Friday, February 08, 2008

Were Gender Roles for Men and Women Established Before the Fall of Mankind?

The importance of understanding what gender roles consisted of, if indeed there was such a thing as gender "roles" before the fall of mankind, cannot be underestimated when attempting to achieve an understanding of gender roles from a biblical perspective.

Evangelical leaders know this, and that is why the gender "roles," as seen in the first two chapters of Genesis are a frequent source of discussion and debate.

Understanding gender roles, as defined before the fall, is important for the simple fact that the entire body of conservative evangelical theology concerning this issue rests on what is contained within the first two chapters of the book of Genesis. And even though the biblical evidence is vigorously denied by many, the record shows that gender roles were radically different before the fall of mankind than after. In fact there is no biblical record of gender "roles" [as we understand them today] before sin entered the kosmos.

According to Pastor David L. Brown Ph.D., God has ordained a rigid caste system in regards to gender roles in which men assume the leadership "role" in the church and home, and women are to assume the support "role." He cites Genesis 2:18 and Genesis 2:20 as the basis for his conclusions. Brown contends that the scriptures which say there was not an "help meet" to be found for Adam ( so God was compelled to create one for him), prove the support role of women was established before the fall of mankind, and that Eve was created for the sole purpose of being an obedient, submissive, support person for Adam.

The writings of Pastor Brown reflect the general consensus of conservative, evangelicals in regards to gender roles within the Christian Church and home. "If man had not sinned," Brown declares, "he would always have ruled with wisdom and love; if the woman had not sinned, she would always have obeyed with humility and meekness."

Pastor Brown has some serious flaws in his theology concerning original (un-fallen) gender roles in the following areas:

  • He assumes that the use of the words help and meet (meaning proper [or appropriate] help) in conjunction with the creation of woman implies she was created for the purpose of subordinate obedience to man
  • He assumes that the man was originally created to rule over other people, most especially his wife -Vs- receiveing a mandate to rule over the plant and animal kingdoms only.
In Psalms 33:20, the shepherd/prophet/king David, declared that the Lord was his "help." In this verse, he used the same Hebrew word "help" that was used in Genesis chapter two concerning the woman in relation to the man. Does this imply that David was to rule over God with wisdom and love? Or that God was to obey David with humility and meekness? God was to be a submissive, support person in helping David succeed? Is it possible that the word "help" can be used without any connotation of subordinate subservience? We see it used it that way many times in scripture. God indeed was David's help. And the scriptures are clear, that he is our help as well. But he is certainly not our subordinate servant.

The word "help," in Genesis chapter two in regards to the woman, has no implication of subordinate servitude whatsoever. And the word that follows it, "meet," simply means "proper" or appropriate. The argument can be made that Adam was also an appropriate help for Eve, for the simple fact that they were both humans.

In Genesis 2:20 (one of the verses used by Brown to prove that women were created to serve men), we are told that Adam gave names to all the cattle and all the fowls, but there was no appropriate "help" to be found for him. Why? Because there was no one else like him on the planet. The implication of this verse is clear; each of the animals, both male and female, already had an appropriate help--its own male or female counterpart. But the man did not have an appropriate help. He had no female counterpart. On the other hand, the woman came into being with an appropriate help already in place--her human counterpart, the man.

Was mankind (males in particular) created to rule over other men and women? The bible says humans (both male and female) were created in God's image and that both were instructed to have dominion over all the rest of His creation. We see no command given, in either the first or second chapter of Genesis, in regards to mankind ruling over any other human being. It is simply not there. The female human was given the same benefit as the male human concerning the privilege of subduing the earth by being given dominion over the plant and animal kingdoms.

Neither Genesis 2:18 nor 2:20 proves that the present gender role distinctions defended so fervently by conservative evangelicals were ordained of God before the fall. The rigid gender role, caste system, we see enforced among evangelicals today are nothing less than the result of sin. They have not been mandated by God but, rather, by men.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

While fanciful as the authors portrays the article, it is incomplete.
It obviously is taken from the viewpoint of a woman.

Ephesians 5:22 et al and 1Timothy2 both clarify the roles of women.
"Man is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church"


"Wives submit to your husbands in all things"

Women are therefore reduced to chattel, property of a man. And domestic violence is a political term. It doesn't exist. Man has the authority and right to discipline his wife any way he sees fit but not murder. Just as Christ does. Stuff rolls downhill so to speak.

They are to obey him in everything except violating the word of God.

Women are NEVER to exercise authority over a man. This means they cannot be judges, bosses, cops, politicians, any job where they can, do, or might have authority over a man. Apparently they aren't smart enough to make proper judgments and any decisions are 'female based - (AKA liberal or communist in today's vernacular).

The Bible also talks about court testimony of women. As a minimum it takes 2 women to equal one man's testimony in court. And in some things her word does not count. A man's testimony is takes and fact and above that of a woman.

The value of a woman is between 1/2 and 2/3 that of a man. Leviticus 27:3-7
Therefore equal pay for equal work is a sin.

Women were bought from the father (dowry or sorts) with things like a cow or gold or other things of value. Women were commonly bought, sold, and traded like a commodity.

Example is Moses. He bought his 2 wives with 14 years of labor. And God saw this as good or he wouldn't have let it happen.

Polygamy (more than one wife, but not the reverse) IS legal and proper according to the bible.

Ever see a young man ask her father for 'permission' to marry his daughter?

There are reasons why throughout the eons of time that matriarchal societies never last. And societies revert back to patriarchal types.

The main reason is their thought processes are inconsistent with reality. They are emotionally driven whereas life is logic driven. The two are incompatible.
"Feel Good" behavior and laws are based on the feminine ideals and are not following God's word.

God made Adam in his own likeness (image). Eve came from Adam. Eve was to be his helpmate (an employee or slave of sorts). Adam was in charge, not eve. God made it this way. God gave Adam dominion over all things and eve is one of those things.
Unless you believe God is a liar?

Eve was seduced by the serpent and in turn Eve seduced Adam into eating the fruit.

She basically "passed the buck" and figured if she was gong down for sinning she wouldn't go down alone.

Adam, not wanting to be alone again nor desiring to lose ANOTHER body part joined her.

And her evil treachery was complete.

In earlier Pagan civilizations, women were in charge.

They failed because women are not genetically or religiously supposed to control anything. When they do, disaster soon follows. Otherwise Matriarchal societies would have lasted. They would be right up there with the well know societies like the Pharaohs, Romans, Greeks, etc. Since they aren't, this is evidence that women are not to rule.

All of this is history.

To answer the topic question, yes, roles were established. God created man with a purpose and then woman with a purpose. You do not create anything without a 'blueprint' of sorts.

And the above information is part of the blueprint.