Sunday, November 30, 2008

We are not guilty of Adam's transgression... but what about Eve's?

I just remembered something that used to really bother me a few years ago. It doesn't bother me anymore and I'll explain why at the end.

I was obsessed with the idea that women were being punished for Eve's transgression, despite the fact that we are told that we are not guilty of Adam's transgression. The statement about Adam's transgression, of course, is a rebuttal to the Catholic belief that we are all born sinful because we are stained by Adam's sin. In essence, that simply being human is a sin.

So what did I even mean by being guilty of Eve's transgression? Well, first we'll look at the Catholic belief about original sin. They baptise little newborns to cleanse them of the sin they have supposedly been born with. So, we have a situation where a person is naturally fallen by virtue of their identity and not their actions, and requires specific action to reverse this affect. Now let's look at women: God cursed Eve that she must be subject to her husband because of her disobedience. In essence, Eve sinned and was being punished. So why is it that the rest of womanhood has to be subjected to their husbands because of something Eve did? We aren't guilty of Adam's transgression, but it seems as though women were guilty of Eve's.

Now, you might say that Adam was cursed, too, and that we're all subject to those curses as well. Adam's curse being that he had to labour by the sweat of his brow for all the days of his life. However, I would argue that the consequences of Adam's actions are natural whereas the consequence of Eve's actions are arbitrary. Because Adam partook of the fruit, he could no longer dwell in the Garden of Eden, and things outside the Garden of Eden are a certain way. They just are. Trees don't bare fruit spontaneously so you have to work hard to feed yourself. Fact of life. Eve's curse, on the other hand, seems totally artificial. Women certainly don't have to be subjected to their husbands, but the Bible seems to advocate the subjugation of women based on the account of Eve's life. We are taught to punish women. Besides that, women had their share of the natural consequences in the childbirth department. I have two kids, I can attest to this.

So why am I guilty of Eve's sin? Why do I need to be punished for something she did? Well, I promised that at the end I'd explain why I don't feel this way anymore, and I will. Basically, I don't believe that women are subject to their husbands and I don't believe that the Church (at least not the one I belong to) advocates the subjugation of women.

So, basically, I don't believe that I do have Eve's curse. This leads me to something else - why not? Why does the Bible teach it if it's not true? Well, I do believe many, many women have been subjected to their husbands throughout history. Abuse and inequality caused by the subjugation of women are a curse in their own right, but I do believe that curses are meant to be fought against, not embraced. For instance, if the land I live on grows food relatively easily, I'm not going to go out of my way to make it otherwise. If my labour and delivery isn't painful enough, I don't feel the need to stab myself in the eye to make it worse. In fact, mankind has several innovations to reverse these affects. We have tractors, fertilizer, combines, and the epidural. No one (in their right mind) thinks that it's a sin to use these things as a means of reversing our curses. Women have been prone to marginalisation due to their weaker statures. In a world where might is right, women are, unfortunately, often abused. Besides all this, my religion clearly teaches, sometimes ad naseum, that men and women are equal, that men are not to subjugate their wives, and that women are not obligated to put up with subjugation.

Personally, I feel quite empowered. Aside from the fact that I'm an equal partner with my husband, I don't feel marginalised or abused by my religion either. Sometimes, people's perceptions of women are an obstacle to me, but this is not mandated by God, nor is it necessary, or even acceptable. Women are not inferior to men, nor must they relinquish control of their lives to men. Unfortunately, there exist some men who feel that they have to treat women unfairly. I mean obvious things like abuse and withholding rights, but also little things, like the attitudes people have.

For instance, there's this dumb guy that works at Home Depot who tries to talk me out of buying things because he doesn't think I know what I'm doing. I've run into him a few times and now I refuse to talk to him. Once he told me that I couldn't use a rope clamp to make a loop in some nylon braided rope. Like heck I can't! He told me to weave it (I think he meant splice *eyeroll*). Little does he know that a splice causes the rope to lose roughly 20% of its strength, whereas a clamp loses only 5-10%. Anyway, what does he think rope clamps are for if not for clamping rope?

Anyway... my conclusion is that we are NOT guilty of Eve's transgression, and are not obligated to put up with subjugation. We live in a fallen world, so abuse happens. Our purpose in life is not to accept bad things as they are, but to try to reverse them. That is how we find our humanity and our godliness: we right wrongs and try to make the world better.

5 comments:

  1. I've never had a problem with this, but I can understand how people would. It's a question of perspective in my mind. Yes, I have made a covenant to follow the council of my husband. BUT--And it is a big but--ONLY if he is living righteously. And to me, that's just a no brainer. Because if he's living righteously, then it'll be good advice/planning/whatever, and if I'm living righteously, then I'll agree with him anyway, you know? And if he's not living righteously, then I don't have to listen to him. And if I'm not, then I won't care anyway! LOL! ;)

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  2. I think women have a tremendous amount of authority over their husbands when you consider that it is the wife's job to determine if he is living according to God's will or not. He has absolutely no means of forcing her to do anything!

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  3. It seems kind of circular to me- I am to follow my husband, my husband is to follow God, and God has told us that we are equal partners (helpmeet and all), so if my husband is following God, he's going to work with me as equal partners in making decisions.

    The book Eve And The Choice Made In Eden was interesting to me- there's one part that talks about the word Command, and how in this usage it could mean (and I'm going from memory here) "a severe warning, possibly temporary in nature". It's an interesting book, I recommend it. It's by Beverly Campbell.

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  4. I just got the book down, and there's a great quote from John A Widtsoe in the front:

    In life all must choose at times. Sometimes, two possibilities are good; neither is evil. Usually, however, one is of greater import than the other. When in doubt, each must choose that which concerns the good of others-the greater law-rather than that which chiefly benefits ourselves-the lesser law. The greater must be chosen whether it be law or thing. That was the choice made in Eden.

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  5. I have that book, it's a real gooder!

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