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

<<Continued from Part 1

4. …God named the human race “Man,” not “Woman.”… (Gen. 5:1-2):


In the Hebrew text, the word … ’ådåm… is by no means a gender-neutral term… (Genesis 2:5,7, 8, 15, 16, 18, 19 (twice), 20 (twice, 22, 23, 25; 3:8, 9, 12, 17, 20, 21; 4:1, 25; 5:1)…

It does give a hint of male leadership, which God suggested in choosing this name….

Reading the same text with pink glasses

(To understand this argument, we have to know that people give meanings to words, things they understand when they hear it. An aggressive atheist, when hearing the word ‘God’, may hear: “That fictional character who is blamed for a lot of Old Testament deaths and the Crusades.” Another person, from a religious home, may think: “The One who is angry with all my sin and wants to punish me.” The problem is not the word “God”, but how people understand it.)

God named the human race “Man.” Then, the male sinfully appropriated the name for himself, calling the woman by other names. By the time Genesis was written, this sinful way of thinking about the term ’ådåm was established to such a degree that, writing in Hebrew, God used the word ’ådåm in two ways: The way God intended (for the whole race) and the meaning that sinful men gave the word: As a word for males.

On the other hand, the female was named “life causer”. (The meaning of Eve.) This gives a hint of female leadership: We die in Adam, but get life in Eve.

Stripping away the biases

When I was a first grader, my best friend was named Karen. My parents and I talked of Karen’s house, Karen’s sister and Karen’s family. This does not mean this six-year-old girl was the leader of her family. It is just the way we spoke. Likewise, if God chose for the male to be called ’ådåm’, as opposed to it only being a name for the group, it does not have to be a term for leadership.

But suppose we assume ‘man’ as a male term implies a hint of superiority in the fact that male and female are all ‘man’, then ‘Eve’ (life causer) as a female term implies a hint of superiority in that male and female both play a role in causing life. It is just that the likes of Grudem make a big deal of the human – man (Adam) – male connection, but none of the human – life giver (Eve) – female connection.

5. … (Gen. 3:9)… Even though Eve had sinned first, God first summoned Adam to give account for what had happened:

This suggests that Adam was the one primarily accountable for what had happened in his family. An analogy to this is seen in the life of a human family. When a parent comes into a room where several children have been misbehaving and have left the room in chaos, the parent will probably summon the oldest and say, “What happened here?” This is because, though all are responsible for their behavior, the oldest child bears the primary responsibility…

Reading the text with pink glasses

Even though Eve had sinned first, God first summoned Adam to give account for what had happened. This suggests that God wanted to speak to the less powerful person before the follower hears what his more dominant wife had to say, so she cannot influence him in concocting a story. Prosecutors sometimes allow lesser characters to turn state witness to testify against the “big fish”.

Stripping away the biases

God spoke to Adam first. Or perhaps God spoke to them but chose for His words to the male to be recorded first. The Bible never says why God spoke to the man first. Both the blue glasses reading (“because the man was the leader of them both”) and the pink glasses reading (“because the woman would have influenced him otherwise”) is conjecture.

6. Eve was created as a helper for Adam, not Adam as a helper for Eve…(Gen. 2:18):

It is true that the Hebrew word here translated “helper” (‘ezer) is often used of God who is our helper elsewhere in the Bible. (See Ps. 33:20; 70:5; 115:9; etc.) But the word “helper” does not by itself decide the issue of what God intended the relationship between Adam and Eve to be. The nature of the activity of helping is so broad that it can be done by someone who has greater authority, someone who has equal authority, or someone who has lesser authority than the person being helped…

[I]n the situation under consideration, the person doing the helping puts himself in a subordinate role to the person who has primary responsibility for carrying out the activity… even when God helps us, with respect to the specific task at hand He still holds us primarily responsible for the activity…

But Genesis 2 does not merely say that Eve functions as Adam’s “helper” in one or two specific events. Rather, it says that God made Eve for the purpose of providing Adam with help, one who by virtue of creation would function as Adam’s “helper”: “Then the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him’” (Gen. 2:18).

… The apostle Paul understands this accurately …(1 Corinthians 11:9) …

Reading the text with pink glasses

Eve was created as a helper for Adam, not Adam as a helper for Eve…(Gen. 2:18). The Hebrew word here translated “helper” (ezer) is often used of God who is our helper elsewhere in the Bible. (See Ps. 33:20; 70:5; 115:9; etc.) This shows her superiority.

Stripping away the biases

Grudem’s argument starts with confirming the egalitarian point that helper indeed does not, in itself, signify who has authority. On that point, we agree.

But then he claims that when God helps us, God holds us “primarily responsible”. His own very first text on God’s help, however, is about God being our help in terms of souls:

Ps 33:18 -20 Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy; To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine. Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield.

When God helps by delivering souls from death, the authority over death is His – not the work of man. Grudem’s whole idea that the one being helped is the one with authority in any situation of helping thus falls apart.

Grudem also misses the context of 1 Cor. 11:9:

1 Cor 11:8-11 For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12 For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God.

When a passage states two seemingly contradictory ideas, it is dishonest to quote, as Grudem did, only your favorite one.

>>To be continued in Part 3 >>

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