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If one takes the stories of creation from the book of Genesis to be the description of real facts, there is the danger for the misunderstanding of the situation of women and their status in society. Eve is seen in Genesis chapter 2 as a derived human being coming from man and in a way being subservient to him. For this reason, in the majority of Christian churches women aren’t allowed to preach and they aren’t equal with men in the service of God. This is what the text of the Bible says about the creation of woman:
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“21 So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called Woman,* for out of Man* this one was taken.’ (Genesis 2; 21-23 NRSV)
This biblical text generates much confusion in theology. There are different opinions about the status of the women in the Christian churches based on the Apostle’s Paul epistles. Some of these epistles are considered to be authored by Paul but others are seen as inauthentic, using only Paul’s name. For example, Paul says in Romans that:
“10 For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved.” (Romans 10; 10 NRSV)
On the other side, 1 Timothy requires for women to give birth to children as a condition of their salvation.
“11 Let a woman learn in silence with full submission. 12 I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing provided they continue in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.” (1Timothy 2; 15 NRSV)
All assertions are wrong in the quoted text. According to the book of Genesis, chapter 1, man and woman were created simultaneously on the sixth day of creation. At the same time, Adam and Eve were both deceived because they didn’t know the difference between good and evil before eating from the tree, according to the same book, chapter 2. In order to reach salvation, a woman must bear children, but that principle is on a collision course with Paul’s doctrine of salvation which, according to him, comes through faith and faith alone. In point of fact, is very hard to accept such an inconsistency in Paul’s epistles.
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In 1 Timothy chapter 2 women are directed to give birth to children in order to be saved. Moreover, these children must be faithful if their mothers aspire to be saved. Conditioning the salvation of a woman by the faith of her children is contrary to the principle of individual responsibility and salvation through individual faith. A mother cannot be totally responsible for her children who are independent persons and have their free choice of faith.
In another epistle, Paul recommended to the virgins not to marry, and it is hard to reconcile the two texts:
“25 Now concerning virgins, I have no command of the Lord, but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. 26 I think that, in view of the impending* crisis, it is well for you to remain as you are. 27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife.” (1 Corinthians 7; 25-27 NRSV)
A woman will be saved through childbearing, but a virgin is better if she remains as she is. Is the virgin not of the same gender as a woman? If women truly can be saved only through childbearing, all women must be married, including virgins.
Apostle Paul himself overcame, in some of his undisputed epistles, the differences between male and female, in matters of faith.
“28 There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3; 28-29 NRSV)
If there isn’t any difference between male and female, why are the females conditioned for their salvation by the birth of children, but the fathers are not? Paul continuously attached a decisive importance to faith for salvation and this conditionality on deeds, on childbearing, doesn’t seem to be Paul’s at all.
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It is very important to notice that the alleged facticity of the first 11 chapters of the book of Genesis reflected on the way women were seen in the Judeo-Christian traditions, hence in the societies in which these religious traditions were and still are influential. Many inequities against women during millennia have to be explained by the story of Adam and Eve in which Eve is seen as second in importance to man.
“7 For a man ought not to have his head veiled, since he is the image and reflection* of God; but woman is the reflection* of man. 8 Indeed, man was not made from woman, but woman from man. 9 Neither was man created for the sake of woman, but woman for the sake of man. 10 For this reason a woman ought to have a symbol of* authority on her head,* because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man or man independent of woman. 12 For just as woman came from man, so man comes through woman; but all things come from God.” (1 Corinthians 11; 7-12 NRSV)
In any case if men come through women in the same way women come through men, it is hard to see why only man is the image and reflection of God. Who came first, man or woman? The Bible says that man came first but the sciences cannot say if the first individual in the human species had been male or female.
Man is said to be the image and reflection of God but woman is considered to be the reflection of man. This assertion contradicts sharply the text from Genesis chapter 1 which says that both man and woman were created by God in His image.
“27 So God created humankind* in his image, in the image of God he created them;* male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1; 27 NRSV)
This biblical verse contradicts the entire theology concerning the relationship of men and women found in some of Paul’s epistles or in other biblical texts. The first chapter of the book of Genesis doesn’t make any differentiation or hierarchy between man and woman but the second chapter does. From my point of view, to say that man is the reflection of God but woman isn’t also His reflection, is complete absurdity because women are half of humankind.
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Genesis chapter 1, verse 27, says clearly that humankind, women and men, were created in the image of God, not only men. The notion of humankind circumscribes men but also women in an equal proportion. Not only that women are His image but even more, Jesus the Son of God who is considered to be true God biologically, was the image of a woman, Virgin Mary. Without this double reflection, God and human beings cannot reach the spiritual closeness recommended by the N.T. This fundamental contradiction between Genesis, chapter 1, and Genesis, chapter 2, renders any opinion about a so-called differentiation of status between men and women totally valueless.
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