Women in the Text: Creation Order 3

In the first and second posts on the creation order, I examined the creation story in Genesis with “ignorant eyes” to see if God hard wired gender hierarchy into humans. Now, I’ll move to the temptation. The created order is again evident for us to observe. I ask that you do as I did and remove your assumptions. The goal is to observe hierarchy in play. If it was hardwired at creation, before the fall, then it should be evident. Since they haven’t sinned yet, their behavior should be a clear example of gender roles as God intended, right?

1Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

6 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.

The Serpent initiates with Eve.

If hierarchy is hard wired, why doesn’t Eve defer to Adam when the serpent approaches? Hierarchy supporters say its because Eve is already starting to fall by usurping Adam’s right to lead. But can we say the first sin is breaking gender roles when God never gave a command regarding how Eve was supposed to behave concerning Adam? The Danver’s Statement says that…

Distinctions in masculine and feminine roles are ordained by God as part of the created order, and should find an echo in every human heart (Gen 2:18, 21-24; 1 Cor 11:7-9; 1 Tim 2:12-14).

Does this mean that Eve had an “echo” to yield to Adam’s will, but she ignored it? Hence, the first sin was really an unsubmissive wife and a passive husband? I don’t believe that. Instead, I believe that Eve was held accountable for the direct word of God: don’t eat the fruit, rule creation, multiply.

Why does the serpent go to Eve, not Adam?  We don’t know. I have a few guesses. Maybe he couldn’t tell the difference between them? I don’t mean he couldn’t tell them apart, but the ramification of either sinning was his goal, so he picked the one he thought would be an easier target.

Eve responds.

Again, if she was hard wired to acquiesce to Adam, why didn’t she? Maybe because she is able to respond on her own authority? Hierarchy assumes she is starting to sin at this point by defying her role and initiating. But, maybe she can speak for herself without Adam’s permission? The text just doesn’t make it clear either way. But we do know that…

Sin entered the world, not when Eve “usurped” Adam and made her own decision to talk with the serpent and eat the fruit, but when Adam ate. (I’ll have a post on the fall soon.) We can’t accuse her of behaving as a dominating woman, because sin hadn’t entered humans yet. So woman acting on her own authority wouldn’t be a sin! And in fact, she was required to exercise authority (be a dominating woman – Genesis 1:28) over all creatures, even serpents.

Does she respond wisely? Some say she exaggerates the command from eating the fruit to not touching it. Does this prove she isn’t used to thinking for herself, or that she got the command second hand? Maybe. But, lets look farther down. In verse 22, God references the Tree of Life and inserts that He is afraid Adam will “reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” Since God used this designation for the Tree of Life, Eve may not have been exaggerating the “Don’t Eat” rule of the Tree of Knowledge. We don’t know either way.

Conclusion

I ask a lot of questions in this post. I say “we don’t know” many times. And I think that is the point. We  infer and assume because there isn’t anything in the text about hierarchy!

Those who espouse male patriarchy like to say that Adam was shirking his responsibility by passively allowing Eve to decide what to do with the fruit; that Eve was revealing her aggressive desire to dominate. But this is not written in the text. It is assumed. Take away this assumption and I believe the myth that hierarchy was established in the creation order crumbles.