Tag Archives: Adam and Eve

Your Desire Shall Be For Your Husband

Katharine Bushnell (1855-1946). Missionary to China and activist for women's equality, spent a lot time studying the original Hebrew meaning of Genesis 3:16 (photo credit: Boston University)

Katharine Bushnell (1855-1946). Missionary to China and activist for women’s equality. Bushnell spent a lot time studying the original Hebrew meaning of Genesis 3:16 (photo credit: Boston University)

To the woman he [God] said,

“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
    in pain you shall bring forth children.
Your desire shall be for your husband,
    and he shall rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16 ESV)

The beauty and simplicity of the early chapters of Genesis ironically leads to a pitfall when reading these chapters. The story of Adam and Eve is very terse and yet captivating. The details are sparse, but the narrative is engaging, as well as being foundational to Christian theology and practice. The story invites the reader to explore the imagination, going deeper in trying to figure out what it all means. But sometimes, the imagination can take you far away from the text itself, and thereby importing an alien sense of meaning that does not belong there.

For years, I have wrestled with the meaning of the curse given to Eve in Genesis 3:16, subsequent to the Fall. In contemporary Western culture, where concerns about women’s rights flourish, many readers bristle over the idea that Eve might somehow be the one to blame for the Fall of Humanity. After all, she interacted with the serpent and then offered the forbidden fruit to Adam. Does Genesis teach that Eve was truly at fault?

More specifically, by asserting herself so forwardly in her dialogue with the serpent, was she subverting her role as a supportive helpmate to Adam? If one reads the Apostle Paul in one of his letters to Timothy,  you might get the idea that Paul really believes that it was all Eve’s fault (1 Timothy 2:13-15).

But even when reading Paul, such a neat conclusion is not so simple. In his most profound work of theology in his letter to the Romans, Paul squarely places the responsibility for the Fall on Adam’s shoulders (Romans 5:12-17). Eve is not even mentioned.

So, perhaps the wisest conclusion to make is that both Adam and Eve share in the downfall of humanity, though in different ways. You can not pin it all on Eve.

But then there is the whole matter of the curse placed on Eve, specifically, that “your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” What is that all about?

This past summer, our church held a Summer Bible Study on Genesis 1-11, and this very question came up. Here is a TableTalk session where Tommy Vereb, our worship leader, poses the question to our lead pastor, Travis Simone:

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An Evolutionary Creation: Oxymoron?

How good a pool player is the The Lord of all Creation?   Does God sink all of the balls in one shot, or does He take multiple shots to demonstrate His Glory?

How good a pool player is the The Lord of all Creation? Does God sink all of the balls in one shot, or does He take multiple shots to demonstrate His Glory?

When most Christians think about “evolution” and “creation”, they think of things that simply do not mix: Oil and water. Vinegar and milk. The Red Sox and the Yankees. Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins. Me and mornings. Forget it.

When I was a young Christian studying science in college, I was repeatedly told that I had to choose between what evolutionary scientists have to say with what the Bible says about creation. Now, if the choice was between what atheists like Richard Dawkins have to say and what the Scriptures teach, well OK then, I would have to clearly agree that there is a serious conflict here.  Atheism masquerading as science is clearly incompatible with the Bible.

The problem is that while outspoken atheists like Richard Dawkins tend to hijack the public discourse on evolution, they represent only a small slice of the debate. Most practicing biologists are not terribly interested in atheistic ideologies (at least in my experience). They just want to study plants and animals and they happen to do it within the context of Darwinian evolutionary theory.

So, the question remains:  is modern evolutionary science today completely opposed to the God of the Bible?
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Four Views on the Historical Adam

How are we to understand the teaching of Genesis regarding Adam as an historical person? What is your view?

Want to know more about the debate? Get a copy of Four Views on the Historical Adam, part of the Zondervan Counterpoint series of debates within the Christian community among scientists, Old Testament scholars, New Testament scholars, Ancient Near East literary scholars, church leaders/pastors and others in-between about how we are understand the message of the Bible.

Introduction #1 — Matthew Barrett, California Baptist University:

Introduction #2 — Ardel Caneday, Northwestern College:

Young-Earth — William D. Barrick, The Master’s Seminary:

Ancient Near East Literature/Archetypal View — John Walton, Wheaton College:

UPDATE: For a summary of each view discussed in the book, BibleGateway has a succinct description of each perspective. Extended audio talks given by each one of the four main contributors from the 2013 Evangelical Theological Society have just been made available.

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