Arguments for Male Leadership in Genesis 3
Male Leadership in Genesis 3
After the fall, Eve was told that her husband would rule over her:
desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”
But was it intended
that he should have ruled over her in the garden in the first place? Several
arguments have been produced from the text of Genesis 3.
God Addressed Adam First
Some have argued from verse 9 that after Adam and Eve had sinned,
God addressed the man first, thereby implying that He regarded the man as in
But the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” (Genesis
There is a logical sequence in how God challenged each
participant. He had given the prohibition directly to the man, so he challenges
the man first.
eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” (Genesis
The man reluctantly admits his guilt, keeping his admission to the
end of his sentence in which he first blames God for giving him the woman, and
the woman for giving him the fruit.
whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”
therefore, God asks the woman:
is this that you have done?”
She passes the blame on to the serpent, before likewise admitting
serpent beguiled me, and I ate.”
God turned to the serpent, then to the woman, then to the man,
working back according to the order in which He had originally ascertained
their guilt. The order is a logical one, but does not suggest we should
conclude anything beyond this.
Was the Man Intended to Rule from the Beginning?
It has been argued that the events in Genesis 3:1-12 imply that
God’s intention was that man should always take the leading role; the woman
should always follow his lead. According to this interpretation, the woman
wrongly took the lead and therefore led the man into sin, thus demonstrating
how bad a thing it was and is for women to adopt any position of leadership.
It is difficult to see any reason to consider that Eve’s fault lay
in taking a lead as such. She was deceived by the serpent, and her fault lay in
that she mis-led Adam, not that she
led him. The usage of the word “help” (ezer)
as we have already explained, suggests that support in a good direction was
God’s intention. She would be no suitable help if she could not discuss with
him, advise him, and receive advice in turn. The point being made by the
account in Genesis 3 does not appear to be that leadership by the woman was in
itself wrong but that each sinned by eating the forbidden fruit. The man blamed
the woman and God Himself, and the woman blamed the serpent, but God held each
individually responsible. The intended harmonious partnership had been spoiled.
Eve Tempted by the
It has been argued that the serpent approached Eve because she was
the weaker of the two and more susceptible to temptation. Some people therefore
deduce that women by nature are more easily led astray. Accordingly, women in
general should be ruled over by men.
The text does not draw such a conclusion. It comments that “the
serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature that the LORD God had made”. Eve put up a reasonable defence, especially if she
had not been given the instructions directly from God. She had no previous
experience of temptation, nor had she been warned about the existence of the
serpent or how cunning it was.
woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden;
but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst
of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ” (Genesis
by contrast apparently put up no objection. Eve gave him the fruit and he ate
it. Sometimes people argue that the serpent approached Eve knowing that she
would be the harder one to persuade. If the serpent could defeat Eve, Adam
would easily give way.
It does not seem reasonable, according to the text, to deduce that
Eve was weaker than Adam or vice-versa. The only information given is that both
knew the commandment. They gave way to an attractive temptation, and neither
should have eaten the fruit; they both sinned.
After exclusion from the garden, the record shows a continued
deterioration in relationships. In Genesis 4 we have the first murder when Cain
kills Abel. Then we see demonstrated what the rule of a man over a woman meant.
God’s intention for marriage (“one flesh”) was disrupted by Lamech:
took two wives; the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.
And before long Lamech was boasting of his prowess in murder,
demonstrating his rule over his two wives and over anyone who interfered with
said to his wives: “Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; you wives of Lamech,
hearken to what I say: I have slain a man for wounding me, a young man for
striking me. If Cain is avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy-sevenfold.” (Genesis
By the time we reach Genesis 6, God expressed extreme
The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that
every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And
the LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him
to his heart. (Genesis