This past year as I saw image after image of Kaitlynn Jenner, I began pondering, “Just what does it mean to be a woman?” Culture’s definition keeps changing. Not all women are wives or mothers, not all are domestic, and not all are career-driven. Since culture now claims anatomy nothing to do with it, how do we define what a woman is?
It’s in times like these, that I trust in the enduring truth of God’s Word. So in the first post, we studied Genesis 1 that teaches women are created in the image of God to rule. In the second post, we learned that Genesis 2 teaches that women are equal to men, but distinct. Only a woman has the potential to be supernaturally made one flesh with a man in a way that reflects God’s triune image. Likewise, only a man can be supernaturally made one flesh with a woman. There is no other distinction between man and woman listed in the creation account; and everything points to their equality.
However, Genesis 3 records how sin ruins paradise. Many believe that because Eve first ate the forbidden fruit, she disqualified herself as an equal ruler. However, the Bible says sin entered the world through Adam, not Eve. Romans 5:12 says, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—“ This passage is talking about Adam, who is named just two verses later in verse 14. Likewise, 1 Corinthians 15:21 says, “For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.”
Why does the Bible say sin entered the world through Adam? Well, God commanded Adam to not eat the fruit. Eve hadn’t been created yet (many Bible scholars think that Adam later taught the command to Eve). We also know that Adam was with Eve the whole time she was tempted (Genesis 3:6). He silently watched her interaction with the serpent and never intervenes. He let “sin enter”. When Eve eats & doesn’t drop dead, he decides to eat also. Apparently, Adam was curious to try the fruit & willing to let Eve be the guinea pig. 1 Timothy 2:14 hints that Adam’s sin was a bit more premeditated, “Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.” Basically, Adam knew what he was doing, he sinned knowingly. This isn’t exactly a great reason for Adam to be deemed the more worthy leader. I don’t which is worse – a ruler who sins knowingly or a ruler who is deceived into sinning, but neither is good!
The very next thing that happens is Adam assumes this ruling role. He gives the woman a lesser name: Eve, which means “life” for she would be the mother of all the living (Genesis 3:20). Remember, God had given the woman two responsibilities: to rule & to multiply. But Adam denies that ruling is part of her identity. He makes her identity only about the child-bearing. In doing so, he also downplays his responsibility in child-bearing. Why doesn’t he call himself “life” –after all, he would be the father of all the living! Instead he divides the responsibilities, taking the ruling responsibility & giving her the child-bearing responsibility. And Eve accepts this. This has been the trend ever since. Culture continually elevates the man’s ruling responsibility, but downplays his parenting responsibility. Culture elevates woman’s parenting responsibility, but downplays her ruling responsibility.
Note, that God never calls this new arrangement “good”. Rather, he promises eventual salvation from it when he says that the Eve’s offspring (Jesus) will crush the serpent (Satan).
Now here’s where we have to be really careful about our theology. Men ruling over women is clearly a consequence of sin. But as Christians, we believe that through the sacrifice of Christ Jesus, we gain freedom from sin. That freedom begins not just in the next life in heaven, but it actually begins now. The Holy Spirit lives in us & begins to bear fruit in us. Our old nature dies, our new nature is born & we become increasingly conformed back to the image of God. Well, what is that image we are conformed to? Was the image of the triune God one of dominance? Or was the image of the triune God one of equality? It is an image of equality – where just as the persons of the Trinity are equal & rule as one, so the man & woman to be are equal and rule as one flesh. This is the image that got broken with sin, but through the power of our resurrected Lord we can reclaim it!
And so many women in Scripture do reclaim their true purpose. In the next post, we’ll grapple with how we reconcile the Bible’s example of top female leaders with the Bible’s teaching on male headship – and how that applies to us today.
How have men been an idol to you?