Misogyny and Malarkey – Creation

Adam and Eve by Antonio Molinari

The common tradition often holds the Creation story in Genesis as a historical, scriptural precedent for the built-in superiority of man over woman. That’s misogyny and malarkey.

Typically, Genesis 3:16 is the go-to verse for substantiation of this idea that men were created superior. In the NASB, it reads:

To the woman He said,
“I will greatly multiply
Your pain in childbirth,
In pain you will bring forth children;
Yet your desire will be for your husband,
And he will rule over you.”

This last line is rough, but you should remember it’s a translation. The original language wasn’t English; it was Hebrew. This is just our best attempt at putting their words into our words. If you look at how the original Hebrew is phrased, a good translation could be:

And he will rule over you.

Oh, wait. No help there. Sometimes, there’s no mystery to the language of the Bible. Sometimes it just says what it says. This is one of those times.

Context

However, there’s one all-important truth here. Look at the top of the page in your Bible. See where it has that big number 3 printed? That’s a chapter number. If you look back a little bit, you’ll see a big number 2 as well. Why is that important? Well, chapter 2 tells of the creation of humanity; chapter 3 tells of the fall of humanity.

This clear-cut pronouncement of male authority isn’t part of what we’re made to be; it’s a painful penalty for sin.

For the Christian faith—which holds that Christ’s sacrifice saved us from the condemnation of sin—to hold that Genesis 3:16 supports the ongoing institutionalized inferiority of women is incoherent and it flies in the face of the equality in Christ we share according to Galatians 3:28. Perhaps a Jew still awaiting messianic redemption could so believe, but a Christian should hold women to be more freed than ever from the arbitrary “rule” of men.

Truth

This clear-cut pronouncement of male authority isn’t part of what we’re made to be; it’s a painful penalty for sin.

So, what does the creation story (you know, the part before chapter 3) actually say about men and women?

Well, we see man was made first, in 2:7. This is absolutely clear, and it’ll be vital to remember in one of my upcoming posts in this series. Then, after some minimally invasive rib surgery, God uses a piece of a man to make woman in 2:22. And look how Adam responds (Genesis 2:23, NASB):

The man 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.

He acknowledges himself as her origin, but he did so by also recognizing her as an equal. She wasn’t just made out of the same components as him; she was actually made out of him. Adam saw Eve as different from but altogether equal to himself, even naming her (per his job, see vv. 19-20) by giving her his own name.

God’s Voice

So Adam thinks they’re created equal but different. What does the True Origin have to say on it?

Well, God voiced His opinion back in verse 18. He describes the yet-to-be-made woman as a “helper suitable for [literally corresponding to] him” (NASB). Men have sometimes held this as evidence of man’s incomplete state but also evidence of woman’s insignificant state. He’s the 95%, almost-there human, but she’s only the 5% supplement leftovers.

They almost depict the scene as if God said something like, “Well, I know men won’t ever stop and ask for directions, so I’d better make woman so he won’t be late to meetings as often.”

Now the Hebrew language holds some insight, and it is powerful insight at that. The word translated “helper” (‘ēzer) is used 17 other times in the Old Testament, but every single time it’s used to depict the presence or absence of God’s provision, protection, and power amid man’s dire need.

Later I’ll post exactly what this looks like, but for now consider this one example: God is Israel’s sword, ‘ēzer, and shield according to Deuteronomy 33:29. That’s a mighty military role, not a handy convenience role. God shares one of His own attributes exclusively with woman. That’s hardly insignificant. “Helper” just doesn’t begin to describe it.

And it makes sense she’d have something of God in her. Genesis 1:27 shows us woman is made in God’s image just as much as man is.

God shares one of His own attributes exclusively with woman. That’s hardly insignificant. “Helper” just doesn’t begin to describe it.

Clearly, God made women different; she was complementary to man. But this wasn’t inferiority. In fact, the Hebrew word picture illustrates them being face-to-face, eye-to-eye, on equal ground. Different but equal in value, in image of God, and in need for each other.

Different but Equal

Here’s a practical example of how we’re created different but equal.

Women can’t run as fast as men, in general, because of the angles and placement of muscular insertion points around the pelvis. A misogynist might cite this as evidence of male superiority, but that’s just ignorant idiocy.

Her distinct insertion points are what enable a little thing called childbirth.

A man’s musculature would leave no opening sufficient for a child to pass through. Does that make women inferior runners but superior birthers? No, it makes them different.

Perhaps if we celebrated these differences rather than abusing them, they’d be seen in a different light. So often, angry women resent the label “mother” because it comes with all this cultural baggage attached, rife with ideas of insignificance and inferiority. They want to cry out, “I’m not just a baby factory!”

And guess what? They’re not! And shame on any man who says otherwise.

However, they do have the distinction of being able to bear children, and that, along with all the other differences God made in them, from their body to their mind to their personality to their talent, should be celebrated and held in the highest honor. That which makes a diamond different is what makes it valuable, and each daughter of Eve is one more facet in that climax of creation called “woman”.

Women are the ‘ēzer, a measure of God’s own provision, protection, and power—His “help”—embodied in human form.

Series Navigation<< Misogyny and Malarkey – IntroductionMisogyny and Malarkey – The Head >>
Antonio Molinari [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
About Phil (251 Articles)
Philip Osgood is a Christian husband, father, and writer who considers himself a passable video game player, fiction reader, camping and hiking enthusiast, welder, computer guy, and fitness aficionado, though real experts in each field might just die of laughter to hear him claim it. He has been called snarky, cynical, intelligent, eccentric, creative, logical, and Steve for some reason. Phil and his beautiful wife Clara live in Texas with their children in a house with a dog but no white picket fence. He does own a titanium spork from ThinkGeek, though, so he must be alright.