Grace Theological Journal 2.1 (1981) 23-44 .
Copyright © 1981 by Grace Theological Seminary. Cited with permission.
GENESIS 1-3 AND THE
MICHAEL F. STITZINGER
An examination of certain considerations in Genesis 1-3 contrib-
utes to a proper view of a hierarchical distinction between male and
female. Genesis 1 primarily emphasizes the relationship of spiritual
equality. Genesis 2 focuses upon the positional distinction in the area
of function. Contrary to the feminist position, several indications
reveal that a hierarchical relationship exists prior to the fall of
mankind. The New Testament consistently upholds this same rela-
tionship between male and female. Genesis 3 indicates that the sexes
reversed their respective roles with their fall into sin. An aspect of the
curse that is subsequently placed upon the woman is Genesis 3:16b,
which indicates that sin affected the hierarchical relationship, but did
not disannul it. The "desire" of the woman provides a reminder to all
women that the subordinate role still remains as her correct posture.
As a consequence of sin, man will often abuse his headship, exercis-
ing his "rule" harshly over the woman. Together, the first 3 chapters
of Genesis consistently argue for a continuing hierarchical order
between male and female.
* * *
ONE of the most important subjects of our day is that of the role
of women. Our society is in the midst of a sexual revolution.
Increasing confusion has developed about our identities as men and
women. A diminishing influence of the Judeo-Christian heritage, the
rise of the feminist movement, and pressure for the Equal Rights
Amendment have called into question traditional understandings of
sexual roles. This has created great uncertainty in our contemporary
situation both inside and outside of the church about what it means
24 GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL
to be a man or a woman.1 As John Davis observes, "The proper roles
of men and women in marriage and family, in the church, and
in the wider society are the subject of an ongoing debate that has
touched us all."2
Under the guise of the term "evangelical," many current writers
are advocating positions that are acceptable to the women's liberation
movement. Individuals such as Paul Jewett,3 Virginia Mollenkott,4
Letha Scanzoni and Nancy Hardesty,5 Don Williams,6 and Patricia
Gundry7 have suggested similar arguments in support of egalitarian-
ism. This understanding of Scripture provides a very real threat to the
traditional hierarchical view of male and female.
There is a great need for a proper understanding of the respective
roles God has established for man and woman. This study will
examine certain considerations in Genesis 1-3 which contribute to an
understanding of a hierarchical distinction between male and female.
FEMINIST CLAIMS AND THE CREATION ACCOUNT
No one denies that the apostle Paul used the creation account to
support his claims for a subordinate position of the woman. In both
1 Cor 11:9 and 1 Tim 2:13, Paul specifically appeals to the fact that
Adam was created before Eve.
Rather than accept this as a divinely inspired commentary on the
creation order, Paul's teaching about women is viewed as a result of
cultural conditioning and providing no application for the 20th
century. According to the "evangelical" feminists, there is no role
Herein lies the heart of the issue. The feminist advocates have
taken the liberty to reconstruct the creation account of Genesis in
order to argue for complete egalitarianism. Fellowship and equality
are said to be the main purposes for God's creation of the male and
female (Gen 1:26-30). Any suggestion of subordination prior to the
1John J. Davis. "Some Reflections On Galatians 3:28, Sexual Roles, and Biblical
Hermeneutics," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 19 (1976) 201.
3Paul K. Jewett, Man As Male And Female (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975).
4Yirginia R. Mollenkott, "Evangelicalism: A Feminist Perspective," USQR 32
(1970) 532-42; "The Woman's Movement Challenges The Church," Journal of Psychol-
ogy and Theology 2 (1974) 298-310; Women, Men and the Bible (Nashville: Abingdon,
5Letha Scanzoni and Nancy Hardesty, All We're Meant To Be (Waco: Word,
6Don Williams, The Apostle Paul and Women in the Church (Glendale: GIL
7Patricia Gundry, Woman Be Free! (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1977).
STITZINGER: GEN 1-3 AND MALE/FEMALE ROLES 25
fall is disregarded. For this reason, any hierarchy of relationships in
Genesis 2 (Gen 2:15-24) is de-emphasized. Not until the perfect
relationship of Genesis 1 was shattered in chapter 3 is there any
suggestion of subjection. When subjection did come about, it was
only a temporary measure that ceased with redemption. The work of
Christ again provided the basis for complete egalitarianism.
Individuals such as Jewett and Mollenkott have de-emphasized
Genesis 2 in order to establish positional equality from chapter 1 as
the standard for both chapters. The account of Genesis 1 is much
more general and does not explain any hierarchical relationship that
may exist between male and female. Thus, it could allow for complete
equality between the sexes. Mollenkott states:
I suggest that if religious leaders want to maintain any credibility with
the younger members in their congregations, they had better shift their
emphasis from the "Adam first, then Eve" creation story of Genesis
Two to the simultaneous creation of Adam and Eve in Genesis One.8
It appears that Mollenkott assumes a contradiction between Genesis
1 and 2 which allows her to disregard the latter.
Jewett also holds to this view by his designation of a "partner-
ship model," instead of the hierarchical arrangement in Genesis 2.9 In
this account, man and woman are understood to relate to each other
as functional equals whose differences are mutually complementary in
all spheres of life and human endeavor.10 This does not parallel
Genesis 2, however, unless the essential meaning of this latter chapter
is altered. Jewett accomplishes this by understanding the central
theme of chapter 2 to be that the woman's creation from man "is to
distinguish her from the animals by implying her essential likeness" to
the man.11 Genesis 3, in turn, reveals the first mention of the woman's
subordination to man as a punishment of the fall.12 While these
alterations result in what seems to be a fairly consistent interpretation
of the three chapters, they do not adequately consider what is being
stated. When the creation accounts are allowed to speak for them-
selves, a positional distinction becomes quite clear.
8Mollenkott, "The Woman's Movement Challenges The Church," 307; Jewett
("Mary and the Male/Female Relationship," Christian Century 90  1255) states
much the same idea: "I have come to reject this whole approach as contrary to the
fundamental thrust of Scripture. The first creation narrative contains no hint of female
subordination, and the second, which speaks of the creation of the woman from the
man, does not say what it has traditionally been interpreted to mean. . . ."
9Jewett, Man As Male And Female, 14.
12Ibid., 22, 114.
26 GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL
The emphasis of Genesis 1 is altogether different from that of
Genesis 2. A chronological method is employed to express the
creative events as they develop-day one, day two, etc. Mankind is
first mentioned in the account of the sixth day; "Then God said, 'Let
us make man in our image, according to our likeness'" (Gen 1:26).
The creation of man and woman was distinct from all that was
created prior to them. As the crown of creation, they were to exercise
supremacy over the cosmos. On a scale of ascending order, God
created the highest of all his handiwork last.13
Genesis 1 gives only a general statement of the details surround-
ing the creation of male and female. Both are described as though
created simultaneously (Gen 1:26). In addition, God gave both of
them the commands to "be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth,
and subdue it, and rule" over the earth (Gen 1:28). In these verses,
two relationships are addressed: the ontological or spiritual realm as
man relates to his Creator, and the economic or functional realm
regarding his specific duties upon earth.
There is also no elaboration of the functional relationship of the
male and female in this account. Some have thus concluded that both
male and female share equally in position with regard to the com-
mands of responsibility. Two areas of function are evident, however.
1) Being fruitful, multiplying, and filling the earth include responsibil-
ities toward each other. 2) Subduing and ruling over the earth
emphasize obligations with regard to the created universe. It is not
clear from this account whether or not each was given equal status to
exercise their responsibility. There is nothing to suggest hierarchical
relationship, but there is also nothing to deny it. These details remain
incomplete without the further revelation given in Genesis 2.
The thrust of the creation account of male and female in Genesis 1
appears to be that they were made in the image (Ml,c,) and likeness
(tUmD;) of God (Gen 1:26-27). These terms are best regarded as
essentially synonymous.14 There is no distinction made between the
male and female in this regard. For this reason, the use of the word
"man" (MdAxA) is significant in these two verses.15 MdAxA is here being
13Clarence J. Vos, Women in Old Testament Worship (Delft: Judels and Brink-
man, 1968) 17; John Murray (Collected Writings of John Murray [Edinburgh: Banner
Of Truth Trust, 1977], 2.5) states, "That man's creation is the last in the series, we may
regard as correlative with this lordship."
14Davis, Paradise to Prison (Winona Lake: BMH, 1975) 81.
15The use of MdAxA is important in determining the spiritual relationship between
God and mankind and in distinguishing between the positional roles of man and
STITZINGER: GEN 1-3 AND MALE/FEMALE ROLES 27
used corporately and generically of the human pair, or species.16 As
Jewett points out, "man" in this instance is "dual"17 ("male," rkAzA and
"female," hbAqen;, "created he them." Both the male and the female
comprise mankind, and in this respect they are of corresponding
value before God (cf. Gen 5:1-2; 9:6; Matt 19:4).
The image of God
The image has to do with the ontological or spiritual qualities,
namely, the communicable attributes that man and woman reflect
from God. This is best understood as a moral, not a physical,
likeness. The image of God is usually understood to include the will
or freedom of choice, self-consciousness, self-transcendence, self-
determination, rationality, moral discernment for good and evil,
righteousness, holiness, and worship.18 Basically, it is that which
makes men "persons."
The statements of Gen 1 :26-27 assert that the woman is an equal
participant with the man in respect to the image of God. The NT
continues to uphold this doctrine of the equality of the image.19 The
Apostle Peter indicates that a woman must be granted "honor as a
fellow-heir of the grace of life" (1 Pet 3:7).
Thus far, the feminists, by an argument from silence, may be
correct in supporting complete positional equality. However, this
equality can only be certain to exist in the spiritual realm. There is
simply no information in this chapter regarding the functional rela-
tionship of man and woman. The feminists argue that the spiritual
equality presented here is proof against a distinction in role relation-
ships. They fail to recognize, however, that spiritual equality does not
prohibit a distinctiveness in role relationships.
woman. MdAxA is used in the first chapters of Genesis in three ways. (1) It is used
generically to refer to man as a race, species, as mankind or humankind. In this way,
MdAxA with or without the article refers to both male (rkAzA) and female (hbAqen;) (cf. Gen
1:26-27; 5:1-2 and 9:6). (2) It is a) used to refer to the individual man (wyxi), as in Gen
2:5, 7, 8, 15, 16, 18, 19, 20, 22, 23, 25; 3:9, 20; or b) to designate both the individual
man and woman (man, wyxi and woman, hw.Axi), as in Gen 3:22-24. The article is used
in every case except 2:5, 20. This is used when denoting the functional realm. (3) MdAxA
is also used to designate the proper name, "Adam." This occurs in Gen 2:20; 3:17, 21;
4:25. This usage is always without the article.
16G. T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1888), 2. 19-20.
17Jewett, Man As Male And Female, 39.
18Charles L. Feinberg, "The Image Of God," BSac 129 (1972) 246; see also Gordon
H. Clark, "The Image Of God In Man," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
12 (1969) 215-22; Murray, Collected Writings, 2. 3-13,34-36. Murray also includes the
body as part of the image.
191 Cor 11:7; Gal 3:28; Col 3:10; Eph 4:24; James 3:9.
28 GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL
Further expansion of the events of the sixth day is revealed in
Genesis 2. The new revelation given in this chapter focuses mainly on
the functional aspect of man and woman, rather than the image. The
account relates the duties and relationships God commanded the first
man and woman to maintain toward each other and creation. Man
was commanded to cultivate and keep the garden (2:15). Various
stipulations about the eating of the fruit were given (2: 16-17). He also
named the animals, which helped to convey to him that he had no
one like himself to help him in his tasks (2: 18-20). The woman was
created sometime after this on the same day (2:21-22). The man
subsequently named his wife "woman" as a derivative of himself.
It seems apparent from the development of man's purpose that a
hierarchical relationship does exist in man's functional realm. The
account assumes this rather than states it directly. Still, however, the
evangelical feminists refuse to allow for anything but complete egali-
Evangelical feminist claims
Feminists have a unified opposition to interpreting Genesis 2 as
teaching subordination. Gundry reflects upon this passage, stating
The fact that Adam is spoken of in Genesis 2 as having been created
first, . . . does not argue for his being superior in authority. . . . God
created living things in an ascending order of complexity. If order of
creation means anything, it would have to mean Eve was superior
because she was last.20
In similar fashion, Jewett makes three fundamental claims about
this chapter. First, he claims that to assume any type of hierarchy of
man over woman also means that the male is superior to the female.21
Second, the superiority over the animals and not the woman's
inferiority (in function) to the man is the basic thought of the
context.22 She is shown, by this fact, to be in the same likeness as
Adam. Third, the fact that the woman was created after man demon-
strates, if anything, that "woman is superior to the man."23 His
reasoning is that man's creation is the highest event in all the work of
20Gundry, Woman Be Free!, 23; also p. 61, "No indication of man's position of
authority appears until after the fall."
21Jewett, Man As Male And Female, 14.
STITZINGER: GEN 1-3 AND MALE/ FEMALE ROLES 29
creation. He is superior to all that proceeded. The woman came after
the man and thus, she is even higher in importance than he. He goes
on to say that, "If men do not find this conclusion palatable let them
ask themselves why women should stomach the rabbinic conclusion
that the woman is inferior because created after man."24
Virginia Mollenkott interprets the creation account to provide
for positional equality by the "rang technique."25 She tries to demon-
strate that the objective of chapter 2 is the same as that of chapter 1;
mankind is the masterpiece of creation. By the "rang technique" she
means that chapter 1 discloses man as the zenith of creation by a
chronological fashion (Gen 1:26-27). Chapter 2 also demonstrates
man to be the zenith of creation by placing his creation "in the most
emphatic positions: the first (Gen 2:5, 7) and final (Gen 2:22)."26
She proceeds to emphasize the stress of chapter 2 as an equality
in "relationship." Adam instantly recognizes Eve as different from the
animals and exactly like himself. The development of chapter 2
provides no basis for hierarchy whatsoever. Mollenkott is correct
insofar that both accounts emphasize that man is the zenith of
creation. However, her use of the "rang technique" in chapter 2 fails
to address certain indications that support a hierarchical relationship.
All three of these writers are guilty of neglecting contextual
evidence within Genesis 2 itself. Chapters 1 and 2 make use of the
important Semitic historiographical principle known as recapitula-
tion. Genesis 1 gives a short statement summarizing the entire crea-
tion of man. The second chapter follows with a more detailed and
circumstantial account dealing with matters of special importance.27
While Genesis 2 harmonizes with Genesis 1, it must not be expected
to report the events identically. Moses stipulates the concept of
equality of image in chapter 1 but presumes it in chapter 2. He
proceeds to emphasize the function of man, and in his expansion he
assumes a hierarchical relationship.
Gundry and Jewett have suggested that because the woman is
created last in Genesis 2 she may be positionally superior to the man.
25Mollenkott, "Evangelicalism: A Feminist Perspective," 99-100.
27Gleason L. Archer, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (Chicago: Moody,
1964) 118. "There is, however, an element of recapitulation involved, for the creation of
the human race is related all over again (cf. Gen 2:7 and 1:26, 27). But this technique of
recapitulation was widely practiced in ancient Semitic literature. . . . To the author of
Genesis 1, 2, the human race was obviously the crowning or climactic product of
creation, and it was only to be expected that he would devote a more extensive
treatment to Adam after he had placed him in his historical setting (the sixth day of
30 GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL
Chronologically, it may be granted that there is an ascending order in
chapter 1, with mankind as the zenith of creation. However, it is
conjecture to argue that this ascending order extends into the events
within each particular day. To assume that the events of the sixth
day, which culminate in the creation of the woman, are chronologi-
cally ascending in importance cannot be substantiated.28
There are several internal factors in Genesis 2 which suggest a
hierarchical relationship in which the woman, by virtue of her place
in creation and the God-ordained structure of events, is in a position
of subordination. Hierarchy is not directly stated but is implied by
many duties and obligations that the man exercises. It is a non
sequitur to conclude, as Jewett has, that for the woman to be
subordinate would be to make her inferior in value, ability, or as a
human being. The man's headship over woman is solely a position of
rank. The man owes this authoritative preeminence to God's appoint-
ment rather than to personal achievement.29 There are several indica-
tions which point definitely and consistently to a role distinction.
Signs of headship
First, v 7 stipulates that man was created prior to the woman.
Second, the man was designated as "Adam" (Gen 2:20 MdAxA), which
was also the term used to describe the entire race!30 That the man was
given this name and not the woman suggests that he occupies the
position as head of the relationship. Third, the events of the narrative
reveal that Adam was invested with his position of leadership,
responsibility, and authority prior to the creation of Eve (Gen 2:15).
He was commanded to "cultivate" and "keep" the garden. He was
also restricted from eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and
evil. Fourth, Adam immediately began to exercise his authority by
naming the animals (Gen 2: 10).31 Motyer notes that, "To give a name
28See E. J. Young, In The Beginning (Edinburgh: Banner Of Truth Trust, 1976) 70.
29Emma T. Healy, Woman: According To Saint Bonaventure (New York: Geor-
gian, 1955) 14.
30Man is designated such by several different words. He is called MdAxAhA --"man-
kind," rkAzA--"the male," MdAxAha--"the man," MdAxA--"Adam," and wyxi "man."
31Ps 8:5-9 also substantiates the claims of man's investiture of leadership (cf. Heb
2:6-8). While man (wOnix<, Ps 8:5) most likely refers to mankind (Gen 1:26), v 7
supports fully the leadership that man was given in Genesis 2. Adam was assigned or
caused (Uhleywim;Ta) to rule over the works, flocks, cattle, birds, and fish. David could
very well have in view man's positional leadership given and exercised prior to the
STITZINGER: GEN 1-3 AND MALE/FEMALE ROLES 31
is the prerogative of a superior, as when Adam exercised his domin-
ion over the animals. . . ."32
Fifth, Adam's leadership role is designated by his need of a
helper (Gen 2:18, 20--rz,fe). The expression used to describe the type
of person Adam needed is "a helper suitable for him" (Gen 2:18,
20-- ODg;n,K; rz,fe). The particular usage of rz,fe, "helper,"33 in this
chapter has generated considerable debate. Sixteen out of the twenty-
one usages34 in the Old Testament refer to God as a superior helper
assisting the needs of man. The remaining three refer to men helping
other men.35 In each of the latter instances, man's help is ineffectual.
It is unlikely that the helper referred to here (Gen 2:18, 20) is
"corresponding to" or "suitable to" Adam in nature and ability.
The term "helper" is generally agreed to be a designation of
position. With this in mind, Scanzoni and Hardesty have suggested
that the "helper" referred to is a superior, just as God is a superior
helper to man.36 However, this suggestion neglects the context of the
passage. The kind of helper proposed in Genesis 2 is not a divine
helper but a human helper. Another suggestion is that the woman
helper is equal in rank with man.37 In arguing for this view, Vos takes
ODg;n,K; to mean "counterpart" or "corresponding to" in position.38
However, in view of other contextual indications suggesting posi-
tional superiority of the man, it cannot be argued consistently that
"corresponding to" refers to a complete equality of position.
The most consistent and harmonious answer is found when the
helper proposed for man is understood as positionally subordinate in
function to man. Until this time, all of man's help was superior.
However, man had a specific need for a human helper. The divine
helper supplied this need by designing for him a subordinate human
32J. A. Motyer, "Name," The New Bible Dictionary (ed. J. D. Douglas et al.;
Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1962) 862.
34See Gen 2:18, 20; Exod 18:4; Deut 33:7, 26, 29; Pss 20:3; 33:20; 70:6; 89:20;
115:9, 10, II; 121:1, 2; 124:8; 146:4; Isa 30:5; Ezek 12:14; Dan 11:34; Hos 13:9.
36Scanzoni and Hardesty, All We're Meant To Be, 26; George W. Knight III (The
New Testament Teaching On The Role Relationship Of Men And Women [Grand
Rapids: Baker, 1977] 43) refutes Scanzoni and Hardesty: "This argument cannot be
valid. Cannot a word, however, have a different nuance when applied to God than it
does when applied to humans?"
37Katharine E. Sakenfeld, "The Bible and Woman: Bane or Blessing?" TToday 32
(1975) 224-25; Vos, Woman In Old Testament Worship, 16; Jewett, Man As Male And
38Vos, Woman in Old Testament Worship, 16.
32 GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL
helper who would aid him in obeying the commands.39 This woman,
who was to be voluntarily submissive to man in function, would
"correspond to" or be "suitable to him" spiritually, physically, men-
tally, and in ability.40
Sixth, man's headship is unveiled when he names his wife
"woman" (hw.Axi--Gen 2:23).41 Prior to this point man gave names to
all the birds and cattle. Now the dominion that God gave to Adam
comes to expression again as he exercises authority in designating his
helper's name. In conjunction with this name, Adam also titles his
wife hUAHa in Gen 3:20, and specifies her function as "the mother of all
living." These actions give further evidence of his authority.
Some, such as Cassuto, do not identify any parallel between
these texts (Gen 2:23; 3:20), but view Gen 3:20 as the beginning of
headship.42 Coming just after the post-fall decree in 3: 16, "and he
shall rule over thee," it evidences man's first act of rule over his wife.
However, it seems more likely that the authority exercised here is not
a new act, but parallels the same type of authority exerted by Adam
when he named her "woman."
Seventh, man's leadership is demonstrated by the fact that he is
to leave his mother and father and cleave to his new wife (Gen 2:24).
These acts are read by some as a point of weakness and inferiority on
the part of the man.43 To read this as the man's weakness, however, is
39Although it is not mentioned in the account, it is obvious that the woman's
physical makeup is different from that of a man. God gave her a physical constitution
that is inherent to her role as a helper and a complement to the man.
40Submission must not be confused with inferiority. As a helper, Eve was equal to
Adam in capability and value but appointed to a subordinant position by God. She
was to voluntarily place her abilities under the man. Martha E. Rehn ("Did Paul
Require Women to Wear Veils in the Church? An Exegetical Study of I Corinthians
11:2-16" [M.A. Thesis, Capital Bible Seminary, 1978] 55) states, "Eve was, neverthe-
less, created to meet Adam's needs and to assist him in his life and purpose. Her
capabilities are not a factor in her subordinant role to man. It is by virtue of the fact
she was added to his life that she must be submissive-because she was created to assist
and be a companion to him."
41Six different words are used to refer to the woman in the first three chapters;
MdAxA--"mankind," hbAqen;U--"female," rz,fe--"helper," hw.Axi--"woman," hUAHa--"Eve,"
and dg,n,--"counterpart to."
42U. Cassuto (A Commentary on the Book of Genesis [2 Vols.; Jerusalem:
Magnes, 1961], 1. 170) states, "To me it seems that the elucidation is to be sought in
the fact that the giving of a name, . . . was considered an indication of lordship. Since
the Lord God decreed that he [the husband] should rule over her he assigns a name to
her as a token of his rulership."
43Vos, Women in Old Testament Worship, 18, n. 25 states, ". . . it is the man who
cleaves (dabaq) to the woman and usually with regard to persons the lesser cleaves to
the greater (Deut 10:20; 11:22; 13:4; Josh 22:5; 23:8; Ruth 1:14; 2 Sam 20:2; 2 Kings
STITZINGER: GEN 1-3 AND MALE/FEMALE ROLES 33
to overlook the major significance of the verse. This is not Adam's
declaration but God's pronouncement (Matt 19:4-5) instituting the
first marriage. The proper emphasis of leaving and cleaving is not
headship as much as it is to demonstrate the complete identification
of one personality with the other in a community of interests and
pursuits. This new unity of Adam with his wife is to be closer than it
would be with a father and mother. It is important to notice that God
addresses the man and not the woman to accomplish this activity
(Eph 5:21). He is placing the responsibility primarily upon Adam
(and his male descendants) as he has done thus far with other
commands. Rather than a sign of weakness this appears to be a sign
of leadership on Adam's part.
The final indication of the headship of the man is found in Gen
3:9, 11. The Lord addresses and receives a response from the man,
who is the spokesman for the relationship. This factor suggests
strongly, if not conclusively, that the man was the head of the
The importance of Genesis 2 must not be underestimated..
Revealed to man are the keys of creation order. A thorough analysis
of its contents argues for a hierarchical relationship between the man
and the woman.
THE NEW TESTAMENT AND CREATION ORDER
On several significant occasions, the NT recognizes or refers
directly to Gen 2:18ff as supporting a role distinction between the
male and female. First, Paul asserts that man is the head (kefalh<)
over the woman in I Cor 11:3. The meaning of "head" in v 3 is
indicative of man's "rank"45 over the woman rather than "source" or
"origin."46 His statement is not ascribing a deficiency in intellect or
ability of the woman, but is designating her to a subordinate position
Paul substantiates his comments in a relationship more basic
than the creation account, namely, the economic aspect of the
44Gen 3:17 could as well be used as a proof of Adam's headship. Adam is
condemned for listening and following the voice of his wife to commit an act he knew
was wrong. In doing so, he inverted the role of leadership that was initially established
for him to fulfill.
45BAG, 431; Edwin Hatch and Henry A. Redpath, A Concordance to the
Septuagint (Oxford: Clarendon, 1897), 2. 761-62; see the following: Deut 28:13, 44;
32:42; Judg 10:18; 11:8,9, II; 2 Sam 22:44; I Kings 8:1; 21:12; 2 Kings 2:3, 5; I Chron
23:24; Pss 18:43; 110:6; Isa 7:8, 9; Jer 31:7; Lam 1:5; Dan 2:38; Hab 3:13.
46F. F. Bruce, 1 and 2 Corinthians (New Century Bible; Greenwood: Attic, 1971)
103; Colin Brown, "Head," NIDNTT (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976), 2. 160.
34 GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL
Trinity. The Son is God as the Father is God ontologically (John
5:18-23; 10:30; 20:20). However, economically (in function) the Son's
redemptive work involved a volitionally subordinate position or rank
(I Cor 15:28; John 4:24; 5:18-19).
Further support is derived from the creation account itself. "Man
does not originate from woman, but woman from man; for indeed
man was not created for the woman's sake; but woman for the man's
sake" (I Cor 11:8, 9; cf. 1 Tim 2:13). The time and purpose of the
woman's creation is significant in Genesis 2. She was created as a co-
laborer to share in the mandates of creation. From the very first,
however, she was to participate as a subordinate in rank.
At the same time that Paul establishes a role relationship, he is
careful to include a caution, lest men pervert their designated leader-
ship into spiritual superiority and functional snobbery (1 Cor 11: 11).
Spiritually, man and woman remain equal before God (cf. Gen 1:26-
27). The Apostle may also have in mind the role distinctions mani-
fested in various functions between the sexes. A woman can and often
does assist men in advice, counsel, and guidance in the home, church,
and society. However, she is never to take on the role of a leader over
men. "In the Lord" she will retain her subordinate role as she shares
in these responsibilities.
A man must remember that he is not independent of the woman
just because he is superior in rank (1 Cor 11: 12). He needs her help
even to gain existence in this life. Thus, God has established a mutual
dependency to coincide with the headship that man continues to
exercise over the woman.47
Second, the apostle makes use of the term "to be subject"
(u[poota<ssw) to describe the relationship of the female to the male
both in and outside the context of marriage (1 Cor 14:34-35; Eph
5:21, 22, 24; Co1 3:18; 1 Tim 2:11-14; Titus 2:5). The term "to be
subject" from the verb ta<ssw, has a background in military usage,
namely, that soldiers were appointed or placed in positions under
others. [Upota<ssw carries the meaning "to place under," "to affix
under" or "to subordinate oneself to the control of another."48
However, this word in no way implies that the subordinate is an
inferior, except in position. A woman may be superior to a man in
ability, personality and even spirituality, but because of the divine
order of creation, she recognizes the superior rank of the man and
"ranks herself under man."49 This principle is to demonstrate itself
47Contra Williams. The Apostle Paul and Women in the Church, 67-68; Scanzoni
and Hardesty, All We're Meant To Be, 28-31.
48Gerhard Delling, "ta<ssw, u[pota<ssw," TDNT 8 (1972) 39.
49James L. Boyer, For a World like Ours: Studies in I Corinthians (Winona
Lake: BMH, 1971) 104.
STITZINGER: GEN 1-3 AND MALE/ FEMALE ROLES 35
both in the marriage relationship, and/or outside of marriage to
various extents. In all of these texts, Paul alludes in principle, if not
in actuality, to the creation account to substantiate his claims.
A final support for a role distinction is expressed in 1 Pet 3:1,
5 -7. Concurring with Paul, Peter uses the term "submission" to de-
scribe the position of a wife toward her husband. While he does not
refer to creation, he does use the example of Sarah's relationship to
Abraham. It is fairly certain that her relationship to Abraham stems
from the divine order of creation in Gen 2:18-24. Furthermore, while
Peter discloses the wife as the "weaker vessel" in rank, he also main-
tains that she is spiritually an equal ("fellow-heir of the grace of life,"
1 Pet 3:7).
A significant contrast sheds light upon the role relationship of
Abraham and Sarah and that of Adam and Eve. In Gen 3: 17, Adam
is condemned by God for "listening to" or "obeying" the voice of
his wife (lOql; TAf;mawA). In Gen 21: 12, Abraham is told to "listen to"
or "obey" (h.lAqwB; fmaw;) the voice of Sarah. Peter indicates that Sarah
was submissive to her husband, calling him "lord." The use of the
verb "obey" to condemn and condone the same activity poses an
apparent contradiction. This contrast is explained when the total
picture is examined.
Two different conditions are presented in these contexts. It is
suggested that Eve received her knowledge of the command not to eat
of the fruit through the instruction of her husband.50 Eve's encourage-
ment to her husband to partake of the fruit was an act of insubordi-
nation. Furthermore, when Adam chose to eat of the fruit, he ignored
his leadership role and followed his wife's sinful promptings. God's
condemnation of Adam for obeying his wife is justified. It should not
be concluded from this passage that men must reject the voice of their
wives in all situations.
Gen 21:12 provides a blueprint for the correct role relationship
between husband and wife. Abraham was distressed at the thought of
expelling Hagar and Ishmael.51 Sarah realized the full implications of
not expelling them, however, and thus encouraged her husband along
these lines. When Abraham's mind would not be changed, God
corrected him by telling him to listen to the voice of his wife. The key
is found in that once Abraham was corrected by the Lord, he took
the initiative to exert leadership (v 14). Unlike Adam, he did not
ignore his role as head of the relationship and follow a course of
50The account in Gen 2:16-17 indicates that man was given the prohibitions prior
to the creation of Eve.
51See Harold G. Stigers, A Commentary on Genesis (Grand Rapids: Zondervan,
36 GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL
cognizant error prompted by his wife. Sarah can thus be viewed by
Peter as a woman who "obeyed her husband, calling him lord," yet
provided advice in a submissive role.
From these examples, it is rather obvious that the NT supports a
role distinction between the male and female, a distinction which
originates before the fall. On certain occasions, the concept is applied
to the husband and wife relationship; on other occasions, Paul refers
generally to the male and female. In both cases, however, a role
relationship exists to differing extents in which the woman is instructed
to be submissive in function to the male.
A final claim of the feminists is that subordination for the
woman began as a result of the fall.52 Yet, examination of the text has
demonstrated that subordination was established prior to the fall.
The events of chapter 3 follow immediately after and are predicated
upon the events of chapter 2. They reveal that man and his new
helper reversed their hierarchical positions in their act of sin. The
outcome was that the effect of sin corrupted the relationship between
man's headship and woman's subordination, but did not change it.
Woman's part in the fall
The woman was an active participant in the fall. Her initial sin
began when she continued to listen to the serpent, who was intention-
ally deceptive by his communication. During the course of the
conversation the woman was deceived (Gen 3:13). It was at this point
that her appetites gave birth to the first sin.
The deception of the woman is of major significance for Paul's
NT teaching. In 2 Cor 11:3, Paul warns the Corinthian believers "lest
as the serpent deceived (e]chpa<thsen) Eve by his craftiness" they
would be deceived also. The use of e]c is added to a]pata<w for
intensity, i.e., Eve was completely deceived. Paul is stressing that Eve
was led to believe something that was not true. She was doctrinally
beguiled into hostility toward God and sensual desire for the un-
known.53 This same deception could happen to both men and women
Paul also uses the term in 1 Tim 2:14, where he states, "It was
not Adam who was deceived but the woman being quite deceived, fell
52Gundry, Woman Be Free! 61: see also liberal support for this, Phyllis Trible,
"Woman In The OT," IDPSup (1976) 965; John Skinner, Genesis (ICC; New York:
Scribner's, 1917) 82.
53Albrecht Oepke, "a]pata<w, e]capata<w," TDNT I (1964) 384.
STITZINGER: GEN 1-3 AND MALE/ FEMALE ROLES 37
into transgression."54 This statement is made as a supporting argu-
ment for the limitations given to women with regard to positions of
leadership in the church. In contrast to Paul's appeal in I Corin-
thians, the deception described in I Timothy could only happen to
The apostle may have had more than one idea in mind by this
mention of the woman's deception in I Tim 2:14. He may be
suggesting that a woman's emotional faculties are different than
man's in such a way that she is more apt to be led into a course of
unintentional error,55 and/or he may be using this verse as an
argument for what her deception precipitated, namely, a usurpation
of her role as a helper.
In either case, Gen 3:1-7 indicates that Eve allowed herself to
listen to the serpent. In the course of this, she was deceived and
subsequently sinned. She then introduced her husband to sin, who
willfully ignored his headship and partook of the fruit. Eve's sin was
disobedience to God, which expressed itself, in part, by a self-
assumed position of leadership above her husband.
Man's part in the fall
The woman is often viewed as forcing, driving, or compelling her
husband to eat. It is true that Adam participated in the sin because of
his wife's offer (Gen 3:6); however, he was not forced to eat the fruit.
The account does not reveal whether Adam was present, passively
listening to the serpent, or if he was away at the time. V 17 declares
that he "listened to" or "obeyed"56 the voice of his wife prior to eating
the fruit, which may indicate that he was not there initially. In either
circumstance, v 17 is the key; Adam freely chose to obey the voice of
his wife. This sin actually began at the point when he failed to
exercise his position of leadership over his wife.57 While Adam was
not deceived, his action was equally as wicked as Eve's. Not until he
sinned was the entire human race plunged into sin (Rom 5:19; I Cor
15:22). The sin of the first human beings was a direct violation of
54Using a contrast, Paul states that Adam was ou]k h]path<qh (was not deceived--a
simplex usage) while Eve e]capathqei?sa (was completely deceived-intense usage).
55John A. Bengel, Gnomon Of The New Testament (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark,
1859), 4. 254.
56BDB, 1034: fmawA with the l; as in Gen 3:17 is a common idiom for "to obey."
57Young (Genesis 3 [London: Banner of Truth Trust, 1966] 130-31) takes Adam's
forfeiture of position a step further. Not only did Adam place himself in a subordinate
position under the woman, but "he listened to her when she was deceived by the
serpent. Hence, Adam had abandoned his place of superiority over the creatures."
38 GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL
God's command, which expressed itself, in part, by a complete
inversion of the roles. This was a total distortion of the pattern
established in Genesis 1 and 2.
Some background to Genesis 3:16
Another verse showing a positional differentiation between man
and woman is Gen 3:16, "Yet your desire shall be for your husband,
and he shall rule over you." Most liberals and evangelical feminists
interpret this pronouncement as the beginning of female subordina-
tion. Conservatives generally prefer to assume that subjection was
intensified to the point of servitude at this point.58
Gen 3: 16 cannot be treated in a vacuum. Much of the preceding
context deals with the headship of the man. The first section of this
chapter demonstrates a reversal of the roles. This will have some
bearing on the meaning of v 16. It should also be noted that this verse
comes in the middle of the curse section. This pronouncement is
basically divided into 4 areas: the curse upon the serpent (3:14-15),
the woman (3:16), the man (3:17-19), and the creation (3:17b). The
curse placed certain alterations upon individuals, animals, and nature.
Biologically, woman became the recipient of increased pain in
childbirth; the snake began to crawl on his belly; all individuals
became participants in physical death; nature received agricultural
and other changes (Rom 8:22); and man had to compete against
nature by toil and sweat.
Spiritually, man and woman became depraved and alienated
from God, shattering the perfect harmony that existed at the begin-
ning of their marriage. In some fashion, sin impinged upon the
hierarchical relationship as well. It is not evident from any passage
after Gen 3:16 that the pronouncement made here canceled or
changed the hierarchical arrangement (cf. 1 Cor 11:3-10; 14:34; 1 Tim
2:13-14). In light of this background, a thorough examination of this
verse provides for its proper understanding.
Much controversy has surrounded the meaning of "desire" in
v 16. "Desire" (hqAUwT;, from the verbal root qvw) may be derived from
the Arabic root saqa.59 Traditionally, saqa has had the meaning of
"to please, delight, longing, craving, desire, arouse, yearn or desire
ardently."60 From this Arabic derivation, scholars usually understand
58Vos, Women In Old Testament Worship, 30-31; John Calvin, Commentaries on
the First Five Books of Moses Called Genesis (Edinburgh: Calvin Translation Society,
1843; reprinted; Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979), 1. 172.
60Hans Wehr, A Dictionary of Modem Written Arabic (Ithaca: Spoken Language
Services, 1971) 493.
STITZINGER: GEN 1-3 AND MALE/ FEMALE ROLES 39
the "desire" to contribute positively to her husband's rule. On the
other hand, "desire" may have come from the Arabic root saqa,61
which means "to drive, urge on, herd, impel as one would a prisoner
or control cattle."62 It envisions harsh, forcible and negative treat-
ment upon the receiver. If this is the meaning, then the "desire" of the
woman will not contribute to the rule of her husband.
A further complication exists with the Hebrew root (qvw),
because there are no examples in verbal form found anywhere in
Scripture. It has been hypothetically drawn by the lexicons from the
Arabic possibilities. Outside of Gen 3:16, there are only two other
usages of the noun hqAUwT; in the OT (Gen 4:7; Cant 7:10). Thus, the
usage of the word must be established by the context in which it
Canticles 7:11. "Desire" in Cant 7:11 (OtqAUwT; is expressed by the
bride toward her spouse. The "desire" is primarily a physical one,63 or
possibly a desire that is all-encompassing (sexual, mental, and emo-
tional). The context surrounding this word argues against it being
derived from the Arabic root saqa in the sense of "a forcible, driving,
urging or impelling desire." The meaning here is "a more gentle,
passionate, yearning that contributes positively to the mate." Thus, it
corresponds with the traditional root, saqa.
Genesis 4:7. The narrative of Gen 4:7 depicts Cain in the midst of
a struggle with sin. The Lord said regarding his sin, "Sin is lying at
the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it." The desire
of sin will overcome him if he does not master it.64
The possibilities for the root of "desire" could be related to either
saqa or saqa. The traditional meaning of "desire," from the root saqa,
would indicate that sin's desire for Cain is "a passionate, longing,
craving appetite for ownership." The emphasis of this root is "a desire
to possess." This harmonizes with its meaning in Canticles, only here
it is "a desire for evil."
On the other hand, if the "desire of sin" is connected to the root
saqa, its meaning is "to drive or impel" Cain into subjection by force.
The emphasis of this root is in the idea of "compulsion." Yet the idea
of a forceful, compulsive desire does not seem to be evident in the
61BDB, 1003; KB, 597.
62Wehr, Dictionary, 443.
63S. Craig Glickman, A Song For Lovers (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1976)
64"Master" is the word " lwAm;Ti; literally, "you should rule." In this instance, the
imperfect of "rule" is best understood to express "obligation"; also the modal idea of
"potential, of taking place, or not taking place in the future" is in view. GKC, 330.
40 GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL
narrative. Rather, the traditional meaning of "desire" in the sense of
"a yearning or craving for possession" seems to be predominant.65
Genesis 3:16. Three worthy views have been offered to explain
the meaning of the woman's desire in Gen 3:16. First, following the
traditional root for "desire," the word is understood as "a passionate
sexual desire that becomes so strong in the woman that she will never
rid herself of the pain of childbearing."66
Second, some have understood "desire" to represent "a deep,
natural attraction which a woman will have for her husband."67 This
yearning is to fulfill certain psychological and protective needs which
she does not possess herself. Keil and Delitzsch suggest that this
"desire will be so strong that it will border on disease."68 While these
two views of the meaning of "desire" cannot be readily denied, it is
questionable that the desire ought to be limited to such narrow senses
as sexual or psychological needs in view of the preceding context.
A third view argued by Susan Foh tries to draw a linguistic
parallel between Gen 3: 16 and 4:7, affiliating both instances of the
word "desire" with the Arabic root saqa.69 Eve's desire was to forcibly
drive or urge her husband in the same way sin was trying to forcibly
drive Cain.70 The meaning of "rule" is changed from a future indica-
tive to the modal aspect of the prefix conjugation. Instead of "the
husband shall rule," it is "he should rule," indicating potential rather
than certainty. The whole statement thus reads, "Your desire shall be
to control your husband but he must rule over you if he can."
Making these changes, Gen 3:16 is made parallel to Gen 4:7, "Its
(sin's) desire shall be to control you but you must rule over it if you
can." Thus, these words in v 16 mark the beginning of the antithetical
65The phrase, "sin is lying at your door" has been interpreted, "sin is crouching at
your door." The word Cbero, "to lie down, lie, stretch out," is often used of animals (cf.
Gen 29:2; Exod 23:5; Num 22:27; Isa 11:6; 27:10). In Gen 29:14 it is used of a
crouching lion. Many have thus understood sin to be "crouching at Cain's door
desiring to pounce upon him." This imagery of the lion is not substantiated by the
context. However, if this symbolism is used, it upholds the traditional meaning of
"desire." A lion's desire is for possession rather than compulsion.
66Adam Clarke, The Holy Bible, Old and New Testaments (New York: Carlton
and Phillips, 1854), I. 51.
67H. C. Leupold, Exposition of Genesis (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1942), 2. 173;
Davis, Paradise To Prison, 94; Vos, Women In Old Testament Worship, 24-25; David
B. Nicholas, What's a Woman To Do . . . in the Church? (Scottsdale: Good Life, 1979)
68C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, The Pentateuch (reprinted; Grand Rapids: Eerd-
mans, 1949), I. 103.
69Foh, "What Is the Woman's Desire?" WTJ 37 (1975) 376-83.
STITZINGER: GEN 1-3 AND MALE/FEMALE ROLES 41
battle between the sexes. The woman's "desire"71 will work against
her husband. As a result of the fall, man no longer rules easily; he
must fight for his headship.
There are major difficulties with this view. The basic defect of
this proposal is that it assumes certain conclusions about the passage
at the expense of the context. This argument is predicated upon the
assertion that exactly what happened in the fall became God's
continuing pronouncement upon man. However, examination of the
context already has established that Eve did not forcibly urge her
husband, which this interpretation requires. On the other hand,
neither did Adam try to rule over her. He listened to her and then
made his own choice to participate with her in sin (Gen 3: 17).
Also arguing against Foh's suggestion is the fact that it reads a
possible rendering of Gen 4:7 back into 3:16, just because the phrases
are almost identical in the Hebrew. This provides a good grammatical
parallel, but not a contextual one.
A final major deficiency in this view is that it fails to provide for
a consistent usage of hqAUwT;. Cant 7: 11 will not permit the meaning
of a forcible desire.
A suggested solution to Genesis 3:16. The exact meaning of Gen
3:16b continues to perplex scholars. It is not possible to come to any
kind of a definite conclusion. The best that can be provided is an
A suggested solution to Gen 3:16b is found in assessing the
pronouncement made to the woman as a curse, which has its major
emphasis in the "rule" of the man. The sense of "rule"72 in this
context is negative, predicting the type of abuse that man will vent
71The LXX rendering of hqAUwT; as a]postro<fh in Gen 3:16 and 4:7 cannot be
used as a positive support for this view. Instances do demonstrate that a]postro<fh can
be rendered: (1) a positive sense of "turning, turning back, refuge, bend in a direction
toward"; this would be derived from the Arabic root saqa; (2) it may also be a negative
sense of "turning away from" as a derivative of the root saqa. The LXX rendering of
Gen 3: 16 is, "Your desire is toward your husband," (pro>j to>n a@ndra sou h[
a]postrofh< sou). In Gen 4:7 (pro>j se h[ a[postrofh< au[tou?), the LXX translators
interpreted this as a reference to Abel's "desire, toward his brother." In both instances, the
preposition pro<j with the accusative expresses "direction toward." Pro<j may only carry
the meaning "against" when it follows a verb of disputing or hostility, which is not the
case in these instances; see George B. Winer, A Grammar of the Idiom of the New
Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1957)
717. The LXX translators would most likely have used a@nti if they meant Gen 3:16 and
4:7 to mean "desire that resists or works against."
72The word "rule" (lwamA) was already seen to have reference to man's headship
over creation (Ps 8:2-7). Now, for the first time, this word is found in the text of
42 GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL
upon his wife. He will carry his headship to domination because of
his depraved nature. While this aspect of the curse primarily refers to
the husband and wife, it can also refer to men and women outside of
the context of marriage where role relationships exist.
Almost every husband, or even most men in general, who have
exercised leadership over women have used their position to domi-
neer at one point or another. Paul continually reminds men not to
"rule" over their wives in this negative fashion (Eph 5:25-30; Col 3: 19;
cf. 1 Pet 3:7-9; see also an inference concerning all men in 1 Cor
11:11-12 as to how they should treat women). If a man is controlled
by the Spirit, he may to some extent rise above the downward drag of
his depravity and thus nullify the effects of this aspect of the curse.
It is even more difficult to make a dogmatic statement concern-
ing the woman's desire. It appears that this statement must be taken
in conjunction with the rule of man in order to be part of the curse.
Yet this statement must not be viewed, as it has by many, to suggest
that "all women willingly or unwillingly shall subject all their desires
to their husbands."73 Nor is there any evidence to support the view
that woman is here placed under subjection for the first time. It is
also doubtful whether Foh's suggestion is compatible. Women often
do battle against their husbands, but this does not serve the intent of
The term "desire" is best related to the traditional root, saqa. It
refers to "the woman's longing or yearning that she may have about
the affairs of life." In the course of the fall, she failed to subordinate
this desire under her husband. With this in view, the phrase, "your
desire is to your husband," is best regarded as a statement of fact,
reminding the first woman that the subordinate principle still remains
in effect. However, it is not a pronouncement that all women will
submit all their desires to their husbands. Their sin nature precludes
that they will do this.
Women, for the most part, have continued to perpetuate the
subordinate relationship established prior to the fall to different
extents. In almost every case, however, they have experienced a
varying degree of harsh rule from men. The statement regarding the
woman's desire is not a curse in and of itself, but it becomes one
when it is treated in relation to the man's sinful rule.
73Young, Genesis 3, 127-28; Calvin (Commentaries on the First Book of Moses
Called Genesis, I. 172) states, "'Thy desire shall be unto thy husband,' is of the same
force as if he had said that she should not be free and at her own command, but subject
to the authority of her husband and dependent upon his will; or as if he had said,
'Thou shalt desire nothing but what thy husband wishes.'" See also Foh, "What Is The
Woman's Desire?" 379.
STITZINGER: GEN 1-3 AND MALE/FEMALE ROLES 43
Women, by virtue of their sin nature, resist the leadership of men
by rejecting the harsh rule pronounced in the curse, or, often, any
positive rule as well. In either case, the NT confirms that such women
are subordinate (1 Cor 11:2-16; 14:34-35; Eph 5:22-23; Col 3:18;
1 Tim 2:11-14; 1 Pet 3:1-7). Depending upon the temperament of the
man, as well as the amount of a woman's insubordination, she may
receive more or less harsh treatment. The rule of man may not
actually seem like a curse to those women who refuse subordination
altogether, for they are not in a position to receive it. However, they
potentially remain under this curse.
The consistency of this view over other views is found in several
factors. It provides a unified explanation of hqAUwT; throughout the
OT. It also upholds the hierarchical relationship established prior to
the fall. At the same time, it acknowledges the effects of sin that tend
to distort and corrupt this role relationship. This view also brings the
meaning of Paul's commands concerning the woman's subjection and
the man's leadership to full expression.
The purpose of this article has been to examine the key themes
of creation order for their contributions to role relationship. The
evangelical feminists who promote egalitarianism emphasize Genesis
1 as the main account describing the positional relationship between
First, it was noted that Genesis 1 is a general, chronological
account of the events in creation. It introduces the reader to two
realms, the spiritual and the functional. The main emphasis is placed
upon the spiritual realm in which man and woman correspond in
every respect. Both share equally in the image of God.
On the other hand, Genesis 2 shifts the emphasis. When the
details of the sixth day are unfolded, they reveal a definite positional
distinction between man and woman. The feminists refuse to believe
this and have provided several explanations to dilute a role distinc-
tion. However, many indications argue for the headship of the man.
This chapter is also the backbone for the NT's emphasis upon role
differentiation in the church, home, and society. Paul uses this pre-
Fall principle to support post-Fall subordination.
Moreover, Genesis 3 does not disregard a positional distinction
between the male and female. The events of the fall relate, among
other considerations, that there was a sinful disregard for the head-
ship established in the previous chapter.
The specific meaning of Gen 3:16b becomes vital to understand-
ing the role relationship. Several views were observed, and a sug-
gested possibility was then presented. Gen 3:16 pronounces a curse
44 GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL
upon the woman, with emphasis upon the abusive rule that man will
exercise. The "desire" mentioned provides a reminder to the woman
that the subordinate role still continues for her and is the correct
position for women in every age. In and of itself, this is not a curse to
women. However, it becomes a curse in conjunction with the man's
sinful rule. When women do submit themselves under men, it will
become hard, at times, because of the man's misuse of rulership. Not
all women have placed themselves in a subordinate position to men,
but the statement was not meant to express this. In almost every case,
women who have subordinated themselves to men have experienced
harsh rule in varying degrees. Gen 3: 16 continues to uphold the
creation account wherein God established the hierarchical relation-
ship. Together, the first three chapters of Genesis consistently indicate
that God's order for man and woman has never changed.
This material is cited with gracious permission from:
Grace Theological Seminary
200 Seminary Dr.
Winona Lake, IN 46590