Because Christianity is bigger than Biblical manhood or Biblical womanhood (Blog of Retha Faurie)

The Danvers Statement, and many other sources, claims that Genesis 2 gives evidence of gender roles: things that are the task of men and not women, or vice versa.

I have a MENSA IQ and a very good reading comprehension, and I searched the whole of Genesis 2 for my gender role many times. Why did I do it? Because I reasoned like this:

Other believers know some things I do not, and I have to make use of the spiritual wisdom of my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Some of my brothers and sisters in Christ say there are gender roles I should live by.

I will at least look into the gender role claim – in case they are right.

If there is something in Genesis 2 that God commands me to be doing, and I am not doing it, you are welcome to tell me. But meanwhile, here is what I can see in the chapter. Dear complementarian reader, tell me if I miss something:

Gen 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

God made a human, and the first human was probably male. Some Hebrew experts say the first human was neuter until the woman was taken out of him. But even if he was male, it is not a gender role to be born first: Every man is younger than his mother, for example.

Gen 2:8 And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. … Gen 2:15 And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the Garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.

The man (or human – “Man”, here, may not denote gender) was put in the garden to dress it and keep it. Was this called a gender role for all males? It was not. It sounds a lot like the Genesis 1 command to both the man and woman to rule the earth. Only, here it was given to the only person in existence at the time.

The comp argument here seems to be: A garden owner with one gardener tells his gardener to [do task X.] When he gets a second gardener, and the words to that gardener is not overheard, we must assume that the other gardener should not [do task X]. Even if he sends both from the garden, we must still assume that their descendants 100 generations later got different tasks, based on the task he certainly gave the male-or-neuter, which he may or may not have given to the female.

Gen 2:16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:

Gen 2:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

There is a tree that the first human should not eat of. But that is not a gender role: Neither he (assuming he was male) nor Eve should eat of it, as we can see later.

Some complementarians seem to say that the gender role lay in man being taught by God and then teaching the woman, but that is eisegesis – reading things into scripture that are not there. Who says Adam, and not God, taught Eve?

To get the gender role of God teaching men, but men teaching women, from these words is assuming things God did not say.

Gen 2:18 And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone;

Is this where they get the gender role? Is it not good for a man to be alone, but it is good for a woman? No, that is eisegesis again. Most likely, God told of how it is not good for this man to be alone because this man was in the unique position of being the only member of his species. There is no indication that God mentions a difference between the genders here.

I will make him a help meet for him.

A help meet for him combines 2 Hebrew words.

The first is ezer, which is translated help or helper – a word mostly used for God. It denotes strong, rescuing help you cannot do without. Isa 30:5 even speak of a weak nation that cannot be ezer-type help – a weak nation can give wood-cutting, water-carrying assistance or follow commands, but they cannot be a strong political ally.

The second is k’negdo, which is translated “meet for him”, counterpart or “fit for him”- a word that means being in the same level or opposite each other.

So, to sum up: With man and woman made on the 6th day (literally or symbolically, that is not the debate now), the Boss gave a man certain tasks and got another worker that same morning (or afternoon) to help him, a helper not below him in the organizational flow chart, but on his level – the meaning of k’negdo.

Help with what? Well, if God asked the second person to do the bidding of the first, while the first rule, then Genesis 1 would not have said:

1:28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

The more likely answer is that the second person is a helper in the sense that the first does not have to do the tasks given by God alone any more – the second helps with the same (not other, gender-specific) tasks. After all, Adam’s problem was being alone.

It seems that the Danvers Statement and complementarians in general reason here:

God made Eve on Adam’s level (k’negdo) to give him (strong, rescuing, not command-following assistance) help. For that reason, all who have the same genitals as Eve should cater to males in a way men should not cater to women.

Huh? The Bible certainly does not spell out here that all women are supposed to give a certain kind of help, and nothing says men should not reciprocate with similar help. For that matter, we could as well read Adam as symbolical of the needy or lonely, and Eve as symbolical of all humans who have the strength to help. Why read Adam as a symbol for all men and Eve for all women, if God doesn’t say this is how the text should be read?

And what if Eve is read as a symbol for all women? It says she was made on his level, and helper doesn’t have to be read as man-oriented. It could be read as same-ruling-task-as-man oriented.

Gen 2:19  And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.

Gen 2:20  And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.

Adam gave names to the animals. This is a statement about what the first human did, not a statement about the gender role of all males.

Gen 2:21 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;

Gen 2:22 and the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

The first man and woman were not made the same way. That is not a gender role – males and females are made the same way since then.

Gen 2:23 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.

“Bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh” denotes a type of sameness. If being called woman instead of man is a gender role, it is a gender role I have never broken, and which I have no intention of breaking. It is also a gender role that will not justify the existence of a whole “Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood”, as everyone understands it and there is hardly anyone who desires to break it. Even then, there is no “should” to the gender role – God does not say men and women should be called different things.

Gen 2:24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

If leaving father and mother was a male gender role, then couples should stay with the wife’s parents after marriage, and only men should leave their parents. Perhaps a husband taking up the wife’s family surname would also symbolize it. But this “leaving parents” is not a gender role command, only a prediction of what men will do. And perhaps not even a gender prediction, as women leave parents too.

If husbands cleaving to wives were a gender role of men, then wives do not need to cleave to their husbands. But then, this is no command to men which women are excluded from, so I believe (from other scripture) both wives and husbands ought to cleave. Cleaving is not a gender role for men.

Being one flesh is obviously not a gender role.

Gen 2:25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

This is a similar fact about the two of them, not gender roles.

———-

Now that you read all this, what gender role(s) does God command for me as a woman here? What roles does He tell men to uphold in this chapter?

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Comments on: "Gender roles in Genesis 2? Where?" (12)

  1. I was listening to the CD series, ‘Women in Ministry. Silence or Set free?” last week. They also mentioned you have to add to scripture in order to come to their conclusions, because its just not there. There is not hint of authority, headship, etc in Genesis like they speak of.

    I thought her theory on bring Eve out of Adam made a whole lot more sense. Adam saw all the animals, and also their counterparts (male, female). Yes, he did name them of course. Adam would realize that there was no counterpart to him, and when God gave him one? He appreciated it, and was grateful to God for this her. (giggles) as you can see from his reaction! He knew he was missing something by watching the animals (and counterparts), but God waited to give her to him for a purpose. Man was alone, and it was not good. God wanted him to see that himself, and know this in his heart.

    She explained it much better, and the way she did it made them both be viewed as special to God. She also mentioned, ‘neged ‘ or FOR HIM. This means, ‘what is in front of, corresponding to’. This also does not denote roles, authority, nor headship. Help meet FOR HIM – in front of, corresponding to.

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  2. I have to grin at this, “Perhaps a husband taking up the wife’s family surname would also symbolize it.”

    It’s certainly something I’ve thought for years, and occasionally said. I mean, if they want to be biblical about it, really–yes, it’s the husband’s name, but here in the US we tend to forget in a way, sometimes, that it’s a *family* name. So the man should surely take the family name of the wife.

    I recall being very disappointed that I was hearing the same gender-role tripe in church as I had been fighting for years outside of the church. Yes, I came into the church as a feminist: I also attended a complementarian denomination for years, intentionally to challenge my own ideas. As a feminist (pre-Christian years), I thought it criminal that the world wanted to regulate male and female behavior in such a way that it would deny the world the benefit of whatever gifts these people had to offer, if their gifts did not line up with the ones that were acceptable for someone of their sex.

    Having been a christian for years, I now know what “criminal” truly is: saying that the above is *God’s* *plan*.

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  3. You always amaze me in the clarity you bring into debunking these false teachings. Whenever I feel beaten up by the church world for being female, (and somehow therefore less worthy of serving Christ by myself,) I come to your web site and am reminded of my real value to the God I serve. Thank you Jesus Christ for this web site!
    Shalom,
    C. Dunamis

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  4. Dreams of Dunamis, thank you for your comment. I get discouraged by the church world too, ecspecially since they say a Christian woman’s main worth lay in motherhood and wifehood – I am neither. A comment like yours tell me that I do build up the church in what I do.

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  5. It is definitely sad that some of you are feeling beat up or put down by the churches around, that’s not good. Ready Genesis 1-3 and Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3 and see if that helps your understanding overall of what the LORD has set for us and trust that above anything a man or church says.

    My take from scripture is this. Men and women are equal in the sight of the LORD with different roles and responsibilities. Both roles are equal and from God directly, so we should not challenge that, either man or woman. The curse of the woman is to try and usurp the authority God gave to man; so the LORD sets the tone that the man is to be “over” the woman, but not to be neanderthal about it or bull in a china shop. The husband is called to a high standard of loving and treating his wife the way Jesus loved the church… and most men sadly fail this charge. The husband is responsible for her and his family, and the woman is to help guide him, so that together, as one flesh, they can be a light and witness together for the LORD.

    Think of this analogy. The trinity. Father-Son-Holy Spirit; they are all equal with different defined roles. The Son, Jesus, always gives authority to the father and the Spirit to both. So there is a heirarchy of roles and responsibilities even in the trinity of God. Same with husbands and wives. God-Husband-Wife.

    It’s all about serving and submitting to the will of God. Not to be proud or haughty, but to serve God and other and not ourselves. Generally speaking, many men do not know very well how to lead and many women do not know how to submit very well, because our society has lost our sense of humility, submission, sense of serving and obedience to the LORD, as a whole and generalized. If we (whether man or woman) took the focus of ourselves and put it on serving God and our spouse/friends/neighbors above ourselves as a general way to approach life….I think we would find a fulfillment and satisfaction like nothing we’ve ever experienced. Like an overflowing fountain, Jesus would rule our hearts, give us peace and humility more than pride, and out of our life rivers of living water would flow forever. John 7:38

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    • I read Gen 1-3, Eph 5 and Col 3 and see no roles anywhere in them. To see them there is an example of eisegesis, putting something into Scripture that simply is not there.

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    • Micah: “It’s all about serving and submitting to the will of God.  Not to be proud or haughty, but to serve God and other and not ourselves.”

      Retha: Correct, this blog is all about that too. But I see no evidence that men should lead: https://biblicalpersonhood.wordpress.com/2012/10/27/how-ofte-does-the-bible-say-men-should-be-the-heads-of-their-households/. God calls us all to serve! We who see no gender roles also believe in humble service for both genders: http://vimeo.com/69920147

      Micah: “Ready Genesis 1-3 and Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3”

      Retha: Yes, those texts do show me some things, none of which is a gender role – something all men, married and single should do but not women, or something all women, married and single should do but not men.

      “Husbands, love your wives” is, for example, not a gender role. Wives should love husbands too, and all believers should love one another.
      Neither is the much-touted submission a gender role: It is how a wife (to be a gender role it should be all women) should react towards one man, their husband. And all believers should submit to all believers (Eph 5:21) – all believers include male towards female, husband towards wife!

      I do not challenge God-given roles, I never saw one:

      https://biblicalpersonhood.wordpress.com/2012/03/02/question-to-complementarians-what-is-my-gender-role/

      About your trinity claims, I do not believe that the Son and Spirit always gives authority they do not have to the Father. I do believe that Jesus on earth – when He was a man and born without full wisdom and knowledge (he grew in wisdom as He got older) needed to submit to the father – but in heaven I see no reason why His will would differ from the Father’s, so no reason for one of the two to compromise/ submit one-sidedly. The confession of Athanasius – a common faith confession from the 4th (I think) century, a confession my church subscribes to, suggests there is no hierarchy in the trinity. Many find the idea of hierarchy in the trinity heretical.

      Micah: “If we (whether man or woman) took the focus of ourselves and put it on serving God and our spouse/friends/neighbors above ourselves as a general way to approach life….I think we would find a fulfillment and satisfaction like nothing we’ve ever experienced.” Retha: I agree. We should serve the Lord with all we are and have and other humans, including spouses, as ourselves – even when it means stepping out of man-made “gender roles” to serve. And serve does not mean obey – Jesus served without obeying everything his friends asked him. (If you had a pal who could still storms, you’d certainly ask him to “zap” a few luxuries for you!)

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    • Micah, please read Philippians 2. The Son only laid down authority when He was incarnated. Now the Father has exalted the Son and given the Son authority. So your notion is disproved.

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    • NorrinRadd said:

      “Ready Genesis 1-3 and Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3 and see if that helps your understanding overall of what the LORD has set for us and trust that above anything a man or church says.”
      —–
      “Ready”? Are you sure you don’t mean, “Read”? If you’re going to be condescending to the point of suggesting she is not already familiar with those passages, you should check your own posts for typos to avoid looking silly.
      —————-

      “My take from scripture is this. Men and women are equal in the sight of the LORD with different roles and responsibilities. Both roles are equal and from God directly, so we should not challenge that, either man or woman.”
      —-
      Interesting. Just for the sake of discussion, why don’t you cite one or two Scripture passages that show some particular things that are the responsibilities of men, and are forbidden to women?
      ———————-

      “The curse of the woman is to try and usurp the authority God gave to man; so the LORD sets the tone that the man is to be ‘over’ the woman, but not to be neanderthal about it or bull in a china shop.”
      ——
      Where do you see this curse imposed?
      ———————–

      “The husband is called to a high standard of loving and treating his wife the way Jesus loved the church… and most men sadly fail this charge. The husband is responsible for her and his family, and the woman is to help guide him, so that together, as one flesh, they can be a light and witness together for the LORD.”
      —–
      Where do you see that the husband is “responsible” in that way?
      —–
      Where do you see that the woman is to “help guide him”?
      ————————

      “Think of this analogy. The trinity. Father-Son-Holy Spirit; they are all equal with different defined roles. The Son, Jesus, always gives authority to the father and the Spirit to both. So there is a heirarchy of roles and responsibilities even in the trinity of God.”
      —–
      There was certainly somewhat of a hierarchy within the Trinity during the time of the Incarnation. But the idea of an eternal hierarchy within the Trinity is highly dubious.
      ————————-

      “Same with husbands and wives. God-Husband-Wife.”
      —–
      Can you demonstrate that hierarchy from Scripture?
      ————————-

      “It’s all about serving and submitting to the will of God. Not to be proud or haughty, but to serve God and other and not ourselves.”
      —–
      I don’t believe you have really thought this through. If all Xians really took this to heart and put it into practice, as indeed we should, the whole question of which sex has the responsibility to “lead” would vanish.

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    • “The trinity. Father-Son-Holy Spirit; they are all equal with different defined roles” – What role is there for each seperately? I thought Jesus said: “whatever the Father does the Son also does. – John 5:19” If Jesus do whatever the father does, he does not have a differently defined role.

      “Both roles are equal and from God directly, so we should not challenge that, either man or woman.” – The existence of roles is, this far, your unproven assumption. You cannot start there, but has to lead us to believe it.

      “The curse of the woman is to try and usurp the authority God gave to man” – Where does the Bible say that God gave the man authority?

      “so the LORD sets the tone that the man is to be “over” the woman, but not to be neanderthal about it or bull in a china shop.” – Where does God say the man is to be over the woman? And after you gave us a text for that, give me a text that say which man is supposed to be over me, a single Christian adult?

      “The husband is called to a high standard of loving and treating his wife the way Jesus loved the church… and most men sadly fail this charge.” – Is that a gender role? If a wife loved her husband like Jesus loved the church, would God judge her for usurping the task God gave to man? You say roles can be “usurped” from the other gender – is it only the one “role” that a man want to have for himself, authority, that can be usurped, or other “roles” too?

      “The husband is responsible for her and his family, and the woman is to help guide him” – Where does the Bible say he is responsible in any special way she is not? (And please note that even if you answer this, it will not be a gender role, as it is not meant for unmarried adults, widowers, or teenager of a gender. It could, at most, be a marriage role and not a gender role.)

      I also notice that in all your work of telling us what male roles supposedly are, you gave no seperate, equal role for women. You mentioned she should “help guide” (helping with “his role” is obviously not a separate role) but not an important role she has that men will be sinful if they try to usurp it.

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  6. Micah, the view of the Trinity as an hierarchy is actually heresy. If Jesus as the Son has a different will than God the Father, then Jesus is not God. This heresy was addressed in the Athenasian and Nicene Creeds. Elohim, is composed of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Christ the Messiah is BOTH God/divine and human. In order to come to the earth and live, die and resurrect for the salvation of humanity, God had to clothe Himself with human flesh. It is a miracle that we cannot fully fathom. But it does not make God the Word, less God.

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  7. Micah, God has one will. There are not three competing wills so there is no need for submission within the Trinity. I see no evidence of different levels of a hierarchy within the Godhead.

    When Jesus was on earth, and had temporarily laid aside his divine privileges, he submitted to, and relied on, both the Father and to the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:1 NASB).

    Moreover, the Bible nowhere states that the Trinity is a model for marriage.
    http://newlife.id.au/equality-and-gender-issues/the-trinity-and-marriage/

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