In the beginning, God made Adam. When the Lord saw that it was not good for Adam to be alone, he caused the man to fall into a deep sleep, and from his rib he made him a companion—a helper.
He made the first woman.
When Adam saw Eve, he loved her, saying, in Genesis 2:23, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman’ for she was taken out of man.”
Bone of my bones. Flesh of my flesh. It was the love story of the ages, a union of perfect harmony. They were equals, as God intended.
But then it all came crashing down.
When these Biblical lovers were cast out of Eden for disobeying God, entropy touched the world for the first time, beginning the slow decline of the universe into disorder. Outside of the perfection of God’s presence, nothing worked as intended—including the relationship between the sexes.
God hinted at this when Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden, when Hefproclaimed that “Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”
This verse is oft-misunderstood. God did not supernaturally make womankind lesser. He did not make man greater. This was not a curse enacted by a vengeful, sexist God.
This was a prediction.
You see, Adam and Eve chose to exercise something that God freely gave them—free will. In choosing to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, the first two humans attempted to, in essence, become the arbiters of what is good and what is evil.
So God let them. He does not want automatons. But because Adam and Eve were not God, they—and their descendants—would never be able to truly order the world. And so the world fell.
As a result of the fall, strife came between man and woman. Larger and physically stronger, men came to dominate women in many cultures. Sexist laws and customs and ways of thought became individual beams in a house of worldwide discord.
This discord extended even into the Christian Church.
Because of the creeping influence of the Fall, Christian culture often paints a very specific picture of what a woman is, and what femininity should look like. To create this picture, 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 is often referenced, in which Paul writes that “As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says.”
This has given some Christians the impression that women should be meek, quiet creatures who have no place in the power structures of the Church or the world at large.
This impression is wrong.
Paul, here is addressing a specific situation or disturbance rather than making sweeping proclamations about all women. In other instances where Paul tells a certain group to be silent—verses 28 and 30— he is telling tongue-speakers and prophets to be quiet when others speak. In both instances, these are temporary silences.
As we can see in 1 Corinthians 11:5, Paul writes of women praying and prophesying, so Paul’s command is doubly not a command for women to act a certain way in all situations. The myth of the meek, silent woman is shattered.
We’ve learned how God does not speak of women. Let’s take a look at what the God of all creation does have to say.
Going back to Genesis, God says that He will make a “helper” suitable for Adam.
All we need is in this word. But we’ll have to go back in time to find its true meaning.
In the original Hebrew, the word for helper is “ezer”. This isn’t the idea of a “helper” in the way our contemporary minds might conceive of it—someone who follows along, submissively performing tasks.
No—“ezer” is used elsewhere in the Bible, and it has a very different meaning. Looking at the context of every other usage of “ezer” in scripture, the word refers to the intervention and aid of powerful military allies—usually ones who are superior in power to those needing aid.
It’s also used to refer to the intervention of God, Himself. When David says, “The Lord is my Helper,” he uses “ezer”.
And so God did not create, from Adam, a meek servant. He created something beautiful and powerful.
That is how God sees women. And you should, too.
But contemporary Christian culture often seeks to place women into a box, robbing them of the dynamic beauty and power that God imbued them with. But as we’ve seen, these aren’t God’s norms. They’re human cultural norms.
Jesus Christ—God made flesh—defied cultural norms concerning women throughout his life. In John 8:2-7, we find a woman who is about to be stoned for the crime of adultery—a punishment that only extended to women.