Kingdom Women

Eve and the apple

A few years ago Paul Young, author of The Shack was the main speaker at a House2House conference. Paul gave some fascinating insights on the account of the Fall in Genesis 3.

I’d often wondered why Adam was blamed for the Fall rather than Eve. I’d always assumed it was because he was the one to whom the command not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was given. However, there may be more to it than that.

As a response to my last post, Chris posted a comment reminding me of what Paul Young had shared at that conference. The following are Chris’s comments:

Amongst a whole lot of other stuff Paul pointed out that the woman has always been in a healthier place than man. When Yahweh questioned the woman she pointed to the snake and said, “He deceived me and I ate.” (Genesis 3:13)

She spoke the truth.

When Adam was questioned he hurled an accusation against Yahweh, “The woman you gave me…” (Genesis 3:12)

Adam blamed God.

Eve says that she and the serpent did it. Adam says that the Lord and Eve did it.

And where did they look for their sense of worth and significance after the fall? They could no longer find it in the Almighty. Eve looked to Adam (at least she looked to another person). Adam looked to the ground, the soil from which he could raise crops.

She is in a fundamentally better place. Men have such a lot to answer for, we still get our sense of worth from what we do (for the most part). Women find it mostly in relationship. Far healthier.

Interesting! What do you think?

Photo credit: Thomas Hawk (Creative Commons)

38 replies on “Eve and the apple”

I think that Gilbert Bilezikian (Beyond Sex Roles) brings out the couple of points that are worth considering:
Adam recived the prohibition directly from God. Because Eve did not hear God’s prohibition she was the lesser informed person and was deceived. Adam was not deceived, he knowingly went against the prohibition.

As to 1 Tim 2:12, the Greek has the force of “I am at present not allowing a woman to teach ..” When they have properly learnt there should be no reason to not continue on teaching, (as we see elsewhere).. PP 180, 263

Interesting points! Thanks Graeme. I’m especially interested in Bilezekian’s interpretation of 1 Tim 2:12–I’ll have to get the book!

I’m not sure I agree that she was in a healthier place. She says “the serpent deceived me” not “I took the fruit because I wanted it, disobeying your command.” The former is still blaming someone else “the devil made me do it” versus acknowledging one was dragged away by one’s own lust.
“Adam” can mean the same thing as “human” and clearly both genders suffer the elements of the curse assigned to Adam. Eve got some unique elements of the curse (childbirth, being ruled over) but also plays a unique role in redemption (virgin birth of Christ).
Both men and women have a lot to answer for. I disagree that finding worth in relationships is healthier than finding worth in what we do. Both can be forms of idolatry if not redeemed – and both can be subverted to sin. Both relationships and work can be used to abuse instead of build up.
As Paul points out, there’s currently no woman alive who did not come from man, nor man alive who was not born of a woman. We’re all in this together.

Any discussion on this necessarily must include 1 Timothy 2: 12-14 “12I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. 13For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.”

While the first part may be cultural (women teaching), the reason given is not.

I too would question how we resolve “weaker vessel” 1 Peter 3:7 with “fundamentally better place.”

Regardless of who we pin the blame on, none of us have to look further than our reflections to identify our guilt’s culprit.

What I wrote in my comment was only a small part of what Paul Young said. How I wish you could all see the recording!

He pointed out that the original and healthy state for men and women is that they find their sense of worth not in what they do but in who the Lord is. This is what was lost and it is what Jesus restored. In that sense, woman is in a healthier state than man. She looks to relationship, not ability.

And interestingly they are not called Adam and Eve in this passage of Genesis. They are ‘Ish’ and ‘Ish-ah’ and these names do not mean the same as ‘human’.

It’s not going to be possible to do justice to Paul’s address in this short discussion, but it was very impressive and for reasons he shared at the time he has spent decades researching it.

The 1 Timothy passage is terribly tricky for translators because of the way Paul changes from plural to singular and then back to plural. Jon Zens covers some of this extensively –

We’re going to be looking at the 1 Tim 2 passage in a future post. In fact Jon Zens has written something on this subject for me which I will post too.

This is so important that I might be willing to transcribe the DVD, but I’d need Paul Young’s permission and also that of House2House. It would take me some time to do, but I could publish it as installments on my blog. Would this be of interest to anyone?

Alternatively the DVD could be made into several Vimeo segments. House2House might be able to arrange that. Felicity, if you and Tony no longer have the disc I could copy mine and send it to you.

It’s quite possible I’m not getting the full context of Paul Young’s statement. However, I don’t see how finding sense of worth in relationship is healthier than finding sense of worth in work, when we were placed in the garden to do both. In Gen 2:15, the word work or cultivate can also mean worship.

Disobeying, our functions become unhealthy whether we are relating or working – and I think they are supposed to function together anyway. When our created purpose (whether relationship with Christ or working with Christ) is subverted by sin towards not-Christ, we die.

With regard to Adam, I should have clarified that I was speaking of Gen 3:17, where “the man”, “Adam”, or “humans” are cursed. However translated it seems clear that we’re all affected by the contents of 3:17-19, male or female. In creation’s resistance toward us and in death, the genders are equal.

It’s interesting to note that Adam and Eve were standing in the garden together when the servant tempted eve. It’s not like he pulled her aside or away from Adam to tempt her, we know that from the text. “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.” I think they’re both equally guilty, Adam could have easily stepped in and saved Eve, he heard the same speech, but he didn’t step in.

I don’t know if we’re supposed to walk away from the first three chapters of Genesis thinking that somehow man or woman screwed up more or less. However, I think the real gold is in what happens next, because it’s here we understanding what the curse was about.

I understand it this way…which I think supports your larger point.

The way God designed it was that both genders would get their identity and value from Him and Him alone. To see this just read through the first two chapters of Genesis and you’ll see God’s design for men and women and their lives together. It’s a model of unity, of co-leadership. My friend Morgan wrote a great post about it here:

But I think the really interesting part in the light of trying to understand the history of Gender Inequality is what happens later in the story when God shows up and explains what the curse is about. He says, the serpent will become enemies with man (we know all about that), that the women’s desire is for the man, but he will rule over her, and that man will desire the ground but have to work to get food from it.

And from that point on in history women have not only tried to get their identity from men but been held captive and ruled over by men…not the way God designed it at all, this isn’t a good thing, this is the curse. As we read the rest of the story and look at human history it’s clear that women have been the most abused, the most enslaved, the most held captive of any group of people. This isn’t the way God designed it at all, this is exactly what the enemy wanted.

But there’s good news…and the good news is that Jesus came to free us from the curse. When he came he announced his mission with a passage from Isaiah 61, and that passage says He came to heal the broken hearted and to set the captive free. TO SET THE CAPTIVE FREE. The question is who was the most captive since the curse? Who had been most mistreated and enslaved throughout human history? Women, right? The good news was that Jesus came to set the captive free.

Just look at how he treated women compared to society of his day. The women at the well, the women caught in adultery, Mary and Martha…and on and on. He treated women as equals in a society that didn’t.

I’m not sure that I walk away from the first three chapters of Genesis thinking that somehow Adam or Eve screwed up more or less…but I do walk away understanding the origins of all the mistreatment of women that we’ve seen since that time and even today. And when I read the rest of scripture (and for that matter look at human history) with that understanding, with the understanding that so much of what I see is a result of the curse that women will be ruled over by men, it helps me understand human history and patriarchal societies, and even the present day abuses of women. And it makes me want to stand with Jesus and fight to see the captives fully set free, so that men and women can be equal the way the God intended it. As Paul put it in the letter to the Galatians, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” That’s the good news.

Jon, it’s interesting that in Gen 3:15 God first says the war will be between the woman and Satan, and then (or also) with her offspring (as part of the serpent’s curse). That may help explain the rampant abuse of women, as well as a woman’s special role in the arrival of the One who defeated Satan.

I did enjoy the post, thanks for sharing the link. I’m not sure I see where the premise that women are uniquely life-givers or have elevated status in creation as the glory of God is grounded in Scripture. I believe the glory of God is Christ, and our hope in glory is Christ in us.

Often the rationale that women are better at nourishing, caring, and life-giving is used as an excuse for men not to participate in these parental works of love.

No woman (or man) can save a child or give a child life: only the Father through Christ can do that. Giving birth is special, but having children is not independent of man, and not a permanent life-giving act, as was Christ’s perfect sacrifice and the Father’s raising Him from the dead.

I agree with their speculation (we are not told why he did so) about why Satan targeted the woman. That he thought she was weaker does make sense to me.

In Gen 3:15, the enmity (warfare) between Satan and the woman, culminating in her (not Adam’s) offspring’s victory, was part of Satan’s punishment (not the woman’s). Perhaps this was God’s way of using the weak things of this world to shame the strong (1 Cor 1:27).

I agree that using Scripture to put women down is wrong and no doubt pisses Jesus off. I believe he will continue to use those we consider weak, outcast, lesser than us, foolish, poor, etc to shame us until we recognize His sovereignty.

Good stuff, Jon. I love the way you describe the curse. And let’s be really clear about it; men ruling over women is a curse, not only on the lives of women but on the lives of men too. How much good teaching and wisdom and balance has the church lost over two millenia?

Admittedly I did not have the advantage of hearing the entirety of what Paul Young had to say. But my sense is that there is no “healthy” side to sinning (“Eve says that she and the serpent did it. Adam says that the Lord and Eve did it.”). Both responses were “self/sin centric”. Each stepped away from the intended relational reality they were created to and intended to enjoy with the Father. Granted Eve put a “prettier face” on her sin than Adam did, but to sort of quantify one’s posture toward sin (relational vs occupational) does not seem warranted or indeed any “healthier” my view. Nor does it seem to me to be warranted in the sermon on the mount.
Not sure I can buy into the whole “better place” / “healthier” thing. Eve’s (a woman’s) intrinsic dignity in my view is rooted in something so much more significant than a kind of innate, instinct or disposition to “relationship”. She was (is) in the image of God who created her as an incomparable, irreplaceable complement to Adam.

OK, look at it in a different light then. She told the truth, he told a lie. She blamed the enemy (and herself), he blamed the Almighty. The issue is not whether sin has a ‘healthy side’. It does not. The issue is who accuses whom.

It’s not that she ‘put a prettier face’ on sin. It’s rather that he made it infinitely uglier by accusing the Creator.

And we have so often been taught that it was in some way the woman’s fault. As Jon mentions below, he was there throughout. He could have intervened. He said… nothing.

The great thing about Paul’s presentation was that he opened up what has been hidden. He showed that there’s more to the story than we usually realise.

Chris, I think they both lied, or at least couldn’t bring themselves to simply admit the truth. Eve blamed the serpent, and Adam blamed the woman. God had placed both woman and serpent in the garden. Any time we implicate someone else in our own sin, we are in a way blaming God (James 1:14).

Neither Adam nor Eve said “Against you have I sinned Oh Lord,” which would have been the truth. Other than that, I think I am totally on board with you about how we are to be about reversing the effects of the curse.

John, Love your last sentence about Eve being in the image of God–an incomparable, irreplaceable complement to Adam.

I’ve never heard it quite like that before but I was taught that Eve was truly deceived while Adam chose to disobey. It was used to show us that women were by their nature gullible and needed a man to guide them in making decisions. I don’t know that either is in a better place spiritually but I think in some ways its easier for us to relate to and maybe even obey God because we are more relational than for men who are more task oriented.

I’m a man, admittedly, but I have never seen anyone as task oriented as my wife when delivering our children. I’m thinking the relational vs task oriented is cultural/modern versus biblical/historical. The woman in Prov 31 is pretty much working all day. David was very relational. Etc. And the Bible is pretty clear that we are deceived when we want to be, James 1:14 for instance. I think the point of 1 Tim 2:14 is that women are no more capable of entering into a relationship with God apart from the indwelling Holy Spirit than men are, since woman (chose to be) deceived.

“…women were by their nature gullible and needed a man to guide them in making decisions.” Really? Perhaps it’s us men that are more gullible if we believe someone who tells us that :). I think you’re sharing a great example of exactly what God said the result of the fall would be…men trying to rule over and belittle women.

Don’t misunderstand me, there are clear differences between men and women…some areas where women tend to be stronger and other areas where men tend to be stronger. But I’m married to a women and she’s anything but gullible. The truth is I need her as much or more than she needs me when we’re making decisions.

When God created man in his own image, he specifically said “male and female he created them.” There’s something about the different sides of God and his character and personality that men and women each uniquely created to be image bearers of.

But I’m tired of men putting down women and using scripture to defend it. That’s exactly the sort of thing that really pissed off Jesus.

I agree with Tim Day’s comments below: Neither Adam nor Eve are in a healthier place. One says “I find my worth in work rather than in God,” while the other says “I find my worth in relationships rather than in God.” Both are a variation on the very essence of sin. And I think both could be related to the individualized curses in Gen 3:16-19.

Neither work nor relationship are necessarily healthier than the other; one person may relate to their work in a very healthy way bringing great blessing to others, while another person may be in a very toxic and dependent relationship bringing hell on earth.

Finally, I don’t see any scriptural support for Chris’ assertion that Eve “is in a fundamentally better place.” That immediately struck me as expressing a certain cultural perspective or rhetorical purpose rather than an explicitly biblical one.

Perhaps I haven’t explained this well.

We were created for relationship with the Creator. We were created for love. So relationship and love are a fundamentally better basis for worth and value and significance than work.

No matter how hard or cleverly I work I can never earn that original, holy relationship that was lost. Instead I must receive it as a gift from Christ.

To think that I could earn my way into his love would be futile, yet that is the route that we men tend to take.

And all of us are members of the church. We are all part of a woman, the Bride of Christ. We are her hands, her feet, her ears, her eyes. Paul writes that together we are to be built up until we reach unity and are made perfect. We are both the body of Christ and the Bride of Christ. It is a mystery! That’s the sense in which marriage is a mystery, too. Two become one flesh. Christ is the Bridegroom, we are the Bride. We are one flesh with Christ.

But we don’t get there by toil and effort, we get there through a relationship.

And that’s why accusing the Creator of causing our disobedience is the worst thing we can do. That is what breaks relationship. That’s what man did. But woman spoke the truth. We don’t have to call that fundamentally more healthy, we could call it something else. But whatever we call it, it remains a fundamental difference.

According to Genesis 1:26-28 God created man (both male and female) to bear His image and rule over creation.

According to Genesis 2:15 man was placed in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.

Thus a primary purpose of humans, per the Bible, is work. I believe our need for relationship is part of image-bearing, which is also primary. Two purposes, and we (male and female) blew them both at the first opportunity. We allowed the serpent to manipulate us (failing to rule creation) and we acted unfaithfully (failing to bear His image).

That dual purpose continues to this day. Relationship without work means nothing, like faith and works. Can I love my bride without working to support her? Or helping around the house?

Over and over again in the New Testament, we are commanded to work. To support the weak, to live our faith, and to progress in our salvation. In fact, God has prepared good works in advance for us.

Both relationship and work: in the power of the Holy Spirit, neither should be human toil and effort, but should be offered to God as a living act of worship. I think to over-emphasize either is dangerous and wrong.

As I see it, we break the relationship when we disobey, and the only way back is through confessing our sin to the one who is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from unrighteousness.

This had better be my last reply on the topic, Tim. I don’t have much more to say. I don’t mean to suggest that work is a bad thing, creation itself was work and the results were pronounced good.

Work sprang out of love because that’s what the Creator is – love. And love is relationship. On the other hand work can never be the source of love. Love has no source, or to put it another way – love IS the source.

So love and relationship are fundamental, while the work that springs out of love is good but never fundamental. There is also other work that is not sourced in love, the work of the enemy.

I remember Paul Young also spoke about ‘turning’. Once the relationship with Yahweh had been lost the woman turned to man, her origin, for her sense of worth and significance. But he turned to the ground, his origin, for his sense of worth and significance. But in Jesus we both have a restored relationship with the Father. HalleluYah!

Despite the good discussion here, I still accept Paul’s argument that woman is therefore in a fundamentally better place than man. It makes perfect sense to me and I will not be persuaded from it although I think it’s a hard teaching for us guys to accept. But it just makes so much spiritual sense.

I recall that at the end of Paul’s message the room was hushed and appreciative. Not one voice was raised to question anything he had said. It was very, very special. I wasn’t even there, but having seen the DVD I’ll never forget it. I confess I choked up and teared up several times as I watched – and hey – I’m a guy.

I’d love to discuss more with you elsewhere, then, or perhaps search for the video or audio. I just don’t see a Scriptural basis for anyone having an advantage over anyone else, seeing as how we’re all dead without Christ.

This excerpt and the following discussion reminds me of a time I heard a female mentor of mine speak about the difference of how Jesus related to men and women in the Gospels. She pointed out that to men, Jesus often spoke of the crucifixion (in essence, death, to bow down) and to women, He often directed them to the resurrection (to live, to stand up). This idea that Christ would emphasize something different based on gender left me feeling unsure. Doesn’t discipleship require a “personal death” no matter male or female?

Her words continue to echo today. I am a woman who is very aware of Satan’s and the world’s way of keeping women in chains (I really like what you wrote, Jon Dale). Coming to Christ as a teen within a not-yet-Christian family, living in the Bible belt where there is a strong “Christian” culture where people live according to many traditions that aren’t necessarily biblical leaves me feeling somewhat desperate to know what my femininity means to God. I am very thankful to you Felicity, as I am still so unsure, and these posts/discussions are helpful.

I don’t know if you are still a teen, but I am the father of two teen girls and one teen boy. Reading your comment brings out the dad in me. Please be encouraged that as you come to know the Father more and more, you will come to know what you mean to God, not just as a woman but as you. I feel like I should recommend Proverbs 8 to you.

Karla, I’ve never thought about the difference in how Jesus related to men and women in the Gospels before. Great points.

In a reply below Chris makes this comment, ” The issue is who accuses whom.” The fact is that there is an “issue” being made of a “non issue”. One would think that if this was a legitimate issue it would have been addressed in the scripture. One might have expected for instance that Jesus would have indicated such in His sermon on the mount. You know something like, “Now you all know that I have come preaching the gospel of the kingdom. A kingdom that is open to men and women. But guys you know that because Eve gave a better excuse than Adam she is in a better relational place than you. You have been and for all time will be in a worse (at a distinct disadvantaged) place with regard to entry into the kingdom and/or expressing the kingdom-heart issues I have just taught you about”. I am not aware of any scriptural basis for quantifying excuses for sin. But I do remain open. 🙂

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