Why Women Can’t Trust Men

Adam and Eve Tempted and Banished - a detail from the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo Buonarroti

Adam and Eve Tempted and Banished – a detail from the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo Buonarroti

And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” (Genesis 2:16-17.)

I’ve read that passage more times than I can count. For some reason, I didn’t realize until recently that God gave Adam these instructions before creating Eve.* But after she comes on the scene we read this:

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:1-5, emphasis added.)

Where did Eve get that part about not touching the fruit? From Adam? We don’t know. We do know that Adam did nothing to correct her misunderstanding, though.

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. (Genesis 3:6, emphasis added.)

There’s Adam, just standing by while Eve has this conversation, plucks the fruit and bites down on it. He knew God’s command about the tree and did nothing, which leads to another question. Why didn’t he say, “Eve, that’s not how God put it. I don’t know where the serpent got his information, but I was there and he wasn’t when God told me about that tree.”

Yet instead of stepping up and helping out, Adam went the opposite direction and hid:

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”

The man said, “The woman you put here with meshe gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” (Genesis 3:8-12, emphases added.)

Adam blaming Eve, Domenico Zampieri

Adam blaming Eve, Domenico Zampieri

So you’re accusing Eve, is that it Adam? Surely you’re not saying it’s all God’s fault, are you? It looks like it’s one or the other or maybe both, but according to Adam none of this is his fault.

We know what happens next. Adam and Eve are banished from the Garden, the perfect home God created for them, as are we all. It all goes to Adam’s initial failure to step in when Eve needed him.

This post isn’t about men supposedly having a responsibility to lead women, though. It’s about how each of us is responsible to God with what he has given us, whether women who need to step in for men or vice versa, or children for adults or whoever for whoever. (See the parables of Matthew 25, for example.) In this case it was Adam knowing something Eve didn’t and failing to explain things to her correctly.

Yet none of us is completely trustworthy because we are all living in a fallen world.

Do not trust a neighbor;
    put no confidence in a friend. (Micah 7:5.)

Do not put your trust in princes,
    in human beings, who cannot save. (Psalm 146:3.)

The one who is worthy of our trust is not a man nor a woman, but God. It’s always been this way:

In you our ancestors put their trust;
    they trusted and you delivered them. (Psalm 22:4.)

As the title of this post says, you just can’t trust a man. Not 100%, not all the time. I’d say you can’t trust a woman either, since we’re all in this together.

But we can all trust God, 100% and all the time.

***

*This assumes that Adam was solely male before the creation of the female Eve. Another reading of Genesis 1 and 2 might be that humans were not yet divided sexually and that is why Eve was taken from Adam’s being, so that men and women became companions to each other. I tend to go with the traditional understanding and use it in this post because that is also how people who insist men are to exercise headship over women read it, which just goes to show that two people looking at the same passage can come to such differing conclusions about its import. (And that people who agree about women and men being mutually submissive and not in headship over each other can also differ on reading the passages on creation of Adam and Eve.)

***

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16 Responses to Why Women Can’t Trust Men

  1. Jeannie says:

    I’ve always thought it’s paradoxical how Galatians 6 tells us to bear one another’s burdens and then, three verses later, says we must each carry our own load. But it makes sense in light of what you’re saying here. There are things that are our responsibility and no one else can do them for us. But we also need to look out for one another and offer to help when someone is struggling with something they CAN’T do on their own. The Genesis story suggests failure on both counts. Adam didn’t take responsibility for something he’d been directly told by God — and he didn’t reach out and give Eve the support she needed to resist the temptation to do the very thing God had explicitly told him was wrong.

    • Tim says:

      I like that application of Galatians to the Genesis passage, Jeannie, and how Adam failed on both accounts. Very insightful!

    • keriwyattkent says:

      Jeannie, great insight–Adam was trying to offload his own burdens and refused to help Eve carry hers–even though he was standing right beside her the whole time. I often wondered about this seeming paradox in Gal 6 as well. Until I did some research for my book Deeper into the Word, and learned that it’s actually two different words in the Greek. If you’ll indulge me, a short excerpt from the entry on the word “burden.”

      “…this becomes the role of the church, to be Christ to one another, as we “bear one another’s burdens.” (The Greek in this instance is baros.) We do this not just to be kind or out of obligation, but because doing so will “fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2). And what law is that? Christ’s law refers to his teachings, or to the way he lived those out—in other words, his yoke.
      A few verses later in Galatians, Paul says that “each one should carry his own load (phortion).” Why when we are bearing others’ burdens does he use baros, and a few sentences later use phortion?
      Baros refers to a heavy weight pressing down on a person (whether physical or spiritual). Phortion is something carried. We need others to help us with our baros, but we can each, with God’s help, handle our own phortion.” (From Deeper into the Word New Testament)

      • Tim says:

        Great distinction, Keri, thanks for sharing form your book. When it comes to Christ’s yoke (the law he taught and the way he lived it out) as I put in the post I published today (Making Peace with Your Mistakes) that is the law of loving God and one another. That’s how we bear burdens together, through love.

  2. lauradroege says:

    Wow, none of my Bible teachers in high school or college or at church ever pointed out that Eve didn’t hear the command directly from God; she heard it from Adam. Hmm, so if she (possibly) got the part about “don’t touch it” from Adam (and not her own imagination), is his inaccurate version of the rule a lie or an attempt to protect her from even getting close to the tree? And does his failure to intervene and speak up when the serpent tempts Eve part of the original sin?

    Another thing that I thought about while I read this post. So often with my mental illness, my perceptions of reality are skewed and I can’t trust my own mind to tell me the truth or tell me what a reasonable explanation is for other people’s behavior and my own. It’s scary. Thank God that he’s 100% trustworthy, even during those times, and that I can rely on him.

    • Tim says:

      God’s trustworthiness is truly a blessing, Laura. Who else is worth relying on before him?

      As for where Eve got the misunderstanding, it’s a mystery. But I definitely think that Adam’s failure to step up and correct the record is part of the original sin.

  3. LorenHaas says:

    I always have a hard time with reflections on the story of Adam and Eve. I cannot accept their existence as an actual fact. It appears to be mythology formalized in text several thousands of years after the suggested event, by men attempting to explain their relationship to God. I believe that the story provides valuable, perhaps inspired insights into the human condition and in that sense is true.
    Do you care to comment on this?
    I enjoy your blog and comments at other blogs.

    • Tim says:

      Myth or history, the account has meaning as part of God’s revealed word to his creation. And whether myth or history, the failure of Adam to correct Eve’s conversation with Satan is interesting and instructive for us all.

  4. Gail Wallace says:

    One of those posts I’ve been meaning to write, but couldn’t have done it as well as you did. Great job, Tim!

  5. Very interesting points Tim. Another thing to ponder is the fact that Eve said they could not eat fruit from “the tree that is in the middle of the garden”. This is significant because they were in front of the tree when Satan tempted them. If Eve knew which tree was the forbidden tree, wouldn’t she have pointed to it and said they could not eat from this tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, since they were standing right beside it? Her reply to Satan is indicative that she did not know which tree was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

    • Tim says:

      Good point, Kristen. God told Adam not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but Eve didn’t call it that. It was another opportunity for Adam to speak up and quote God directly to clarify the conversation.

  6. keriwyattkent says:

    Thank you for underlining the words “who was with her” in Genesis 3:6. He was right there, watching and listening. It’s amazing how many years I spent in church before I realized that phrase was in there. The scene is often misrepresented in art and preaching, showing or implying that Eve was alone with Satan. Men over the years have followed in Adam’s footsteps to blame Eve.
    Also, I think the truths about human nature hold, whether the Genesis creation account is myth (that is, an archetypal story that communicates truth) or historical fact. Either way, it does communicate this truth: We have a tendency to make bad choices, and those choices have consequences. And one gender is not to blame for bringing sin into the world. Rather, the account shines a light on our nature, which is to screw up and then blame others.

    • Tim says:

      “Men over the years have followed in Adam’s footsteps to blame Eve.” – Passing the buck is a time-honored tradition apparently, Keri.

  7. Bev Murrill says:

    I agree. You can’t trust men…. and you can’t trust women. People earn trust, it’s not given out indiscriminately because we’re Christian, or because ‘they’re nice’. We’ve all found times when we trusted and were let down. But… God never lets us down, even when we sometimes don’t understand. He is Faithful… that’s one of His names. Faithful and True! Awesome.

    • Tim says:

      Precisely, Bev. God is trustworthy always. People can earn trust as well, but we’ll all let others down. I’m glad God doesn’t!

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