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?