At first glance today's reading from the book of Genesis may seem a strange one to land on Valentine's Day, the results of original sin. And yet, it is in some ways a perfect reading because it helps us to distinguish between what God wants the relationship of man and woman to be, and what is the result of sin.
In the beginning when God created them they were perfectly complimentary, ish and ishah. They were two sides of the same coin, humanity, the image and likeness of God. They are referred to as man and woman, husband and wife.
Once sin enters the world the relationship is ruptured. No one takes responsibility for their actions. Each looks for someone else to blame. The woman blames the serpent. The man blames his wife.
The most beautiful unique gift of the woman, the ability to give birth is transformed into pain. And the harmonious relationship with the environment is transformed. Obtaining even basic nourishment will require arduous work.
Worst of all the relationship of man and woman is transformed. They are no longer equals but as a result of sin man rules over woman. (Gn 3:16). And just as the man had named the animals, he names his wife (Gn 3:20). This is no compliment. If you go back to Gn 2:20 we see the linkage between the naming and the inability of the named things to be a helpmate.
This story from the beginning of the Bible puts the lie to the belief that Judaism or Christianity are religions that promote the domination of women by men. Our faiths preach precisely the opposite. Domination is the result of sin, like the pain of childbirth and even death.
On this Valentine's Day we are reminded of the perfect equality, symmetry, and complimentary that God intended man and woman to have. While no couple may ever achieve it, every couple should constant strive for it. Just as Jesus Christ conquered death, his grace can also help couples everywhere to conquer the other remnants of original sin.