Why not start at the beginning? Adam and Eve, along with their relationship, form the basis of how people view men and women today. The modern concept of Adam and Eve creates so much discord, from the treatment of women to race, even to gender. I've seen so many ideas and doctrines derived from said ideas that I can't keep track of them all! Nevertheless, I find them all equally interesting and I want to talk about them.
This post is covers a variety of interpretations stemming from Adam and Eve, which means it's also a bit long. You can use the table of the contents below to skip around, or to bookmark your place if you need to come back to the reading.
In a freestyle battle, a poet posits that the reason Black men treat Black women poorly and as side chicks is because they were taught women came from their sides.
You treat the Black woman like a side b**** Well 'cause you were taught she came from your side 👤 B. Dot
He is clearly referencing Genesis 2:21-22:
21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; 22 And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
I don't disagree that the poor treatment of women throughout history stems from the interpretation of Eve's relationship to Adam (more-so in connection with the idea that Eve is to blame for sin entering the world, but we'll get to that in a minute). However, I find both the interpretation he references and his subsequent evaluation to be off the mark. In order to make this claim, the poet makes many assumptions:
- How does he know that the black men who treat women poorly are Christians? I've never met a true man of God that was mistreating the women in his life...
- How is it that this treatment is only damaging the relationship between black men and women? Why hasn't this effected white people? Or the people of countless other cultures and races that are Christians?
- How does someone being created from your very own flesh automatically translate to mistreatment?
The poet's premise that women are seen as less, and unworthy of men's respect because they are created from the rib of man makes no sense. What makes a mother's love so strong? The fact that the baby came out of her, that the child is her own flesh and blood. Adam says similar words upon realizing Eve has been made from his own body:
23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. 24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
Adam is ready to leave his family (in this case God) behind to be with the person who has come from his rib. Why? Just as a mother's world shifts to center around her child, his world shifted around Eve. Adam's only family at that point was God, and he did leave God behind for Eve (I'll clarify this point below in the section "Was She to Blame?"). Adam already recognized that they were one flesh, and this is before anyone was told to be submissive to anyone.
The Bible tells us Eve was created to be a "help meet" for Adam, which sounds submissive for sure and is probably how people came to think that Eve's role was to be submissive and servant-like from the beginning. However, Genesis 3:16 tells us that part of Eve's punishment is that her husband will rule over her. If that is part of her punishment, it stands to reason that she was on equal footing before. So one has to wonder what was meant by "help meet?"
Merriam Webster sends readers to "helpmate" as the definition of "help meet" which is defined as "a person who is a companion and helper." While helper doesn't sound any better in terms of submission, a helper is not necessarily a servant. A companion and a helper could be a partner; after all, partners do help each other.
Nevertheless, this is where I told you knowledge of time periods and original languages is important. We can try to force fit definitions to words like "helpmeet" and "helpmate" to support the idea that woman was created as a maid or argue her to be created as partner, but this is counter productive. We don't want speculation; we want answers. The original Hebrew words translated to "help meet" are ezer and k’enegdo.
Ezer, which is translated as "help," is created from root words that mean to save, rescue, and to be strong. According to experts, the word ezer is used 21 times in the Bible and although it is translated as "help", in context 8 of those times (roughly 40%) it means "savior." The other occurrences mean "strength." When God says He wanted to create a help meet for Adam, He is saying Adam needed someone to be his strength. Ever heard the saying "behind every successful man is a strong woman"?
Was She to Blame?
Despite his lyrics, most of the poet's assumption that women are to be treated poorly stems from the blame that is often placed on Eve for the fall of mankind. Like the poet, most feminists have a problem with placing the fall of humanity on Eve. However, in the Bible, the blame isn't placed squarely on her shoulders: all 3 parties (the serpent, Eve, and Adam) are punished for their role in the act.
Let's go back to my point that Adam left God for Eve. When Eve decided to taste the forbidden fruit, she didn't stuff the fruit down Adam's throat. We are told that she offered it to Adam and he willingly ate the fruit. He could have let Eve eat the fruit alone with the expectation that she would die and he'd be fine. He could have ran off to find God in the hopes that God would stop her. However, like most people who are in love, he followed her blindly. Whether he simply didn't want to disappoint her or wether he was afraid to be without her, he knowingly turned his back on God to follow Eve.
11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. 12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. 13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. 15 Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.
Perhaps the harshest passage in the Bible as it relates to women and our plight due to Eve can be found in 1 Timothy 2:11-15. This is the root of the idea that women are worthless and should have no rights. However, there's a lot more to the first than meets the eye. Bear with me as we step through the implications of this passage.
1 Timothy 2 Does Not Place Blame on Eve
As I said earlier, Adam willingly ate the fruit, which is confirmed in 1 Timothy 2:14. Now, if you study the books of law (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy), you will notice that accidental sins were the only sins that were forgiven. We are reminded of this in the New Testament, as well.
For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins
When we go back to Genesis 2 and 3, you'll notice that God directly instructed Adam not to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. God also created the Garden of Eden before Adam's eyes. We aren't told how Eve receives the news of this rule, whether God tells her after her creation or whether Adam relays the news. What we do know is that Eve seems to be the very last thing created, implying that she never sees the full glory of God creating life. Just as parents expect older siblings to show younger siblings the ropes and senior employees are to show new employees the ropes, God likely expected Adam to be a leader in the Garden of Eden.
When Eve came to Adam with the suggestion that they eat the fruit, she was deceived (1 Timothy 2:14 confirms this). To be deceived is to believe something that is not true. Therefore, the serpent had convinced Eve that it was OK to eat the fruit and she was not purposefully disobeying God. She was confused and fell prey to false doctrine (there it is, all the way back at the very beginning!). Adam, on the other hand was not deceived. That means he knew they were not supposed to eat the fruit, yet he did it anyway.
Each person had their own fault in the situation. Eve could have waited and asked God directly. This is why she doesn't get off scot-free when the punishments are doled out. However, it was Adam who should have put an end to the action, not because he was a man but because he knew better.
Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
Sin entered the world through Adam ("one man") because it was Adam who deliberately disobeyed God.
Women Teaching Doctrine
Now that we understand the role of deception in the events that occurred, we can talk about teaching. No one wants false doctrine being taught to the masses. In 1 Timothy 2, Paul says that he doesn't suffer (tolerate) a woman to teach doctrine because Eve was deceived (i.e. confused) about doctrine. While Paul does say that she should learn in silence, he does not say that they are to always be silent. Paul is discussing the issue of false doctrine being taught in the church at Ephesus (read 1 Timothy 1 to get the proper context). It appears to me that Paul is talking about a woman's conduct during something similar to a Bible study. He doesn't want the women to take over (or "usurp") the lead ("authority") from the man who is knowledgeable about the topic.
If I had never experienced the wives of deacons or pastors, and women in the congregation hijack a church service and turn it on its head, I would probably have trouble with the idea presented above. After all, how can one be so sure a similar circus might not occur from men at another church?
There's a little detail that goes unnoticed when reading this passage. In 1 Timothy 2:11, Paul says, "let the woman learn in silence." He doesn't say let women be silent, but he refers to "the woman" as though he is speaking of one specific woman. Now "the woman" could be referring to all women, but it could also mean a specific woman. If we continue paying attention 1 Timothy 2:12, says "a woman," which definitely refers to women in general, but then, why didn't Paul say "let a woman learn in silence"? Also, he refers to "the man," not to men in general. Paul doesn't say do not let women usurp authority from men, but rather he says a woman should not take authority from a specific man.
My study Bible further suggests that this prohibition is from public teaching and cites Acts 18:26, Titus 2:3-5, and 1 Corinthians 11:5 to prove its point. Does this mean women can be in charge of a church? I'm not sure, but it's definitely not as cut and dry as people make it out to be. The passage is definitely speaking on conduct in the church, not at home or at work. Paul is definitely not saying a woman has no rights in her marriage because he says quite the opposite in 1 Corinthians 7 (emphasis added):
The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.
I've read a few studies of this passage, and countless books have been written on the topic. I'm listing some articles you can read online for better clarity below.
- "Adam and Eve in Ancient Gnostic Literature" by Marg Mowczko @ New Life
- "Lost in Translation: A Look at 1 Timothy 2:12-15" by Bob Edwards @ The Junia Project
- "Defusing the 1 Timothy 2:12 Bomb" by Gail Wallace @ The Junia Project
In 1 Timothy 2:14, the woman in question is Eve, and presumably in verse 15, we are still talking about Eve when Paul says "she." Paul tells us that the "curse" of childbirth is also her salvation. This is one of the most beautiful paradoxes in the Bible. Part of Eve's punishment is that she will bring forth life in sorrow. However it is through a woman that life continues. It is through Mary that Jesus is born and thus, through a woman salvation is provided to all mankind. God may have cursed womankind to feel pain as we bring life into the world, but He also blessed us with a form of creation that man did not receive. This is part of God's complimentary design—different, but both necessary and important.
My study Bible interprets verse 15 to mean that women are saved even in the role they have (i.e. we don't need to teach to earn our salvation).
In opposition to what the Bible teaches, the poet (who is quite talented despite his apparent hatred for his Creator) places women on the pedestal of being gods (or goddesses). He references pictures of Adam and Eve where Adam has a belly button to further his point that Adam came from a woman making woman god. Which is crazy, considering the fact that those pictures weren't created until the 16th century or so. Those aren't real depictions of Adam and Eve!
Adam and Eve are always depicted as a White man and a White woman, but that isn't Biblical either. Very few descriptions of skin color are given in the Bible (a clue that God doesn't care about skin color so much as your heart, motives, and actions). One such description given is of Esau, Jacob's twin brother. Esau is described as being ruddy or red in color. Like everyone else, Esau is a descendant of Adam and Eve, which means that red color must come from their genes...
Basic genetics tells us that a child receives one gene from each parent. Together these genes determine our physical features. Genes are classified as dominant or recessive. For example, let the gene that causes brown eyes, be known as B, which is a dominant trait. Now, let the gene that cause blue eyes, a recessive trait, be known as b. For a child to have blue eyes both parents must pass it the recessive b, otherwise the B trait will dominate. Skin works in a similar fashion, with dark skin being a dominant trait and pale skin a recessive trait. For us to have the range of skin tones we have now, genes for both dark and light skin traits must have existed in Adam and Eve. Note that people of African descent have been known to give birth to albinos or lighter skinned children, but it is unlikely that "fully" white parents will give birth to a dark skinned child. Thus, there are multiple possibilities as to Adam and Eve's physical appearance.
One of them may have been made up of purely dominant traits, with dark brown skin, brown eyes, curly hair, etc., and the other could have been made up of purely recessive traits, with pale skin, blue eyes, and straight hair. Another possibility is that they both could have had a mixture of dominant and recessive traits. We really don't know. The only thing we can say with absolute certainty is that Adam and Eve were not both white. Likely, the first people had combinations of dominant and recessive genes, thus exhibiting dominant traits. Over time the recessive trait would have become more pronounced. At the point of Noah and his wife, this cycle would have restarted. When God divided the people at the tower of Babel, this may have been the catalyst for weeding certain traits from different nations.
In the media nowadays, there is a lot of discussion about gender. Although the Bible clearly states that Adam is a man and Eve is a woman, people have begun to stretch the words of the Bible to create new interpretations of Eve's gender. In the article Where Would Jesus Pee, Hemant Mehta tackles the question of where Jesus would be expected to go to the bathroom. The question stems from the fact that Jesus does not have an Earthly father, which convinces a multitude of people that Jesus did not receive a Y chromosome, thus making Him biologically female. The commenters further this question by attributing it to Eve, who was born of Adam's rib with no female DNA.
It sounds like a legitimate question until you actually think about it...
In both the case of Eve and Jesus, there was no such thing as gender reassignment surgery. I doubt they took hormones therapy either. In the case of Eve, who gave birth to an unknown number of children (we know of at least 3), she was clearly created with a female reproductive system. While Jesus did not father children, the community assumed Him to be a man from birth. When Mary gave birth to Him, she knew He was a boy because of what she saw. If she'd given birth to a female child and tried to pass her off as a male, once puberty hit, it would have been very obvious that something was amiss (His voice, monthly bleeding, inability to grow facial hair, physique, etc.). Further if Jesus Himself was transgender, don't you think He would have left us a clue that it was OK to be transgender? Both Jesus and Eve's physical appearance matched the gender ascribed to them without the aid of surgery or hormone therapy. Therefore, it's pretty safe to say that they were biologically the gender ascribed to them as well.
One Parent, One Set of DNA?
The crutch of this argument is that both Eve and Jesus have DNA from only one provider. Well, Adam has DNA from no one in that case. Obviously God, who made us in His image, created DNA for Adam and Eve. He also provided Jesus' Y chromosome (He is Jesus' Father after all). Just as He was able to create Eve from Adam's rib, He was able to create Jesus inside Mary's womb. Just because He did not physically impregnate Mary, does not mean He couldn't have contributed to DNA of Jesus. If Jesus and Eve had no genes from God they would have been a clones of Mary and Adam respectively... What's more is that in the case of Eve coming from Adam, men have an XY chromosome pair so even if Eve received all of her DNA from Adam, she still could have gotten 2 X's. One commenter assert that since Eve was created from Adam's rib, she started as male and the "reassignment" was done by God. However, a rib is not a human being, nor is it gendered. Just as Adam started from non-gendered dust, Eve started from a rib, which is non-gendered. While females may have smaller rib cages on average, a single rib from the cage does not gender a person. From the moment Eve became a living human, she had the biology of a woman. God did not take a clone of Adam and reassign his male reproductive organs to female ones. If you want to claim that then every man on the planet is transgender because he came out of his mother's womb and thus was created from feminine materials. Sure the sperm allowed the "reassignment" of the fetus to male, but the baby developed and grew from the mother's ovum.
For argument's sake, let's say we agreed with the theory that Eve and/or Jesus were actually transgendered. In both cases the transformation or reassignment occurred before the person was brought to life and was done at the hand of God. Therefore, at the moment they became human and by the time they breathed their first breath, they were already biologically the gender God intended them to be.
Because I can't resist thinking in depth about questions posed, I gave a little thought to the bathroom question. Again, remembering the times, there would have been no bathrooms in either of their life times, not in the sense that we have bathrooms today, at least. Nudity was not encouraged; we see that in the story of Ham's cursing that looking upon his father's nakedness was frowned upon. Thus, I'd wager men didn't pee beside each other and women probably didn't either. Likely bathrooms were non-gendered (like those in our homes) and people provided some sort of occupied/unoccupied signage to avoid embarrassment.
While I believe that God brings us in to the world as the gender we are meant to be (that includes guiding doctors in their decision for babies born with evidence of both genders), I don't actually care which bathroom people choose to use. As long as you aren't bothering me, I don't care. As a woman, the stalls give us most of the privacy we need. Further, concerns for assault are not limited to women (re: Amy Inita Joyner-Francis) and just like a perverted man could inappropriately film women (re: University of Toronto Dumps Transgender Bathrooms After Peeping Incidents), so could a lesbian (or even a straight woman who was simply off her rocker).
- "helpmeet". Merriam Webster. 2016
- "helpmate". Merriam Webster. 2016
- Heather Ferrell. "The Real Meaning of the Term Helpmeet". Women in the Scriptures. November 9, 2010
- "deceive". Merriam Webster. 2016
- Holman Bible Publishers. Holman KJV Study Bible. pg. 2028-2029. 2014
- Mowczko, Marg. "Adam and Eve in Ancient Gnostic Literature". New Life. March 2015
- Edwards, Bob. "Lost in Translation: A Look at 1 Timothy 2:12-15". The Junia Project. September 2013
- Wallace, Gail. "Defusing the 1 Timothy 2:12 Bomb". The Junia Project. January 2014
- Bellemare F., Jeanneret A., Couture J. "Sex differences in thoracic dimensions and configuration.". American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. 168(3):305-12. August 2003