The Fall, Patriarchy, and Jesus’ Treatment of Women

Did you know that patriarchy — the social system in which men hold positions of dominance and privilege — is a result of the Fall of Man? It was never God’s intended design for relationships. Keep reading as we dive into a compelling exploration of how the events following Eden have influenced gender dynamics throughout history and how Jesus’ time on Earth modeled the intended relationship between man and woman. 

What Happened During the Fall in the Bible?

The Fall, as described in the Bible, specifically within the chapters of Genesis 1–3, narrates a pivotal moment in human history. Adam and Eve, the first humans created by God, disobeyed Him by eating fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which they were explicitly instructed to avoid. This act of rebellion, attributed to the temptation by a serpent (interpreted as Satan), marked the transition from a state of innocence and direct fellowship with God to one of sin and separation. 


The implications of this event were profound and far-reaching. It introduced sin into the human experience, leading to a cascade of consequences: suffering, mortality, and a fractured relationship with each other and the Creator. This foundational story encapsulates themes of temptation, disobedience, and the loss of paradise, setting the stage for the subsequent narrative of redemption and salvation that unfolds throughout the rest of the Bible.

Why Does Patriarchy Exist?

Most people think patriarchy is a natural outcome of biological differences or a result of historical necessities for survival and social organization. While those elements do play a role, the Fall of Man in the Garden of Eden was a catalyst for the patriarchal system.


God’s design was for men and women to have equal dominion on earth. But when sin entered the Garden, everything changed. “The loss of this joint dominion means that the human species is deficient in lacking the complementary gifts of men and women. Over time, relations between the sexes became tragically characterised by lust, domination, and the subordination of women. This was not the will of God, who intended that men and women should live in mutual and self-giving love for one another” (Jesus and Women, p. 3-4). 

The Evolution of Patriarchy

Understanding the roots of patriarchy requires a look at the Fall and into our evolutionary past, where certain aggressive and dominant behaviors were selected for survival advantages. “It is generally accepted by evolutionary biologists and psychologists that the evolution of patriarchy was driven mainly by sexual rather than natural selection” (Jesus and Women, p. 5). 


As an example, one of Charles Darwin’s arguments was that “our earliest human forebears would have been a gentler and more affectionate species while the powers of reason were new. Back then, our male forebears would have been guided more by affectionate instincts than by foresight and reason” (Jesus and Women, p. 7).


Darwin unknowingly touched upon a concept that mirrors a modern interpretation of the Fall’s effect on human nature. The spiritual misdemeanour of the first humans would have impacted on the course of evolution. Within the framework of evolution, behaviors often labeled as sinful by Christians may be traced back to the development of patriarchal systems. These systems evolved due to evolutionary pressures favoring aggression and dominance over more peaceful and cooperative traits.

How to Dismantle Patriarchy by Following the Teachings and Examples of Jesus

While the Fall and evolutionary biology developed patriarchy, it wasn’t God’s original plan. The actions and teachings of Jesus modeled the egalitarian relationship between men and women that was intended from the beginning. Jesus’ example serves as a blueprint for restoring the balance and harmony that was lost.

1. Jesus’ Interactions with Women in Public

Going against the societal norms of His time, Jesus freely engaged with women in public, treating them with respect and dignity. A notable example is His conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:7-26). Despite cultural taboos against speaking with a Samaritan and a woman, Jesus breaks these barriers, offering her “living water” and acknowledging her worth. This act subverts patriarchal norms by valuing women’s participation in theological discussions and recognizing their right to spiritual enlightenment.

2. Elevating the Status of Women Through Parables and Teachings

Jesus used parables and teachings that featured women in prominent roles, which was revolutionary. The parable of the lost coin (Luke 15:8-10), for instance, places a woman at the center of a spiritual lesson about value and redemption. By doing so, Jesus challenges the gender biases of His time, illustrating that the kingdom of God is inclusive of all, regardless of gender, thereby undermining the patriarchal notion that women are secondary or lesser beings.

3. Defending and Protecting Women

Jesus often stepped in to defend women from societal judgment and punishment, showcasing His radical departure from patriarchal values. The story of the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11) highlights this, as Jesus intervenes to prevent her stoning, emphasizing mercy and forgiveness over condemnation. This not only challenges the double standards applied to women but also calls into question the power structures that sought to control and punish women more harshly than men.

4. Including Women Among His Followers and Witnesses

Jesus welcomed women as disciples and witnesses to His life, death, and resurrection, a radical inclusion given the context of the times. Women like Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Susanna (Luke 8:1-3) were integral to Jesus’ ministry, providing support and witnessing crucial events. By appearing first to women after His resurrection (Matthew 28:1-10), Jesus affirms their role as credible witnesses, challenging the patriarchal dismissal of women’s testimonies and elevating their status within the community of believers.

5. Promoting Equality in Marriage and Relationships

Jesus addressed the issue of divorce in a way that protected the rights and dignity of women, challenging the patriarchal norms that allowed men to easily discard their wives (Matthew 19:3-9). By stating that marriage is a sacred union not to be dissolved casually and highlighting the equal accountability of men in upholding this covenant, Jesus advocates for a mutual, respectful partnership that dismantles the patriarchal idea of women as property or secondary partners in marriage.

Jesus is Our Path Toward Equality Between the Sexes

Through these actions and teachings, Jesus modeled a way of life that directly confronts and dismantles the foundations of patriarchy, showing us a path toward a more just society where men and women are valued equally. If you would like to dive deeper into these ideas, I encourage you to read my book, Jesus and Women. In it, I explore the radical ways in which Jesus interacted with women, challenging the societal norms of His time and setting a precedent for gender equality. 


Purchase your copy of Jesus and Women today!


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