By the numbers, men and women are on fairly even footing — from a global population standpoint, at least. But for all of that statistical equality, it’s a well-known fact that society is governed almost exclusively by the men. This gender gap extends far beyond American borders.
Ideally, you would think things would be different within the Church, but sadly, it is not. Is the Lord guilty of being sexist? The book of Genesis states, in the beginning God created both sexes as equals. He made male and female in His image and gave both dominion over His of creation, equally.
The problem of sin
So, what happened? Well, as the story goes Adam and Eve were created sinless, but eventually they partook of the forbidden fruit and became sinful. This explains how sin entered the world, but not the equality issue. The root of the problem lies in the New Testament. The apostle Paul was against women being over men. His rationale was the created order from Genesis chapter one, “For Adam was first formed, then Eve.” (1 Timothy 2:13) Many claim this is a doctrinal statement and not Paul’s opinion.
If God through the order of creation intended for men to have authority over women, it would be pointless to curse the woman stating, “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” If this is a curse, it means originally the situation was different. In the beginning, we know God created male and female as equals.
Since Eve is cursed, we are back to square one. The order of creation becomes a moot point. Women are under the authority of men, due to her transgression. Before we jump to this conclusion, we need to under something about Adam.
What’s in a name?
The equality of men and women seems clear until we reach Genesis chapter two, then things get muddled. When the Bible was interpreted to English, the translators changed the Hebrew term “āḏām” into a proper name. However, “Adam” means humanity. Translators most likely made the change in order to correlate with the creation of the woman, also called Eve in chapter 3. This assumption has obstructed our understanding of Adam for centuries.
If we take the word “man” and replace it with the more accurate “humanity” the text reads smoothly. “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:26-27)
The Hebrew term “Adam” is used in 527 different verses in the Old Testament, only the garden story declares it is a proper name. If this story is an exception then we have a pronoun agreement error between the singular term “man” and plural expression “them”.
In addition, Genesis chapter five confirms the same truth about Adam. It reads, “Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.” (Genesis 5:2 KJV) The scripture explicitly states God called both male and female, Adam. Therefore, “āḏām” is not a name, but it is a classification of our species.
Call to action
Once we realize the term Adam refers to male and female, a couple of things become apparent. Eve in the garden is not a literal, but a figurative woman. Consequently, the curse applied to women in Genesis 3:16, does not apply to actual females.
Therefore, we need to look at the story of Adam and Eve with fresh eyes. I believe the church and most denominations have done a great disservice to women, based on erroneous interpretations of the scriptures. Gender bias beliefs are unsound and need to give way to the truth of what God truly wants. God made males and females in His image and gave both of them dominion over all of creation and He has never rescinded this decree.
Women make up more than half of the parishioners in the average church. They are the backbone of most congregations. We cannot undo the past, but we need to make things right today, by appointing women to the leadership roles they deserve without reservation.
Holy Bible, English Standard Version (ESV), except where noted
Holy Bible, King James Version (KJV)
Robert R. Davis is an ordained minister, author, teacher and software developer. He has a deep passion for understanding the meaning behind the commands and precepts of the Bible. He has written five books to date. If you want a deeper understanding of Adam and Eve, or you want to know who the Woman really represents, read his latest work “In the Beginning: The Truth Behind Genesis.”