Adam's sin imputed to Eve?

Adam's sin imputed to Eve?

Cheryl Schatz Adam's sin 4


One of the most bizarre teachings of CBMW is the one taught in Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood in chapter 3 written by Raymond C. Ortlund Jr.  Here Mr. Ortlund states that God pronounced the death sentence on Adam alone so that Eve died not because she ate of the forbidden fruit.  According to Ortlund she died because of Adam’s sin.  On page 110, Mr. Ortlund writes:

The fourth point here is that God told Adam alone that he would die.  But Eve died, too.  Why then did God pronounce the death sentence on Adam alone?  Because, as the head goes, so goes the member. [emphasis mine]

The view that Eve died because Adam sinned is also picked up by Les Feldick an Oklahoma farmer turned bible teacher who takes the “Federal Headship” doctrine to its logical conclusion.

Now we have to understand that Eve was in Adam!  Also because even though God didn’t put the curse on Eve for eating from the tree, yet she inherited that sin nature just like every other person since, through Adam. [emphasis mine]

Where does the scripture say that Eve died because of Adam’s sin?  Where does the bible say that Eve inherited a sin nature from Adam? This is pure fiction.  God created Eve from a part of Adam that Adam identified as his own “flesh and bone” and this “flesh and bone” was taken from Adam before Adam sinned.  The rest of us were in Adam when Adam sinned.  Because of Adam we all die.  In contrast to the rest of us who were in Adam when he sinned, Eve was not in Adam when he sinned.  She did not receive death or a sin nature because of Adam.  The bible says no such a thing.

This is one of the very basics of Genesis that CBMW gets wrong.  This wrong doctrine allows them to go off in the very basics of scripture and this corrupts what is built on that foundation.  If one attributes Adam’s sin to Eve then the Messiah would not be able to be born from a virgin because if Adam’s sin nature is applied to Eve, then Christ would have been tainted.  But we know that this didn’t happen.  Scripture never once implies that Eve inherited sin from a “Federal head”.  While Adam passed the consequences of  sin on to all of his progeny, thus becoming the father of the dying, Eve became the mother of the living by not passing on death to her progeny.  Adam rightly called her “Eve, the mother of all living”.  Eve was not one of those who inherited sin through Adam because it was impossible for Adam to pass on the effects of his treacherous act to either Eve or Jesus.  For a graphic post of why it was necessary for Eve to have been created from Adam before he sinned see Adam as head of the family.

Ortlund also claims that Adam had a rule over his wife that Eve somehow usurped when she ate the fruit and as a punishment for her usurption, it was determined that she would be locked in a battle over the right to be the “head”.  On page 109 of Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood he says:

Just as sin’s desire is to have its way with Cain, God gives the woman up to a desire to have her way with her husband.  Because she usurped his headship in the temptation, God hands her over to the misery of competition with her rightful head.  This is justice, a measure-for-measure response to her sin.

This is simply not true and Ortlund is reading into the text.  There is not even one charge in scripture that Eve “usurped” Adam’s “headship”.  If it was true that Eve did such a wicked deed as taking away what rightfully belonged only to Adam, then why did neither Adam nor God charge Eve with this sin?  And where does it say that Eve was handed over to the “misery of competition”?  Ortlund reads into the passage so that he even fabricates a command for Adam.

First, God may be saying, “You will have a desire, Eve.  You will want to control your husband.  But he must not allow you to have your way with him.  He must rule over you.”

If this is the sense, then God is requiring the man to act as the head God made him to be, rather than knuckle under to ungodly pressure from his wife.  Accordingly, 3:16b should be rendered: “Your desire will be for your husband, but he must rule over you.” [emphasis is mine]

If God were indeed requiring Adam to act a certain way (by commanding Adam to rule over his wife) and demanding that he “not allow” a woman to make her own spiritual decisions (like Eve did), where is this command?  God had no words of  command for Adam concerning Eve.  Instead God provided Eve with a glimpse into her life outside the garden.  God’s words are a prophesy about the future, concerning what she will do (desire her husband) and what her husband will do (he will rule over her) and the words cannot be taken as a command to Adam.  If they were a command to Adam, God made a huge mistake by giving the command to the wrong person.  God should have commanded Eve to obey her husband and he should have commanded Adam to rule over his wife if the hierarchical  interpretation is correct.  But God did not do that.  Even though God warned Eve about the hard life she would have with Adam, she left the garden willingly with her husband because she desired to be with him just as God predicted she would.

Ortlund leaves with the trump card of male domination.

Second, God may be saying, “You will have a desire, Eve.  You will want to control your husband.  But he will not allow you to have your way with him.  He will rule over you.”  If this is the true sense, then, in giving the woman up to her insubordinate desire, God is penalizing her with domination by her husband…The word “ule” would now be construed as the exercise of ungodly domination.  As the woman competes with  the man, the man for his part, always holds the trump card of male domination to “put her in her place”. [my emphasis]

God’s words throughout scripture are not to “put the woman in her place”.  The one who interprets the scripture like this appears to have a spirit of male pride. It wasn’t God who punished the woman with male domination.  He didn’t say “Because you ate the fruit, I am going to command the man to dominate you.”  God revealed what the man is the one who is going act out his sinful nature.  In his rebellion against God he will hurt the very one that God gave to be with him and instead of treating her as an equal ruler of the world, he will dominate her and “put the woman in her place” underneath him instead of by his side.

When a biblical view like patriarchy is dependent on the distortion of the text, its foundation is shaky and what is built upon it cannot be God’s design.  Instead of God’s way, a male domination will be man’s way and the enemy of our souls will use man’s natural tendency in order to steal, kill and destroy the Spirit’s calling within godly Christian women.

When godly men act in obedience to God’s Holy Spirit, they never act out with male domination.  God’s way is a sacrificial love of the man for the woman.  It is a sacrificial love that will lift his wife up just like Jesus did for his own bride.

22 thoughts on “Adam's sin imputed to Eve?

  1. I have Ortlund’s chapter in CBMW’s book so marked up from the errors, that it will be impossible for me to address them all in this format. Unfortunately his elevation of male pride comes through quite loud in his writing.

    The issue of “Federal headship” of Adam has major problems when one considers Eve. There is no basis in the bible for a view that Adam’s sin was put onto his wife and she died because of his sin. It becomes clear when one considers the question about what would have happened if Adam had sinned but Eve had not sinned? According to the “Federal headship” doctrine, Eve still would have died because Adam’s sin would have been charged to her. But try to find justification for this teaching in scripture and you come up with nothing at all. It is a doctrine that is forced onto scripture because it fails the test with Eve. Rather than “Federal headship” one should just accept that the bible says that all of us were “in” Adam when he sinned. Eve was not “in” Adam when he sinned.

  2. I’m doing that ‘AFLAC duck talking to Yogi Berra’ head shake* when reading Ortlund. Let me see if I get this right. On the one hand he says that Eve really didn’t sin at all, it was Adam. On the other hand he is saying that Eve did sin by usurping Adam’s headship. How can Eve sinfully usurp Adam’s headship with the sin nature he gave her when she does it before he commits his sin? Arrrggghhh! Am I properly interpreting Ortlund’s chicken and egg paradox or have I shaken my head too much to grasp this?

    *The reference is to a commercial where the AFLAC duck listens in on a conversation with Yogi Berra, who, for those who are not sports literate, has spoken some classically insane lines like “cash is as good as money”. It is a very funny commercial. For the uninformed – youtube it.

  3. Because of Adam’s sin, we all die. No one is exempt. Right? All people after Adam and Eve die because of Adam’s sin. BUT, how does Ortlund explain that Messiah could come through a woman? He doesn’t, does he?

  4. ‘The fourth point here is that God told Adam alone that he would die. But Eve died, too. Why then did God pronounce the death sentence on Adam alone? Because, as the head goes, so goes the member. [emphasis mine]’

    I think that his eyes are not on the scriptures close enough when he says ‘God told Adam alone that he would die’. Just ask Eve! LOL!

    Gen 3
    2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 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.’ ”

    It’s right there as ‘you’ in the Hebrew is plural. God said that they will die according to Eve’s testimony of God’s word.

    Otlund needs to listen to a woman more often! lol!

  5. I’m sure you’ve all seen this joke, but it’s so very true.

    The husband had just finished reading a new book titled, “You Can Be the Man of Your House!” He stormed into the kitchen and walked directly up to his wife.

    Pointing a finger in her face, he said sternly, “From now on, you need to know that I am the man of this house and my word is law! You will prepare me a gourmet meal tonight, and when I’m finished eating my meal, you will serve me a sumptuous dessert. After dinner you are going to draw me a bath so I can relax. You will wash my back and towel me dry and bring me my robe. Then you will massage my feet and hands.
    Then after that’s done, guess who’s going to dress me and comb my hair?”

    His wife replied, “The funeral director.”

  6. Hey!

    I am bigger than you and I can read the Bible so I get privileges!

    How come some object? They are just being rebels! 🙂

  7. Cheryl,
    As I was reading this post and that passage in Genesis, it really struck me how that might have felt to be Eve in that situation. Thinking on how God was telling Eve and Adam what life was going to be like outside of the Garden, I could imagine Eve with tears in her eyes, weeping at the enormity of the consequences of her actions. Adam may have been similarly affected, and acted in a self-preservation kind of way, I don’t know, but the loss they suffered in their relationship was enormous. They aren’t mythical-type humans; they were a real husband and wife. I’m just starting to see from these studies how men and women really do respond to each other, when we’re not “one-anothering” (Eph. 5) each other.

  8. Kathleen,
    It would have been a hard thing for Eve to hear especially since God told her that her special partner and mate would turn on her and treat her very badly. She didn’t even have any lady friends to confide in so I am sure that she felt very alone.

  9. It is one thing to disagree strongly with someone’s interpretation of the Bible. It is another to make pejorative and ignorant comments about someone not taking his “meds.” Those who have made such comments above ought to consider what they’re doing.

    Biblical interpretation aside, it might help to know that my parents (Ray Ortlund is my dad) have the healthiest, most loving marriage I have ever observed up close. I have the utmost respect and admiration for my dad.

    Dane Ortlund

  10. Dane,
    Thanks for popping in! I appreciate that you agree that Christians can strongly disagree with another Christian’s interpretation of the Scriptures. I also am sure that your Dad’s interpretation of scripture may not necessarily follow through in his marriage. In fact many complementarians live in egalitarian marriages. This has been documented even through complementarian sources.

    It would also be helpful for you to know that some take a bad interpretation seriously and the comments may reflect some of that. I try very hard not to moderate the comments here as that would come across as overly controlling. However I still appreciate your comments and thank you for your admiration of your Dad. I am sure that he has the same respect for you too.


  11. Everything makes sense here, Love the Topic. I have a few questons:

    We know Adam is going to act out his sin nature by ruling over Eve.The bigger picking on the smaller.

    But Eve sinned (Was Tricked), thus Sin & Death from eating from the tree of evil fell on “herself” “alone” and she too has a sin nature, right? She can’t pass the sin nature on is that correct, that comes from Adam? In other words Her Sin was just on Her, it affected Just Herself, where as Adam’s Sin affected himself and any Children (Us) that may come from him. Is this correct?

  12. Michael,

    It is correct that Eve does not pass on the sin nature. The sin nature comes from rebellion and deliberate sin and Eve did not have that. The consequences of her actions were what God told both of them – that they would die. But God further added to the consequences by pronouncing a curse on the earth because of Adam’s deliberate, willful, rebellious and treacherous act. No curse was placed on anything because of Eve having been deceived and so her seed will inherit no rebellion that is in all of us who are descendants of Adam.

  13. You answered this before but I can’t find my comment or your reply on my question, so here it is again, about eating from the Tree…

    Why didn’t her eyes open up first when she ate the fruit, was it because thay ate just seconds apart..then they both opened…please explain. Thanks Cheryl

  14. Michael,
    Just as poison that is eaten takes a while to get into our system passing through our systems, so too the forbidden fruit was to become an ingested poison and once it started to break down in their bodies, the results from eating the fruit were seen. I do not think that it was an instant thing just as eating poison isn’t usually an instant “death” either. Does this make sense?

  15. It makes sense thanks Cheryl. They ate just seconds apart from one another so they would both feel the effects together so to speak or as scripture states..Then the eyes of BOTH became open…..

  16. What is baffling to me, having read John Murray’s book The Imputation of Adam’s Sin, is how federal headship has stopped being a theory for how sin passes from one generation to another after Adam and Eve sinned (and correspodingly why Christ’s birth is unique) to a theology addressed with hiearchies in earthly relationships. Federal headship simply means that Adam as the first man made a decision that effected and affected the future of humanity. Since his wife sinned with him arguing that only Adam’s sin is imputed to future generations is splitting hairs. Even Murray assumed that a federal or representative imputation still worked through natural imputation. In other words, even if Adam’s status as representative meant his sin was imputed to future generations he still had to have children with Eve before that was going to happen.

    The usual explanation for the woman’s usurping role is in “because you have listened to your wife”. I find this argument dubious simply because the emphasis is not on Eve usurping her role but Adam heeding the voice of his wife rather than God’s warning. Both Adam and Eve attempt to pin the blame for their actions on another yet both are finally held responsible for their disobedience in eating the fruit. A lot of speculation about precisely how the man or woman sinned that expounds on gender roles seems wasteful to me because it finally is locating sin in some place other than ignoring God’s warning about eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

    Now I have heard men try to argue that the sin nature is not passed through the woman and in response to that I proposed the following scenario: human cloning is successfully obtained and a clone of a woman is developed who then undergoes a sex change. Does this man then have grounds to claim he was born without a sin nature? Would anyone buy that or would that seem like special pleading? Since Luke tells us Jesus was born of a virgin hamartology was concerned with explaining how and why it was necessary beyond the mystery of the incarnation (i.e. why for our sake it was necessary).

    I think federal headship is being conscripted by complementarians to solve a social and political problem the doctrine was never even designed to address. If the doctrine helps you understand why salvation is through Christ alone then you’re understanding the doctrine properly. If you employ the doctrine to establish a social or political agenda in the here and now then it smells like a bad kind of special pleading.

    Sorry if this is too long but the application of imputation in theology has been a hobby of mine and I have been disappointed by how doctrines related to it have been appropriated to deal with things it wasn’t designed to deal with.

  17. Hi Jeremiah,
    Welcome to my blog!

    You said:

    Both Adam and Eve attempt to pin the blame for their actions on another yet both are finally held responsible for their disobedience in eating the fruit. A lot of speculation about precisely how the man or woman sinned that expounds on gender roles seems wasteful to me because it finally is locating sin in some place other than ignoring God’s warning about eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

    While it is true that both Adam and Eve are ultimately responsible for the sin of eating the fruit, and both of them will die from eating that fruit, they are not held equally responsible. Only the man’s actions brings a curse. Eve’s does not.

    Paul picks up on this and deals with the issue around the intent of one’s heart. Eve was “led astray”:

    2 Cor 11:3 But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.

    ..while Adam’s action was treacherous (Hosea 6:7)

    Paul said that he received mercy, not because he did his bad deeds in full knowledge of what he was doing, but he received mercy because he did his actions ignorantly and in unbelief. This goes beyond merely locating sin by the action. It also takes into consideration also the condition of the heart. Of course only God is capable of this kind of judging as He alone is God who sees the heart.

    1 Tim 1:13 even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief;

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