The Biblical Patriarchist begins his case by going all the way back to the beginning of the Bible. The creation of Adam and Eve as related in Genesis 2 is the Old Testament backbone of the doctrine. In this chapter’s account Adam is created first and spends some length of time with the animals in the garden before God observes that, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him," at which point God places Adam into a deep sleep and removes the rib from which He fashions Eve.
In writing about this story, Mr. Einwechter says,
“The text of Genesis 2:7 and 2:18-24 teaches us that man was made first, and then the woman was made to be man’s helper and companion. The Bible instructs us that this order of creation was by God’s design, and that it establishes the positional authority of the man over the woman in regards to authority and leadership.”
Einwechter and others of this point of view make much of two elements of this chapter: 1) that Adam was created first, and 2) that the text reports that God said, “…I will make a helper suitable for him.” They say that the creation of Adam chronologically prior to the creation of Eve illustrates a natural order of positional authority of the man over the woman. Furthermore, God’s statement in Genesis 2:18 that Eve was created for Adam reinforces this illustration from the natural order of creation. It seems to me that one needs to come to the text of Genesis 2 with this presupposition already in place to get this message from the story.
If we consider the whole creation text of Genesis I think that we find an authority message dramatically different than that in Biblical Patriarchy. There are only two passages which relate the creation of Adam and Eve themselves: Genesis 1:26-27 and 2:7, 18-22. In Chapter 1 of Genesis God states His intention for mankind to exercise dominion over all creation:
Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. – Genesis 1:26-27
Einwechter ignores this passage, however, I think it’s interesting to note that here, the first time human authority is presented in the Bible, both the man and the woman share equally in it. The word ‘man’ that appears in this passage is the Hebrew word ‘adam’ (transliterated), which is a generic word for mankind. God states His intention that man, or mankind, should rule over all creation. To make it perfectly clear that God includes all people in this sweeping declaration of authority and not just males the passage ends with the description, “God created man [mankind] in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female he created them.” While it may not contain an explicit teaching on male and female authority, I would say that, if anything, it communicates the equality of the man and the woman, not the authority of the man over the woman.
According to Einwechter, the fact that Adam was created first is indicative of an implicit patriarchy, that it “establishes the positional authority of the man over the woman in regards to authority and leadership.” I beg to differ. The wording chosen by the author of Genesis himself in describing God’s sentiments on Adam’s lonely state in Genesis 2:18 communicates exactly the opposite. God asserts that,
“It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him."
Mr. Einwechter places the emphasis of this passage on the “for him,” there is a sense of ownership laid over the statement. However, God’s expressed purpose for creating a helper for Adam was so that he wouldn’t be lonely; that he should have someone else with him to share in his work.
Additionally, many Bibles include a footnote next to the word ‘suitable’ which reads “Lit. Corresponding to.” All the Jewish scholarship that I could find agree that the literal rendering of the text using the words ‘corresponding to’ instead of ‘suitable for,’ communicates God’s intention to create a helper for Adam who is completely his equal (see here for example). Eve was not merely Adam’s assistant in the garden, she complimented him and was his companion, and shared equally in the authority God gave all mankind over His creation.
While I do believe that the Bible teaches that male headship in families and in the Church is desirable and normal, Einwechter’s claims that the creation order in Genesis establishes a universal positional authority of man over the woman reads too much into the passage. The words of God Himself communicate the equality of His male and female creations.