Let’s talk about beginnings.
Women in scripture is always a bit of a confusing topic since historical narrative doesn’t always include the moral of the story.
Eve is an extra confusing one because upon her hangs the weight of the meaning of femininity in a lot of ways. I don’t believe that is what is intended by the scriptures in Genesis, but Paul very helpfully wraps together the cultural significances of what happens at the very good beginning, and how we are to live in a broken world now.
In the beginning…
Lets talk about the very good beginning. God spoke everything into existence through the power of his word (also called Christ in John 1:1) it was all called good except one thing. The creation of man… alone.
Allow me to quote someone respected at this point to help highlight my next point.
“So God says, “It is not good that man should be alone.” … He needs a partner; he needs an equal, a helper to compliment him in fulfilling the task of filling and taking dominion over the earth. And that simply means woman needed to be made in order to meet man’s insufficiency.” (1)
Generally speaking, John MacArthur’s view here is the view of the creation story that we have. God makes man, God realizes man is not complete on his own, God creates woman. This bothers me on one main point…
God does not make mistakes.
When we say that Eve had to be made to help Adam we have already made the mistake of interpreting the scripture man-centrically. It is written for us, but with God at its center. The Bible is revealing truth about God to us, and as an overflow of that how we relate to that truth. When we start with us and our needs we always begin to fail at understanding what’s going on.
The way I try to understand this is in every case that I am reading the word of God I first ask “what is this saying about God?” If we believe that Gods statements in Genesis 2 are really a description of why woman is needed in the world, then the passages are saying that God needed to fix the man that he made incomplete. If we can focus on the wisdom of God in this teaching passage then we get a much different picture.
We have to remember when reading the Genesis 2 accounts that man and Adam are synonymous with mankind. When God says “it is not good for man to be alone.” It’s not a statement of surprise, it’s a statement of fact about humanity. Not just men, but humanity.
God intended to creat Eve from the beginning of time. Humanity doesn’t image God fully with only one sex. We are a full picture of the God head as male and female. Eve was not an after thought!
The creation of Adam is the creation of mankind with our mandate to have dominion and fill the earth. The creation of Eve is the acknowledgement that no person does this alone. We all need people.
The writer of Genesis then wraps this into the cultural norm of marriage, saying “this is why…” we do things the way we do them within our human cultures, because we even image God and his wisdom in our cultural institutions.
Now, since I mentioned Paul at the beginning I will mention 1 Corinthians 11 here. Paul understood the scriptures and the reference to cultural norms that Genesis was making. 1 Corinthians (as much of the epistles are) points out how to live as Christians in a broken world. He is basically saying “why shouldn’t women be in submission to men? It has been that way since the beginning of time. Don’t be so put off by the culture of your time. You don’t have to live in opposition to the culture around you and by so doing be offensive. Women can wear head coverings and still be Christians. You can marry, or remain unmarried, and still be Christians. Now stop fighting about all this dumb stuff and start showing you are like Him by your love!
Roles? Or Christ…
That’s the bottom line message of the creation of Eve. We want these scriptures to be humanity centric. After all, he is creating us! We want to be learning about our identity, our purpose. But even our creation isn’t about us. It’s about God, and his purpose in Christ for understanding true love. We understand ourselves only when we seek to understand God.
From our very creation we need each other, first God and Christ, secondly community. This isn’t a “man couldn’t do his job alone” sort of thing. It’s something we only begin to comprehend in the depth of the mystery of passion and marriage. This is common grace. We need each other deeply and meaningfully. We can only understand this through the wisdom and love of God, and the sacrifice of Christ. Through saving grace. Our creation story is the beginning of recognizing this need.
Let’s stop saying the woman was created because it wasn’t good for man to be alone, and start admitting that she was planned from the foundation of the earth to image God in his creation. Genesis says these words as a reminder to us that no person is an island. We need to put the creation of Eve in its appropriate place in our knowledge of God. It’s all about Gods wisdom to reveal to us our need for each other and His wisdom. Ezer, not after thought.
1. MacArthur, John https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/90-228/the-creation-of-woman