Recently, I heard a pastor speak at a large Christian gathering. He included the story of Eve's creation in his sermon, starting with Adam looking amongst the animals for a suitable helper before falling asleep. When he woke up, the pastor explained, he saw a new creature that looked like him that was NAKED. And when the work 'naked' was yelled into the crowd by a supposed man of God, the listening Christians gave quite an enthusiastic response.
Well, most of them did. I was seated, my heart in my stomach, unable to articulate how I felt until describing the moment the next day to a friend who hadn't been there. With her, after hours of thought, I was finally able to explain how the illustration made me feel: degraded, disrespected, and angry.
Of course, I didn't want to be that hyper-sensitive woman who finds a flaw in everything men say. No one likes that woman. But my friend was willing to listen and encouraged that my feelings were valid as I better explained them.
There was the slight Biblical inaccuracy to deal with, since Eve's nakedness (and Adam's, which the pastor never mentioned) wasn't really important until after the fall. Their nakedness was an unashamed fact and a sign of their purity and innocence, since they were perfect at the time. Sex was a joyous gift and there was probably physical attraction, but an unclothed woman being presented to Adam by God wasn't a lustful, excited moment for him. In fact, the first thing Adam did wasn't celebrate her nakedness, but poetically describe her creation and name her.
Biblical inaccuracy is something that makes me uncomfortable, but I felt degraded, disrespected, and angry because of the pastor's delivery and the crowd's response. The pastor was excitedly communicating Eve's nakedness, but didn't mention that she wasn't made purely for sexual gratification. She was to be Adam's helper, the original word 'helper' translated from the Hebrew word that's transliterated 'ezer,' which is most often used in the Old Testament as God describing Himself aiding Israel in battle. When that went unmentioned, the pastor was telling me without words that my status as helper in the kingdom of God doesn't really matter. The attractiveness of my unclothed body does.
And the crowd's excitement at the emphasis on Eve's nakedness also communicated that as a woman, the most important thing about me is my body.
It's degrading to only be seen as a body. It's disrespectful to not be valued for what lies in my brain, heart, and soul. And I am angry that a Christian man and a Christian audience thought such a thing was okay and celebratory.
So stop emphasizing Eve's nakedness in your sermons and your books and anywhere else it may appear. Think for a moment about how you would feel if women excitedly cheered on the fact that Adam was naked when Even came into creation. Imagine if we mentioned nothing else about Adam's role. Who cares that Adam named the animals or was a leader or wanted a helpmate? He was naked! And maybe that's exciting for a minute because men and women think about sex differently, but in the end, you'd want to be known as more than a naked body.After all, you have so much more to offer. And so do we.