Here’s a great question for your next Bible Study class: Why do female witches outnumber male witches twenty to one?
King James didn’t think so. When he wasn’t overseeing the production of the Bible that bears his name, James was torturing women he believed were witches. James was obsessed with magic and witchcraft. He even wrote a book about it. In it he explains why most witches are women:
As that sex is frailer than man, it is easier for women to be entrapped in these snares of the Devil. This was proved to be true by the Serpent’s deceiving of Eve at the beginning. The devil has been friendlier with that sex ever since.
Ah yes. Sweet, gullible women. Was there a more ancient scapegoat?
When it came to women, King James was a total wingnut. Sadly, however, his sexist views were hardly unique. Adam blamed Eve for his sin in the Garden, and men have been blaming women ever since.
Tertullian, the father of Latin Christianity, had this to say about women:
You are the devil’s gateway… you are she who persuaded him whom the devil was not valiant enough to attack. You destroyed so easily God’s image, man. On account of your desert — that is, death — even the Son of God had to die.
In other words, ladies, you killed humanity and you killed Jesus. Nice one. I hope you’re happy.
Putting women in their place
Blaming and shaming women is an ancient and disgraceful pastime. One of the verses shamers like to quote is this one:
For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. (1 Timothy 2:13-14)
This verse has been used to keep women in their place and away from positions of influence. Whenever I say something like “women need to be encouraged to speak up in church” or “women make great leaders,” you can be sure someone will quote the scripture above and say something like this:
Eve was deceived which shows you that women are innately gullible. It’s not their fault, but they can’t be trusted. It’s unwise to allow women to preach and teach as they will lead others into deception. For their own well being, they need the firm hand of a man to guide and protect them.
I wish I was making this up. It’s nauseating to hear people demean women in this way. Their arguments are not only unscriptural, they make no sense. Consider these illogical conclusions:
Unlike Eve, Adam was not deceived. He sinned with his eyes wide open. Adam trusted the serpent; therefore men make better preachers.
If Eve was deceived, it was because she was badly trained by the only teacher around. Adam heard God’s warning, but he did such a poor job passing it on to his wife, that she was deceived by the serpent’s lies. Which goes to show that men make better preachers.
Or how about this nugget. Since women are more easily deceived, we should not let them teach anyone except children. They can’t teach men, but it’s perfectly fine for these dupes of the devil to run our crèches and children’s churches.
Makes perfect sense.
As you can see, a lot of rubbish has been drawn out of this verse. But what is Paul really saying in 1 Timothy 2? He’s saying women need to be taught, just like men need to be taught.
Paul lived in a culture that placed little value on educating women. This was not good. Like Jesus, Paul believed the daughters of Eve should have the same learning opportunities as the sons of Adam. “Let a woman learn” (1 Tim. 2:11).
But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough. (2 Cor. 11:3-4)
Paul is not saying women are inferior to men; he’s saying, don’t neglect to train the women. Adam neglected to teach Eve and as a result she fell into deception. We ALL need to know what God has said lest we be deceived by another Jesus or a different gospel.
But wait, there’s more
It’s likely that Paul was also addressing some Gnostic teachings that had surfaced in Ephesus.
Gnosticism was a mish-mash of rambling heresies that have largely been lost to history. We don’t know exactly what was being taught, but given the local culture, it’s a fair bet there were some who believed that Eve or some Artemis-like mother-goddess figure had created Adam, or that Eve had been the smart one for pursuing knowledge from the forbidden tree while Adam had been deceived into ignorance. Paul wrote to set the record straight.
Gnostics: “Eve was created first and was the wiser one.”
Paul: “No, Adam was created first; Eve was deceived.”
Which begs the question: If Eve was deceived into sinning, why did Adam do it?
Eve was duped, but Adam wasn’t. He knew full well there would be a consequence to their rebellion, yet he partook anyway.
Why’d you eat the fruit Adam?
The Bible doesn’t tell us why Adam followed Eve into sin, so we can only speculate. Some say that wicked Eve pressured her reluctant husband into sinning. “Which goes to show you that women are basically witches and should not be allowed to lead men,” King James might have said.
I prefer Andrew Wommack’s take. He believes Adam followed Eve down the path of death because he loved her and could not bear to be separated from her. In doing this Adam modeled what Jesus would do for all of us.
Paul’s new ebook, From Athens to Aquinas, reveals how history’s most influential men have shaped our view of women. Philosophers and Church Fathers alike have promoted a patriarchal worldview at odds with God’s original plan for partnership. Understanding our ungodly heritage is the first step towards restoration. Available now on Patreon.