So let’s go back to the beginning.
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27)
Two different sexes, both made in the image of God. (which shows us that we’re not talking about the physical image of God… but we won’t follow that tangent)
“the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed.” (Genesis 2:7–8)
“The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” (Genesis 2:15)
In Genesis 1, “man” referred to both male and female. In Genesis 2, it refers to male. Paul saw significance to the order in which man and woman were created. (1 Timothy 2:13; Ephesians 5:23)
Man is put in the garden to work it and take care of it.
“The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”” (Genesis 2:18)
“So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.”” (Genesis 2:21–23)
Woman is created as a “suitable helper.” She was the solution to the problem of man being alone. She was created as his complement, not as his servant. She fulfilled his need for companionship in a way which no animal could do.
“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.” (Genesis 3:6–7)
Again, worth noting that Paul saw significance in the fact that the woman was the one who was deceived by the serpent. (1 Timothy 2:14)
“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”” (Genesis 3:8–9)
Here God apparently makes a mistake. Failing to remember the need to be gender inclusive, he calls to the man, even though the text emphasizes that the man and his wife were together.
It’s an important text. This is not a consequence of the fall; that comes in a moment. God held the man responsible for what was going on and expected him to answer for it. That was the order in Eden. Not domination. Responsibility.
“To the woman he said, “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”” (Genesis 3:16–19)
Man had been given the task of working the garden. That task became more difficult. Could we not say that God did the same with the woman, making her appointed task more difficult? The next verse says that Adam called the woman Eve because she would be mother of all living things. Was that merely a consequence of the fall?
One consequence of the fall was the idea that man would rule over woman. It’s interesting to note that that’s precisely the leadership style that Jesus forbade for his followers. And it’s interesting that in the passages where Paul refers to the creation story, he doesn’t make reference to this point. That’s not why men are given the responsibility of leadership. That happened before the fall.
Creation paints a picture of equality. It also paints a picture of different tasks for men and for women.