I don’t think there is any sadder story in the world than the third chapter of Genesis. While the facts of the fall of man are recorded with brevity, what we read there is the origin of all human sorrow and death, disease and heartache. Every sad thing that has ever happened started there. We read about the brokenness in the relationship between mankind and God, and how that will influence the relationship between man and woman, as well as our work and our world (Genesis 3:16–19).
Yet even in this tragic introduction of death and hardship to the world, there is light. Childbearing will bring much pain — but the curse does not remove from us the joy of our children. There is pain, but there is also still much beauty and hope. While tension has been introduced to the relationship between man and woman, love has not been removed. Even in the curse, God gave us great hope for his undoing of it. God made us enemies of the serpent forever, but not enemies of each other (Genesis 3:15). And even in that awful moment, he began his great plan to restore us to himself.
Undoing the Curse
What we see in the Bible is how God has gone about the undoing of this curse.
Ultimately, the curse is broken in the person of Christ Jesus. In his death we see what we deserved; in his resurrection we see what we have been given in him. We have a final answer to the curse. But God did not undo the curse in one moment — rather, it is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour (Matthew 13:33). It works its way out slowly, constantly, without ceasing.
When we are changed in Christ, we still have to work out what he worked in. We go about the rest of our lives being conformed into the image of Christ (Romans 12:2). We have much work to do here, now, in him. When we are made into his people, we are made into the workers whom he is using now to build his kingdom (Ephesians 2:19–22).
When Paul tells the church how to go about life together in 1 Timothy, he mentions the curse as a foundational reason for his directives — in a passage that causes much current angst and argument.
We Can’t Go Back
I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. (1 Timothy 2:12–14)
What is Paul doing referencing the order in which we were created, or the mistake Eve made, as though these facts were relevant to anything? Except they clearly are relevant, because Paul mentions them!
They are relevant to our lives now because our lives now are all about undoing the curse in Christ. We cannot go back to the garden as Eve and choose not to listen to the serpent in the first place. We can’t go back to that moment and be undeceived. We can’t go back to that first great leadership moment of womankind and make it a success. Men can’t go back there and refuse to follow a deceived Eve. They can’t go back and cry out to God to take them instead of their wife. They can’t go back and refuse to usher death into the world. Instead, we are here, after the fact.
The undoing of this moment will be done in Christ, through the obedience that is empowered by the Holy Spirit. We can’t be undeceived by the serpent in the garden, but we can be undeceived by the serpent now. We can refuse to listen to any “Did God really say . . .” conversations now.
Disobedience Old as Dirt
What is fascinating is that so many of the conversations had today over this passage take us right back to the garden.
“Did God really say that you can’t preach?”
“God doesn’t want you to do anything important, does he?”
“God is trying to keep you from the great good that would come if your voice were heard from the pulpit.”
Christian women, you must learn to recognize the serpent in these conversations. No church-enriching knowledge will be found in listening to women who have decided not to listen to God. In the church today, we have a disobedience pattern as old as dirt, literally. Women are still being deceived into distrusting God’s intention in his word, and men are choosing those women over God. This is a death path, and it has been heavily trod. But there is another path — the path of life.
Second Adam, Second Eve
How can we find the path of life? It is in the presence of God. It is in obedience, offered to the God who equips us for it. It is in trusting in his purposes. The more we do that, the more we see that the great glory that God is accomplishing with all of us in him is the undoing of our first failure in the garden. He is building with us a new garden, a new dwelling place of God in the Spirit (Ephesians 2:22).
Did Eve understand all of God’s intention in the garden? No, she didn’t, and that is why she could be deceived. Do you understand perfectly why God calls you to glorify him through acting like a Christian woman who is in submission to his word? The moment is similar, and we too are vulnerable. Let’s not play the role of the first Eve to the first Adam, but instead take up the part of the second Eve to the second Adam.
That second Adam laid down his life for his deceived bride. He took our penalty, and through his death and resurrection has brought us life. Choose to remember what God has said, and to joyfully obey it. Trust his plan. Because through this mysterious gift of our obedience to our husbands, our glad embracing of our roles, we will be used in the remaking of the new garden. There is nothing little about our obedience now, just as there was nothing little about Eve’s disobedience then.
What glory would there have been in the garden if Eve had not listened to the serpent? The way for us to find out is through not listening to him now. Because what awaits us in obedience to God is always glory — more shocking, more rewarding, more delightful and beautiful than we could imagine.