When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves… The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”… To the woman he said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food
until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”
Genesis 3: 6-7, 12-13a, 16-19
For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.
1 Corinthians 15: 21-22
There are those who argue that Eve is the source of sin. They say she tricked Adam into the first act of disobedience to God, causing what we call “the fall.” When this happened she introduced sin into the world and brought a curse down on herself as all her children, especially her female children. But if Christ is the new Adam who takes away the sins inherited from the first Adam, doesn’t that make Mary the new Eve through whom salvation comes in the same way that sin is thought to come through Eve? Just as Christ dispels the darkness and breaks the curse that binds mankind to their sins, doesn’t Mary also free her sisters and daughters from their own special oppression as well? Eve’s curse was pain in childbearing and painful subjection to her husband. Mary’s liberation is choosing to participate in this painful and dangerous work of childbearing in order to free her people, meaning both Jews and women.
Mary’s gift in agreeing to let her body become a vehicle for our salvation by becoming theotokos (Greek for “the mother of God”) is liberating on several levels. God gives her the option of refusing, showing how much God values her autonomy and intellect and emotions and personhood. She is a full human being who is capable of responding to God’s call with the gifts God has given her. God values her mind and her spirit by asking her to worship God by her assent before God asks her to worship God with her body as Christ’s mother. God could have chosen to become incarnate among these Daughters of Eve and Sons of Adam (as CS Lewis’ Narnians aptly call all human beings) in any manner God desired, and God desired to cooperate with a woman, a young one at that. It seems to me that all the traditional reasons some use to limit and subjugate women in the name of Eve and God begin to stumble and fall apart when they come up against Mary, a teenage girl who chooses civil disobedience (carrying a child out of wedlock, considered a crime that usually carried the death penalty) and a lifelong commitment to a child. What’s even more radical about this is that she makes that momentous decision on her own without any input from any other human being, including her legal guardians, her father or her fiancé Joseph.
Seems like a God who empowers women to me, a God whom we can address equally as Mother and Father, as Warrior and Comforter, as the God of Adam and the God of Eve.