Monday, April 28, 2014

CTNAHM-Obey Indeed? Part 3 (Women are Cursed-Twice!)

p 175-177

Hello, all. Thank you for your patience and support while I sorted out my personal life.
To recap the last few sections, Michael is talking about women obeying men. He shies away from the word "obey", and instead uses subjugation, servitude, and under authority. But he means the same thing.
   Today's section is all about the two-fold curse on women, thanks to Eve. Yes, ladies, you read that right. You've been cursed twice. Technically, I guess three times, since Michael is quick to point out how un-rational and over-emotional women are. Surely that's a curse, right?
Text is in purple.

Curse on ChildBearing
The curse on Eve was two-fold.
Genesis 3:16-Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. (Emphasis Michael's)
   I see we are already in for a terrific start...it's his first paragraph, and I'm already foaming at the mouth. One thing I'm curious about. Was there a time where childbirth wasn't painful? I've never had kids, but I've seen cows and cats and goats give birth, and they didn't seem like it was a walk in the park. Heck, I've read that men passing kidney stones is kind of as painful as childbirth, yet men weren't cursed, right? Well, cursed to lead, I guess. Cursed to be obeyed served.
For her disobedience God first cursed Eve with multiplying her sorrow through more frequent conceptions. Most mammals can conceive only once or twice a year, not every month as can the daughters of Eve. That is a Biblical doctrine not well received-or well known. And if we men had to go through it just once, we would agree that it is a curse.
   This has always bugged me. Because ONE lady disobeyed, every single woman after her would be cursed. How is that just or loving? That would be equivalent to me taking in a foster kid that stole from me, and calling every other kid that we would have a thief. What kind of Father (especially a perfect, omnipotent one) does that?
   I did a quick Google search on mammal estrous cycles and found this page. It's a Wikipedia article about the average cycle length of common mammals. And, unless I'm misunderstanding the article, it seems like most mammals have cycles ranging from 4 days (rats) to 23 days (donkey). Yes, some types of mammals are only in season once or twice a year, but it seems that a good majority have a lot shorter cycles than Michael thinks. Was there a goat-Eve that ate the fruit and was cursed? Because I watched my goat have kids and she seemed like she was in pain.
   Oh, and I always hate those little "If we men had to..." I grew up with this type of benevolent sexism. Women are wondrous and glorious because they can endure the pain of childbirth. I have no doubts that any creature that is required to bear its young comes equipped with physical and psychological goodies that help them get through the ordeal. I'm not downplaying labour, childbirth, or any of that. I'm just saying if men were to give birth, they would have the same tools to endure it that women do.
Frequent conceptions lead to more sorrow through more miscarriages, more stillborn babies, more sick and dying infants, and finally more sorrow from children going astray and disappointing by their sin and suffering. The greater emotional burden falls on women due to their created natures as nurturers.
   If only there were some type of miracle pill prevented frequent conception. Or some mystical place or person that helps people recover from sicknesses or disease. Yes, some children are miscarried, stillborn, or die in infacny. It's terrible and it happens. But, especially in this country, there are hospitals, doctors, clinics, and nurses that can help treat or prevent these things. Infant mortality rates went down considerably when more women gave birth in hospitals instead of their homes. Fewer children die from disease in countries where there is access to hospitals, doctors, and vaccines. While not cures for everything, modern medicine is not always the boogeyman people want to believe.
But Paul indicates a wonderful thing. The curse on childbearing is lifted if the wife and husband develop a relationship of faith, charity, holiness and sobriety.
1 Timothy 2:15-Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.
   Wait a tick. Wasn't the curse that childbearing will hurt and women will be have more frequent conceptions? Didn't Michael just say that? And now, suddenly a woman will be saved in that if she and her husband are good Christians? How is she saved? Will birth hurt less? Is she going to lose less children to disease or death? What's the yardstick to measure how faithful and charitable the couple becomes? Is more painful labour or miscarriage a sign that a woman isn't acting in holiness? There are so many questions that Michael doesn't answer. Ugh.
In a marriage where the wife does not do as did Eve in leading them into rebellion, and where the husband and wife continue in a state of faith, charity, holiness, and sobriety, a Christian couple will avoid the curse on childbirth. The promise is, "Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing." That word notwithstanding means "in spite of, even though, although, regardless of the curse, even though their is a curse in force it will not apply to a couple walking after the Spirit of God."
   Show of hands. Did that clarify things to anyone? Because I'm still as confused as ever. Sure, he defined a word, but he didn't explain or expand on the concept!
You might want to read the above section again. It will be long time before you again see it in print or hear it in a sermon. I wasn't born in Zion, but I can read.
   Congrats, Michael, on your literacy. I, personally, would be more impressed if your comprehension was of higher caliber, and your explanations were more succinct.

Cursed to Be Ruled
The second part of the curse on Eve is the subject at hand. For her sin of being easily deceived, Eve was cursed to be ruled by her husband.
Genesis 3:16-Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and they conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
   Even if someone takes this verse at face value, it doesn't say anywhere in this verse that women shall be in subjugation to all men, or that men, in general, have more authority than the woman. And yet, this is how it's acted out every day, in many cultures. I just don't get it.
It is most significant that the first mention in the Bible of Adam ruling over Eve comes after their fall as part of the curse. Just as Eve is cursed to be ruled, Adam is cursed to be the ruler. Which is the greater burden?
   Well, considering the verse is taken from chapter 3 of the first book of the Bible (and most of the first bit was taken up talking about creation), it's not like there was a lot of room to talk about Adam ruling Eve!
   And when it comes to what is worse: ruling or be ruled, I think that would depend greatly on the person being asked. For example, I HATE being under anyone. I most enjoy the jobs where I am either in charge, or in charge of myself. My husband, though, loves rules and guidelines. He's most happiest when he doesn't have to come up with the plan. This has nothing to do with our genders, it's more personality based. And yet, Michael doesn't allow that possibility at all. Just like the Mormons I grew up with, he believes that men are one way and women are another. Which is harmful to everyone.
It is absolutely true that Adam was first formed and then Eve, and by nature Eve is Adam's help meet. Adam is not Eve's help meet. But there is no indication that circumstances in a sinless world would have required Eve to submit to Adam; there would have been no need. When Eve was deceived and led her husband into sin, the dynamics of their relationship to God, to nature, and to each other changed.
   Then why, if there was no need for Eve to submit to Adam, was she a preprogrammed help meet from the get go? Doesn't saying that by nature Eve was Adam's help meet mean that even before the fall she was less than him? Because, despite the idea that "equal and opposite" gender roles create equality, it's not at all true. Look at a corporation. The CEO is the boss; he runs the place, has the ideas, comes up with the plan. The underlings carry out his plan. (Simplified version) It is impossible for these positions to be equal, because one will always be doing what the other wants. Same way as in complementarian relationships. The woman will never be equal to the man, because she has been told since birth that she is there to support, to uplift, and to serve. If it were an equal relationship, both parties would serve, support, uplift each other. The mental gymnastics people go through, though, to make this line of thinking possible is astounding.
When Eve was deceived and led her husband into sin, the dynamics of their relationship to God, to nature, and to each other changed. As the weaker vessel her desire would now be to her husband and he would rule over her-like it or not, for better or for worse. The curse as to ruling is still in place and conditions remain the same, with men ruling over their wives who otherwise would have been partners in paradise.
   Look! Right there! Michael admits that this isn't a partnership! His wording is far more telling than his prose. Look at how he describes women. Deceived, led into sin, weaker vessel. How do people believe this type of teaching is equality?? You can not have a ruler and a servant and call them equal. Yet Michael does, and often.
The curse lives. Look at Saudi Arabia, where a woman's testimony is worth half of a man's. Look at wife abuse in American and the entire western world.
   Look at this culture, where women are indoctrinated to have pregnancy after pregnancy, to submit to their husbands in every way, to ask their husbands for permission to do things, to ask his opinion before coming up with her own, where abuse goes unchecked...Really, Michael, if you're going to pull the "BIG BAD WORLD" card, you should start a bit closer to home.
It is the presence of sin that makes the Ten Commandments, government, capital punishment, and the hierarchy of power in the home necessary. Eve was not created to be under rule. She earned the curse of subjection.
   What about Adam's part? He said yes, too! Why isn't he held accountable? What about men that sin, or kill, or steal? I just don't get this. If it's the "presence of sin" that makes hierarchy in the home necessary, what about the sins of the man? Or do men not sin, because it's the woman's fault? And if Eve was created to be a help meet, even before all this sin nonsense, then how did she earn the "curse' of subjection? Isn't calling someone a help meet implying that they are there to serve?
   I just want to bang my head against a wall. I feel like I'm going in logic circles. Or Michael is...
The general subjugation of women is not due to the application of a religious precept, Christian, Muslim, or otherwise; it is inherent in all cultures in every century from the beginning of human history and down to the present. Women don't seem to like it, and men in general take advantage of it.
   I'm just done. I was going to go into detail about other cultures, eras, and peoples that had a matriarchal or egalitarian system, but I'm too irritated.
   What irritates me most about the last sentence, is that Michael doesn't suggest that men taking advantage of women is a problem. It's just something that's there, inherent in most men. But you know what's funny? People (in general) brought up to respect other people, regardless of gender are far less likely to take advantage of others. So perhaps it is more cultural than Michael wants to believe.
   Yet to admit that would mean that there's something wrong with his teachings. So I guess the easiest thing is to keep on preaching that women are weaker than men, and that men deserve to be served.

Ick.

9 comments:

  1. The way my church explains those verses are much more simple and much less weird. First, we view the stories prior to Abraham as being myths that teach us an important idea about how God and humans interact in the world. The big ideas are that God created us in his image and that we, as humans, are different from all other animals because we can understand and choose right from wrong.

    As a minor side point, we note that childbirth was so incredibly painful that the only sensible explanation was that it was a divine curse! Likewise, raising food using only manual labor with some livestock support was so physically brutal that the only explanation was a divine curse!

    Plus, the "and he will rule over you" I feel is better read in combination with the line about desire that precedes it. Before birth control, sexual activity lead to the danger and pain of pregnancy and birth for the woman, but not the man. The woman's sexual desire leads to pregnancy which many - although not all - cultures saw as an implantation of a baby from the man's sperm. So, the man's sperm 'ruled' the timing of pregnancy and childbirth - not the woman's entire life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That makes sense. Michael's explanation is so wackadoo that it's hard to imagine people coming to him for advice. :/

      Delete
  2. Well, I'll be damned. I learned something new thanks to Michael's book. Not in his book, mind you.

    I grew up in the country, have milked cows and consider myself otherwise 'in the know' when it comes to farm life. But I didn't know there's a difference between menstrual and estrous cycles. Although there seems to be some debate over exactly where estrous ends and menstrual begins, there also seems to be a general consensus that only primates menstruate. So I wonder what Michael would make of that. Also: pretty much everyone else translates 'conception' as 'pregnancy', rendering moot his whole thing about Eve's period.

    One more new thing I learned: I had heard of the 'woman's curse' before, but I thought it was more like dark humor - just one more thing women had to deal with. Never before this book had I heard that Eve's curse included more frequent cycles. And I'm a little unclear about why it's such a bad thing. Just because humans have more frequent cycles than *some* animals that doesn't mean they crank out more offspring. If you want to be particularly insensitive, you could say that for most of human history women were as likely to die as give birth successfully. And, while no expert, I believe it's somewhat difficult for a woman to become pregnant when she's already with child. Would Michael acknowledge that there is an upper limit to the number of children a particular individual can crank out in her childbearing years if she's pregnant 3/4 of the time? The notion that more cycles=more children=more heartbreak also has an upper limit, then, and I'll stop there because I can't even make enough sense of his argument to try and rebut it.

    To carry his understanding of scripture to the extreme: if god really wanted to torture women, why not go all the way and make humans produce litters?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That was my thinking, as well! Sure, women can have more fertile times, but rarely does the number of offspring go beyond three at a time.
      I think Michael's grasp of science is tenuous at best. It's like he thinks of himself as a dispenser of country, folksy widsom. But in reality, he's making stuff up that suits his point.

      Delete
  3. I'm a Mormon. We don't believe that Eve was cursed for her 'sin', but rather that she and Adam were volunteers, who set God's plan in motion on Earth. We also believe that sin is not inheritable, that we are responsible for our own sins, not those of Adam and Eve.

    If you are interested, there's a good explanation here:

    https://www.lds.org/manual/doctrines-of-the-gospel-student-manual/chapter-8-the-fall?lang=eng

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, and this isn't an attempt to convert anyone. I'm a writer, and was doing research on arranged marriages for a Fantasy novel I am writing, when it stumbled across this.

      Wayne

      Delete
    2. Howdy! Good luck with your novel. However, I grew up Mormon and have no interest in returning. Thanks anyway!

      Delete
    3. Aletha,

      It's being fun. I really creating a culture from the ground up, with detailed background on why it works (most of which the reader will never see).

      Gathered from your title you had something to do with the church, so you'd know about Adam and Eve, but there are a lot of people out there who don't know why we think the way we do, so thought I'd mention it.

      Knowledge is power. I'm using information from my Jewish friends in the novel too, for a separate culture :)

      Wayne

      Delete
    4. I've always wanted to write a book, or a play, or something. But I certainly don't' have the stick-to-it-ness that's required. Mad props for you! :)

      Delete