Adam and Eve are the center of the creation story we all know well. God creates a stage with everything we see naturally occurring. It isn't until a man walks across the stage, however, that the plot starts. And the first act is to create a woman. And unlike other stories that woman is not someone to save from a dragon or someone to clean a house as neither are yet introduced in the story.
Whether the man likes video games, or the woman likes sewing, or vice versa, is completely extraneous to the plot. It isn't worth even bringing in to fill out the characters on the stage. The story only progresses on one point, they continue creation together -- equally needed.
But the story is not unique to the branches of early Judaism (Christianity and Islam being two major branches). Norse mythology recognizes Ask and Embla as the first two humans. Hindu mythology points to Adam and Hevas. A Chinese mural may even show that a similar legend was told there, it shows a man and a woman in the setting of earth creation, and a mischievous monkey with a peach.
A great number of creation myths mark a different apex of creation that isn't human centered, yet still honoring the same duality where the father is the sky and the mother is the earth, and all living things are their children.
Humans are usually still created as man and woman, and sometimes work together in some form of rebellion to remake the world from the originally conceived environment to what we have today. For instance in Maori and Hindu tradition, they actively battle the sky and the earth apart. To what degree their rebellion, or how they work together differs. For instance in Greek mythology, Pandora acts alone with no real male figure around, to bring sorrow and pain into the world.
Today, we piece together a vision of the past, inductively. Many of the same elements still exist. Creation of everything living could have started in the spark of lightning in a methane filled sky creating a primordial soup on the earth that eventually roots into direct sustenance from the earth. Some theories even have a more direct seeding from living bacteria which evolved and formed in space on comets, that later roots into the earth.
Then at some point, man appears with the unique (to that point) ability to greatly affect the environment around him. Then this species moves from a state of being a hunter-gatherer, living directly off the life offered by the original creation to one that is actively involved in maintaining his own environment through toil and labor. Sort of like being kicked out of the house and having to live on your own, in a cultural progression from natural to civilized. In the act of changing the environment, mankind becomes responsible to upkeep -- live or die-- on their change.
The two key elements I glean from this elevation. One is how creation happens between the interaction of a complementary duality which story tellers can identify as a father and mother -- both equally necessary. The other is the responsibility -- or rather the transition of responsibility involved from the creator to the created for the environment they create for themselves.
Now, of course there are theories and myths that fit this model to
various degrees, some even providing notable exceptions. I admit to
taking some license with the altitude of the fly-over of the landscape
of all of these different stories. For instance, the anthropological
model of the paradise before civilization is not very paradisaical.
Being dependent on untended mother nature to provide food can be quite
hazardous to your health. And having to hunt and gather is no life of
ease. And all of us are ultimately still dependent on the whims of mother nature, however emancipated by our own creation of houses and such.
But I maintain that in general, this is an fair way to characterize the path of civilization.
Another notable exception is the very centerpiece I mentioned first (merely because it is the one I personally grew up with). The original creation figure is uniquely singular, "God" who needs no other interaction to create anything. Even if you take the plural connotation of the original Hebrew, you could argue that they stand united without need of anything around them, to create. However, their creation emphasize a creation duality in the culmination of creating mankind as man and woman.
And perhaps that is the point. This congruence between many stories could simply be an artificial anthropomorphism, something we relate to and understand like how we relate to each other as human beings. It is something universal that we found and then understand intuitively using the circuitry of our brains created for socialization. It could also be the opposite, an emulation that we picked through millions of evolutionarily adjustments to the natural environment around us.
At this elevation, whether contrived by mankind to understand nature or imbued in mankind by emulating nature, it looks like the same thing to me. It looks like a principle that is both elemental and natural, as well as personal and human. They both mirror the other with no real way to establish which came first, it is a uniquely human version of the chicken or the egg conundrum.
So its no wonder to me you can come to the same climax of the story whether or not you start with a lone intelligence of omniscience, or a duality that combines together to create life at the get-go. For what creates a whole universe and then culminates in the duality of man and woman? Or what is the duality or a mother earth and father sky which then humans emulate naturally?
By a duality of creation, I mean to denote those cases where we have separation and distinction in the participants of creation. The ability to procreate is not given to one alone, the ability is broken into complement parts and separated between two: sky and earth, man and woman.
Another separation happens in the transfer of responsibility. In moving from direct dependency on nature to one's on ability to create your own environment within nature, there is a degree of separation between nature and the creation. In becoming responsible for one's own environment where you must plant now to have food later, you have become somewhat separated from the dependency for nature to take care of you.
And now I walked us through the whole stage, the universe that Adam and Eve find themselves in, we come to the next act. Creation isn't over with the distinction of the man and the woman. The final act of creation is their marriage, bringing them back together. It is their assuming responsibility for what they create until they pass it on again to those they create. Its a recursive pattern, repeating itself and renewing itself with each generation.
Even in the stories of father sky and mother earth, often the culminating act for the two trouble makers who just changed the whole earth is to be united in marriage. I read this a few ways, one is "you two caused this together, now you two have to deal with it together". But there is also a romantic aspect of it, they worked together to conquer something they both didn't like and now their reward is each other and a heritage they created that is given as legend to each generation thereafter.
Their act, their creation, their choice, their ability to create, lives happily ever after even after they die. Hence the birth of legend and heritage itself. Adam might not walk on the stage carrying a book, but Eve (or rather the nature of their union and creation) becomes the mother of necessity for books.
At this point, one might see this as an attempt to say marriage is what it is, "yeah, yeah it is man and woman we get it already". It might be seen as an appeal to whatever natural circumstance created tradition in the first place to justify tradition. I think if I went down that road, I'd have to once again tackle that chicken and egg problem.
But I'd rather point out, that the healing of the separation or uniting of what is lost, is all happening through marriage. And that makes marriage the perfect story of egalitarianism, the naturally perfected model of enlightenment and equality.
What I described might be how marriage came to be as a natural product of the universe, but it is definitely the very model of equality that we hope to understand further by participating in it.
As I mentioned before, at that pristine point in the story (and here we have to look primarily at the myth rather than the inductive reasoning of anthropology) there is not character backdrop that gives us any reason to believe that one owned the other, or that there was any inequality between them. They might have been hunting buddies, they might have gathered together, they might not have. We have no insight in the division of labor until after they changed their own environment.
Sure, the primordial soup that really created life may have been made with just one stroke of lightning, but back then it is likely that Father Sky produced an order of magnitude more lightning then it does today and sustained that over millions of years. The energy used by either the sky or earth before life caught on is impossible to measure, but the value of their contribution (given that that model is accurate in how life was created) is not. Both were necessary, both were needed.
Here's an experiment in equality for you. Go to some room in the house where a light is rigged to two switches. You'll notice that either of them can turn it on, or off. Operators at both switches have to agree to some position relative to the other for the light to remain on. At each switch put two people, but reward them for the opposite result. For one person, offer five dollars to keep the light on. For the other person, offer five dollars to keep the light off. After as much blinking of the lights as you can stand, stop the process. Likely neither participant will feel sure enough in their victory to stop switching. The light was on and off the whole time, at different times so who wins? So in that uncertainty they likely will continue to try. You might have to assure them that they both lose, just to stop the blinking.
Now look at the other possibility. It is much easier to achieve one or the other if both are rewarded for the same outcome. It is settled almost immediately and both receive a reward.
In each scenario the energy both put in by each operator was roughly the same. The reward in each scenario was likewise the same for both participants, but not the same for both scenarios. That makes it equality along a very narrow interpretation for the operators. But in the marriage interpretation of equality, the importance of each person to a unified outcome is valued the same in only one scenario. The responsibility for each person is likewise unified for the same goal in only one model of marriage equality. And that also happens to be the only model where both participants receive the reward, both in the scenario and in the marriage.
That is a very binary example of the same dilemma that marriage hopes to unite people behind.
When ever my wife and I might contemplate divorce, (I'm not afraid to say that has happened) a few things come into much sharper focus. The first is that if either wanted the marriage off, it was off. We both had to be united to make it work to keep things together. We both had to be united for the same goal, and for the same purpose.
The other was that if we were divorced two things would not change. The first, we would both still be related through our children. We couldn't really escape from each other and be justified by the court in doing so. The second is that while separated we would not have any chance of equality. The third is that the separation, both in what was irreparably destroyed as childlike ideals, and in the confusion of what parenting is in the separation, would damage and hurt the children. There may be a way to forget the pain, but fixing the pain would be even harder.
Another fourth item came into focus, primarily for my wife. Life and career would be much harder for her than myself. She, having a father who still delinquent on child support in her parent's divorce, realized that like her mother she more stuck with the children then I would be. I might be a gallant sort who does everything I can, or I might not be, and she is at that whim. And even if I am gallant, her investment already in childbearing put her at a disadvantage in the career marketplace. I've already written a lot on this subject, that the gender gap in salary is really just a manifestation of the marriage gap. Women's tie to children makes them less able to take on the extra-demands that very high paying jobs give. Flexibility to handle children comes at a cost in salary that men seem to be able to dodge better then women (and I credit women for it because I feel it is because they are ready to take on that responsibility).
But just look at the statistics
, Google them if needed. Single women vs Single men, the difference in their careers isn't a pretty picture. At some point something's gotta give, someone's got to take responsibility for the kids and that requires flexibility from work. If women further seek emancipation from that responsibility, then it only comes at abandoning the children even more. Men seem to have their hands firmly on the switch of freedom from the kids.
On the other head of that same coin, however, are a movement of men who feel the women have completely cut them out of their children's lives. Men who still break down in tears about the last memory they have seeing their kids, men who would gladly mean more to their children then being a paycheck. These are men who claim they were falsely accused of things they never did, and guilty by vague suspicion only. Women seem well in control of the switch when it comes to custody.
What does this tell me? Well, it tells me that single women need more of our support. It tells me that we need more wisdom in how we handle custody. But it also shows, and what all four of those items showed me and my wife if we ever thought about separating, is that it is impossible to equally value each others responsibilities and rights if we were separated. Only when we were united for the same goal would we really achieve that reward.
So, we make it work. We do whatever it takes to make it work. We both are united for the same goal of equality, to equally value the rights and responsibilities of our spouse and the children we have together.
Only then does the marriage bring us the happiness we always expected it to. A happiness that only marriage can bring.
We are two people who need each other, we have that duality of creation. We are two people who have taken responsibility for our children, instead of letting nature have their way directly with them. Our choices are leaving a legacy with our children, just as my parents stuck it through some hard times we are continuing that example for my children. Just as my wife's mother took responsibility for her children, so is she continuing in that example. We are both taking the best of our parents, and passing that on. And the best always seems to be that heritage of changing nature to facilitate taking responsibility for each other and our children. Just like Adam and Eve, really.
The egalitarian model of marriage is -- to equally recognize the rights and responsibilities of the man, woman, and child they potentially have together. The unit is unique, it is the unit of procreation in humanity -- man, woman and child. It is unique in its completion of complementary duality of humankind. It is unique in its position to pass through example and emulation the principles of egalitarianism -- the integration of complementary duality and responsibility -- to the very products of that union.
Marriage is directly linked to creation, and my argument here has been that it is is the epitome of the model of egalitarianism because it is directly linked to creation in a way that has created civilization as well, and all that creation has meant throughout history.
To much? Too flowery? Too mystically universal? No. It is just as simple as a man and a woman ready create a child together, knowing full well that to fully stand without accusation they need to equally respect each others responsibilities and rights in how the child is created. So often we are told that history will judge us in how we come down in the debate about marriage. Should we be ashamed that we want to bolster our adherence to the egalitarian model of marriage? Well, perhaps more important to ask yourself is will you be accused of neglecting your responsibilities to your spouse or your children. Did you equally recognize their rights and responsibilities with yours?
But perhaps no better put then the place I first learned it, "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed."
As Tevia and his family sings about this very repetition of life, the bride and groom stand with quickly beating hearts. Sunrise, and sunset, quickly flow the years, one season following another. The passing of responsibility through the generations is like the beating heart of civilization itself.