Theology in 3D

Gender Questions (Part 2)

Layton Talbert | April 16, 2018
New Testament, Old Testament, Theology

More questions about gender issues from an emailer. (See Gender Questions Part 1 for backstory.)

Scripture quotes Eve saying that she ate because she was deceived (Gen 3:13). Was she just blame-shifting or do 2 Cor. 11:3 and 1 Tim 2:13 corroborate her statement?

She was, indeed, deceived. But being deceived doesn’t automatically mean I’m not at fault. I may legitimately be faulted for being deceived when I had every reason to know better. Because the man of God in 1 Kings 13 had a clear and direct word from God about his mission in Samaria, he was entirely to blame for being deceived by the old prophet who lied to him, contradicting what God had already told the man of God. Eve, too, had a clear and direct word from God (Gen 2:16-17), and she knew it (Gen 3:2-3). She chose to believe someone else’s words in direct contradiction to God’s. Scripture does not exempt her from the guilt of her action or from its consequences; it is her action, after all, for which she was judged. Deceived or not, she was directly disobedient to an express word from God. Blame-shifting and being deceived are not mutually exclusive explanations; she’s clearly guilty of both.

Adam sinned because he chose to listen to his wife instead of obey God. It is never overtly stated/preached, but we generally infer several things from this. First, that Eve was intellectually not as smart as Adam, unable to understand the consequences of what she was doing, not smart enough to question the source of information.

Two brief observations: (1) Unfortunately, sometimes it is overtly stated; and (2) it’s a profoundly dumb inference. (No offense to my emailer; I understood her “we infer” to be generic, not personal.) First, the idea that Eve was intellectually inferior to Adam (or that women are generally intellectually inferior to men) defies the common experience of anyone who doesn’t live inside a box (when I have guys and girls in a Seminary course, the one who ends up at the top of the class by the end of the semester is almost invariably a girl). Second, there are plenty of other scriptural depictions of the intelligence, shrewdness, and (given our mutual fallenness) craftiness of women. The obvious dumbo in Proverbs 5 and 7 is the guy.

Second, that Eve was spiritually dull—not as sentient of what her action meant to her or God.

Another dumb inference. To correct it, just keep reading your Bible. One example: when Jesus was in a roomful of his disciples, the only one who had any foresight or any clue of what was going on was a woman (John 12:1-8).

Third, that Eve was emotionally driven/swayed—acting by impulse, not thinking rationally. But was her temptation any different than any man’s? Was it in fact any different than Christ’s temptation? Lust of the flesh (good for food), lust of the eye (a delight to the eyes), and pride of life (desired to make one wise). Where does deception come in? It seems that she chose to believe Satan and to make God a liar—man’s essential, damning sin.

Yes, yes, yes! Exactly. Sin is always a choice to believe someone else’s words over God’s. Even our own words, our own thinking. Satan never directly urges or entices Eve to action; he doesn’t have to. He concentrates his entire strategy on undermining the reliability of God’s words—questioning their content, denying their validity, and misrepresenting their motive.

How is that deception? She deceived herself?

No, Scripture doesn’t couch it that way. Anytime someone tells us the opposite of the truth and we choose to believe it, we are, by definition, deceived. Sometimes I’m not technically “at fault”—the guy promised me the car was in great condition but it turned out to be a lemon, or she assured me this wasn’t against the law and I believed her. But the fact remains, if I believe an untruth, for any reason, I have been (by definition) deceived. But remember, being deceived doesn’t necessarily cancel culpability.

Why were these lusts effective on a sinless person?

Okay, (a) that’s not a gender question, and (b) it’s a theological question that’s way too big to try to answer here.

The corollary assumption is that man chose to eat—went into the sin with his eyes wide open—undeceived, fully aware that he was disobeying God, fully aware of the consequences, choosing to join Eve in her sin rather than stay holy to God. We seem to make Adam into an anti-hero in his choice to go with Eve.

It seems clear to me that Scripture doesn’t depict Adam that way. Both were equally culpable, both experienced severe customized consequences, and both equally experienced the ultimate promised consequence (spiritual and physical death), precisely because both sinned equally–just for different reasons and perhaps in different ways. Sin is one area where I think we can safely and scripturally be egalitarians.


One response to “Gender Questions (Part 2)”

  1. […] Time to wrap up the series of gender questions emailed to me a while back. (For related issues previously discussed, see Parts 1 and 2.) […]

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