Eden Authority Logic

by Alison Rowan

One of the essential differences between Complementarianism  and Egalitarianism, is the  view held over the existence of patriarchy before the Fall.  Complementarians and Patriarchalists who claim that it did, have made it foundational to their doctrine and that it was God’s ‘perfect plan’. This needs to be thoroughly investigated since it has far-reaching consequences for the structure and effectiveness of today’s church and safeguard against spiritual abuse of Christian women.

The whole question is one of authority - who is entitled to lead: who is relegated to following?

Patriarchalists say that all leadership in the home, the church and in society should be eternally male. Period.

Complementarianism is a new construct with a more acceptable face, begun in the 1970’s. It tries to disguise this power play by calling it different ‘roles’ - a ‘leadership role’ within the church and home belongs to the man, whereas the women have to submit to the male leadership and have a ‘nurturing role’. These roles are fixed and they define the spheres allowable for each gender, and I have explored this concept further in ‘Purpose, Caling and Role. In secular institutions, either gender can lead. Disparity of authority and gender are said to continue into eternity, too.

The conflict of sacred, domestic and secular authority positions is still one of disagreement between the chief proponents of this theology. A multitude of dos and don’ts and sliding scales of importance have been produced to make sense of the incongruity in the Complementarian position, but there is no logical solution. To my mind, these lists seem rather reminiscent of the dos and don’ts compiled by the religious leaders that Jesus berated and which originate from the same legalistic spirit. Adherence to the letter of their interpretation of the Word is consequently perceived to be more acceptable to God than following the leading of God’s Spirit, who correctly interprets the Word.

The view is that authority of male over female was established before the Fall, but then perverted through sin. The bases for this claim are by indirect assumption and eisegesis of:

Point 1:  Gen 2:15 The directive to tend the garden being given to Adam by himself--assuming prime responsibility.

Point 2:  Gen 2: 19-20, 23 The naming of the animals (and Eve)--assuming proof of possessing authority over them.

Point 3:  Gen 2:18, 20  Ezer kenedgo, ‘helper suited to’--assumed to describe his wife being formed to satisfy Adam’s need of companionship and a sexual partner and to assist him. This is summed up in the coining of the word ‘helpmate’.

Point 4:  Gen 3:9-12  God seeking Adam out to interrogate over the Fall--assuming he had overall accountability for his wife, too. Some take this as a form of priesthood.

Point 5:  Rom 5:12  Sin entering the world through Adam--assuming he took the responsibility for Eve’s transgression.

Point 6:  1 Tim 2:14  Adam was on the Earth before Eve--assuming pre-eminence is inherent.

The final five points have already been debated in some detail with the Egalitarians. They have shown them to have no foundation through exegesis of the text, inclusion of the work of the Cross which covers every aspect of the Fall, the non-gender specific pronouns in the NT requirements for leaders, the teachings of Jesus and a clear understanding of the future kingdom.

I will now examine those six points by exegesis of the original words and careful study of the context of the surrounding passages.

First point:  Gen 2: 15-17: Adam being given the job to tend the garden

“Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate/work it and keep/guard it. The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”

In the short time before Eve was brought forth, God did indeed give to Adam the job of cultivating and guarding this little piece of the works of God’s hands where he was alone. There was no one else present to do it.  The only recorded command He gave to him was regarding what he ate. However, later on God then placed the care of the entire Earth and all its creatures under the authority of BOTH Adam and Eve ‘God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the Earth.” (1:28) Also Psalm 8:6 says of ‘man’, “You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet.”  With reference to the rest of the psalm and Gen 1:26, 28, it is obvious that ‘man’ is generic for ‘mankind’ - both male and female.

“All the works of His hands” also included the Garden in which they dwelt. Therefore Eve was equally responsible to tend and guard it. Adam had NO authority over Eve, a fully responsible adult in her own right, or a ‘different role’ because God’s command was to BOTH of them. Where does it record that God blessed and authorised only Adam, then told him to include Eve under his covering umbrella of authority, or anything like that? Yet what is taught by Complementarianism emanates from this kind of assumption!

It should also be noted that being authorised to do certain activities ahead of someone who does not exist, does not give one authority over them. It is not possible to equate receiving authority to do various activities with receiving authority over someone who is not yet in existence. It can be likened to authorising an interior designer to prepare the nursery room for an expected baby. He has no authority whatsoever over his client’s baby! That belongs to the parents for as long as the growing child is below ‘the age of accountability’. After that, and if their child, as an accountable adult is no longer under their roof, their ‘authority over’ has ceased. Eve was never Adam’s ‘baby’, nor his pet. She emerged, fully cognitive, and morally as complete as himself, apart from him relaying the one instruction given him by God, regarding what they were and were not to eat. It appears he failed to do that sufficiently, since Eve also believed she should not even touch the forbidden fruit. That poor communication, contributed to her later deception.

So it still remains t be asked why the Complementarian theologians connect Adam’s authority for activities in the garden to having authority Eve, yet to be formed?

Second point:  Gen 2: 19-20, 23 -- the naming of the animals and Eve

Most agree that Gen 2 is adding detail to the sixth day of Gen 1 and the commissioning as rulers happened equally to both at the END of the sixth day. Since WORDS, either written or spoken are always the means of commissioning or delegating authority, GOD DID NOT DELEGATE ANY AUTHORITY BEFORE HE SPOKE THIS BLESSING. This was after Adam did the naming and had his ‘operation’ to separate Eve out of his side. So, putting Gen 1:26, 28 with Gen 2:19-20 proves that the earlier naming is NOT an act of ruling or having dominion of either the animals, nor Eve. For a more detailed look at exactly what and when God spoke and for what purpose please refer to this article, Pronouncements in Eden.

Hebrew does not have a verb ‘to name’, but uses the construct, ‘to call a name’. That is to ‘call’, ‘qara’(= to call, proclaim, read, shout) a ‘name’, ‘shem’. This can be seen in v 19 for the animals, but not v 23 for his ezer kenedgo. Ish-shah, was Adam’s exclaimed description or identifying name of the type of beautiful being before him in 2:23. She is subsequently identified as a type of creature, only impersonally as ‘the woman’ and ‘his wife’ throughout chapter 3, until finally, he called(qara) his wife’s name (shem) “Eve” in v.20. This was AFTER they sinned and God allowed patriarchy. Thus from both viewpoints, the giving of the name, ‘Eve’ cannot be a pre-fall expression of authority over her when Creation was still in God’s ‘very good’ plan.

Third point:  Gen 2:18, 20  Ezer kenedgo, ‘helper suited to’

The true meaning of ‘helper suited to’ is that Eve was a source of active intervention on behalf of Adam, a compatible companion and perfectly matching him, supplementing the areas of perception and expression in which he was lacking the feminine perspective. He did likewise for her, with his masculine perspective and attributes. Ezer is found 21 times in the OT, most of which are references to God Himself, the rest are to covenanting partners pledging aid to the other when needed. No inkling of subordination or weakness is indicated in the Hebrew words; just mutuality. Likewise, the Greek equivalent, translated in Heb 13:6 from ‘Helper’ in Psalm 118:6, is boethos. This is a construct from ‘boi’, a shout or call for help and ‘theos’, to run swiftly. This perfectly summarizes, the Hebrew idea of ‘active intervention on behalf of another’. Is there ANY sense of subordinate assistance in these words?

Companionship and lack of sexual partner, I believe  were secondary issues. Adam being alone, was not a comment on his loneliness, either, since ‘lebadow’, ‘alone’, does not carry this sense in its uses. It can mean ‘separate’, ‘apart’, ‘by himself’, ‘only’. If, companionship were the emphasis, then God could have said he was looking for a chabereth kenedgo = female companion suited to him or even a kenath kenedgo = intimate friend suited to him. No, in the phrase ezer kenedgo, the companionship is perfectly covered by 'kenedgo' = compatible, comparable, matching, is it not? Those words describe a beautiful intimacy.

The TYPE of assistance/help is described in 'ezer' and please note it is not 'ebed', a ‘servant’! God intended to provide an intimately suited, capable supplier of intervention, instead: the main issue being that in order to be the ‘likeness and image’ of God, both male and female are required. Adam by himself (‘alone’) could not do it, so he needed Eve’s active intervention as ‘ezer’ to be the feminine counterpart.

Complementarians make much of the issue that Adam was not created for Eve, but Eve for Adam (1 Cor 11:9) as if she were his servant and that he did not exist to serve her. To begin with, this negates the utter mutuality contained in the Hebrew understanding of ezer kenedgo. Secondly, when describing the marriage relationship in Eph 5, it was CHRIST, who gave himself FOR the church. Who is the one in need, here? Who is the one actively intervening on their behalf? Does the one being helped have authority over the One heping? NO! For a further study of all these words in point three, please see this article.

Fourth point:  Gen 3:9-12  Adam being called to account

This was for his own outrageous sin, because he had set his wife up and contributed to her beguiling by his deliberate non-intervention. She was tricked and Adam was happy for her to take the blame. Hers was a transgression through beguilement and as such she was not completely ‘corpus mentis’, unlike Adam. He sinned knowingly. Because Adam was being called to account for his OWN sin, there is NO ‘authority covering’ of responsibility FOR his wife’s person or actions. Neither is there any implication for any priesthood of a husband as her representative.

Fifth point: Rom 5:12  Sin entered through Adam.

This is because it was he, standing beside his wife, refraining from preventing her deception, who willingly colluded with Satan in full agreement, desiring to rebel as he had done ‘to be as God’. He therefore gladly listened to his wife, took of the fruit and ate!  Eve was merely beguiled and as such was not as culpable, similar to the difference between manslaughter and murder. Adam, however was in pre-meditated, open rebellion and thus provided the entrance for that fully cognisant, wilful rejection of God’s will and authority, that is Sin.

Sixth point: 1 Tim 2:14  Adam was created first

‘Protos’ = ‘first’ when used to describe chronological order, has no proof of superior authority, whereas the patriarchalist uses this sequential order to claim it is ‘God’s Order’ for authority as in the superior rights of the firstborn. There is something underhand and deceitful when in controlled Bible studies, Complementarian teachers smudge the two meanings of ‘order’ in their listeners’ minds. Paul’s reason for telling this to Timothy was to correct the heretical teaching of the cult that the Ephesian wives were doing to their husbands at home, since Artemis was worshipped as the first created and therefore originator and dominator of men. For further explanation, please refer to this link:


There are some additional points to be made:


Both Adam and Eve were formed by God from the Earth, shaped as clay in the Potter’s hands. This is alluded to in Rom 9:21 “Does not the potter have authority over the clay”? This is  ‘creator’s authority’ and Adam was not the potter who formed Eve. The authority over both Adam and Eve belonged to the Creator until He delegated it. He then gave all authority to both of them, equally. This is triumphantly reiterated by our Second Man, the Last Adam, who wrested the authority over the whole of Creation out of the Deceivers hands who had won it from Eve by trickery, now to return it to the hands of the ‘second Eve’, His Bride. When Christ proclaimed in Matt 28:18 and Luke 10:19 that he was delegating ‘all authority’ in Heaven and Earth to the Church over all the authority of the Evil One, did he qualify its use as valid by the female members of his Body only provided they were under a male umbrella? What nonsense!

It should also be noted that EVERY pronouncement on the serpent and the guilty pair introduced a departure from perfection into something negative that had not existed before. Since patriarchy was introduced after the Fall, how unjust would it have been for Eve to have been suffering patriarchy BEFORE she had sinned as Complementarianism asserts! Neither can it be argued from the text of Gen 3:16 that if patriarchy had existed beforehand, that God now says to Adam, “It’s OK for you to rule more harshly now.” It simply is not there, apart from in the imagination of those who have an agenda to promote.

The most tragic and damming point is that in order to fulfill His permission to the serpent to wreak his enmity against Eve’s daughters, God then granted Patriarchy FOR THAT REASON! How else does Satan single out women to target? Now that Christ’s death has fully atoned for Eve’s transgression, permission for Patriarchy has been rescinded.

Therefore, drawing all these points together, not ONE stands up to scrutiny, they are all shifting sands of patriarchal pride …. and the enmity of Satan.

Patriarchy is not God’s ‘perfect plan’. There was no Patriarchy in Paradise lost, neither will there be in Paradise to come - already foreshadowed in the Church.