I think we got it all wrong about Eve.
You remember her. First woman on earth. Lived in the garden – that’s right, the garden. As in, “of Eden.” Oh, and one other small detail, she is generally blamed for the downfall of mankind.
But I’ve been doing some thinking, and reading, and thinking. What if the story of Eve isn’t simply the story of one woman’s mistake, but an example of the immense power and influence that women hold, even (if not especially), over men?
I was re-reading the story of the fall of mankind (Genesis 3) and was struck by where Adam was in the story of Eve being tempted by the serpent.
He wasn’t out in the fields. He wasn’t at home. He wasn’t taking a nap. He was right beside her.
Nothing is recorded about Adam saying, “Hey, beat it man” to the serpent. He didn’t say, “You know what Eve? This snake is a real weasel. We know better than to be led down his path of lies.” Nor did he simply take her by the hand and lead her away from danger.
No, Adam was silent. And when Eve started talking, he listened.
Two things immediately stuck out to me about this:
1. Guys, when you are passive, you really let things fall apart.
2. Women, we hold within us a great capacity for power and influence. This can be used for good, or, as with anything, for bad.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the modern day woman and feminism, and how it relates to my life. Growing up in the conservative mid-west, there is a lot of talk about women as the “weaker sex.” To the conservative and religious mind, women’s roles are limited, of lesser value, and typically deemed secondary.
But I don’t buy that. Because I just read Genesis 3, and I’m not looking at a picture of a woman who was limited. I’m not looking at a woman who was less intelligent or of limited resources. I’m looking at a woman who held the power of the future in her hands.
I Timothy 2:14 says that “the woman was deceived,” which is why I Peter 3:7 probably calls women the “weaker vessel.” Not a popular thought, but in context of the fall of man, Eve allowed herself to be talked into something that had deadly consequences.
What I find interesting though, is that she was able to talk her husband into following suit.
(If the idea of our ability to be deceived ruffles your feathers, just stop a moment and ask yourself this: have you ever felt like a failure? Like no one cared about you? Like you couldn’t do anything right? Like you were unwanted and unloved? How about this – like you are ugly? If so, then you’ve been deceived. Those are lies, because that is not the truth about how God made you or how he feels about you. Don’t bristle at this idea of deception, recognize it and do something about it. Ok, I’m stepping off the soapbox now. You may resume reading about Eve.)
The rest of scripture seems to imply that Eve was actually deceived, as in she really believed the lies the serpent told her, but Adam willingly messed up. Meaning, he knew full well what she was doing was wrong, but Eve’s sway was so powerful over him, that he did it any way.
I mean, wow.
Can we just think about that for a moment? Can we think about how much power Eve had in order for her to influence her husband to do something that would result in losing everything they had? That isn’t someone who a second rate human. That’s one grade A, top notch, force to be reckoned with.
So lets take this new approach and apply it to feminism and what it means to be a woman today. And not just any woman, but the woman as God defined. As God made us to be.
We aren’t second rate. We aren’t powerless. We aren’t a shadow.
We are powerful influencers.
Feminism, then, is understanding, embracing and empowering women in their roles as powerful influences.
Who are you influencing? Are you influencing others for good? Or evil?
No matter what role you find yourself in today – friend, wife, mom, co-worker – you hold within your hands the power to influence others. Even if you aren’t actively trying to influence, that passivity will be noticed by others. If you are trying to manipulate, that will be noticed by others. If you are trying to help others around you be better, that will be noticed by others.
Influence is defined as “the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself.”
I’m not talking about manipulation, which is trying to coerce someone else to fit an image that best serves you. I’m talking about influence; allowing God’s image of you and of others to so powerfully guide your life that others can’t help but take notice.
Being a woman doesn’t equate being powerless, despite what conservative and religious culture might tell us. Within us, we hold the ability to be deceived, yes. That is why it’s important to surround ourselves with people who won’t remain passive to our destructive and inaccurate beliefs. But we also hold within us great reserves of power, to influence and to lead.
(Side note: There is a difference between what religion says about women, and God’s opinion. What I’m getting at here is that God seems to think women are pretty incredible, because He made us that way. It’s religion that has dumbed us down. God and religion are not the same.)
Eve’s story was not one to shame us. It was a cautionary tale to remind us to be mindful of how we are influencing others. But also, it’s a battle cry for women everywhere. A battle cry calling women to stand up, raise up, and step out.