Are The Roles Of Men And Women Foundational Principles or Merely Consequences of Sin?
Some argue that Adam and Eve's sins (Genesis 3:1-6; Romans 5:12) are what caused God to establish men in leadership roles and women in submission roles until Jesus Christ came in the flesh (John 1:14). They further argue that Jesus reversed the consequence and granted equal roles in the home and the spiritual realm, twisting Galatians 3:26-29 and Genesis 3:16 as their proof-texts. [NOTE: Please consult our question in our Q & A section: “Is Galatians 3:26-28 Proof That Women May Serve In Spiritual Positions Of Authority Over Men?”].
The inspired instructions of Paul the Apostle reveal the reason why there is to be the forbidding of the authoritative-type teaching of women over men. 1 Timothy 2:13 reads, “For Adam was formed first, then Eve.” This occurred prior to the entrance of sin into the world. This proves that the roles of men in leadership roles and women in submission roles were established from creation. This is also brought out in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16.
What Is Genesis 3:16 discussing? Genesis 3:16 states: “To the woman [Eve] He said: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children; your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” In the immediate context (Genesis 3:13-19) God is giving the punishment for Adam and Eve’s disobedience. The serpent (whose identity is finally unmasked in Revelation 12:9 - Satan) was punished. The creation account made it clear that God always intended man to work (Genesis 2:15). This text teaches us that work is now cursed by the consequences of the couple's failure to follow God's commands and Adam is going to have to work harder because there will be thorns and thistles. God had given the directive to Adam and Eve to be fruitful and make children (Genesis 1:26,27), but now, the text teaches the blessing of producing new life is now tainted by the intensified suffering and danger of childbirth, which can lead to death for the mother and/or the child. We are to view Genesis 3:16 in a negative tone.
Are we to view the latter part of Genesis 3:16 negatively: “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you”? From Genesis 4:6,7, we learn what is meant by “desire” and “rule” (same Hebrew words are used). Genesis 4:6,7 states: “So the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.” Cain should have shown self-control and ruled over/defeated the allurement of sin - instead, Cain allowed sin, like a cruel master, to rule over/defeat him.
In the context of Genesis 3:16, Eve and all women will have the tendency from that time on to lose themselves in the pursuit of finding identity, satisfaction, and meaning in men: “your desire shall be for your husband.” They will want to be placed in spiritual leadership positions on the same level as men just as tragically is happening today in our society! Women are to show self-control and be submissive in their God-given roles to His glory.
Likewise, instead of the sacrificial Christ-like love that God intended (Ephesians 5:22-33), men from that time on tend to find their meaning and identity in exercising domination and lustful power over women: “and he shall rule over you.” This is exactly what we find, for example, among men who will abuse their wives (and in general, exploit women as sexual objects).
Feminists and their sympathizers have unfortunately misunderstood the Scriptures. They are clinging to the wrong reversal. Jesus Christ did come and make a reversal in that husbands and men, in general, are not to be power-hungry dictators, but are to show a sacrificial love to their wives and to be godly leaders in the home and in the church. Likewise, women in general and wives are not to place themselves in the arrangement of the leadership role of husbands and men in the church, but are instead to be submissive and render the respect that is due to men (1 Peter 3:1-7; Ephesians 5:22-33; 1 Timothy 2:8-15; 1 Corinthians 11:2-16; 14:34-35).
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