Standing with Eve

In the summer of 2020, life as I knew it ceased to exist. I confess to being somewhat slow to understand the magnitude of racial injustice in our country, even though I live just a few zip codes over from the city in the US with the highest rates of incarceration for Black men in the entire country.

It wasn’t a problem for me, so it wasn’t a problem. (I know. I know.)

When the last breaths of George Floyd were taken in agonizing slowness, watched by many in real time thanks to social media, I took my first breath of awareness. I learned that what happened to Mr. Floyd was not an isolated incident. I took part in conversations and forums, opening my eyes, ears, and quite often, my mouth.

I had eaten from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and the taste was bitter on my tongue. Unlike the story of Eve in the Garden of Eden, I did not follow a crafty serpent to my eventual ousting from Paradise. I was ousted from a paradise that only existed in my head, a paradise that did not have room for the stories of others.

This week we are looking at Genesis 3:8-15. It’s not a story we are unfamiliar with. Eve is tempted by the serpent, eats the fruit she wasn’t supposed to, gives some to Adam, and gets them kicked out of Paradise. That’s the story in a nutshell, right?

Let’s look at it from another point of view.

Eve was curious. She and the serpent had been talking, and yes, he was crafty, but maybe just crafty enough to know what she was already thinking. “Did God really say…?”

She takes a bite, panics a bit, and goes to Adam. I say goes to Adam, because if he was standing there watching what she was about to do, he was complicit in their ousting, even as he passes the buck with his “This woman YOU gave me” excuse.

He has to take a bite, too, otherwise she will know things that he doesn’t. And love doesn’t let someone walk a hard road alone. Love learns what the other already knows. Love listens.

Maybe Eve’s biggest problem is that she wanted to know more.

If I’ve learned anything over these past couple of years, it’s that stories are being told all around me. While my interpretation of the Genesis story may not be completely accurate, I think it is always valuable to consider a well-known narrative from a different point of view. We open ourselves up to experiencing the familiar in a new way.

When Adam and Eve were officially out of the Garden, Adam named Eve. He could’ve named her Woman Who Caused Me Trouble, Woman Who Broke the Rules, or Eve, the OG Homewrecker. The Hebrew tradition is known for coming up with names that speak to the situation surrounding them. Jabez, anyone?

But he named her Eve, Mother of All Living Things. The story he is telling by this name is that she has strength, power, and dignity, that she is part of the ongoing work of creation.

We all are.

We are all part of this story, especially as women in ministry. We have a sacred duty to birth the truth, to give voice to the stories that need to be told. As practitioners of the Word, we need to cultivate the skills to listen deeper, to ask the questions that need, no…that are begging to be asked. The divisions in our country are getting deeper. We need to be willing to offer a new narrative, one that is inclusive of the experience of everyone not just the dominant voices.

Speaking up is hard work. We might earn a name or two. Eve was willing to risk it all by eating of the Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. And by doing so, she received her name. She is the One Who Births Life.

That is our name, too.

Debbie Giese is the Pastor of Community Baptist Church of Honey Creek in Wisconsin. She is finishing up her third year at Central Baptist Theological Seminary pursuing her Master of Divinity. Debbie lives with her husband, two teenage sons, a dog, and two guinea pigs.

Photo credit: Jennifer Brindley Portrait

This blog series made possible in part by a gift from Myers Park Baptist Church, Charlotte, NC.