Adam, Eve, and Rotten Apples
“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. ”
If Adam had “authority” over Eve, then he shirked his responsibility and was therefore sinning before Eve did. He also proved his unworthiness as a leader because of his silence. This puts a major damper on the idea of a man “covering” a woman, since it did not prevent sin or protect the woman in any way. In fact, Adam later would try to shift the blame to her, showing that he was not only unable but also unwilling to protect her.
On the other hand, Adam’s silence more likely means that he HAD NO AUTHORITY over Eve in the first place. After all, there is not one hint of his having authority over Eve anywhere in the Bible. Like the Calvinistic assumption of the alleged death of mankind’s spirit, the pronouncement of Adamic authority over Eve is conspicuous by its absence.
But you will object: “Look at verse 16!”
To the woman [God] said, “A snare has increased your sorrow and sighing, in sorrow you will bring forth children. Your turning will be to your husband, and he will rule over you.”
Tell me, is this a commandment or simply a prediction? Let’s look at the very next verse for help:
To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ’You must not eat of it,’
Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. 18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”
By the “logic” that takes God’s alleged curse on Eve as a commandment, then it follows that God also commanded Adam (and ONLY Adam, not Eve) to work the ground, eat its produce through painful toil all his life, eat plants, sweat while eating (must have been spicy plants!), and return to the dust. Keep in mind that none of this applies to Eve--- right?
It should be obvious that both Adam and Eve have had to work, suffer, eat, and return to dust. Granted that only women can give birth, but the point is that this is a prediction and not a commandment. And as a prediction, it cannot be held out as “the natural order of things”. God never spoke of humans ruling over other humans until sin entered the world at this point. And both Adam and Eve had previously been given dominion over the earth and animals. So the reason men have dominated women is not some divine sanction or alleged inferiority of women, but the result of sin and corruption. Like suffering, domination of man over woman is a BAD thing!... unless you’d like to argue that suffering was something God wanted and meant for mankind.
Now let’s tie this in with today.
In Genesis 3:15 we see that God would someday provide a descendant of Eve (not of Adam!) that would “crush the serpent’s head”. That was Jesus. Although “struck in the heel” as this verse said, he sealed Satan’s doom. This ushered in the current age of the “church”, or assembly of believers in the Messiah Jesus who took away sin by his sacrifice and rose again. In this “church”, the effects of the Fall are beginning to be reversed. No more is mankind “thrown out of the garden” but can return to the presence of God as before, by faith in Jesus.
The apostle Paul had this to say about what has changed as a result:
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28 TNIV)
And James said:
My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. 2 Suppose someone comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor person in filthy old clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the one wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the one who is poor, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” 4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? (James 2:1 TNIV)
Although the immediate context there is about fawning over the rich, showing favoritism is clearly wrong for Christians. This certainly applies to how one race treats another, and also how men treat women. So both Paul and James are telling Christians that because we are saved, we must not act like the cursed world any more. Combined with the fact that Jesus had women as disciples and showed mercy and kindness to them in spite of “the time in which he lived” (a common excuse for bad behavior), the Bible clearly teaches us that women are not subhuman or under any man’s rule. Another log on the fire is 1 Peter 3:7:
Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.
No one should treat a “joint heir” as an inferior! What the NT says to Christians it says to all of them, not just this group or that group. It is a fact of American history that “Christians” once tried to justify slavery of blacks from the Bible. It is these very same arguments that are still used to enslave and repress women.
When will the church wake up? When will those who love patriarchy/hierarchy more than love and justice and fairness confess their sin? It is the sin of Pride that is behind the male supremacists’ unwillingness to pry their power-grubbing fingers off the wheel. Rather than being a case of women wanting to “usurp power”, it is these men who are guilty of this. They try to stand in the place reserved only for Jesus, who is the Head of the church. Like “proud Diotrephes” (3 John 1:9) they “throw some believers out” and cling to power, refusing to give it up.
Is it possible to be a nice slave-driver, or a kind bigot, or a gentle and wise overlord? No. Neither is it possible to be a good Christian while oppressing women or any other group of people, since they are spiritual equals. I’ve said before that Jesus told us that if he could serve us lowly humans, that we have no right to mistreat each other on the basis of imaginary authority. Even if you never actually practice domination, you are guilty of it if you believe it to be God-ordained.
Male supremacists, do you understand it yet? You are not the ruler over any woman. You cannot “gently and wisely” sin against God! A wife does not need any “covering” but Jesus, and she too has the Holy Spirit, and in no lesser degree. You are not her priest or dictator or owner or superior. You are not more like God than she is. Conceit is not a virtue! Drop the pride in man and see all people as God does, as equals.