Question: When Adam ate of the fruit did that make man the weaker vessel by submitting to Eve?
Answer: Greetings friend. Thank you for submitting such a deep question. I think we can crack it...but not without roasting Eve for a few minutes. I do love our original mother, but it’s difficult to talk about who was subordinate to whom without some frank discussion about sin. We Christians tend to understand that humanity is in its current trouble because of “the fall,” which is a kindly and distant phrase, but the details are not so prosaic. In a way, it was Eve who opened the gates of hell. Not only was she the first person to “buy” Satan’s line, she was also the first person to “sell” it.
As a buyer, Eve placed herself below Satan, and she would remain there all of her days...but then, she became the seller—and for one instant Adam was indeed below her—just as any oppressed person is below their oppressor during the oppression. However, unlike Satan, who would rule the earth until Jesus’ second coming, Eve dropped back into a subordinate position when God set the rules for their new order of life. Yes, sin changed everything, but it did not change the familial hierarchy. Earthly men must always reflect their godly Father, and as such, maintain headship. Mothers honor God by honoring their husbands, and children do so by honoring both. Is it any wonder that Satan works so hard to destroy the effectiveness of this eternal symbol? Fortunately (and although we perform our familial duties increasingly poorly because of sin), the symbol of fatherly headship stands! It stands because it must stand.
“For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.” (Ephesians 5:23, ESV)
“But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.” (1 Corinthians 11:3, ESV)
Since our familial relationships will find their completion in Jesus Christ, we must invest with God to uphold their symbols here on earth. Our hopes will find consummation when Christ returns, but until then we are subject to corruption.
“And the angel said to me, Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb...’” (Revelation 19:9, ESV)
In addition to God’s maintaining the symbolic hierarchies, Adam’s capitulation to his wife falls under the rules of sin, where the notions of good, better or best receive no play. Additionally, and in spite of the almost laughable finger pointing by our first parents, Adam chose the path of sin for himself. Although Eve chose sin earlier than did Adam, this only makes her his chronological senior in sin, not his positional senior. Of all the persons who have ever sinned (and yes, this includes all persons who have ever lived) the one who has been at it the longest or the hardest is no more a sinner than is a defiant toddler. Falling short of God’s glory is not only the definition of sin, but it is a yes or no proposition. Either you have or you have not fallen short. There are no gradients. There are no comparatives such as evil, real bad, moderately bad, slightly flawed, almost holy...all sinners are on the same level—the basement.
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23, ESV)
Adam’s capitulating to his wife did not make him a weaker vessel, it made him a broken vessel. In this, he exactly matched Eve. They were not both equally weak; they were both equally dead, as would be all their progeny (Rom. 5:12). In fact, all subsequent people were born equally dead because of that single indulgence, and no person would ever be strong enough or holy enough to fellowship with God—save for the redemption announced in the same chapter as the fall.
“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:15, ESV)
Therefore, as it relates to the fall and the necessity of salvation, neither Adam nor Eve can be said to be stronger or weaker than the other. Sin entered the world as an equal opportunity destroyer, the remedy for which was equally beyond the strength of any human. We all fell at Eden, and as attested by a local poet, “We, all alike, are broken things. // We differ as the shards” (Shards, Evan Plante, Worcester, MA), we do indeed have differences, but they are neither hierarchal nor consequential.
What we find with the transition into sin, is that those things which God provided for our good in a perfect environment, would now succumb to spiritual, physical and emotional entropy as corruption played out over the millennia. For instance, Adam was the ruler over all creation, and this included Eve. Although she was his “type” (as opposed to all other creatures [pun intended nonetheless]), she was his helper and not his positional equal. Before the fall, their differing stations were not an issue. But sin spoiled that gap and widened it over time. Therefore, Eve’s preeminence in sin did not result in her being stronger than Adam, but just the opposite. Her original subordination, which was perfect and beautiful, became a curse—and a growing vexation for her and for all the daughters of the earth.
Both Adam and Eve received personalized punishments for their sin, and in each of these punishments, God merely took their Edenic positions and translated them for a sinful world. Adam, who physically worked the ground and administered creation, would now feel the pressure of supporting his family with all the impediments of sin. What was once pleasurable was now toil, sweat and loss, and today’s stress is its natural outfall.
“And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”” (Genesis 3:17–19, ESV)
In like manner, Eve would continue with her Edenic positions but with a sad twist. She would continue to be “the mother of all living” (Gen. 3:20) but at the expense of pain, and continue as Adam’s helper, but in increased subordination.
“To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”” (Genesis 3:16, ESV)
In this, you can see how sin works and why our lives are such a mess today. What God had originally ordained as good, like Adam and Eve’s helped-and-helper relationship in the Garden, has, because of sin, degraded, and the gap between men and women remains very wide. I understand that developed nations have made some progress in protecting women, but where did that progress come from? From agreeing that woman have been treated dreadfully in the past! Unfortunately, many cultures still subjugate woman today, and with this in view, I feel that Eve’s daughters have continued to suffer with her customized punishment to this day. (Come soon Lord Jesus!) But what of Eve herself?
Eve turned Adam into a weaker man than he was previously—that’s all. She did not turn him into a weaker person than she was herself. I must admit, though...it looks like it sometimes.