Growing up in the church meant I heard a lot about Eve, and I have to say, I didn’t like her very much. She was the villain of the creation story. The mess-up, the seductress, the failure. The dangerous one and the reason everything went wrong. What’s more, because I was a woman, a daughter of Eve, those traits applied to me as well.
Eve, however, was not the villain in the story; she was a beloved, restored, redeemed child of God. The way we view her impacts the way we see ourselves and the women around us. Eve was not the mess-up and, for the sake of our hearts and the hearts of the women around us, we need to go back to her story and get to know her better. We need to cut through the misunderstandings that have clouded our view and remind ourselves of the truth of who she was before God—and who we are as well.
Here are three things women in the church need to know about Eve:
1. She was always part of the plan.
First, Eve was always a part of God’s plan. In Genesis 1:26 God declares that he’s going to make both the man and the woman. That’s easy to forget, however, when we read about Adam’s creation in Genesis 2 and hear that it wasn’t good for him to be alone. We begin to believe that Eve was an afterthought, that God was moved by Adam’s need and responded to it by creating her. When seen like this, Eve, while important, is only important insofar as she could fill the void Adam experienced. She becomes the object of Adam’s desire and the solution to a problem.
But that’s not what happened!
God had already declared that he was going to create her and would do so for a specific purpose: She was to be an image-bearer. It wasn’t Adam’s loneliness that necessitated the woman, it was his calling. He needed a co-laborer, someone to stand with him in carrying out the call to fill and to cultivate the earth as an image bearer.
She was an important part of God’s plan, and so are you.
2. She was not a temptress.
The serpent came to the garden to destroy those who God loved. He lied, and Eve listened. She saw the fruit, longed for what he was offering, and believed him over her creator. She ate the fruit and then handed it to Adam.
Adam, Genesis 3:11 says, “was with her and he ate.” She didn’t persuade him. She didn’t seduce him. And she didn’t tempt him. He was listening to the entire conversation and chose on his own to eat the fruit as well.
Somehow, though, many of us have come to believe that Eve was a temptress who coerced her husband into sinning. We see her as the root of all that has gone wrong in the world, an idea that causes us to view ourselves and other women as inherently dangerous too. Eve sinned, yes, but she didn’t trick Adam into sinning. She wasn’t a temptress, and she wasn’t dangerous. And women aren’t inherently dangerous ether.
3. She was chosen by God.
After the fall, God came to the garden. In the midst of that conversation is another moment that’s incredibly important for understanding Eve.
God declared to Satan, “I will put enmity between you and the woman” (Gen. 3:15). On one hand, that seems self-explanatory. Of course Eve and Satan would be enemies! But when we remember that Eve had just rejected God and had aligned herself with Satan, the dynamics of that change. God was removing her from Satan’s side and placing her on his own instead. He chose her! No matter what she’d done, God still loved and wanted her with him. And he would make a way to bring her home.
It’s so easy to read these verses and see only the condemnation of the fall. Yet tucked within are amazing promises of hope.
In fact, just a few verses later, it says that God “made for Adam and his wife garments of skins and clothed them” (Gen. 3:21). The word for garments is the word commonly translated as tunics or robes. It’s the same word used to describe Joseph’s coat of many colors and the tunics of the priests. God clothing Adam and Eve was a dramatic restoration of their place as his children! These weren’t patchwork rags followed by a kick out the door. This was an extravagant gift. He removed their shame-filled loincloths of leaves and replaced them with stunning symbols of their status as his images on the earth.
Eve was not cast off. She was chosen by God, and the same is true for us.
Eve has a pretty bad reputation in much of the church today. She’s blamed for all the sin and hurt in the world. Viewing her that way, however, is not only inconsistent with what we see in the Bible; it also harms the women in our midst. Eve was a beloved, chosen, redeemed child of God. God brought her out of her shame and into the glorious light of his love, and he does so for us as well.