The origin of sexism: Adam and Eve

The origin of sexism Adam and Eve

God created the world with a beautiful balance between men and women. So why are people today fighting for equality? We must go way back to the first man and woman to find the origin of sexism. In the first chapters of Genesis, we read how God’s good creation went wrong pretty early on when the serpent showed up in the Garden of Eden to throw everything into disorder. Scripture said the serpent was the most crafty creature, so it certainly picked the weaker target with care, which is why it went after the woman. The serpent tempted the woman to eat fruit in disobedience to her creator.

Over the years, women have gotten a lot of flack for being the first to sin, but scripture says that man was right next to her. Rather than stopping her from eating the fruit, he threw his authority away and listened to his wife, eating the fruit also. (Tip for husbands: next time your wife is nagging you, just tell her the first time a man listened to his wife was the downfall of the human race... or maybe that's not a good idea!) Having disobeyed God, the image of whom they carried in the masculinity and femininity, they were cursed right at the very heart of that unique identity:
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.” Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it All the days of your life. “Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; And you will eat the plants of the field; By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.”
Man’s masculine strength was no longer enough to provide for his family, toiling and sweating to work the field which now produced thorns and thistles. The woman’s feminine ability to bear children was made much more painful, and her desire would be for her husband, who would rule over her.

At first, that sounds not so bad for the husband. Don’t all men want to be desired by their wives? But consider the same language used later on: “Sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it”. So we see that a desire to have something is a desire to overcome and control it. Woman will now try to overcome the man, rebelling against his authority. But because man is the stronger one, he will resist her and rule over her. Though man already had authority, this is the first time he is told to rule over woman. Remember that “rule” is the term used to show that humanity is superior to the rest of the animals. Because of the curse, man is now superior to woman as well -- they are no longer equal. And because they lost their innocence, they were no longer allowed to live forever.

This curse is the cause of sexism. This was the moment chauvinism and feminism were born. This was the beginning of inequality. The man and woman passed this curse onto their offspring, and we see it in society today. The authority of men is seen by women as a threat. Feminists agree wholeheartedly with the curse on women in Genesis. Their desire is exactly what Genesis said it would be -- women overcoming the authority of men. Ever since, women have been fighting for masculine traits, like stoicism, strength, authority, the right to vote, earning the same amount of money at work, promiscuity, birth control, and social dominance.

Notice that according to Genesis, man ruling over woman was not the cause of woman’s rebellion against him, but rather the result of it. And man has ruled over woman ever since this moment, often in brutal and inhumane ways. Women have been bought and sold, raped, abused, and insulted. This mistreatment of women has only spurred on their desire to fight against men even more, making the cycle worse and worse.

But even back then, God had a plan. There was a promise of redemption. God told the serpent “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” Now we take humanity’s ability to procreate for granted, but this is only the first time in this story of creation that God mentions offspring. The woman was the first to sin, and that sin resulted in a curse of death. But even in the curse, there is a promise to woman of redemption. Her ability to bear offspring keeps humanity alive despite all men and women dying. Woman’s unique ability to bear children is a redemptive blessing. Her sin brought death to humanity, but her children bring life.

Paul agrees with this concept in his letter to Timothy: “It was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.” Similarly, Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “In the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God.” God’s curse caused man to rule over woman, but men are still dependent on women because they came from her. So even after the curse, God strives for equality between men and women.

Though humanity as a whole is maintained through our offspring, our offspring still die. Bearing children is just a temporary solution. But there is much more to this idea of redemption through our offspring. In God’s promise to the serpent, there is a plan of redemption against death itself that continues throughout the rest of the Bible. In this promise, God redefines the relationship between men and women in a beautiful way. God not only removes the origin of sexism, but makes things between men and women even better. We will explore this in a future post.


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