Thomas White, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology at the Southwestern Baptist Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas said that Adam sinned against God because he abandoned his male leadership responsibility.
Below is an excerpt of his statement as reported by the Associated Baptist Press:
FORT WORTH, Texas (ABP) – A Southern Baptist seminary professor said at a recent conference that Adam’s sin was in listening to his wife.
Thomas White, vice president for student services and associate professor of systematic theology at the seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, said Adam “abandoned his leadership responsibilities and directly disobeyed God” by accepting forbidden fruit offered by Eve in Genesis.
“The beginning of God’s curse on Adam indicated that he fell because he heeded the voice of his wife, which contradicted God’s established order and represented the first biblical example of abandonment of male leadership responsibility,” White said during a Biblical Manhood & Womanhood Conference Sept. 13 on the campus in Fort Worth, Texas.
Defending a theology called complementarianism, which holds that men and women are both created in God’s image but assigned different roles, White rejected the “egalitarian” argument that the subjugation of women came as a result of the Fall and is something that Christ came to redeem.
“Eve was cursed on her God-given role before the fall,” White said. “She is cursed on her role as a mother and as a helper. She will have pain in childbirth, and her desire will be for her husband.”
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White’s statement that Adam’s action “contradicted God’s established order and represented the first biblical example of abandonment of male leadership responsibility” is not supported by the biblical text.
His statement that “Eve was cursed on her God-given role before the fall,” also contradicts what God spoke about man and woman at the time they were created.
God said: “‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth’” (Genesis 1:26-28).
Notice that before Adam and Eve sinned, the text emphasizes that both man and woman were created in the image and likeness of God, that both of them were blessed by God, and that both of them were commanded to have dominion over God’s creation.
There is no curse on Eve “on her God-given role before the fall.” Rather, before the fall God blessed both of them. In addition, God is portrayed in the text as one who is sharing power with man and woman so that they could exercise their role as co-regents in God’s creation.
In Genesis 1:28 God invites humans to share power with him in taking care of the world he created. God’s words of blessing are at the same time words of empowerment. Notice also that the text does not establish rank between the two nor does the text mention the worth of one person above the other.
Contrary to what the professor said about the role of the woman in creation, Genesis 1:26 does not say that one person was superior to the other or that the woman was to be subordinate to the man. In reality, in Genesis 1:28 both are commanded to subdue and have dominion over God’s creation. Dominion over creation is not given to man alone but to both man and woman: “And let them have dominion” (Genesis 1:26).
Phyllis Trible, in her book God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1978), p. 18, wrote: “Created simultaneously, male and female are not superior and subordinate. Neither has power over the other; in fact, both are given equal power.”
There is no curse on Eve before the fall, but there is equality in Christ: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).
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Well-stated, Dr. Mariottini. It is also interesting to compare the language of Gen 3:16 and 4:7, which convincingly shows the meaning of 3:16 (“your desire … for your husband … he shall rule over you”) NOT to be God-ordained hierarchy but sin-based competition for rule over the other equally-created human spouse.
What you write is the correct Biblical teaching. However, the force male headship upon the woman before the fall, as this professor did, is to go beyond the text and develop a theological doctrine that is not there.
I find it interesting that it seems Adam told Eve some lies about the tree in the first place, which is indicated by Eve’s response about dying if they touched the tree.
Either Adam told her a lie, or he did tell her the whole truth, or maybe Eve exaggerated the truth. All these are possibilities.
Very good points.
It reminds me, further, of the KJV’s words that Eve is “an help meet for him” where that Hebrew word “help” in the OT is never used of a servant/slave “helping” a superior, but only of help by superiors and equals.
Oh, and there is no such word as “helpmeet” as the KJV is saying (in phrases)
“an-help meet-for-him” !
Thanks for raising this important issue.
I have been planning to write a post on the “helpmeet” issue, but time has not allowed me to do so. One of these days I will deal with that passage. Thank you for your comment.
That would be great!
I’ll watch for it.
It is common to say the woman was cursed but the text doesn’t that anywhere either… thanks for the great post!
You are right! This shows how many people read into the text what they would like to see in the text. Thank you for your insightful comment.