on Genesis 1 and 2.
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number…(Gen 1.26–28)The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. The Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.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.”For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.(Gen 2.18–24)Traditionalist reading: The first creation accounts presents a strong image of humanity as male and female, a unified but binary reality, in which only male and female together fully represent the image of God.The second creation account fills this out further, portraying humanity at first as undifferentiated by gender, and only subsequently differentiated into male and female to address the problem of human aloneness.
The coming together in sexual union of a man and woman signifies the reunification of differentiated humanity in the image of God.
Revisionist reading: The depiction of humanity as male and female together as the image and likeness of God must be quite general, rather than specifically refer to marriage, since otherwise this would mean that the single person is deficient as the image of God.
The coming together of man and woman in sexual union is about companionship rather than reunification, and its meaning is primarily to do with the establishing of kinship bonds.
All these can, in principle, be extended to same-sex sexual unions.
Exposition The first thing to note about the creation narrative is that it is in two parts, which do not integrate with one another in any simple way. In relation to the creation of humanity, however, they share some key concerns.
Gen 1.28f offers a strong, binary presentation of humanity as male and female who, nevertheless, represent together the ‘image and likeness’ of God—unity and distinction almost alternate in these verses.