Women in the Text: Creation Order 2

Photo: Ramiel G. Rashidi / Ceramic: Gail Caulfield

In my first post on the Creation Order, I wanted new eyes. I’ve listened to many expositions on those chapters in Genesis, and it’s hard to read the text without schooled understanding. But using “ignorant eyes” helps me understand what is or isn’t God’s point. I continue in Genesis.

Male patriarchy orders the genders as leader and follower. Because God formed Adam first, does that mean men must claim the chief spot? Because Eve was taken out of Adam, does that mean women must defer to men? The Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood says yes. Here’s how the Danver’s Statement words it:

Adam’s headship in marriage was established by God before the Fall, and was not a result of sin (Gen 2:16-18, 21-24, 3:1-13; 1 Cor 11:7-9).

Headship established at creation?

First, how does CBMW define this headship? They mean authority. The husband is in charge. He leads the wife.

Was Adam’s authority established at creation? Based on the definition of establish, that would mean Adam’s authority was instituted by agreement and firmed up beyond doubt.  Was male authority something God brought into existence? Did God enact Adam to rule Eve? Do we see Adam and Eve agreeing to this headship institution? Read through Genesis 1 and 2 and the first few verses of chapter 5 again. The plain text reveals no such institution.

What is established?

Marriage unity is established with the words, “They become one flesh.”  Joint rule over created things is established with God’s blessing and the words, “Rule over every creature.” There is a creation order; one came before the other. One was formed because of the other; woman to solve man’s loneliness problem. One was required to leave and cleave; man alone is given a duty in the marriage. But I don’t see authority established in any creation passage (Gen 1, 2 or 5). Between the two humans, I only see a joint “other” focus (companionship-union) that would result in the instituted goals: unity and dominion.

Is Adam given authority over Eve?

Nowhere in the plain text does it say Adam is to exert authority over Eve. But there are many who will reason with the text. Here are a few of the favorite reasons given why Adam should have authority over Eve.

1.   “And the LORD God commanded the man, “You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil…” Adam is commanded not to eat the “knowledge” fruit, not Eve. Does this signify God giving Adam authority? Did God make it Adam’s duty to keep Eve away from the fruit? God spoke these words before Eve was taken out of Adam. If God spoke them to Adam AFTER Eve was formed, I’d say without a doubt, yes. But since it happened before she arrived, I don’t think its a clear argument for Adam’s spiritual authority. Here are some other things that occurred before Eve was formed.

    • Adam receives God’s breath and lives.
    • Adam is commanded to work and watch/protect the garden.
    • Adam witnesses the garden planting and creation of animals. He names the animals.

Even though Adam alone did these things, Eve is included in the dominion command in Genesis 1, and she is also called the Image of God… even though Adam alone received God’s Breath. I think we can assume she held equal responsibility for keeping the Fruit Command as Adam, even though she was not physically taken out of Adam yet. But we are in speculation on either side of the argument since the text doesn’t say.

2.  Adamnamed his wife Eve. Does Adam gain authority by naming Eve? As above, Adam also named the animals; yet both Adam and Eve are given rule over the animals in Genesis 1. If giving someone a name equaled having authority over them, then Hagar was God’s master. (Genesis 16:13)

3.  But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” God called Adam first after they ate of the fruit. This indicates primary  accountability. What does that mean? Primary means first. God asked for Adam’s account of things before he asked for Eve’s account. This is logical since Adam holds the primary formation. Adam was formed first. But does primary accountability equal greater accountability; that Adam was accountable for Eve’s actions? I don’t think so. Since God asks the same question of Eve, we know she is held accountable for her own actions. (Notice that Eve can talk directly to God, she does not go through her husband.)


The question for this post is: does the creation order establish that Adam is to have authority over Eve? It  isn’t in the plain text. Maybe it can be assumed. But in that case, I wish the Danvers’s Statement would word it that way instead  of saying it was established. Unity and joint rule are all I see established by the actual words of God.

Up next: More assumptions from the temptation.

9 thoughts on “Women in the Text: Creation Order 2

  1. A couple of thoughts.

    It’s my understanding that when Adam said “she shall be called woman,” he was not naming the woman then. The word used for “called” is different than the word used when he “named” the animals. Adam did not actually name the woman until after the Fall. If naming implies authority, then this could be seen as his first instance of “ruling over” her as God had predicted.

    Secondly, since Eve was not named yet at the time they hid from God after they had eaten the fruit, both the man and the woman were still named “adam” (“human beings”) by God. Genesis 5:1-2 says God called both the male and the female “adam” (“human beings”). Therefore, when God called to “adam,” He probably was calling both of them, not just the man.


    1. Thanks for catching that Kristen. I changed the verse I quoted to the “eve” naming verse. That was the one I meant to quote, oops!
      I’m glad you pointed out the confusion in the naming business. When Adam “named” the animals he was calling them or proclaiming out at them. Then God gave them that name, right? I get confused with the particulars. And so that is what Adam did when he saw woman. He proclaimed out at her and then God called her woman?

      For all that, it is easy to see this naming issue is not a hard and fast rule. There is wiggle room for differing interpretations. So hierarchy folks shouldn’t preach it as such. It is an assumption, a theory. Nothing more.

      I remember a teacher in my past pointing out Hagar naming God (its the same word Adam uses on Eve) as a valid argument against Adam’s rule because of the naming business, and that’s made a big impression on me…years ago. Yet this reason still circles in hierarchy as valid.


  2. I like your conclusion. There are obviously a lot of other issues that are relevant (for example, whether any gender distinction existed pre-Eve, which you’ve mentioned in other posts), but it seems like people read WAY too much into the creation story. By definition, Genesis 1-11 is in the genre of ancient mythology – the passage conveys the truth that God created the universe, but it’s really a stretch to interpret it as a How-To guide for modern day life.


    1. I like that you like my conclusion! ; My hubby believes like you that Genesis is a condensed inspired “myth.” We go round and round. I don’t know what I think on that. I could go either way.


      1. Just to clarify for other readers who aren’t familiar with the term…a myth in this context doesn’t mean that it’s fiction. The ancient world used mythology as a literary style when a story expressed an important truth or cultural values but the specifics weren’t relevant. For example the Iliad and the Odyssey. Our culture still does the same thing – just think about stories of George Washington chopping down a cherry tree and throwing a silver dollar across the Potomac. We don’t care about the details but rather that our founders had admirable qualities.


  3. Did God make it Adam’s duty to keep Eve away from the fruit?-kb

    I would think his responsibility would have extended to keeping the serpent OUT of the garden and away from the woman.

    “And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.” Gen 2:15

    keep=shamar=to keep, guard, observe, give heed, protect, save life, to be on one’s guard, take heed, take care, beware


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