Workers and Lovers

Indeed, the first thing the creator God does with the man is not put him in relationship, but place him in the garden to “dress and keep it” (Genesis 2:15). God creates the woman not only as an answer to loneliness, but as a helper in this garden work (Genesis 2:18). Thus, the first humans in the garden are two things intertwined, workers and lovers …

This part of the story can prompt us to consider how erotic love and work might be deeply interconnected. For although many find themselves lost in the grind of meaningless jobs, there can be a deep erotic dimension to work that coincides with what is deepest in ourselves …

Genesis 2 preserves the vision that work can come from our core. Many of us find ourselves caught at least sometimes in oppressive or addictive work …

Indeed, the garden of Eden story sets the first human erotic relationship in the context of just such work. God begins the process of creating the woman by saying, “It is not good that the man be alone, I will make an help meet for him” (Genesis 2:18) … First and foremost, the man and woman in Eden garden share in working the ground from which they were made … It is in the context of such sharing of our deepest vocations that our relationships can become sacred and joyful …

For Genesis 2 does not envision humans just in joyful embrace of one another, but also as joined in common work. And society does not just shut down humans sexually, but it also forces people to engage in crushing work that alienates rather than enlivens them … This is the way that we are alienated, day by day and hour by hour, from our core passions and dreams. We may be tempted to assume that this is just the way things are, that we just need to grin and bear it. Yet this ancient text at the outset of the Biblical tradition suggests otherwise; it suggests that the God of the cosmos originally formed us for another destiny – for shared work and love.

David M. Carr
The Erotic Word (2003), pages 34-38

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