Do you realize the critical importance of Genesis chapters 1 and 2 in regards to complementarian and egalitarian interpretation? The premises begin here, and if the premises are off, everything that follows will also be off. Interestingly, I went to a complementarian seminary (I had a good experience there, and felt supported as a female student) – and a theology professor asked the class to find evidences of male rule and gender hierarchy in Genesis 1 and 2. The class was quiet. The professor said it was because the evidence is simply not there.
Egalitarians believe that male rule and gender hierarchy was a result of the Fall, and did not exist and begin to corrupt creation until Genesis chapter 3. And actually some complementarians believe this as well, as indicated by my above example! But many complementarians go to great lengths to find male rule and gender hierarchy in Genesis 1 and 2.
While man emerges as ruler in Genesis 3, this is the sad result of their sin and their ensuing judgments. It is certainly not an ideal to be followed or emulated. In Christ, men and women are to move beyond the curse and be an example of relationships that have been redeemed.
Here are some refutations and reasons for the absence of male rule and gender hierarchy in Genesis chapters 1 and 2:
- Genesis 1:26-28 emphasizes “let them have dominion.” It says that God blessed them and said to them, that they were to subdue and rule over the earth. Note: them. The creation mandate is given to man and woman together. There is no hint of distinct roles or job descriptions here. Adam and Eve are commanded together to co-rule the earth.
- In Genesis 1:26-28, there are only 2 authority structures: God over all creation, and man and woman’s joint authority over the earth. Their dominion was directed towards creation, not toward each other. This was before the Fall, and harmony characterized their relationship – not tension, or intention of overthrow. Adam and Eve were both placed in the garden to work and care for God’s creation. There was joint authority, and they were to co-rule the earth as God’s representatives.
- Of course, since Adam was created first, there are some things God told Adam first. I see no evidence, whatsoever, that God telling some things to Adam first insinuates his having authority and leadership. Was God supposed to be silent until Eve was made by God? Adam was already alone without a human companion, and the total silence of his Creator would have amplified his aloneness. Furthermore, while Genesis 1 and 2 present the creation story a bit differently, it is clear according to Genesis 1:26-28 that God did speak jointly to them after Eve’s creation about their responsibilities.
- Adam was performing duties on his own before Eve came along. Does that mean those are Adam’s special tasks alone, indicative of his distinctive role of responsibility? Eve did not exist yet so she could not have been described as doing any of those things in this part of the creation narrative. When Eve was created, she joined right in with the creation mandate of Genesis 1:26-28. Adam could not handle the burden of ruling the earth on his own.
- Because Adam named Eve does that demonstrate special authority? In the Bible, the act of naming does not necessarily imply authority. For example, Hagar (the Egyptian slave of Abraham and Sarah) gave God a name! Does that mean Hagar had authority over God? I hardly think so. And both men and women named children in the Old Testament. There are 25 instances of women naming children, and twenty by men. If this demonstrates authority, it is a joint or shared authority by men and women.
- Because Adam was created first, some see this as evidence of the man having special status and privilege (primogeniture). Yet there is no evidence of primogeniture until a considerable time after creation, and this is retroactively imposed on the creation account. Furthermore, the biblical norm was often not primogeniture, but God blessing or specially using those born later such as Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and David.
- Note that Adam was right there with Eve when Satan tempted her. Read Genesis chapter 3 very carefully. Yes, Satan talked to Eve, but verses 6-7 states: “She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened (emphasis added).” Adam was there with Eve during the temptation.
- Because God spoke to Adam first after the Fall, is this proof that Adam was in charge of Eve? Note that God addressed Adam as an individual, and then God went to Eve separately and questioned her as an individual. (Genesis 3: 8-13). God did not hold Adam accountable for what they did, but for what he did. Eve did not need a spokesman. They were both treated as separate moral agents.
- If Adam was the authoritative leader in Genesis 1-2, then the judgment on Eve after the Fall of “he will rule over you” would have been pointless, since it would have brought no change in status. The clear implication of conferring rulership to Adam after the Fall is that he was NOT Eve’s ruler prior to the Fall.