Eve, the first woman. She seems like a natural starting point for a Christian woman who wants to understand more about God's intention for her, more about what it means to be a woman.
I am currently studying the women of the Bible with a wonderful friend of mine. We're reading and working through "The remarkable women of the Bible" by Elizabeth George. And of course the first chapter was all about Eve - the first to experience so many things which are integral parts of most women's life (being a wife, a mother, experiencing the pain of childbirth and the agonizing pain of loosing a child). She had to figure out the same things we sometimes struggle with: her relationship with God and her relationship with her husband. What does it mean to be a woman and a wife?
Here are some of the things which stood out to me while pondering Eve's story:
It is good to be a woman. God created woman with a special purpose. She was necessary for creation to be finished. God first created the animals and the man. Then He declared
"It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." (Genesis 2:18).
The suitable helper was the woman. Only after having created the woman too, God pronounced creation "very good" (Genesis 1:31).
Woman is created for the man. She complemets him in ways no other created being and no other thing can. The special bond between man and woman, I think, is expressed through the fact that God did not create the woman from dust as He created the man, but He created her out of the man's rib. Man and woman belong together.
Woman is created to be a help meet. As a wife she is to be a help to her husband. The Hebrew word for help meet is "ezer" which means help. It derives from the verb azar which means to surround, to help and to protect. The same verb is used for God's help in several verses throughout the Bible, e.g. Deuteronomy 33:29 or Psalm 115:9-11. Therefore a wife is called to support her husband, to complement him and to be a help to him. According to the meaning of the verb azor, this help is strong and active, an image we also get from the woman of Proverbs 31. But at the same time it is clear, I think, that all her activity should not be directed at her own advancement or success, but at the man's (and that of them together and their family). A wife is called to support her husband, not herself alone.
In this context E. George mentions a verse from the NT.
"The man is the image and glory of God, but the woman is the glory of man" (I Cor 11:7).
To be truly honest, this is a verse I'm struggling with. Not that I dislike its implications per se, but I do not understand the meaning of this verse very well. What does it mean that the woman is the glory of the man? Does it mean that her behaviour reflects on her husband? Does it have implications for how she is to treat her husband in public? To be respectful to him and not to belittle him in front of others (that's definately not glorifying your husband)?
God also issues the creation mandates. Man and woman are called to be fruitful and to subdue the earth. After the fall part of the punishment for Adam and Eve - which we still suffer today - is connected with these mandates and their specific roles. The pain of childbirth is greatly increased due to the fall (Genesis 3:16). But God was faithful and helped Eve through the births of her sons (Genesis 4:1). This is another lesson we can learn from Eve. No matter how grivous our sin, God is faithful and deals faithfully with us according to His word.
Labels: Faith, Marriage, Women