published on 30 January 2012
The Christian Church has been in an uneasy relationship with sexuality nearly since her inception. In such a context, affirming sexuality is extremely difficult. The Biblical record does not appear to affirm human sexuality either. Yet, there is some evidence to affirm human sexuality in the Biblical text if we examine the ancient Hebrew way of knowing, which is deeply psychological and geared toward community.
The ancient Hebrew way of ‘knowing’ is always moving forward. It is a process in which three movements can be perceived: differentiation, recognition, and community. First, the ancient Hebrew mind, to understand a given problem, must sense what information is discrepant. The individual wishes to hear and see personally the discrepant information. Once differences have been determined, similarities are seen, and may outnumber the differences between individuals. Finally, in recognizing similarities, the Hebrew mind invites the other person into community, for within that other individual the work of God is detected. The Hebrew way of ‘knowing’ is a holistic, personal movement in which all the senses are used.
Using this paradigm for ‘knowing’, the Genesis creation story can be interpreted in a way that embraces sexuality. The Hebrew understanding of how humans relate with each other gives us clues to what Hebrew Biblical writers may have actually meant when they state that Adam ‘knew’ Eve, or that Abraham ‘knew’ Sarah. Their ‘knowing’ involved far more than sexual intercourse and an ensuing conception of a child. Indeed, the ancient Hebrew way of ‘knowing’ was deeply relational and took a great deal of personal interaction to develop.
Student World, Vol.64 (2004)