The details of the creation process of everything on the earth reveal that Eve, at the urging of the serpent, first ate the forbidden fruit and then gave to and asked Adam also to eat the same. God had created everything as very good but the initial loneliness of Adam was the only ‘not good’ part. He made woman to remove this to be a partner with man to do the will of God in His creation. Apostle Paul however, blamed Eve as the first one tempted and causing the fall of mankind, and not Adam. But is only Eve responsible for the violation of God’s command?
Why did God create a weak woman as a partner to man? – After finishing the work of creation, God saw and declared everything to be very good (Genesis 1:31). Adam was given the responsibility of caring for and upkeep of the Garden of Eden and he was given dominion and authority over everything by God (Genesis 2:15-18). Thereafter God noticed the loneliness of Adam and finding it ‘not good’ He decided to ‘make him a suitable helpmeet comparable to him’. The Hebrew word ‘tov’ is translated as good but it also means ‘good, in harmony with, pleasant’. Thus God found a man without a suitable helper not in harmony with the rest of creation.
The help meet or ‘ezer kenegdo’ needed to be ‘suitable, in sight of, opposite to’ the man and she was not only a helper but also one who could be opposite to man to correct him where needed. The LORD is referred to as my Helper – Yehovah Ezer (Hebrews 13:6) as also in Psalm 121:5 and God cannot be considered as subordinate to man or weak in any sense. A woman was made by God for three basic purposes; first, to help man understand God and bring harmony in that relationship; second, to support and rescue man in times of distress and third, to help multiply and occupy the earth. Adam and Eve were both partners in the task of care and upkeep of God’s garden and man was called ‘ish’ while the woman was called ‘isha’. There are various interpretations to the two words; as per one Ish is supposed to be stronger and isha reflects his strength being weaker but another interpretation terms isha as the ‘one who protects’ and this could be spiritual protection.
God definitely intended both man and woman to complement and complete each other to ‘occupy and subdue the earth’ as also be partners for ‘being fruitful and multiply’. The two were then to establish community life through spiritual strengthening and guidance from God through daily meetings.
Did God create woman to be a weak person? A weak person would be a liability to man than his strength, for darkness that was separated from light in the beginning of creation had its own forces to counter God’s plans and oppose Adam in his work. A woman encompasses the man and is supposed to guard him from falling prey to his vulnerabilities. Satan did not target the woman for her inherent weakness but due to the fact that Adam could not be tempted without first tackling her. Also the woman could not be so dumb to fall for the knowledge of good and evil but would have considered that to be desirable to better perform their roles as keepers of God’s garden. Adam was also supposed to be with her and stop her from talking to the serpent, speaking untruth about not touching the tree and finally from eating the fruit.
The All-knowing God was well aware of the effect of the blame for the fall being given to the woman and declared her ‘seed’ to be the one to be the Redeemer of mankind while destroying the ‘works of the devil’ (Genesis 3:17-19). The resultant curses that befell them further declared man’s vulnerability, ‘dust you are and to dust you shall return’. Isha was then named ‘Chavah/Havah meaning ‘to breathe, to live, to give life’. To ensure continuity of life on earth, after their sin, the woman’s curse was sorrow and also pain during childbirth. She would desire for her husband ‘and he shall rule over you’. It is this that has resulted in her being made subordinate to man and subjected to his dominance.
The perceived weakness of woman is due to this curse and not due to any fault in the process of her creation. It has been medically proven that a woman is able to face all pressures of life, including the effects of the fallen nature better than man for she has to carry a child in her womb for nine months. It is in her God given strength that ensures the continuity of future generations.
Why are restrictions placed on women’s role in the church? – Apostle Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church is area and situation specific and should not be taken as a general injunction and there is no mention of such words anywhere else in the Holy Bible. Apostle Paul first establishes the chain of spiritual relationship, ‘that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God’ (1 Corinthians 11:3-5). Then he explains the process of worship and prayer. If a man covers his head while praying, he has covered Lord Jesus, without whom he cannot connect to God. Similarly, if a woman does not cover her head, her husband, by removing her focus and looking unto Lord Jesus, she also cannot connect to the Lord and through Him to God, the Father.
Lord Jesus told the Samaritan woman on the well about true worship of God the Father being in ‘spirit and truth’ with meditating upon the Word of God and being led by the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 4:23). The further instructions to the Corinthian women pertain to the low moral values all around and pagan god’s temple prostitutes keeping short hair, for them to have a separate identity as a believer. Also since teaching and training in the Word of God was only available to men, a woman was to seek guidance from her husband at home rather than in the Synagogue, and disturbing others in the process.
The devil first tricked the woman into sin and God pronounced the curse with enmity between the seed of the devil and the ‘Seed of the woman shall bruise your head and you shall bruise His heel’ (Genesis 3:1-15). The first attempt of the devil was to pollute the seed of the woman when only eight persons of Noah’s family were found righteous by God in that whole generation. Adam had blamed Eve for the fall and that blame has carried on to date. A man could divorce his wife if after marriage ‘she finds no favor in his eyes’ and she could be moved out of the house with a written certificate of divorce (Deuteronomy 24:1). The Pharisees tried to test Lord Jesus with the question, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?’ (Matthew 19:3-9). The only reason that the Lord declared right for divorce is sexual immorality, for after marriage man and woman become one.
From the tribe of Manasseh, Zelophehad had no sons and five daughters, who wanted a share in the land to ensure continuity of his name (Numbers 27:1-11). God accepted their right and commanded Moses to tell the Israelites, ‘If a man dies and has no son, then you shall cause his inheritance to pass to his daughter’. Any disparity in the rights of man and woman was never from God but from man to control and rule over his daughter, wife or other women. Apostle Paul’s restrictions for the Corinthian church were place specific and suitable for that time but not a general rule.
Disciples being all males, how was equality restored? God never differentiated between man and woman and Miriam, Moses’ elder sister (Exodus 15:20); Deborah (Judges 4:4) beside others in the Old Testament and Anna (Luke 2:36-38) and the four daughters of Philip (Acts 21:9) in the New Testament, are listed as prophetesses who heard from God. The message about the coming Messiah and His name, ‘Yehoshua’ was given by angel Gabriel to Mary, His mother (Luke 1:31-32 & 41-42). And it was another woman, Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, who ‘filled with the Holy Spirit’ recognized the identity of the yet unborn child as ‘my Lord’, while welcoming Mary into her house. Simeon thanked God for showing him ‘Your salvation’ but it was Anna who ‘gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem’ (Luke 2:34-38). A woman first received the message of His coming, another recognized Him in the womb and another witnessed Him before others after His birth.
At that time a woman was treated very unfairly and one part of Lord Jesus’ ministry of ‘destroying the works of the devil’ was about restoration of equal status to the woman. The valuation of a male or a female consecrated to the LORD was different (Leviticus 27:2-7). A male between 20 to 60 years of age was valued at fifty shekels of silver while a woman was worth thirty shekels. The Pharisees and the Scribes brought to Lord Jesus, a woman, who they had caught in adultery while her male partner was let off (John 8:3-11). Mary Magdalene, ‘out of whom had come seven demons’, is mentioned as one of the women who followed and supported the ministry of Lord Jesus (Luke 8:2). Nowhere in the Holy Bible is anything mentioned about her character. Pope Gregory I in 591 AD connected her to the ‘sinful woman’ who anointed Lord Jesus’ feet with fragrant oil and termed her as a prostitute. The risen Lord revealed Himself first to her and she was the first Apostle (messenger) to take His message about His resurrection to the other disciples.
The Samaritan woman was told by the Lord about her five ex husbands and then the sixth one also not hers (John 4:18- 26). But then Lord Jesus revealed to her, the first person to be told, ‘I who speak to you am He (The Messiah)’. Why would the Lord choose a woman to reveal His mission as a Man and that also to a fallen woman? Late DR Gopal Singh, who had translated the Sikh religious Book, The Granth Sahib, into English, in his poetry book ‘The Man Who Never Died’ on Lord Jesus, has termed the Samaritan woman as the woman who had overcome the five vices, lust, anger, greed, affection or attachment and pride who were like a husband controlling her. The sixth that she was then fighting with was time itself. Lord Jesus ‘needed to go through Samaria’ while He could have, as all other Jews taken a longer route (John 4:4). The need to go was probably to put this woman on the right track of salvation through the Messiah and not self efforts.
Neither did Eve nor woman since then has sinned more than man but the patriarchal society has made it out to be so. The twelve disciples were all males to ensure that their witness was received by all those who heard them and not for any other reason. Lord Jesus has restored mankind’s status of equality of both sexes as at the time of creation and any attempt to read a different narrative would be wrong.
God did not send His Son for redemption of a specific race, society, gender or age group but for the whole of mankind for He loves the entire world. Nor did Lord Jesus differentiate between people for any reason and through faith all received His blessings and continue to do so. Any society where woman is suppressed and denied equal rights has half of its population anyway living as slaves. As per God’s will, we must not only give equal status to women but encourage young girls from birth itself to move on the path of progress, spiritual as well as worldly.