This is the seventh in a series of simulated interviews with the Apostle Paul taken from the position of what he might say if we could transport Paul from the New Testament account through a time tunnel into our present day.
Doug, a strong complementarian is questioning Paul on why the man alone brought sin into the world. Let’s listen in. (Links to the previous interviews are at the bottom of this post.)
Paul: Grace and peace brother Doug. Are you ready for a discussion on original sin?
Doug: I am very ready. You have been speaking about women’s equality in spiritual matters, but I think you are going to have problems being consistent because of the fact that the male who was the only one who brought sin into the world. Surely this proves that men are the only ones to lead in spiritual matters.
Paul: How do you connect spiritual privilege to males by the act of one man’s sin?
Doug: It is so clear. Eve sinned first but God credited only the male with bringing sin into the world. This proves the spiritual value of the male.
Paul: Hold on there Doug. It doesn’t prove the spiritual value of the male. It proves the spiritual value of the sin that Adam committed against God.
Doug: I don’t think so. Who did God come to first after they ate the fruit? This proves that the male had a higher place in God’s eyes as the federal head of the human race. R.C. Sproul says:
This view teaches that Adam acted as a representative of the entire human race…Adam was the first human being created. He stands at the head of the human race. He was placed in the garden to act not only for himself but for all of his future descendents. Just as a federal government has a chief spokesman who is the head of the nation, so Adam was the federal head of mankind.
I would think that if only Adam stood as the “head” of the human race and only Adam brought sin into the world even though Eve sinned first, then we can understand that God places a much higher worth on men as far as spiritual leadership goes.
Paul: Brother Doug, this is male pride, my friend. I used to be there myself before I came to Christ.
Doug: We are talking about a real scholar of the bible here. You aren’t saying that R.C. Sproul is wrong, are you?
Paul: Let’s test him by God’s word. The answer to the questions will determine the validity of the argument. Did Adam act as a representative for Eve when he made the choice to eat the fruit? When Adam fell did Eve fall too? Did Adam ever act as her representative after the fall? And lastly did Adam speak to God on Eve’s behalf?
Doug: Adam didn’t act as a representative for Eve when sin happened. But Eve sinned first. That was my point. Eve sinned first, yet Adam got blamed first and he alone brought sin into the world. That doesn’t make me guilty of male pride. That makes me faithful to the scriptures.
Paul: No it isn’t faithful to the scriptures at all. It is reading into the scriptures by your “male pride” glasses.
Doug: How can you dare talk to me that way?
Paul: I speak to what I know. I was the biggest sinner and part of that sin was the pride that I had as a male and as a Jew and as a Pharisee. We Pharisees were the very best at judging everyone else as lower than ourselves. I understand how you think, but you do not know the scriptures in this matter, neither do you know the justice and grace of God.
Doug: Did you come here to insult me today?
Paul: No. I came to speak into your life in an area that I know is a source of pride for you. You aren’t going to like what I have to say today, but I promise you if you listen to me with open ears, God can prick your heart with sorrow for an area of pride that has become a stumbling block for you.
Doug: I have listened to you so far, but today you are starting to tick me off.
Paul: Give me just today and if I haven’t made my point, then you don’t need to see my face again.
Doug: (mumbling to himself and shifting his weight from one foot to another in obvious discomfort) Okay, you have one chance to redeem yourself. What do you have to say?
Paul: The teaching that Adam acted in a representative fashion for all of humanity is not true. Eve is part of that humanity. Adam didn’t act as a representative for Eve. Adam didn’t taint her with his sin. Did God call Adam to account for Eve’s sin?
Doug: No, not at all. God approached both Adam and Eve and each one was called to account for what they did. But Adam must have been special because sin came into the world only through him. You are the one who wrote that in scripture!
Paul: Brother Doug, Adam was not special. Adam’s sin was special.
Doug: How could Adam’s sin have been any different than Eve’s sin? They both ate the fruit and they both broke God’s commandment.
Paul: It is time that we have a good look at the scriptures. Let’s look at what I wrote about Adam and Eve and also what God had to say about Adam’s sin. First of all let’s note that sin did indeed come through one man just as I wrote in Romans:
Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned–
When I wrote the book of Romans, I compared the first Adam who brought sin into the world and the last Adam who was Jesus Christ and who as the Mesasiah brought freedom from sin. I also made note that the sin of Adam was not like the sin of many others.
Romans 5:14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.
Yet Adam’s sin was like the sin of some. Those who dealt treacherously against God were likened to Adam.
Hosea 6:7 But like Adam they have transgressed the covenant; There they have dealt treacherously against Me.
God calls Adam’s sin a treacherous act. The Hebrew word means treacherous, unfaithful, deceitful. It isn’t the fact that Adam was male that caused God to call his act treacherous. It is what Adam did.
Doug: I really don’t see any difference between Adam’s sin and Eve’s sin. She wasn’t innocent in the fall.
Paul: Well, let us look at the scripture to see how God sees Eve’s sin as different from Adam’s sin. There are only two scriptures in the New Testament that refer to Eve and I wrote them both.
2 Corinthians 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.
The only two references to Eve are those that discuss deception. Do you see that Eve was the recipient of deception? Do you see that Eve was led astray from a simple and pure devotion to God?
Doug: Okay, I can grant that Eve was deceived, but I don’t see how deception is an excuse for sin.
Paul: It isn’t an excuse for sin, but it does show a difference in the heart attitude. God is the one who looks on the heart. It also provided an opportunity for God to step in and rescue. It is a God-ordained opportunity to give grace and mercy instead of condemnation.
Let me tell you my story. You see, brother Doug, I was working hard for God before I came to Christ. At least that is how I saw myself. No one came close to the works that I did for God. I was a Pharisee of Pharisees and I was doing everything right and “by the book”. I had a passion for God that was unmatched. In my passion I was on a mission to destroy all of God’s enemies especially those who were betraying God by following this man named Jesus. I fancied myself just like David who had a hatred for God’s enemies. David said:
Psalm 139:21 Do I not hate those who hate You, O LORD? And do I not loathe those who rise up against You?
Psalm 139:22 I hate them with the utmost hatred; They have become my enemies.
It wasn’t a pretty picture now that I look back on my actions. Look at what the book of Acts says about me as the persecutor of the church:
Acts 8:3 But Saul began ravaging the church, entering house after house, and dragging off men and women, he would put them in prison.
Acts 9:1 Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest,
Acts 9:2 and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.
I attacked the church believing that what I was doing was sanctioned by God and it was the right thing to do. I believed I was being faithful to Almighty God, the one I served. Nobody could stand in my way…but Jesus did. He turned my world upside down.
On that road to Damascus I met Him and my pride in my own self-righteousness was exposed. I came face to face with the realization that He was everything that I denied He was and because I came against His own people, the sheep of His pasture, He was the ultimate one that I was persecuting.
Acts 9:3 As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him;
Acts 9:4 and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”
Acts 9:5 And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting,
I was a broken man that day. I could not believe that I had been so blind. I came to faith in Christ that day understanding that the death Jesus experienced as a man was for me and my sin. When He forgave me, He changed my heart so that I no longer saw myself as a self-appointed watchman set up to defend God with my murderous actions. Instead I saw that I had been actually acting as a roadblock to God.
There I was on the road to Damascus, my mind filled with religious vengeance for Christians who I saw as God’s enemies and I was being exposed as a roadblock to God’s work! It broke my pride and it softened my heart. No longer did I hate the church. God in His wonderful grace and mercy set me up as the foremost apologist to the church and He explained to me why I found mercy.
1 Timothy 1:12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service,
1 Timothy 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;
I used the word “because” as it is a marker of causality. I received mercy because God was able to step into my insolent life as an aggressor against God, for the reason that I did my actions against God ignorantly and in unbelief. I did what I did against the church because I was deceived and I believed that what I was doing was a righteous and holy thing.
When I came to understand how fully I had been deceived, I received a heart of love for those who are also in the place of deception just like I was. Eve was like me in a lot of ways. She thought she knew all about God but she became completely deceived about God’s character and what her rights were. When she believed the lies that the serpent told her, she fell deeply into deception because of his craftiness. It was a treacherous act that the serpent did by deceiving Eve. And Eve wasn’t just a little deceived. She was fully deceived and in that state of deception she believed that she was doing what was right in offering her new-found truth to her husband. She gave of the fruit to him believing that she was helping him.
God is the one who looks at the heart and He alone decides who He will give mercy to. When Eve understood that she had been duped into eating the fruit, her eyes were opened. And when she confessed her sin to God, God gave her mercy and He brought grace through her.
Doug: What do you mean? How did God bring grace through Eve?
Paul: God gave the Messiah to mankind as an antidote for our sin. God also used the treacherous act against the first woman as an entrance to provide mercy for all of us. God brought the Savior through the very first deceived person. God brought grace through Eve alone. It was only her seed that would bring the Messiah. And it was only Adam who brought the curse into the world. Do you believe that God was unfair to differentiate between sin committed while blinded with deception and sin committed with full knowledge of the truth and with no blinding by deception?
Doug: But didn’t both of them receive the sentence of death?
Paul: God said that if they ate the fruit they would die. The result of eating the fruit brought death. However the punishment beyond death was different. Adam’s act of treachery brought a curse on the earth. The serpent’s deception caused the animals to be cursed and the man’s treachery caused the earth to be cursed. God said ‘because you did this, this result will occur’. But God did not bring an additional punishment from the woman’s sin. God did not identify a treachery on her part.
Doug: So what? So the woman sinned after she was deceived. This appears to be why you said that only men are to have the spiritual lead. Women are easily deceived.
Paul: There you go again with your male pride. It is not true that women are more easily deceived in spiritual matters. In fact most false teachers are men and most of these teachers have been deceived by others. But let’s not get off topic. Let’s finish the issue of accountability. Is it fair for God to put a curse onto the earth because of Adam’s treachery?
Doug: That doesn’t appear fair to me at all.
Paul: Remember that God created the animals from the ground and he created the garden of Eden out of the ground too. This special education should have made Adam a strong defender of God when the serpent came into the garden to deceive the woman and lie about God. Because of man’s deliberate treacherous act by staying silent when God’s woman was being deceived, God cursed the ground that should have been the best reason for Adam to fulfill his role as protector of the garden. Adam failed God and his failure caused God’s woman to remain in deception until she fell.
Is it fair for God to bring grace through the woman and then take back that grace and forbid all women after her from teaching?
Doug: God didn’t forbid all women from teaching women. He only forbid them from teaching men.
Paul: If this was true then God made a mistake. God should have allowed women to teach only men. If men are the designated spiritual leaders, and if all women are easily deceived, then their teaching gifts would only be safe by teaching men who by their spiritual privileged position would be able to correct her errors. It then would make sense that other women and children should not be taught be women since they too are easily deceived. In this view women could rightfully teach only men. But this is not what I taught and I have shown you what I taught in its complete context by showing you the inspired words and the inspired grammar. Now what are you going to do about it?
When you stop women from using their gifts for the benefit of the body of Jesus, you are operating in the natural and not in God’s way. When you stand in the way of women using their gifts for the benefit of men you are persecuting Jesus.
Doug: You are really ticking me off! You are making me responsible for a woman using her gift of teaching for men!
Paul: God does not hold Eve’s short time of deception against her. Why are you holding it against all women?
Doug: This is what I was taught and it seems right to me.
Paul: I believe that God sent me here to open your eyes. Brother Doug, you are no longer with an excuse. What is left is your pride that you have a privileged position because of your male parts. If you continue to accept and teach male supremacy when there is no spiritual supremacy allowing men alone to use their gifts of teaching, then you are not gathering with Jesus, you are scattering. Think about women who teach the bible to men. Are you trying to destroy these women as God’s enemies? What you are really doing is persecuting Jesus who gifted and called His women.
Doug: I do not want to hear what you have to say. Your words offend me and make me feel guilty before God.
Paul: Brother Doug, your heart is being pricked just as I knew it would. It may take some time before you are ready to lay down your privileged position and accept your responsibility for lifting your sisters in Christ up and not hindering them and not standing in their way as a roadblock for Jesus Himself. Think on this. Everything else I have to say will be less hurtful than today has been. Are you willing to think about what I have said to you? If not I won’t be back.
Stay tuned as we discover whether Doug is open to hear more. Thoughts? Encouraging words for Doug??
(The first interview with the Apostle Paul and Doug is located here. The second interview is here. The third interview is here. The fourth interview is here. The fifth interview is here. The sixth interview is here.) Part eight is located here.