The order of creation, the significance that Adam was formed before Eve, is an age-old argument for male authority. Here’s how the Danver’s Statement words it:
- Both Adam and Eve were created in God’s image, equal before God as persons and distinct in their manhood and womanhood (Gen 1:26-27, 2:18).
- 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).
- Adam’s headship in marriage was established by God before the Fall, and was not a result of sin (Gen 2:16-18, 21-24, 3:1-13; 1 Cor 11:7-9).
As was the case of slavery, I believe patriarchy (Male authority) was practiced in biblical times, but that does not mean we MUST practice patriarchy to be biblical or godly. Examining the order of creation for gender nuance might go a long way in proving that assertion.
In the beginning…
In Genesis 1, God creates distinct male and female humans. He unifies them in purpose and role. He calls “them” to rule and populate. No distinction in gender roles there. Only equal authority and equal obligations to care for God’s creation. In our rush to get to the specifics of chpt 2, let us not overlook the simplicity of this summation.
A little more details…
In Genesis 2, things are more detailed. There are a few theories on these separate accounts of the creation of man. I believe its a close-up look at mankind’s creation as given in chapter 1. That being the case, Chapter 2 should not contradict or deny the sentiment expressed by the Creator in the first chapter; that male and female are both to rule together. It will only affirm it.
18 The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. 21 So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
23 The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
for she was taken out of man.”
24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
Rescue Help or Servant Help?
In Genesis 2, one argument for male patriarchy stems from the understanding of the Hebrew words ezer kenegdo, translated in the English as helper suitable. It is argued that Eve was created to help (assist, aid) Adam. Her whole purpose is to provide help for him. But, the English misses the implication to these words. Kenegdo is loaded with equality. It carries the redundant meaning of “same as” (ke) and “corresponding to, equal, adequate” (negdo). Ezer is a strong word. It connotates protection and rescue.
This word for “help” does not imply an inferior, but a superior help, in O. T. usage. It occurs 21 times in the O. T. Here it is used twice of Eve. In Isaiah 30:5, Ezekiel 12:14 and Daniel 11:34 of human help; but in every other use made of the word, it refers to Divine help, as, for instance, Psalm 121:2, “My help cometh from the Lord.” (Katharine Bushnell, God’s Word to Women, paragraph 34)
Read through the other verses ezer is used. The context is usually one filled with enemies, battles and salvation from defeat. The ezer is deliverance. When Adam was initially created, God said all was very good. But, now Adam is declared NOT good. Is something wicked already at work? There is an evil afoot, and Adam needs rescue. He needs an ezer!
After comparing himself to each of God’s creations, Adam does not find his help. It pleases God to put him to sleep. Adam sleeps like the dead, then awakens to find his bride pulled from his side. The English word “rib” is misleading. The Hebrew word is “side.” (Do I speak about another mystery? It pleased God to put his Son to “sleep,” so His bride – His Body – could be given life through Him!) From Adam’s side, Eve. She is his flesh and bone. She was taken out of him. Was she in his body to begin with? Are they the same creation? Separated now and opposite? Adam recognizes her as his body, his flesh? The Rabbis have taught for thousands of years that God created Adam male/female. Its an interesting thought. (Rabbit trail: Another interesting thought is that all human embryos are proto-female. We all have nipples, that’s the evidence. The sex separation is not as clear as we might think!)
Rabbi Jeremiah ben Eliezer said: “When God created Adam, he made him an androgynous being, for it says, ‘male and female He made them’ in the same creature (Genesis 5:2).” It seems that the sages there were quite troubled by this concept, because it could lead to the inevitable conclusion that man and women were created equal! (Genesis 2 Essays, Admiel Kosman, page 4)
Man leaves his parents and joins wife.
What ramifications do we see resulting from Eve’s creation? How does God want man to respond to this helpful gift? Man must leave his parents (Curious, when he didn’t have any!) and join his wife. Man. Ish. Man must leave his parents. The man is the one leaving and going to join his wife. God wants man to join his wife after leaving the family of his childhood. The wife (ishah) isn’t required to leave her family. I find this curious too.
That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
We know these words are God’s because Christ attributes them to Him in Matthew 19. “..at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
Many commandments are promulgated in masculine terms, though meant equally for both sexes, but in this instance the case is different: One man and one woman stand before the Almighty, on the very occasion of their differentiation into two sexes, and God enunciates a law as lying between those two just formed, which indicates for all time the duty of husband to wife, not of wife to husband. (Katharine Bushnell, God’s Word to Women, paragraph 44.)
Forgive me for harping on this. I find it so curious. Man has an obligation in the plain text. What is it? To leave his parents and be united to his wife.
- Leave the patriarch family. The husband does not have the right to carry the wife home to his tribe. He is to leave his tribe and go to hers. (I’ve got a post in the works on this female kinship, wait for it.)
- One flesh. Unity again. The husband is charged with unity. The plain text does lay a responsibility at the husband’s feet. But its not authoritative. Its unifying.
- Why aren’t we teaching men this? How to properly leave their family and unite with a woman (and even her family)? How did things get centered around the man’s family and kin?
At the cusp of human life, do we see distinctions in the genders? Yes.
Do we see that woman was pulled from man? Yes.
Do we see any ramifications because of the creation order? Yes.
- Lonely Adam is in need. It is not good.
- Woman is “compatible aid” to solve the problem.
- Man’s duty is not with his family, but to his wife.
- They are both asked by God to rule His creation.
- They stand before him together, man and woman.
And now lets sum it up.
In Genesis 5, the genders are unified again.
This is the written account of Adam’s family line. When God created mankind, he made them in the likeness of God. 2 He created them male and female and blessed them. And he named them “Mankind” when they were created.
If only it were that simple.
There is more.