In Genesis 1 and 2 we are introduced to God’s creation. Genesis 1 caps off the creative work of God with creating male and female of everything, but in Genesis 2 we see that God didn’t initially create a female human– she was a special creation. It is this special creation and what it means that has a profound impact on the world we live in and the culture war that American Christianity now finds itself waging.
The Creation of Adam and Eve
In Genesis 2:7 we are introduced to the creation of Adam. He was formed of the dust of the ground, God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and placed him in the Garden of Eden to work and to tend it. He is the only being to be created in this way as the others were simply spoken into existence, and shortly after placing him in the garden and giving to Adam the rules of the garden1, God comments that it is not good for the man to be alone and that a helper fit for him, but rather than doing that straightway, God brings every beast before him to see what he’ll name them.
Genesis 2:20 reads like God expected to find a helper for Adam among the animals, but a careful reading of the text seems to imply that God was showing Adam his need– that there was no being like him and therefore God needed to work. In either case, God then does another special creation by taking the rib of Adam and fashioning woman out of that rib and then bringing her to him. Adam names her as well– woman, for she was taken out of man– and then proclaims that a man should leave his father and mother and join with a woman to become one flesh— a distinct and new entity.
Created as Perfect Humans
At this point in the narrative, Adam and Eve, the first couple, are perfect and without sin. God was in the habit of walking with them in the garden (Genesis 3:8). So what can we learn about this couple from this? While there is not much in the text, there are some items to gleaned.
Eve was Created For Adam
Some things jump right out at us from the top. God no sooner created Adam then he declared that it was not good for him to be alone. To solve this problem, God created Eve from Adam’s rib. We don’t know what God had in mind specifically here. Matthew Henry muses along these lines:
I will make a help-meet for him; a help like him (so some read it), one of the same nature and the same rank of beings; a help near him (so others), one to cohabit with him, and to be always at hand; a help before him (so others), one that he should look upon with pleasure and delight.Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible, Volume 1
Maybe this is the case. We know that God will eventually command Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply– and for that Adam would certainly need help!
The word in Hebrew for Eve implies that she was a complementary helper for Adam. She was his “other half” in the way no one else was. She was the perfect date, the perfect wife, and the perfect helper.
The only thing we do get from this this text regarding the role of Eve was that she would be that person that would help Adam to complete the task that was laid out before him. He had a mission that she was able to help him complete. This was the purpose for which she was created.
We don’t have a lot of information about life for Adam and Eve before the fall. Maybe Adam went around naming other things (having finished with animals and the woman) and Eve helped him. I mean, flowers, water, rocks– there are a lot of things to name.
We do know that someone (probably Adam) told Eve about the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and that Adam probably embellished it some, because Eve doesn’t get it quite right when she relays the prohibition to the serpent in Genesis 3.
And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ”Genesis 3:2-3
We know from this passage that Eve was able to make a decision about this on her own– she didn’t consult Adam about it prior to eating (though he was probably nearby). The Devil, in the form of a serpent deceived the woman, and she took and ate. Eve decided she knew better than God— or that by taking the fruit she would, and she gave it to her husband and he ate of it as well. God was testing their heart, would it be for Him? The answer was, no– they would seek out what they wanted first and foremost.
What we clearly see here is that Eve valued the knowledge of good and evil, to be as God, moreso then the commands of God.
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.Genesis 3:6
When given that opportunity to lead, the first and perfect woman was deceived and led her husband into sin against God. She had no sin nature until that point, and no excuse. Adam had no sin nature and no excuse. And for that, they were disciplined.
Each of the figures in the story then pays the consequence. They are each impacted in their realms of duty and role. The primary sin that was committed here and is at the root of all sin is a desire to be as God– pride. To handle this, God makes clear the order of the family.
He tells the snake that he will no longer talk, will eat dust and insects, and will be crushed by the seed of Adam. Eve is told that she will desire her husband and he will rule over her, and that she will have pain in childbirth. Adam is told that the earth will be hard to work and that he will die.
Order is Not Part of the Curse
Some have argued that this is where the idea of order in the family comes from, that Adam did not have the authority over his wife until the fall. I’m not sure that the text supports this concept.
Man had a mission before woman was created, and woman was designated the helper of the man. Now, the Holy Spirit is also called the Helper (John 14:26), and we don’t see that man has the authority to tell the Holy Spirit what to do!
However, we know that God is a God of order and rank. We see Him setting up all sorts of hierarchies through out the Scriptures and while Jesus was on Earth we know that the co-equal Son of God (being very God himself) carried out the will of His Father. Jesus was not inferior to God– despite what Philippians 2 says about Jesus emptying Himself to become a human.
God institutes order in order to carry out a mission. Jesus fulfilled His mission on the Cross, the Holy Spirit is a Helper to carry out the mission of Jesus through His followers and so I do not see it as inconsistent with the text to see that a wife would be one that would help her husband to carry out his mission here on Earth as well.
That is the role for which she was made and by which she will be fulfilling her mission, given to her by God.
Then What Is The Curse?
My opinion is that the curse is that instead of being united in a mission together, husband and wife would constantly be striving against each other. Her desire would be to rule over him, but being stronger, he would rule over her. Both of them would go too far– to the point that the man would have a tendency to abuse the woman and the woman would have the tendency to manipulate the man.
And this bears out throughout the Scriptures, as men like Lamech get multiple women, Solomon preaches about the adultress and the nag, Jesus talks about how Moses allowed for divorce so men would not kill their wives, etc. Marriage was no longer the picture of the love of Christ that it was supposed to be because of the curse.
Does this mean that if we were to have marriages like Adam and Eve that there would not be any order or rank? No. Because we saw that Adam had the mission and Eve was to help him complete the mission.
- Paul reminds us that Eve was the one deceived, though Adam bore the responsibility.
- Moses tells us in Numbers that the man could negate a vow if he heard of it.
God’s law and principles set up the man with the responsibility and authority to carry out the mission that God gave him.Tweet
God created Adam and gave him a mission. He created Eve to help him accomplish that mission here on Earth– the two became one. Sin entered and perverted the order that was there from the beginning, impacting each separately and individually.
While how accomplishing the mission of Christ may have the husband and his wife taking on different activities, the responsibility and authority for the unit rests with the man. Sin came by Adam, and death by sin.
It is important in our married Christian lives that we strive to be like our first parents in their holiness and cooperation. It is through this lens that we can understand the commands that come later in Scripture about how the two are to act, given the impacts of sin and the desire to show off the Savior.
- specifically, do not eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil