Genesis 1-3. The quartet…
For this fourth installment of my study on Genesis 1-3, I want to take a look at some of the misapplication of this passage and what it actually says in relation to Ecclesiology and, more inflammatorily, marriage. While many good people have made this mistake, it boils down to very flimsy logic or hermeneutical dishonesty. While I usually don’t enjoy focusing on a problem as opposed to answering it or making fun of it, this is a big one that I feel needs to be addressed.
Many of the times that Genesis 3 gets discussed in relation to these topics, it is used in a very misogynistic manner. Whether that is intended or not is debatable and not the point of this post. The first thing we need to remember is that the marriage relationship that we see getting drastically altered in Genesis 3 was actually intended to be an expression of the fullness of man’s creation in Genesis 2. Bearing that in mind, we need to see what the original intent for Adam and Eve’s relationship was to be.
As we already discussed previously, Eve was not an afterthought of Creation. It isn’t like God created Adam and suddenly realized that this dude would need a lot of help and couldn’t bear children on his own, thus leading to the spawning of this civil servant who would serve the ill-advised-yet-necessary function of giving birth. Adam was created completely unique from all the other living creatures and promptly began to feel the very emotion of his creator… the desire for a partner. God had Eve in mind when he created Adam. How do I know? When God creates Eve, he says that he needs to make a “helper” (Strong’s# 05828) for him. I love that the NKJV translates this as a “helper comparable to him”. Admittedly, that is a little bit of margin theology on the part of the translators, but it fits the word. This opens our discussion on the relationship of marriage.
While some theologians argue that Eve was to be Adam’s “helper” in the sense that she was his secretary and child-spawning device, I cannot support that conclusion. A simple word study on the word translated “helper” shows that in the 21 times this word is used, 15 of those times it is ascribed directly to God and four of the remaining six are referring to an ally in battle. That leaves us with the two references in Genesis 2 which are describing the need for Eve. Unless you are willing to call God your secretary (even though we might treat him that way), I dare say that that is an unfair use of the term when describing Eve. Eve was created as someone that Adam could go to war with and depend upon … not a servant to be controlled. The scary part is that this really shifts the blame for the Genesis 3 episode from Eve (the perpetrator) to Adam (the ally who failed to help and then followed into sin). The thing about allies…… they are a soveriegn nation that (usually) is fully capable of standing on it’s own two feet. Allies join together for the common defense to defeat an enemy or accomplish a mutually beneficial task that requires the participation of both. Eve was not a servant, but a friend and peer. At least, that is what she was originally.
For those who argue that this cannot be because Adam was created first, I ask them to consider this. If you say that Adam is more important than Eve because he came first, you are actually inverting the order of Creation which not only makes mankind the LEAST important creature on the planet, it also dishonors the women in our midst by making them the scum of the earth. While everyone agrees that the first is clearly unbiblical, hermaneutics demand that the passage be interpreted consistently. If man is the most important creature merely because he is created last (as much of Western Christianity believes), then women should actually take a place of higher honor than men for being the crowning achievment of all creation.
The other argument to be had is with Genesis 3:16 where God “seemingly” changes Eve’s role. “To the woman He said: ‘I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you.'” Gliding past the fact that childbirth would have been without pain before the fall, we come squarely face to face with this statement that seems to make Adam a ruler over his wife. It is my contention that this is not giving a command of form, but rather a statement of fact. Eve has been created desiring her husband, but due to his own loss of identity from the fall (discussed in brief earlier) he will rule over her. Eve has been told that she will desire the man she was created for, yet she will receive the monster he has become. If this is true, it has far-reaching ramifications.
If someone is using Genesis 3:16 to be a proponent of male domination of the planet, aside from misapplying a scripture that is clearly speaking of marriage, they are perpetuating the injustice of the fall. Men, the more you become like Christ through the transformation process of sanctification, the less of a ruler you will be to your wife. As I once told a friend of mine, it is much easier to follow a leader who demonstrates the servant leadership of Christ than it is to bend to a dictator. I’m all for men being leaders in their home (as that is their position according to other scriptures), but that leadership is not totalitarianism–it is love. Yes, wives are supposed to submit to their own husbands, but those very same husbands are supposed to love their wives “as Christ loved the church and laid his life down for her.” Most couples in this sort of trouble are not in trouble because the wife needs to submit to her husband more (though I’m sure there are at least a couple of places where that is true), rather most couples in trouble are so because the husband has forgotten his command to love without regard to his own well-being.
Now let us consider the church from this perspective… in the next post…… Part 5 coming soon.