Recently a woman on the internet caught me off guard and demanded a full explanation for why women might be, “more easily deceived.” It was somewhat comical because the question was so out of context and my brain was seeking meaning and simply failing to find it.
Paul’s words, she meant Paul’s words, probably also inspired by some false teaching and some personal offense around 1 Timothy 2:14, “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.”
I just want to hold people sometimes, to reassure them, to tell them it will be okay. Than I want to go stomp on a serpent’s head, crush whatever it was that has deceived them. Who took those beautiful words of scripture and made you think they mean God perceives you as a defective unit, lessor than, weak?
I could launch into an explanation of creation order, the context of what is being said and who is being spoken to. I could point out that men are deceived too, all throughout the bible. I could say yes, sin came into the world through a woman, but then again so did our Savior. I love the beauty of God’s continuity, His restoration.
While these things are all true, it’s the heat of the moment that I really want to speak to, the nature of the offense. Women are simply more vulnerable, our emotions more easy to exploit. That’s a good thing, that’s an amazing thing. We tend to be empathetic, more open-minded, more soft-hearted. That can make us experts at relationships, often good with children, and people who can see the depth and breadth of issues from multiple angles.
Here’s the problem however, it’s not really all about whether or not women are “more” easily deceived than men, it’s about how women can often see so clearly, it doesn’t even occur to us that we can be deceived at all. That is a weakness, a vulnerability. When we are unable to clearly see our own limitations, we’re vulnerable. Of course women can be deceived, we’re human. We can forget that sometimes.
I remember working with women trying to leave domestic violence situations and one of the hardest things to convey was the idea that, “you were deceived.” Women can have trouble accepting that, it forces us to confront our own vulnerability. There were many women who simply said, forget you, I’m not deceived, I’m just perceiving the nature of this relationship wrong. And they would go back, over and over again.
It’s hard when we rely so much on our instincts, feelings, perceptions as a form of protection, as way of navigating the world, because one error in judgment than becomes, there’s something wrong with my perceptions. That’s like suddenly taking away someone’s sight. Uh uh, there is no way my eyes could ever fail me…
And yet we know women are deceived all the time, more vulnerable to advertising, more prone to emotional exploitation, more likely to endure abuse, more prone to let someone’s words about scripture send us into a tailspin….
This is one of those times when the truth of Paul’s others beautiful words really apply, “…for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” Someone who is unaware or unwilling to admit they can be deceived, is vulnerable. Someone who knows it is far more likely to do things to protect themselves, like to consult with others or to look before you leap.
The Word can teach you things, wonderful things, but something that is so important to do is to listen to your response, to pay attention to what is going on within you as you are reading. If you are suddenly in a state of offense, chase that, explore it, see what God’s trying to say to you. Listen to the what and why of your emotional response. Don’t just reject scripture outright.
I want to end with 2 Corinthians 11:3, “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”
Don’t let your mind be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.