Patriarchy’s origin? Paradise, of course! Part 2

paradise lost
Paradise Lost

Please read part one of this post before diving in to Part 2!

A lot has been made about the woman saying, “God said we shouldn’t eat the fruit or touch it”, suggesting she or the man added to what God had said. We don’t know if that’s true or not.  I truly doubt everything God has said or done since the earth was created is recorded in the Bible.  We know everything Jesus said wasn’t according to John 21:25. We also don’t know if the man had any conversation with the serpent, or if we are reading a very abridged version of the events. Was this the first time the serpent had approached the humans? Perhaps he groomed them until they were ready to take the bait.

Either way, the man and woman now know the difference between good and evil, the difference between right and wrong.  And everything is different. They now realize they are naked because God’s glory no longer covers them, and they make clothes from leaves.

At some point, after the first kids ate the fruit, God came to the garden for an evening walk.  The man and woman are MIA.  So, he calls to them.  They are hiding from God because they know they are naked.

“Where are you?” God asked.

The man said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”

God said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten the fruit I told you not to eat?”

The man said, “The woman you put here with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.”

Then God said to the woman, “What did you do?”

The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

And this is where things get interesting.  The woman ate first, but the man is the one whose sin needs to be redeemed?    Since the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was in the garden, it makes sense that at some point God was going to share that knowledge with them. I don’t think God planted it in the Garden to purposely set them up to fail. That’s not what good parents do.  After they ate the fruit, though, it’s a whole different ballgame.  Now they, like God, know good from evil.  Now they are responsible for their actions.

When God calls to them in the garden, they aren’t afraid because they think God is going to punish them for their actions.  They’re afraid because they are naked.  They had no frame of reference for punishment.

So, what was the first sin?  Was it eating the fruit?  Or was it letting the serpent into the garden?  Rebellion? Being deceived?  Opposing God?  And who committed it?

The first universal sin was rebellion, and it was committed by Lucifer.  He wanted to be higher than God. So he assembled an army and waged war against the Most High.  He lost and God cast him down to earth.  Now, he’s on earth watching the humans, and plotting his revenge.

Let’s go back to the conversation between God and the humans, post-fall.

“The woman you put here with me, gave me the fruit and I ate.”

The man just took the side of the adversary. He blamed God and the woman in a single sentence. Then he answered God’s question.  I wonder if the woman was shocked by the man’s response?  He just threw her under the bus.  The sin of Adam is referenced later in the Old and New Testaments.  Jesus’ sacrificial death redeemed creation from Adam’s transgression.  I wanted to understand why the transgression that Jesus redeemed was attributed to the man, if the act of eating was the Big Sin and the woman ate first.  Some say it is because the man was the leader, the firstborn.  That is incorrect.  The woman was fully present when God gave humanity the right and responsibility of ruling the earth.  The man and woman were created at the same time as one body, one flesh, and complete equals.  She turned away from God post Fall, and followed the man out of the garden.  That’s the point at which the man began ruling over and dominating her.

Let’s look at the conversation between God and the woman.

God says, “What did you do?”  And the woman says, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate”.  She realized she was deceived, and she said so.  She blamed the enemy of God as her deceiver.  Not God.  Not the man. Then, she took responsibility for her behavior.  She became the target of satan’s enmity as soon as she pointed the finger at him.  Genesis 3:14-19 tells what happens next.

God tells satan he is cursed, that he and the woman would be enemies from then on, and that his ultimate demise would come from the seed of the woman.  He is cursed by his actions, not by God.

God tells the woman she will have pain in childbirth and child-rearing, and her desire will be toward her husband – meaning she will turn from God and toward her husband.  God is not cursing or punishing her – God is telling the woman what is going to happen as the result of what transpired.  The complete equality God created between the man and woman has been damaged.  No curse proclaimed there.

God tells the man the ground is now cursed because of him, because he listened to his wife instead of God.  He will have to work hard to get the ground to produce food.

The word used for woman’s sorrow and man’s toil are the same – itstsabon meaning pain or toil.  Anything they desire to grow, whether it’s a baby or a radish, will take hard work, sweat and sorrow.

This is important – God didn’t curse anyone!  God told them what was going to happen.  The curses are a result of their actions and not from God.  That is a huge realization.  Also, look at this parallel – Adam listened to his wife instead of God.  Eve turned from God and listened to her husband.  They both have pain caused by turning from God.  No one gets off unscathed and satan has a party because he just made a mess of everything God called good.

Now the man and woman have a new reality.  The man has shown his willingness to blame the woman and God for his actions, his willingness to stand on the side of the adversary instead of the side of God.  The serpent now sees the woman as a significant enemy, someone he needs to defeat at every opportunity.  Starts to make sense why God created woman as a warrior, doesn’t it?

If Adam was Eve’s boss, wouldn’t God just punish Adam and let him deal with the woman? He was never intended to be her ruler.  As I said before, he is not an intermediary between her and God.  Only Jesus holds that distinction.  God speaks to her first, before Adam, when he is explaining to them how life will be for them from then on.

I have heard complimentarians say the woman wanted to dominate the man which is why he must dominate her, but actually, they wanted to dominate each other.  They were born to rule and reign together. She simply wants to be back in the position of equality in which they were created. Only now, instead of being respected and honored in her position as co-ruler of creation, the man has shown his drive for self-preservation.  She will now be attacked by the adversary and at odds with the man.  We have seen that dynamic play out throughout history.  Women have been treated as second-class non-persons.  They’ve been abused, exploited, blamed, disrespected and killed just for being women.  Men have done a vast majority of the exploitation.

Look at Genesis 3: 22-24. And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” So, the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.

A monumentally important point about these verses:  the woman was not cast out of the garden.  Let me say that again.

The woman was not cast out of the garden!

She was not the fall of Paradise.  She stood on the side of God and didn’t blame God or the man for what she had done.  She stood as the warrior God had created her to be.  Her greatest sin was turning from God and following the man when he left the garden.  God told her what would happen because she desired her husband more than God.

That revelation was the reason I began digging deep into the creation story to glean out every bit of truth I could find.  Eve is mentioned twice in the New Testament, both times referring to her being deceived.  I differ from some people on this – I do not believe being deceived is a sin. If someone tells you a lie, and you believe it, are you at fault?  No. They are.  Once you know the truth, however, you are responsible for acting accordingly.

The woman blamed the snake and then took responsibility for her actions.  The man blamed God and the woman and then took responsibility for his actions.  Do you see the difference between the two responses?  He blamed God and the woman for his transgression.  She blamed the snake for her transgression.  That’s a huge difference in response.  That was the man’s rebellion, his accusing God and the woman.  That is why the sin of Adam is what Jesus came to fix.

Adam and Eve didn’t know good from evil before eating from the tree.  They only realized they were naked after they ate. Eating was not the Big Sin in this context.  The sin happened when Adam rebelled against God and accused Eve of being responsible for his action.  Otherwise, Eve would have been the responsible party.

Is that why Adam was cast out from the garden, but Eve wasn’t? Could Eve have stayed in the garden?  Was there something in her actions that reconciled her to God so that He didn’t make her leave?  Was being cast out Adam’s punishment?  Was it a mistake for Eve to leave with him?  He ruled over her because she turned from God toward him, and it wasn’t because God wanted it to be that way.  Remember, Adam nor Eve were cursed for the whole mess.  Only the ground and the serpent were.  Then the serpent and Eve became arch enemies, and Adam started treating the woman unfairly.

This is where patriarchy started and it has become entrenched in church and society ever since, but patriarchy is not God’s plan for humanity.  Never has been.  Never will be.  Jesus freed his sisters to serve and use their gifts alongside their brothers.  And yet, look at where we are today.  You can tell a lot about a society or culture by the way women are treated.  Right now, I’d say the US is looking pretty misogynistic with #MeToo and #ChurchToo and certain pastors telling women to go home or sit down.

The Boy’s Club is on life-support and the boys are desperate to hold on to an authority that was never meant for them alone.  The concept of women being “less than” because of Eve and the garden is based on a flawed premise.  Women have suffered greatly because Eve stood strong and pointed the finger at the snake.  Satan has used men to subjugate and abuse women because Eve called him out…even in God’s own house, especially in God’s house!  That should piss off both genders!

We don’t have to live in that paradigm any longer.  Jesus set us free to serve him with all the gifts and callings we have been given.  There is no male or female, Jew or Gentile, slave or free in Christ.  Let’s start acting like it.