For the next eight weeks I’ll be returning to my favorite Bible study, IFequip, to study women of the Old Testament. Many of you may recall this is where I started my journey from cynic to clergy nearly two years ago. This daily study is completely online with professionally rendered video aids and thousands of women who join in across the globe. There are hundreds of comments posted daily that comprise personal reflection and deeper study from regular folk and Bible teachers.
You can read my journey through IF:Equip here.
Two streams of thought on today’s passage, the first four chapters of Genesis.
The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam no suitable helper was found.
As a modern, highly educated, quasi-liberal woman, the helper function of Eve has always bothered me. I’m only a helper, not a leader? Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary expands on the concept of help-meet.
A help like him (so some read it), one of the same nature and the same rank of beings; a help near him (so others), one to cohabit with him, and to be always at hand; a help before him (so others), one that he should look upon with pleasure and delight.
Harmonious helping is not one-directional. If I help you, I expect you, too, will help me. Helping, by design, is mutual and bi-directional. The opposite is slavery and oppression. I cannot believe God fashioned Eve to be merely a slave to Adam’s desires or less-than him in relationship. This sets up a power differential that is not indicative of a healthy relationship. God wanted Adam to be happy and healthy, not overbearing and misogynistic.
Women are a balancing force. We are designed to complement our mate, bring out their best facets and polish their rough edges. So, too, are our mates to do this for us. My rough edges look different than my husband’s, but they retain the same coarseness that needs sculpting and care.
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.
I can’t fault Eve for desiring wisdom. Don’t we all thirst for knowledge and hunger to be wise? In doing this, she shared with her husband the doomed fruit. She desired him to be wise as well. Her foolishness in believing Satan over God is the very evidence of her seek for wisdom. It’s a vicious circle.
We all do this. THIS will make me happier. THAT will make me thinner. Reading THIS will solve all of my marriage woes and THAT Bible study will change my life. Our search for wisdom and answers are just as futile as Eve’s. And yet, we know the future of mankind doesn’t hinge on our decisions. Eve may not have known.
Here’s the thing: how can we fault Eve? This was her first mistake. Think about your first big mistake. Did you learn from it? Probably. Did it doom all women to a life of painful childbirth and men to work the land by the sweat of their brow? Nope. Eve had no context by which to measure her decision, only an impulse to grow and know–God-given traits. Her judgment was flawed but she was naive.
We all face difficult choices. Eve’s resulted in the fall of man. Ours usually results in the fall of our pride or vanity, bank balance or relationship.
I guess what I’m asking is this: let’s give our sister, Eve, a break.