Eve’s identity was defined by her relationship to God, her relationship with her husband, her role as mother, her fall into sin, and her ultimate redemption. While the lives of individual women vary, and there are further aspects of female identity revealed in scripture, these are important things to remember when we consider the purpose of women in this world.
Within the early verses of Genesis, we find not only the source of the universe but also the source of every woman’s identity. The story of our first mother, Eve, has much to tell us about the purpose of women on this earth.
1. Imago Dei
The first piece of Eve’s identity is the fact that she was made in the image of God. “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (1:27) Here the scripture refers to an image borne by the entire human race and emphasizes that it is shown forth equally in both sexes. This is the foundation of a woman’s identity: her connection with God, her Creator.
The next piece of Eve’s identity is revealed in the narrative of her individual creation. “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.’” (2:18) The Hebrew word ezer, translated here as “helper”, indicates that a woman’s relationship to a man is one of vital significance in which she supports and complements him. It does not imply inferiority in rank or value, but is an entirely godly characteristic. Eve’s intimate connection with her husband and ontological equality is emphasized in Adam’s words:
“This is now bone of my bones,
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.” (2:23)
There was certainly an order to Adam and Eve’s marriage, as demonstrated by the fact that Adam served as the federal head for humanity. Federal headship was part of Adam’s individual identity, but it did nothing to detract from the special identity given to Eve.
Unfortunately, Eve’s identity was negatively affected when she was deceived by the serpent and sinned against God. She attempted to seize an identity for herself in which she would be “like God, knowing good and evil”. (3:5) Perhaps without realizing it, she had committed the original sin of attempting to be equal with God. Instead of gaining the identity she hoped for, she became a sinner. This brought a curse upon her and all her female descendants.