One of my kids shot her hand up and asked "Why did God create man before woman?"
I knew it would happen eventually. My first stumper! I took a moment and said, "That is a great question! I honestly am not sure of the answer. Looks like this is one we get to save for next week!"
She was triumphant. She deserved to be. All the questions that got sent my way this year have been cake. To finally stump me... all the kids got excited. Ha ha ha. It was fun to see them so giddy. The best part, though, is I know all of them will be looking forward to how I tackle it this week. It's one of the reasons I love the question box so much. I've always got something to get them psyched about coming back!
Anyway, this one really did stump me. I talked it over with my Spiritual Director to gain some insight, but she had the same original reaction I did. We both had a good laugh over it, but neither of us offered any "concrete" answer that would satiate (and not befuddle) 6th graders.
My original thought process was "Man was created in the image of God. God, though "genderless" personifies the creative capacity of men moreso than the creative capacity of women. Though women take part in creation, it's a more passive role - accepting into herself the life that man offers. Mind you, I don't claim women are more passive in bearing forth life ('cause let me tell you, honey... we're about 1,000 times more active than men are in that regard). However, in the simple act of creation, women are the passive recipients of the life force men actively give.
Also, Adam may very well have come before Eve to solidify that God wishes men to be the heads of families.
That's when it hit me... God didn't create man first. God created man and woman at the same time. After all, when God brought forth Eve, He brought her forth from the rib of Adam. Eve, though not "alive" in the way we picture her - wandering around the garden getting hustled by a wily snake - existed within the bosom of Adam. God wished of Adam to recognize the need for a true mate so that Adam would appreciate the gift when God deemed him ready to accept her.
I then went and looked up the Hebrew versions of Adam and Eve. Here's what I found:
Adam comes from the Hebrew word "adamah" which means "earth" (a hilarious note for Battlestar Galactica fans out there). It also traces roots back to an Akkadian word, "adamu" meaning "to make." Akkadian, by the way, is a defunct Semitic language, so it's no wonder it shares the sound of the Hebrew.
Eve (or Eva) comes from the Hebrew word "havah" or "chavah" meaning "to breathe" or "to live."
Keeping this in mind, it makes sense, then, that Adam (earth) already possessed the breath of life (Eve) within himself. Until he was mature in both mind and spirit to appreciate understanding this gift, God with-held this knowledge from him. Adam thus had to ask God for a mate (prayer, anyone?). Only when Adam understood his need and God as the answer to that need did God cause Adam to sleep, thus enabling Him to "awaken" Adam, opening his eyes to the gift of woman that He chose to bless humanity with.
Okay, for real, how awesome is that?! The Holy Spirit let me dangle for a whole week this time, but ya know what? He knew the kids would be hounding me tonight, so He cut me a break. :) Three cheers for the Holy Spirit! :)