The Problem with How Children’s Bibles Mess Up the Story of Adam and Eve

by | Sep 1, 2021 | Uncategorized | 65 comments

The Problem with How Children's Bibles Mess up the story of Adam and Eve
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Joanna, who is the mom of two littles, has had a pet peeve for years about how baby Bibles and kids’ Bibles mess up the story of Adam and Eve. 

I asked on Facebook last week for some pictures of how your baby/children’s Bible handled the story, and HUNDREDS of you sent in pictures. Wow! (And click through to see all the pictures in the comments.)

But before we take a look, let’s re-read the Genesis account:

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.”

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 3:1-6

See that little bit that we highlighted? Adam was there the whole time. The Hebrew tense is that this happened all at once. It’s not like she ate it, and then Adam showed up and didn’t realize what was going on. He was fully culpable. And as the serpent is talking, he is using the plural form of the word for “you”–something more obvious in other languages, and why the same mistake is not as often made in children’s Bibles in other languages.

But throughout history, the fact that Adam was there is conveniently forgotten. In the epic poem Paradise Lost by Milton, Eve is depicted on her own. And our understanding of the fall is more influenced by Paradise Lost, it seems, than by the actual biblical account. Here’s how Emerson Eggerichs mistakenly describes the scene in Love & Respect:

 

But when the serpent found Eve alone and tempted her with, in essence, the subtle question, “Did God really say that?” she couldn’t resist. The fruit on that tree looked delightful, and it was guaranteed to make her wise. Totally deceived, Eve ate some of the fruit. Then Adam came up (or perhaps she went and found him). Eve gave Adam some of the fruit, and he ate as well (see Genesis 3:1–6).
Emerson Eggerichs

Love & Respect

Note how he implies that Adam wasn’t with Eve–even though Scripture reports he  was.

Now let’s see how our children are being taught this story.

There were so many pictures of Bibles left on the Facebook Page I don’t have time to put them all in a spreadsheet and look at which ones are bestsellers or anything. I’m just going to pick the first 15 that are the nicest pictures that I can find.

We’ll start with Phil Vischer’s Laugh and Learn Bible for Kids, which did it well!

 

They’re both there–and bonus! Not everyone is white. Now let’s move on:

The Beginner’s Bible

Here’s a really popular toddler/kids’ Bible:

Beginner's Bible Eve Alone

Note how Eve is alone and she goes to a different place to give it to Adam.

5 Minute Bible Stories

 

Here, Adam isn’t even depicted sinning–only getting tossed out of the garden with Eve.

The Brick Builders Illustrated Bible

 

See anyone missing?

The Little Girls’ Story Bible

 

This one had a multi-page spread with only Eve there, and it’s directed just at girls, too! 

The Family Time Bible

 

The Jesus Storybook Bible

The Spark Story Bible

The graphic novels can be even worse–

The Action Bible

 

The Picture Bible

This one mimics Emerson Eggerichs when Eve actually goes looking for Adam and calls him over:

Focus on the Family One Sentence Storybooks

How does Focus on the Family portray it?

 

Even the Bearanstain Bears get in on it!

 

There are many, many more Bibles that do it wrong. I could have pasted dozens of more pictures, but I don’t want this page to load super slowly! Again, please look at the original Facebook post to get the fuller picture. 

Now, there are some baby Bibles or children’s Bibles that do it right–they’re just the exception.

I had to hunt through all the Facebook comments to find some, but here are a few:

The Bible App Storybook

 

Desmund Tutu’s Children of God

 

I Am: 40 Reasons to Trust God

 

They even did it better in the 1970s, with this Children’s Bible:

 

Why does how we teach kids about Adam and Eve and The Fall matter?

Well, what do you think is the result on both boys and girls growing up hearing that it was Eve who sinned, and sin came to the world through Eve? That everything was ultimately her fault? (Even though the New Testament blames it on Adam–see, for instance, Romans 5:12-19).

And this idea that Eve was ultimately to blame, and Adam wasn’t quite to blame (or his sin was simply failing to provide leadership to her or failing to be her head) has been the source of men claiming power over women for ages. See how Eggerichs frames his misrepresentation of the Genesis scene:

 

Adam had the insight to realize that he shouldn’t eat the fruit, but he went ahead and did so anyway. Was this the first case of a husband being led by his wife with a ring in his nose? Or did Adam simply not want to let Eve get ahead of him by having knowledge that he would not have? No one can say for sure. Paul sums it up in 1 Timothy 2:14 when he discusses the role of women in the church: “It was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.”

Apparently, Eve concluded that she knew far more about what was best for her and her husband, and she influenced him to follow her lead. Adam “listened to the voice of [his] wife” and was cursed (see Genesis 3:14–19).

Emerson Eggerichs

Love & Respect

Note the derogatory way in which Eggerichs refers to women, and characterizes them as trying to lead their husbands around by the nose.

In Eggerichs’ conception, too, Adam’s sin was not disobeying God. It was allowing Eve to lead him. Imagine the effect of that belief on a marriage–that is a sin to allow your wife to influence you! And, indeed, Eggerichs is arguing in his chapter that women need to listen to their husband’s intuition rather than to their own (aka, ignore the Holy Spirit in their lives), directly contravening 1 Timothy 2:5, which says: “For there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human.”

Women are not supposed to elevate their husband’s voices over the Holy Spirit in their lives but Eggerichs is saying that Eve’s greatest sin was trying to lead Adam, and she must now listen to him and obey him and let him have authority, no matter what she may think.


I won’t argue all of this here; I merely want to show why how we depict Genesis 3 matters. For more on this, please see:


Can we please start telling the Bible story right, for all of our sakes?

This would make a great research project, thesis, or academic paper!

If you’re in school and you’re looking for something to base a project on, or if you’re in academia and wanting to publish a paper, this might make a great subject!

And if you’d like to publish a paper, I’m sure Joanna would love to help and be a co-author.

Let’s talk about this more and then maybe publishers will start reflecting the actual Bible story!

Adam being left out of the story of the fall in Children's Bibles

Did you know that Adam was there the whole time? What does your baby/children’s Bible say? Let’s talk in the comments!

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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65 Comments

  1. Sheila Wray Gregoire

    For more support for the idea that Adam was “with” Eve the whole time, Marg Mowczko, my go-to person for all things translation, also sent me this in an email when I asked her. I didn’t have room for it in the article but thought you may all be interested:

    “I was looking at Genesis 3 again today and thought I should mention verse 12 as extra support for the idea that Adam was with Eve when the snake spoke to her.

    I hold to the unpopular view that Adam and Eve didn’t pass the buck when God questioned each of them. When I read Genesis 3:12-13 I see that both Adam and Eve answer God honestly. They tell the truth and admit to their own actions: “and I ate.”

    These admissions are preceded by a short statement of (truthful) extra detail which has the effect of reminding hearers and readers of important elements in the story: God did give Adam a woman to be with him, and she did give him some fruit from the tree; the snake did trick Eve.
    (Other biblical narratives also use repetition in dialogues as reminders of important plot points.)

    So when Adam says, “The woman you gave **to be with me**—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate,” he is recapping the story so far. And his statement highlights the togetherness of the couple.

    Some scholars believe Adam and Eve were effectively “joined at the hip” before Eve was created from a part or side taken out of the first human being. And I think it’s reasonable, considering the language in Genesis 3:6 (עִם im) and 3:12 (עִמָּד immad), to think they were often close together. (The Septuagint translates both these Hebrew words as meta (“with”).

    Just saying.”

    Reply
    • Rachel

      I so appreciate this. My kids might me tired of me reading from children’s Bibles, stopping with a “well, really, this is how it happened…”

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        It is sad how we have to correct them! I have heard that Phil Vischer’s is great, though!

        Reply
    • Bobbiann

      Re: 1 Timothy 2:14, I think Eve was deceived and sinned first, but Adam (who was right there) knew exactly what he was doing when he sinned.

      Reply
    • Elizabeth Metz

      Wow, thank you for addressing this! I get so frustrated when I hear people talking about this story because they get it wrong most of the time!
      Why don’t they get that part correct that if Eve was deceived then that means she believed she was doing a GOOD thing!!! I believe she honestly wanted to be more like God for a good reason but obviously was doing the wrong thing. If she did the wrong thing unknowingly, then Adam sinned KNOWINGLY. Anyway, I’ll stop ranting.

      Reply
  2. Samantha

    I don’t know if I’ve ever given much thought to where Adam was, but I think I assumed Eve was with the serpent and then went to Adam with the apple.
    Honestly the whole story of Adam and Eve disgusts me. Like in L&R, it’s been twisted and used so many times to treat women like crap.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, I’m afraid it has. It paints women as dangerous to listen to. It should never have been used that way.

      Reply
      • Katydid

        As a child we watched this Bible movie, and Eve acted like a high bedroom-eyed floozie. She even spoke in a breathy whisper to Adam as if she was a seductress just as bad as the serpent.

        It really pushed this idea that men may be weak, but women are in cohorts with evil unless you keep a tight leash on them. I think that’s why evil against women is so often veiled or justified. It is just an extreme reaction to the apparent need to keep women in their place.

        Reply
  3. Anon

    I heard one sermon that stated Adam was horrified when he realised Eve had sinned by eating the fruit and the only reason he ate it too was because he didn’t want her to suffer alone for her sin – so he basically ate the fruit out of a good-hearted desire to protect & support Eve…I’m still trying to work out how on earth the speaker got this from the text!!!

    Reply
    • S

      Sadly, I believed this until recently, heard it from a man on stage. There is no support for it in scripture though. Ugh.

      Reply
    • Angela

      That is straight from Paradise Lost and I have heard people teach that idea as if it was absolutely true instead of completely speculation.

      Reply
    • Anon

      I would love to know how those who preach this deal with Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15…

      NB: If you check out Genesis 2, Adam was warned about the tree BEFORE Eve was created. When Eve ‘misquotes’ God’s command in chapter 3, I’ve usually heard it presented as her being rebellious and deliberately exaggerating God’s command to try to make it look unreasonable. But since we have no record of God repeating his command after Eve was created, it’s surely equally likely that Adam just didn’t communicate the message clearly enough – or else deliberately exaggerated it to Eve. But it’s interesting that the misquote is nearly always presented as Eve’s bad attitude!

      Reply
  4. Jo R

    It seems simply inexcusable to me that English translations fail to make the Hebrew clear, as Hebrew (and Greek) has two separate words for singular “you” and plural “you.” Why aren’t these plural “you” instances rendered as “both of you” or “you two” or similar to make the original language crystal clear?

    I can hear the counterargument: “Well, Hebrew doesn’t have those extra words, so we can’t put them in the English translation.” To which I would respond, “Hebrew doesn’t NEED those extra words, because they are included in the sense of the SINGLE WORD that is used!”

    So, through the history of Bible translation, who has been in charge and done the work? Men. I suppose it’s entirely cynical of me to think that such an obvious mis-translation is self-serving to those men in particular and to men in general, since it allows men to then say, “See? Women are dangerous and need to be controlled…by men!” But I’m sure that thought never entered the translators’ minds. 🙄🙄🙄

    Reply
    • Rachael

      We’ll, English used to have a second person plural, “ye” and the King James uses it. But the closest word in modern English would be “y’all”. I’d buy a Bible that used y’all.

      Reply
    • Angela

      Exactly. Even King James users don’t usually know that “you” is plural and “thee” and “thou” is singular (and familiar, I think.) So they lose out on one of the only real benefits of reading in Elizabethan English, which still had the distinction.

      We also need to put “ya’ll” or something all over the New Testament where the plural occurs, since virtually everything is addressed to the Body as a group, not just to you the singular individual, and often doesn’t necessarily apply to us as an individual in the way we generally interpret it.

      Reply
    • Joel Horst

      I’ve noticed that the latest version of the NIV uses “all of you” or something similar in at least some of those places where the KJV would say “ye” or “you”.

      Reply
  5. Phil

    This is fascinating….I have much to say but no time to write this morning…I do have time to say that I have been kind of on the train that I can’t relate to reading a book and then being negatively effected by it…just can’t pull a specific time I took wrong writings and applied them….but my self awareness says I have….and I am thinking about sitting in Doctors offices and specifically the Dentist as a kid and reading all kinds of children’s books while waiting…and while today I am completely aware and believe Adam was with Eve the entire time, I just recall believing that Eve was alone in the Garden when the serpent talked to her (only) and that she took the fruit and ate it first then took it to Adam and he ate not knowing where it came from….I don’t think my Church taught that….but maybe the Sunday school teachers did? Maybe I got it from a book? Maybe it was societal messages….but regardless, you guys have an interesting ministry…Books and writings are SO INFLUENTIAL to our Society….I believe we as people have a large sense of unawareness of the origins of where some of our beliefs come from as we mature. Just thinking about it here briefly it is quite intriguing to me about how misinformation is spread….and then how it influences us and probably we unknowingly pass and spread the bad teachings….when I see these children books my first thought is NO ONE intended to give the wrong message to children…those books where written in good will…but to look at it like this….ewe…

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I know! Just check out the Facebook link. I only pulled a very few–there are dozens more! It’s wild to see them all like that. Really would make a fascinating academic paper.

      Reply
  6. Renae

    Wow! The impact is so different when you have them together at the start vs. Eve going over to find Adam and give the fruit to him. The latter makes her out to be a temptress.

    This would be a really interesting series (though I know not this blog’s focus)! I took a children’s lit course at Moody Bible Institute and we looked at how the illustrations in children’s Bible stories fell short, specifically in the story of David and Goliath. Many books have him falling down on his back for whatever reason, when the text specifically says he fell down on his face – and then had his head cut off! I understand why that was not included in a children’s book, but if the story is too gory to portray accurately maybe we shouldn’t be writing children’s books about it?

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, that is interesting! (Total sidenote, but I just bought Malcolm Gladwell’s book David and Goliath last night to re-read, because sometimes I feel like David fighting Goliath).

      Reply
    • MG

      YES!! I was well into adulthood before someone pointed out that Goliath fell *forward*. Granted, I am not familiar with the terrain, but it would seem to defy physics to be hit with something and fall forward. Fascinating indeed.

      Reply
  7. Jane Eyre

    It also chases people away from church. If church is the place where we tell women they are worthless sinning temptresses, emotionally healthy women are going to drift away or never walk through the doors.

    Now, we cannot sugar coat our need for salvation, but we can avoid *saying untruths* that have the effect of chasing people away from church.

    Reply
  8. Anna

    This is so interesting! I’m an MK and have heard and read the story many times, and I have to admit I have always (erroneously) pictured Eve alone with the serpent. I’m not sure why.
    I’m old but still learn something new every day!

    Reply
  9. Laura

    Wow! I never knew children’s bibles portrayed this inaccurately. I know that they leave stuff out such as the multiple wives, the adultery, and the highly sexualized stuff in order to keep it age-appropriate for children. I wasn’t raised in church for most of my childhood, so I was not aware of this stuff.

    When I used to teach Sunday school to preschoolers and toddlers, we never had any teaching about Adam and Eve. I think we used the curriculum from Phil Vischer (I love, love, love the Holy Post podcast) which seemed spot on with the Bible.

    This is why we need to read the actual source: the Bible and also try to find the meaning of the original text. One of the reasons people get sucked into cults is that they pay more attention to a leader or author rather than reading the actual Bible for themselves. Instead, they go according to someone’s interpretation of the Bible (ex. Emerson Eggerichs) and don’t even bother to see if that interpretation even lines up with the Bible. This is why parents and Sunday school teachers need to look through reading materials and media to see if they’re accurate and age-appropriate. For far too long, we have been too trusting of these resources because they have the “Christian” label slapped on their products.

    And don’t even get me started on Emerson Eggerichs’ interpretation of the Bible.

    Reply
  10. Megan Burr

    For many years, I felt that my husband had a strange idea that he needed to protect our family (4 children) from ME. I was in treatment for depression and assumed that what I felt was really a negative distortion in my head. I spent many hours in therapy trying to correct my view. Then last year, after nearly nineteen years of marriage, we were in a discussion about an important medical decision for one of our children; when I didn’t quickly agree with how he wanted to handle it, he looked me right in the eye and said, “If YOU had been leading our family all these years, we’d be in a very dark place right now.”

    In a way, it was a massive relief to hear this spoken directly. It wasn’t in my head. My interpretation was correct. This isn’t the only reason why, but it was one of the turning points that led to my divorce.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, wow. I’m so sorry. I’m glad you finally saw it so starkly, even if it was heartbreaking. I hope you’re in a good place now.

      Reply
    • Megan Burr

      I am in a wonderful place now, thank you! So much healing and rest in the last year. Within months of separating and moving into my own place, I was able to go off of all anti-depressants and my therapist essentially fired me as a client because I am doing so well 😊.

      Reply
  11. This is a Pseudonym

    I know this will probably ruffle some feathers, but I think we shouldn’t be teaching stories from the Old Testament to children at all. Maybe a select few would be okay.

    But when we teach kids about wonderful Father Abraham and brave, amazing David, we give them the idea that these were good men. They weren’t. They did terrible things. And obviously it isn’t appropriate to tell those horrible things to children, so they end up thinking they were good guys.

    Then you read the part in the New Testament about Abraham being saved by faith, and it doesn’t occur to people that the grace is amazing because he was a really bad dude. Wow, even wicked Abraham could be saved by faith?!

    I just don’t think it’s wise to teach kids that people who own sex slaves, are murderers, adulterers, and who had multiple “wives” etc. etc. are these wonderful heroes. Wait until they’re older and can understand the nuance. 🤷🏻‍♀️

    Reply
    • NM

      Oh my gosh this!!! It is so confusing to read the Old Testament if you have the framework that these are somehow “heroes of our faith.” I have some issues with how my church handles women overall, but this is one thing they do well: teach that the Bible is the story of God doing something amazing for humanity that is completely undeserved, and how He worked goodness and grace through unbelievably broken people.

      Reply
    • Bre

      Actually, yes! I’ve been thinking this more and more lately. It’s something that makes me really sad and depressed, honestly. I think it’s part of my Autism, but I’ve always had pretty high, sometimes idealistic (though not unrealistic) moral standards for myself and the people around me, especially people who believe in God. While the Bible’s entirety makes things more nuanced if you read/patch everything related together, the way these stories of the “faith heroes” are told now make me both sick and sad. At this point, the only males in the OT I actually like are Abel, Joseph, and Barak because, while they were sinful humans, there isn’t any sort of record of them doing the incredibly F-ed up stuff that the guys typically held up as shining heroes did in spades. I only really started digging into this idea two months ago after I saw someone post a rhetorical question in a facebook group. Basically, they wondered why every pastor seems to hold up David as the ideal for godly men to strive for, despite the fact that all the positive descriptions of his faith were from before he became king and that he went on to do some awful things that even God objected to, yet at the same time, the pastors basically overlook Joseph and rarely bring him up as a male faith model, despite how, in addition to being inspirational, the only real negative thing brought up in the text about him was that he had a bit of an ego as a teen. Obviously still a fallible human, but his trust and reliance on God brought him through some awful stuff, particularly compared to his dad and brothers, who also did some pretty horrible stuff. That comment hit me like a ton of bricks and got me thinking, and now I’m wondering: what the heck? How did we go so wrong that we can easily gloss over this stuff, even when the Bible itself will sometimes admit its messed up?

      Reply
    • A2bbethany

      Or Maybe just do what my parents did, and tell all of the bible stories and not just the staple ones.
      I’ve always been told about their mistakes, the adultery and murders, and using hagar. And the part where God saved hagar and Ishmael from certain death. None of us were ever shielded from their humanity.

      I do agree with you about not lying to children, and believe that not telling children is stupid. Kids already know things that adults assume they don’t.

      Reply
    • Anon

      Kids are actually far better able to process stuff than we think they are – I’d heard pretty much all the major stories in the Old Testament by the time I was around 7. I think it’s actually really healthy to explain to small children that God can use people even when they have done really bad things. It’s encouraging to a 5 year old who is always getting into trouble because it suggests that God can still use her too! You can teach pretty much anything in an age-appropriate way. I actually find a lot of the Old Testament much harder to deal with now I’m an adult because I have an understanding of the pain & suffering that lies behind the accounts.

      Reply
    • Lydia purple

      We teach our kids the Bible without sugar coating, lots of good discussions and sometimes really funny thoughts. and we’ve had some funny situations when the young friend group of our kids realized that many of their dads were in prison in the past and drug addicts who got saved (our church was born out of a drug rehab). It’s not just Bible stories where God uses messed up people it’s so near to us even now, so very relatable. It actually elevates how good and powerful, merciful God is.

      Reply
    • Em

      My husband and I were discussing this the other day! We’re starting to transition out of the little kid Bibles and into The Message for our daughter. We decided to start with Jonah bc you can easily see Jonah’s humanity (he is disobedient, then “selfless,” then humbled, then obedient then selfish and self pitying) and Gods relationship to him through that. It is very important to us to convey the humanity of the Bible characters and messiness of the world to show that God is still relevant today. Like you mentioned about the grace, it makes it that much better when you realize these people were not perfect!

      Reply
    • Lisa M

      I agree!

      Reply
  12. Nathan

    I’ve also heard it told that Eve was there alone, then she went and found Adam. Adam at first didn’t want to eat it, but Eve used her “wicked womanly wiles” to trick him into doing it.

    Reply
  13. Nathan

    > > If church is the place where we tell women they are worthless
    > > sinning temptresses, emotionally healthy women are going to
    > > drift away or never walk through the doors.

    This is a very important point. Sheila is often accused of man-bashing, although I’ve never seen her or anybody who helps run the site do it. However, some churches and Christian books definitely engage in woman-bashing.

    Reply
  14. Sue R

    I also had never before thought about how Adam and Eve are depicted in children’s bibles. I’m at work now but can’t wait to go home and see what my children’s bible says. I’m 61 years old, and I loved reading my children’s bible as a little girl, which means, yes, I still have it! It was probably published in the mid 50s, and it’ll be interesting to see if this is something that changed over time or was always there.

    Reply
    • MG

      I’d love to know what you found out

      Reply
  15. Angela

    Yay, my finger is famous now! Lol.
    Good article. I was glad to see you tackle this and glad to help!

    So many of the comments point out the subliminal nature of this message. That’s what art does, it leaves a picture in your mind when you don’t even remember how it got there. That’s why this topic is actually a really big deal, and not a useless nitpick. I recommend we all write letters/emails to authors and publishers either complaining in a respectful way, or praising the good ones. Thanks Sheila!

    Reply
  16. NM

    Re: 1 Timothy and the reference to creation order in women being more easily deceived, Sheila, have you seen this? Timothy lived in Ephesus which was culturally dominated by the cult of Artemis. They believed women were superior to men because she was a goddess – so Paul’s warning that Eve was deceived, when read in the cultural context, was more like, “Hey ladies, stop looking down on the men, because women are capable of being wrong too.” In our context, where it’s assumed that men should be in charge, it reads with the complete opposite meaning.

    I really encourage everyone to read this article, as it’s fascinating! They also go into the “saved through childbearing” verse through the lens of Artemis, who was worshipped for protecting laboring women.

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/kbonikowsky.com/2018/02/26/artemis-worship-instigated-the-restrictions-of-1-timothy-29-15/amp/

    Reply
    • Anonymous305

      Wow!! That is the FIRST TIME EVER that the passage about “saved through childbearing” made any sense!!!! I had read it as they have to bear children to be “saved” and go to heaven, which I didn’t believe was right, but I didn’t know why God would confuse us by saying that. One interpretation I heard was that it was about us being saved through Mary’s bearing of Jesus, but that was not at all clear from the text. “Protected while bearing children” actually makes sense.

      Reply
  17. Anonymous305

    I didn’t know the Bears had a Bible!! In other books, my dad was unhappy at how the Bears portrayed the father as stupid and lazy and the mother as always saving the day. While I think boys can be taught to do better, I feel like the stereotype of lazy men comes from the reality that some men are actually lazy, in which case I feel bad for the wife, not for the husband!!

    I was taught that the headship/submission thing was to make both people resist their sin nature. Men were to resist their sin nature of passivity, and women were to resist their sin nature of domineering. While I appreciate that view is trying to be equal (hard for both, not just hard for the women), it’s not always accurate because not everyone has the same temptations. Like, you’ve never seen a domineering man or a passive woman??

    Personally, I’m only tempted to be bossy with my husband if he’s being lazy, but I’m not tempted to be bossy in every and all circumstances.

    Reply
    • NM

      Yes! That view drives me insane. I am by nature very compliant, and my “temptation” is to be a pleaser, not domineering at all. Yet I labored under the false teaching that if things weren’t going well in my marriage, it was because I was somehow coming across as domineering (thanks a lot, Love & Respect) so I just tried to make myself smaller and smaller. So glad I’m over that rubbish! My not-at-all passive husband is appreciating that I’m actually challenging him now!

      Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Exactly! It assumes that all men are tempted towards one thing, and all women towards another. And that’s just not the case.

      Reply
  18. Active Mom

    My children were blessed with a youth pastor who always had a way of turning sexist teachings on their ear. If someone would have made a comment regarding a Bible story like Eve being easily deceived because she was a women he would say “ or it could be that Satan knew Eve would be harder to convince because of her intellect and instinct and knew to cause them both to sin he had to convince her. Adam would have sinned either way.” Then he would smile and say I guess we will never know for sure until we get to heaven.” Usually the person who made the comment would stand there a little tongue tied but the girls and boys under him learned quickly to not read sexist messages into stories. It makes me so mad that pastors like him who are trying to clean up some of the garbage with our kids our still shouted out in churches by people like Emerson.

    Reply
    • CMT

      That youth pastor sounds like a good guy. I might steal his idea. Unfortunately it would probably be a less effective strategy for me as I am not male *sigh*

      Reply
  19. S

    It’s so interesting to read this post, Sheila!

    I’m a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. In our faith we discuss The Fall of Adam & Eve a great deal.

    We look at it in a positive light as it necessitated the need for a Savior and it lead the way for Him to atone for all.

    We often teach the importance of the creation which lead to the fall which lead to The Atonement of Jesus Christ.

    As such, our view of Eve is different. It’s held in high regard and men are not taught that because of the fall they should be the leaders because wives cannot be trusted.

    There’s a book written by a person of my faith that I have on my to read list titled, Eve and the choice made in Eden.

    I’ve always felt that our views on the garden of Eden and what happened there were the truth and it was a story poorly told in mainstream Christian culture. I’ve loved everything I’ve read where you’ve to tackled this.

    Reply
    • Gwen

      S, that’s so interesting about the portrayal of Eve! What’s the LDS justification for not allowing women to serve as leadership, then?

      Reply
      • S

        Hi Gwen,

        Thanks for your question. I’m sure from the outside it looks confusing. Women serve in leadership positions in the Church it just looks different. The lead children’s, youth, and women’s ministries and serve and work on committees. We have many female leaders in various roles and committees all throughout the world.

        Women don’t hold offices of the Priesthood which is where the confusion often comes in and can seem exclusive as though women aren’t trusted or viewed as equals.

        We believe that priesthood power is available to all who keep covenants with the Lord (women absolutely included). Priesthood Authority which comes from ordination. Only men are ordained to Priesthood offices. Those Priesthood offices include responsibilities such as administering blessings to the sick, blessing the sacrament, and even positions like Bishop. But women still serve as Presidents of organizations all throughout the church.

        As a woman, I feel okay with this, though I know many may not. I have personal experiences with God and I have asked Him these questions and studied them out.

        I have felt the power of God in my life and I know that that I’m not missing out on access to His power, but rather my responsibilities are different. More importantly we don’t teach that women are less capable of speaking with and hearing from God or that they are less able to act in His name than men.

        Truthfully women are highly regarded in my faith. But I do feel that some pockets of teachings (maybe at churches but most likely from families) have lead people to believe that men are the head and they make all of the decisions because they hold the priesthood and that somehow women are “lesser.” That isn’t what we are taught in our church, but there are sub-cultures of that found within.

        I had friends who we were vacationing with years ago. The husband and wife were fighting over what to listen to in the car on a Sunday and she finally said to him, “Well you decide since you’re the Priesthood holder.” I was thinking, “Whoa! That’s not how that works?!? How did they ever arrive at the conclusion that that’s how that works?!”

        Anyway, I hope that at least in-part helps answer your question.

        Reply
  20. Jennifer

    This is a very interesting blog post! My toddler and I read the Beginner’s Bible together every night. Most times when I read about the Fall (chapter titled “The Sneaky Snake”), I add “who was with her” after reading that Eve gave the fruit to Adam. I want my daughter to know that Adam was equally culpable! The bad thing is what she’ll remember is the picture, not mommy’s wording….

    Reply
  21. Rebecca

    I’m wondering, Sheila, what you understand Paul to be saying in the1 Timothy 2 passage. I have to admit that that one trips me up.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      The best resource I can send you to for that is Marg Mowczko! She goes over all the “problematic passages. Just take a look at her different categories and 1 Timothy 2 is there!

      Reply
  22. Grace

    Thank you for this article! It inspired me and I’m considering writing my senior capstone project on how the portrayal of scripture in children’s Bibles impacts what we believe as Christians (both as kids and later as adults). This example of Adam and Eve is an intriguing place to start, and I might focus the paper on what children’s Bibles say about gender — but there’s so many different places I could take it.

    I deeply appreciate your blog and the truth you speak through it. If you have any ideas on interesting resources for my potential paper, please let me know! Marg Mowczko is already on the list.

    Reply
  23. Bonnie

    It is also interesting to note that Eve entered in to a theological discussion with the critter representing Satan. This shows an intelligent, curious mind which depicts how God designed women…to question and comment. Unfortunately it resulted in error, and deception. Thus blaming females likewise ever since!! Look what happens when women dare to think critically and question these notions or question the so called conservative evangelical men of today whether they are published authors, preachers of American mega churches etc etc ad nauseum.

    Reply
  24. Lilith

    It’s strange, because the corollary to this misguided thinking about “Eve the sole seductress” is usually along the lines of, “Adam knew better, but he didn’t want to lose out on sex with this hot woman, so he willingly followed her into sin/abandoned God just to keep the sensual pleasure.”

    That’s a pretty negative stereotype of men. Not to mention, it throws the whole hypothesis about men being the proper leaders of their wives/families on its head: if Adam’s job was to give Eve proper counsel, be the more Godly one, and keep her safe from harm, well, he definitely failed most spectacularly.

    Reply

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