Friday, July 26, 2013

11 thoughts on men and women in Genesis 2-3

1. The woman was created as a helper to Adam: almost the same as him “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh!” (Gen 2:24) yet sufficiently different from him for God’s purposes to be achieved. They are to fill and subdue the world together (Gen 1:27-28). She is created from Adam and it is God’s plan that the two will be continue to be one flesh. They are living alongside one another, naked and unashamed. There is nothing marring their relationship, no sense of fear or insecurity.

2. In Eden, there is an ordering of the male-female relationship since Adam was created first and Eve was made from him. Yet it’s hard to imagine that that ordering was ever mentioned between the two of them. Adam is delighted with the woman. She is from his side and at his side. They are one. He cannot achieve God’s purposes without her, nor does he want to. He needs her. He delights in her. 

3. The serpent approaches Eve in the garden, plants the seeds of doubt in her head and influences her. There is no record of her having received the command to not eat from the one tree from God himself, perhaps it was Adam who told her. Regardless, Eve knew she was not to eat the fruit and then ate it anyway. When confronted by God, rather than confess her willful sin, she pleaded stupidity: the serpent ‘deceived’ her. What?!? Did he chop up the forbidden fruit and put it in a fruit salad disguised with apples and bananas? Can I suggest that avoiding responsibility by pleading stupidity is a common feminine fault? 

4. With the fall, Adam and Eve’s relationship is compromised. Their first thought is to cover up - from eachother and from God. Rather than delighting in her, he blames her and blames God for making her.

5. The curses pronouced on the woman are directed at her two unique roles: as child bearer and as wife. 

6. The great multiplying of her pain in childbearing does not just refer to the act of giving birth but to the pain that every woman from 12 years old up knows only too well. What was to be her joy is now difficult and dangerous. A woman’s ability to have children leaves her mentally and physically weakened and if she does have children, her body will bear the scars long after the children have grown. 

7. Even though the act of childbearing carries so much risk, part of the curse is that women will still sign themselves up for it. Her pain in childbearing is great, “yet [her] desire will be for [her] husband.” (Gen 3:16) Hardwired into us is a driving need to pair up. 

8. Some have argued that “your desire will be for your husband” means that Eve desires to rule over her husband, usurping his God given role as head. They cite Genesis 4: 7 “sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you” and argue that as sin desires to rule over Cain, the woman desires to rule over her husband. I think a more natural reading of both Genesis 3 and 4 is that desire is speaking of a physical want. Sin is pictured as a hungry wild animal wanting to devour Cain. He is desired by sin’s taste buds and stomach. The woman desires her husband in a sexual sense. This is also the desire of Song of Songs 7:11 “My beloved is mine and his desire is for me.”

9.“And he will rule over you.” The woman’s desire for a husband is not only dangerous in that it exposes her to all the risks of childbirth, it is also dangerous because it puts her at the mercy of her husband. Her body, weakened through its childbearing ability, leaves her vulnerable to abuse. He is able to exploit this vulnerability, ‘ruling over her’. Hardline preachers are known to urge men to be rulers in their families, but it is interesting that ruling is part of the curse. In Eden, the creation order gave Adam a primacy (and women ought to show due repect to their husbands in view of this), but delight and unity was the song that was sung. The New Testament recognises husbands’ tendancy to exploit their wives’ vulnerability and urges them to love their wives.

10. As people who live outside Eden, we can expect marriage relationships to be strained. Men will be inclined to abuse their strength and exploit their wives. Women will refuse to take responsibility for their sin, pleading stupidity. Both will play the blame game. Marriage and childbearing will be a pressing desire for women - often to the detriment of their own safety and sanity.

11. For us as Christians, the Edenic picture of marriage is what we ought to pursue. We should look to live alongside our spouses, working with them in respect and love and unity to acheive God’s purposes for the world. 

[Changed my mind on this one. Not sure that Eden is what we should be pursuing. Is something different/better available for us in Christ? I'll think about it some more. (Maybe you've got ideas.)]


  1. Hi Simone, definitely I agree with your last point. Keep thinking and I'll keep watching this space.

  2. Point 9 is spot on. I'm always disturbed when men are urged to rule their wives. Where does the Bible tell us to do that? "Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church, and gave himself for her".