I’ve never done this before, that is, respond in a blog to one of my fellow bloggers, but after reading Teresa Thompson’s latest blog I felt compelled to respond. Teresa concludes that the barrier of the sexes rages on. My purpose is not to disagree — I expect it to “rage on” until glorification — but to point out the origin of this barrier.
Several years ago I did an intensive study of the first 11 chapters of the book of Genesis, and that study made me aware of issues I had never seen before.
For example, one statement the grates on my sensibilities is “Eve sinned first.” I know, I know, inspired sources use that term. But if you read the text, that’s at best a shortcut. The name “Eve,” doesn’t occur until the end of chapter 3 of Genesis, a matter of no small importance. What is she called before then, in the Bible? Simply, “the woman.”
“The woman” does not receive the name “Eve” until after the Fall, indeed, not until after the curse.
It is “the woman” who has the conversation with the serpent. It is “the woman” who partakes of the fruit. And by the way, that passage does not indicated any way that “the woman” had “wandered away” from her husband. In fact, virtually every translation I can find says that she gave the fruit to her husband “who was with her.” In any event, it is clear from the first 2 1/2 chapters of Genesis, that “the man” and “the woman” are considered to be one. They are both Adam; what one does, both are deemed to have done.
The same idea is recognized in laws of almost every nation: what one party in a married couple does, both are deemed to have done. If one acquires a debt, they are both liable to repay it. In fact, after divorce, it is common to see advertisements claiming that one divorced spouse will no longer be responsible for the former spouse’s debts. It is a public notice that they are no longer one. Before the Fall, “the man” and “the woman” were one.
Before the Fall, both tilling the soil and giving birth must have been intended to be shared joys which delight and further unite “the man” and “the woman” and reinforce their “oneness,”
And that is precisely why I draw the distinction about Eve’s name. “The woman” does not receive the name “Eve” until after the Fall, indeed, not until after the curse. In fact, we see, is that God pronounces a curse on “the woman,” then on “Adam,” and only after that does “the man” name his wife “Eve.” In the text, it appears that the name Eve is a direct result of the Fall, that it is a recognition that those who were once one now have become broken. Or perhaps it might be more accurate to say that the unity of man and woman was fractured. Before the Fall, they were one; after the Fall, they were each broken parts of what had been whole.
Think about it: Before the Fall, both tilling the soil and giving birth must have been intended to be shared joys which delight and further unite “the man” and “the woman” and reinforce their “oneness,” not oppressive burdens which emphasized their differences and separated them, which is what the curse did.
But Christ came to deal with the effects of the curse. He came to restore humankind and all creation to the condition it had before the Fall. When we insist that the barrier between the sexes be formalized, that one should always take priority, we are insisting that the curse must remain in place, that the Fall be made permanent, and that our institution be organized on a principle embodied in the curse. That is, instead of attempting to be conformed to conditions in the world made new, the church should insist upon the formal implementation of the curse.
When we insist that the barrier between the sexes be formalized, that one should always take priority, we are insisting that the curse must remain in place, that the Fall be made permanent, and that our church be organized on a principle embodied in the curse.
That this barrier should continue to, to use Teresa’s phrase, “rage on” in this sinful world until the Second Coming is one thing; that the church insists it should be honored institutionally is something else altogether.
In my book “For Such A Time” I demonstrate that in the Bible, whenever women took leadership and acted in faith, God honored them in signal fashion, even when the culture and religious leaders did not approve of their actions. In a sinful world, we cannot hope that this will gain approval of the larger culture. But we can always strive through word, deed, and prayer to help the church reflect God’s attitudes and values.