Over on Dalrock’s most recent post Novaseeker left an excellent comment which I thought was worth repeating in full. Before doing so, I think a little context might be in order:
Now the serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons.
8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of thee in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent beguiled me, and I ate.” 14 The Lord God said to the serpent,
“Because you have done this,
cursed are you above all cattle,
and above all wild animals;
upon your belly you shall go,
and dust you shall eat
all the days of your life.
15 I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your seed and her seed;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.”
16 To the woman he said,
“I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing;
in pain you shall bring forth children,
yet your desire shall be for your husband,
and he shall rule over you.”
17 And to Adam he said,
“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife,
and have eaten of the tree
of which I commanded you,
‘You shall not eat of it,’
cursed is the ground because of you;
in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth to you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
19 In the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.”
This is the story of the Fall, and the perfect place to introduce Novaseeker’s comment:
The fundamental problem that underlies all of this nonsense teaching is the premise that women, by default, are moral and good unless somehow corrupted by a failure of proper male leadership.
This stems from an improper, and that’s being charitable, reading of Genesis 3. The problematic reading in question is that Eve sins in Genesis 3 only because Adam was failing to exercise proper headship over her, and that if he had been, she would not have sinned, so in a sense her sin is less real, or at the very least, derivative from, Adam’s failure to supervise/lead her properly. This reading really refuses to take the text at its own word (and God at His own word as He speaks in the text). Adam does sin by listening to his wife and eating of the apple, breaking the commandment – God is clear enough about that. But nothing is said of Adam’s culpability for Eve’s sin by God here — not one word. In Genesis 3: 14-19, God is remarkably clear about what was Adam’s sin in 3:17, and it consisted in (1) listening to his wife’s suggestion that he eat the apple and (2) actually doing so in violation of the commandment. So, yes, by listening to his wife, Adam failed to exercise moral agency over his own actions, and that is a part of his sin, together with the actual breaking of the commandment concerning eating of the fruit of the tree.
But this sin — his “listening to his wife” — has nothing to do with Eve’s own sin, as we see in 3:6. The sequence is clear — Eve partakes of the apple, finds it good tasting, and then gives some to Adam to eat and he takes it and eats — his “listening to his wife” and eating of the fruit both take place *after* Eve has already eaten of the tree, and therefore after her sin has already occurred. Eve’s sin here is portrayed in 3:6, and also by God in 3: 14-19, as being independent of Adam’s two sins, and is separately called out and punished by God in itself, and for its own sake. This makes sense given how the events are timed, sequentially, in 3:6.
The rest of the argument is extra-textual it seems to me (or at least extraneous to the specific narrative of these events in Gen 3 — other texts that are extrinsic to the narrative tend to be bought in to buttress the argument). It runs something along the lines of “well, Adam was tasked with being Eve’s steward, and failed at that, so he’s responsible for her sin, too” — which is an interesting argument, because God Himself fails to mention this sin when he rebukes Adam in Gen 3:17, while otherwise being quite specific in calling out the sins Adam committed (listening to his wife rather than following God’s commandment). If Adam’s sin had really been failing to exercise proper stewardship over Eve, and therefore bearing responsibility for her sin as was as his own, it seems extraordinarily unlikely that God would have overlooked this in His rebuke of Adam in 3:17, yet this is the precise argument that is often made in support of the idea that Eve wasn’t really responsible for her own sin, but Adam was.
This isn’t merely academic. The issue goes to the root of how some (many?) churches today are teaching about men and women and male/female relationships. A proper reading of Genesis 3 precludes any notion of women being innately good and virtuous unless corrupted by men. So Genesis 3 must be read in a very specific, and odd in the sense of being extrinsic to the actual narrative itself, way in order to support the idea that all corruption comes from men and women are innately virtuous, or at least will continue to be so unless corrupted by men’s evil.
When the actual narrative itself is read, the sequencing and delineation of the sins *is* instructive to male/female relations, but it isn’t the message that much of the contemporary church wants to hear.
It is this: women are somewhat more easily subject to demonic temptation than men are, and will tend to give in to that temptation, whereas men are subject to being morally weak in the presence of women and female suggestion, such that they will prefer honoring that to keeping God’s laws — and that therefore the way the demons will seek to corrupt men is by corrupting the women first, and then using men’s natural predisposition to please women against them by making them choose between that and obeying God, knowing full well that many (most?) men will fail and become corrupted themselves in that process. That is the story of Genesis 3, full stop. It’s also exactly what is happening in the contemporary culture, and the contemporary church. Almost to the tee, actually. And yet this is precisely the message that the church by and large refuses to take from the clear narrative of Genesis 3.
Novaseeker explains the situation far better than I could, and so I will leave his words to stand as they are. What I would like to explore, however, is a concept that he touches on. Specifically, I am curious about this shifting of blame to a higher authority (I think the legal field calls this vicarious liability?). What I am curious about is whether there is any Scriptural support for the notion that the sins committed by a person under authority are transferred to the person in authority.
I know that my grasp of Scripture is still pretty shallow, but so far I haven’t found anything to support that argument. Do any of my readers know of any Scripture which would support, or while we are on the subject, refute, that kind of “moral vicarious liability?” If so, please leave the verses/passages in the comments below.