Whatever Happened to God’s Design?

“God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day” (Genesis 1:31).

“Now Cain said to his brother Abel, ‘Let’s go out to the field.’ While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him” (Genesis 4:8).

“The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time” (Genesis 6:5).

“He treated Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, male and female servants, and camels” (Genesis 12:16).

“Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, ‘I’ll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel’” (Genesis 29:18).

“Now Dinah, the daughter Leah had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the women of the land. When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, the ruler of that area, saw her, he took her and raped her” (Genesis 34:1-2).

Upon reviewing all creation, God saw it was “very good.”  God had created humans to live in unity with one another. This unity reflected the image of God. God is three in one. Male and female could be two in one.

But what happened to God’s design for humans to live in unity with God and one another? The story quickly turns from very good to very bad. Murder. Evil hearts. Enslaved males and females. Women treated as property. Women overpowered.

How did we get from very good to thoroughly evil? How did we move from humans reflecting God’s unity to murder? How did we move from male and female being “one flesh” to enslavement and rape?

The answer is found in a garden power grab in Genesis 3. Adam and Eve viewed free will as an opportunity to gain power rather than an opportunity to live united, together under God’s rule. As a result, for the first time scripture speaks of humans “ruling” over one another. And their “ruling” over one another is expressed in numerous ways including murder, enslavement, and rape.

God intended for humans, male and female, to live under God, over the earth, and side by side. Sin was rooted in and resulted in human dissatisfaction with God ruling over humans and human desire to rule over God and other humans. God’s design was the unity of “one flesh.” Sin’s result was the fleshly desire to “rule over.”


“Hospitality, therefore, means primarily the creation of a free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy. Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place. It is not to bring men and women over to our side, but to offer freedom not disturbed by dividing lines. It is not to lead our neighbor into a corner where there are no alternatives left, but to open a wide spectrum of options for choice and commitment. It is not an educated intimidation with good books, good stories and good works, but the liberation of fearful hearts so that words can find roots and bear ample fruit. It is not a method of making our God and our way into the criteria of happiness, but the opening of an opportunity to others to find their God and their way. The paradox of hospitality is that it wants to create emptiness, not a fearful emptiness, but a friendly emptiness where strangers can enter and discover themselves as created free; free to sing their own songs, speak their own languages, dance their own dances; free also to leave and follow their own vocations. Hospitality is not a subtle invitation to adopt the life style of the host, but the gift of a chance for the guest to find his own.”
–Henri Nouwen in Reaching Out