Why was Eve created second? – (Women in Church Leadership – Part 7)

I’m learning more and more all the time to ask one specific question when dealing with a Biblical text.  This question alone has proven (and is proving) so very helpful in understanding and really going deep into specific passages.  The Spirit of God is using it greatly to help me understand His word better.  What is the question?

“Why did God say it THAT way?”

What I mean is this… God could use ANY word, ANY phrase, ANY description He wants in order to say what He needs to say.  He knows communication and writing better than any of us.  So we have to assume that the words He chooses and the phrases He uses are EXACTLY what He intends to communicate.  If He leaves something out – there’s a reason for that.  If He includes something that seems “off track” or “out of the blue” – there’s a reason for that too.  It’s our job as readers of the Biblical text, to be asking that question repeatedly… and allowing the Spirit of God to illuminate us through the answers we begin to discover.

So how does all this relate to the issue of women in church leadership?  Well, as I was pondering the roles of men and women I started thinking back to the very beginning, when man and woman were created.  I had to because Paul goes there in His prohibition of women as church leaders (see the last post).  Here’s where my thinking and my consideration of that extremely helpful question took me…

When looking over the detailed account of the creation of Adam and Eve (Genesis 2), we find that God created and gave Adam work to do – name the animals and tend the garden.  One of the things that pops out at me when I ask “Why God said it THAT way,” is that He intentionally points out that Adam was created first, and was all alone (the only human).  What makes this most interesting is the fact that God COULD HAVE created them at the same time.  But He didn’t… hmmmm, why is that?

It’s not a case where God created Adam and then suddenly realized the ramifications of what He had done (created a man who was lonely) and decided on the spot to implement a corrective measure!  God wasn’t surprised by Adam’s loneliness!  He wasn’t shocked that Adam’s loneliness was “not good.”  God wasn’t taken off guard and playing “catch up” here!!  God created Adam first and put him in the garden all by himself because God had a purpose in doing so! Don’t miss that fact…

What was the purpose?  It was at least partially to tell the account in a way that lent itself to an introduction of Eve and the SPECIFIC REASON she was created.  Do you see that?  If God had left it as “male and female He created them” (chapter 1:27) and never gone on to tell us the specifics of how it happened (chapter 2), then we’d have never had the opportunity to know God’s mind behind the creation of Eve.

So here’s how GOD HIMSELF lays out the account:  First, He created Adam, then later (how long, we don’t know) God created Eve… and in doing so He opened the door to describe the SPECIFIC PURPOSE for which Eve was created!  He says, “It is not good for the man to be alone.  I will make a helper suitable for him.”  From the original Hebrew that’s a decent translation.  If we want to be really technical it says, “a helper that corresponds to Him.”  We have to pay attention to that.  What reason was behind God’s creation of Eve?  To be a companion for Adam, yes.  But also to HELP him in a way that fits him!  That’s her PURPOSE as a woman!  We can’t let ourselves miss the significance of this!  God did not describe Adam in a similar way… He didn’t say, “Adam’s purpose is to help Eve too…” (though most loving husbands do “help” their wives in various ways).  God set things up in the way He did INTENTIONALLY.

Many women feel slighted by this.  They feel demeaned or put down by it.  But the reality is this…  God created the male/female dynamic in this way FOR A GREAT PURPOSE!  How about an example…  Antonio Stradivari did not create his famous violins to be used as hammers, or canvas for paintings, or firewood.  He didn’t even have much “nobler” things in mind, like pieces of art or family heirlooms.  He intended for them to be played, to make beautiful music!  That’s what a violin is made for!  Thankfully, we are not talking about violins here, but about wonderful, talented, outstanding works of God’s creation – people!  What we (men and women) need to understand is that we will be more fulfilled, more effective, and more joyful when we operate within the ROLE that God created us for!

Many of the proponents of male and female sharing of all roles within the church say that simply because Adam was created first, that doesn’t mean that he was created to be “in authority.”  I would normally agree… IF…  If the language God specifically chose did not say anything about Eve’s PURPOSE.  But it does…  Her purpose was NOT to be Adam’s leader or even His equal (in the sense of performing the same function), she was made specifically for the purpose of being a “helper” to Adam.  God intended her to come alongside Adam, to help him to fulfill his God-given role as a man!

I think when Paul references the creation account in 1 Timothy 2:11-15, that’s what he’s getting at.  He’s not simply saying that Adam came first and so he MUST have been intended to be the leader.  He’s getting at the idea that Adam was created first… then Eve was created to COMPLEMENT HIM and HELP HIM!  It’s not that Adam came first and that makes him the “leader” of the family – it’s that God specifically says that Eve was made to “help” him.  She was not intended to be the leader, she was intended to be the helper.  Again, it’s not an issue of value or competence, it’s an issue of God-ordained ROLES!

CAUTION: You think I’ve stirred up a hornet’s nest up to this point?  What I have to say next is very difficult for many to hear, but I believe it to be wise observations based on God’s word.  I don’t say it with a mean spirit, but with a passion to see people protected from the harm of these vain and empty ideas, and the church spared the damage that comes with it.  Read with caution…

I believe that GREAT DAMAGE is being done to women, to men, and to the church through the insistence that women be allowed to take on leadership roles in the church and in the marriage relationship.

For example: What I’ve come to see is that when women begin making a stink and start to step up, men get intimidated and step down.  Call it the “fragile male ego” or whatever you want, but it’s true.  Most men won’t admit that to you, but just look around you.  How many marriages do you see where the wife is very dominant and the husband is very passive?  He may be a hunter, a bungy-jumper, etc. – but when it comes to leadership at home or in the church, the wife is the one who shines!  Men are lazy this way (I can say that, I’m a man too).  The relational part of life is very difficult for men (another reason we need our wives to help us), and if our wives step up and take the lead, most men let them.

In the church, this is equally true.  Spiritual leadership involves a great deal of relational work… something men have a difficult time with.  If the women push their way forward, the men will step back, almost emasculated, and eventually will be unwilling to step back up – ever.  That’s not what men are wired for, but that’s where they wind up when women push to take on the leadership of the church.  Look at the Apostles – they were truly courageous, willing to give up their lives for the radical message of forgiveness and freedom in Christ.  They were strong, bold, risk-taking kind of guys.  How many Christian men today would you describe that way?  Unless you are in a very unusual setting, I’d wager not many.  It’s happened in large part because of the feminist movement… and it’s crept a long way into the church.

What does this actually DO to the men and women involved?  Over time it makes men more timid (not a very “manly” picture, is it?) and the women become overpowering (not a very feminine picture, is it?)  How many women do you know who are looking for a “timid” guy?  How many men are looking for an “overpowering” woman?  It’s counter-intuitive, yet it’s what is being pushed on us as “right.”

I believe this push is creating an improper and un-Godly mindset in the minds of little boys and girls regarding women and men, and their differences.  Boys are being trained to be wimps from a very early age and girls are being taught that they can do anything a boy can do (and maybe they can, but that’s not their PURPOSE!)  The roles are being reversed and it simply isn’t working!

I can’t make definitive correlations between this issue and the things I’m about to mention, but I have to ask how much is coincidence and how much is directly related in some way.  Divorce and the breakup of the family are still rising, even within the church.  Men and women are having an increasingly difficult time learning how to get along and be productive in marriage (I normally do a LOT of marriage counseling, believe me, I know of whence I speak).  Women are becoming just as prone to abandon their families, have an affair, live an immoral life, etc. as men have typically been in the past.  Can all of this be coincidence when we’ve turned the Biblical model for male/female roles completely upside-down?

In the church, I believe that the promotion of this idea is doing God’s work in OUR way… and I can’t imagine that being of much benefit.  It’s forcing round pegs into square holes… and “by God we’re going to MAKE them fit!”

Don’t get me wrong… I know that many of the people on that side of the debate sincerely believe that they are making their case from the scriptures and are therefore right before God in doing so (their opinion).  I’m not questioning their motives at all.  I’m questioning their ACCURACY and UNDERSTANDING of the truth.  I don’t believe that God lays out things with such specific language as this (this passage is only one example) so that we can explain it away to our own liking or preference.

And understand this too… I know there are many people whom I love, whom I serve alongside, whom I have relationships of various sorts with, who disagree with me on this.  I mean them no ill, and have no hard feelings toward them.  I simply believe they are honestly wrong on this issue.  While many attempts (some VERY GOOD attempts) are made to glean a different meaning from the Biblical texts on this issue, I cannot see those attempts as being legitimate.  In my view they do harm to the Biblical text in their treatment of the pertinent passages.  And I believe whole-heartedly that it’s bringing great damage to our culture and to our churches!

Next post I’ll summarize the series…

Advertisements

25 thoughts on “Why was Eve created second? – (Women in Church Leadership – Part 7)

  1. Carey,
    You said: “What makes this most interesting is the fact that God COULD HAVE created them at the same time. But He didn’t… hmmmm, why is that?”

    You might want to correct your statement here. Chapter 1 of Genesis does say they were created at the same time.

    You are only reading Chapter 2 of Genesis. Chapter 1 verse 27 states that,
    “So God created man in his own image,
    in the image of God he created him;
    male and female he created them.”

    This passage is clear. God SPOKE both of them into existence simultaneously. Chapter two is also clear: God used his “HANDS” to shape man from the ground and take women from his rib. Here we have two different accounts.

    Some people have tried to combine these two accounts of creation to no avail. They can’t be combined because they report a different order of when the plants, animals and humans were created. These are two different creation stories from two different sources in Israel’s history.

    So the whole argument which says that “man was created first” is off base. Your confidence in your “rightness about the truth” should be tempered. People a lot smarter than you or me disagree with you on this. People who have spent their lives studying the very passages you bring up here believe you are unequivocally wrong.

    I am assuming you felt “called into ministry.” Many women feel the same way. For you to judge their calling from God is to open yourself up for others to judge your “calling from God.” I am sure you would not want people questioning your “calling.” And if they were to do so, you would want them to do it with respect and humility. Your above post shows very little respect for women and very little humility.

    Mark

  2. Carey,
    I really respect your study of Scripture. You are really digging in and not taking things for granted. I respect your submission to scripture.

    So digging deeper into this passage in Genesis, I want to note one thing. You said:
    “He says, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.“ From the original Hebrew that’s a decent translation. If we want to be really technical it says, “a helper that corresponds to Him.” We have to pay attention to that. ”

    One other point of study might be good to look into. In the Hebrew, that word for “helper” or “help-mate” is also used elsewhere in Scripture. When we look to the Psalms, we see that word used again. Only in the Psalms, the word “helper” is used to describe God. The Psalmist is saying that God is our “helper” in times of trouble.

    With this in mind, we should not assume that by using the word “helper” to describe Eve that it means “not leader.”

    You said:
    “…God specifically says that Eve was made to “help” him. She was not intended to be the leader, she was intended to be the helper.”

    With this line of reasoning, we then could assume that because God is our “helper” then he was not intended to be the leader, He was intended to be the helper. Of course, we would never say that. But in Hebrew, it’s the same word in both cases.

    “Helper” instead should be seen as a compliment to women. Just as humanity needs God as a helper in order for us to survive, so man needs a woman as a helper.

    Mark

  3. I too noticed the use of the word “helper” in describing God. That’s great encouragement for women! And also a great caution for men! I can’t agree more!

    Perhaps my statements about the “helper” role are a bit too much of a stretch, I will concede that – HOWEVER, to say that my logic leads inevitably to the conclusion that “because God is our ‘helper” then he was not intended to be the leader” is flawed. We have to let the totality of scripture clarify what is true in that regard. Scripture gives us many more descriptions of God that ARE in fact indications and outright statements of His leadership and Lordship. But scripture does not make such “clarifications” about the role of women as relating to men. In fact, Paul takes pains to indicate that the God-ordained flow of authority is from God, to Christ, to the man, to the woman.

  4. Mark,

    Regarding the Genesis passages – the reason I focused on Genesis 2 is that it is an EXPANSION of Genesis 1. It’s like me saying that I “got married” without much detail – and then went on to describe the ceremony. There is NOTHING in the two accounts that are contradictory, the latter simply expands the former – and it can do so without contradiction.

    Your characterization of those who take my position as being somewhat “ignorant” (no you didn’t say that, but it is clearly implied) just because smarter people have studied it more in depth is not only unfair, it is flat-out dishonest! There is merit on both sides of the argument and it is arrogant to say that only one side has the corner on truth here. Since when are the most educated the ones who are automatically right?

    And as for my calling VS a woman’s calling – again, a strawman argument. I never mentioned anthing about a sense of “calling” in my arguments – mainly because I don’t believe it has anything to do with the issue. My goal has been to examine what the scriptures say about this issue.

    As for whether I respect women or not – you’d have to speak to the women I’ve worked alongside in ministry. You’d find a very different reality than you imagine. As is common with those who oppose the position I hold on this issue – you’ve turned the issue into an emotional battle, not a theological study. Granted, there is much emotion involved, but scripture must dictate our belief and practice, not our emotions. A wonderful example of how you’ve done so is that you assume that because I hold to a view that God has placed men into a position of leadership over women within the church, that I’m therefore incapable of respecting women. That is a leap that is not only untrue, but very unjustified.

    And as for my humility or lack of it – it’s something I fight to submit to the Lordship of Christ every day. He’ll be my judge on that – and I fear His judgement more than any other…

    Thanks for your comments.

  5. Carey,
    I did not intend to attack you as a person so please forgive me if I came across that way. I was intending to address your comments.

    I agree that there are scholars on both sides of the issue. That is why I believe both sides need to be careful with the level of “certainty” with which we defend our views.

    As far as the Genesis passage, I disagree with your interpretation that Chapter 2 is an “expansion” of chapter 1. As I stated in my post above, you can’t resolve the difference in order.

    Chapter one states that the order of creation was: plants (day 3), animals (day 5 and beginning of day 6), then humanity (end of day 6).

    Chapter two, however, has a different order: man (vs. 7), plants (vs. 8-9), and then animals (vs. 19), and finally woman (vs. 22).

    There is no logical way to make Chapter 2 an “extension” of Chapter 1 unless you bend the rules of logic. You are clearly a student of scripture. I think if you examine these two passages closely, you will see the obvious differences between Chapter 1 and 2.

    Instead, what we have here are two accounts of creation. They come from two different sources in the history of Israel. When the Genesis account was being formed, probably by priestly editors, these two accounts got placed together in order to form the fabric of the early narrative of humanity according to Israel.

    Mark

  6. I appreciate your humility and value for the debate. I too apologize if I’ve come across as harsh or uncaring toward you personally. That was not my intention either.

    However, I still feel that your perception of Genesis 1 and 2 is one that draws conclusions that don’t have to be drawn. An expansion of a subject is naturally going to give more and additional detail to a subject than the original comment. I often have conversations with my wife where I’m telling her about a dialogue I had with someone. I tell her the general outline first typically (we spoke about the struggles they are facing in their marriage, such as communication, pornography, finances, etc.) and then if she asks more detail (which she usually does) I go back to start of the dialogue in my mind and recount the details chronologically, clarifying the details of each section of the conversation (first we talked about the pornography issues and this is what we said… then we spoke about the communication as it relates to that, i.e. has he told his wife, etc.)

    There’s no reason logically that Genesis 1 and 2 can’t be understood in this way too. There may be “seeming” contradictions, but no real ones…

    Blessings,
    Carey

What do you think? Share your thoughts & start the discussion!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s