Friday, May 11, 2007

Back to Genesis 3:16-24

So I intended to read up on some feminist theology before tackling this, but that just reeks of effort and I'm fluffy. I'm just going to go with my opinion.

We've already established that I am not someone who reads the Bible literally. I accept it as traditional sacred scripture which shows a spiritual path and within it's pages shows an evolution of ancient thought on God. In that context, I'm okay with cherubim and flaming swords. Whatever paradise we may have come from where everyone acted as they should, we can't go back to. That's a human fantasy, right? Things must have been perfect at one time, then bad people came along and fucked it all up. What ever happened to the good ol' days? A good man is hard to find.

Most of the ancient writers were men, and certainly the final editors were. Humans who, while noble in their intent to understand the Divine nature and the purpose and origin of humans, naturally got a few things wrong, naturally tried to line things up with what their ideas of right and wrong were at the time. Verse 16, the curse on Eve for the Fall is an ancient codification of women's role, and the "virtue" of obedience and submissiveness. It places women directly under men in the scheme of creation. The story is an illustration of the disruption of the natural order: Eve shouldn't be taking orders from the snake, she should be taking orders from Adam; Adam shouldn't be taking orders from Eve, he should be doing what God said.

And this whole passage is largely the crux of what Christian Fascism stands on. So it's right to discuss it. But as I said before, if you're addressing Christians, it's best to let Jesus do the talking. Jesus showed us evolving standards of decency. Genesis may have been about learning and following the rules, but Jesus broke the rules. Jesus showed us the rules could be wrong. Jesus showed us that they could be trumped by compassion and mercy. Don't work on the Sabbath? Jesus cured people on the Sabbath. It is in the New Testament that God acts as one who sides with the outcast: the hemorrhaging woman; the tax collector; the adultress; the child born in a stable. It is through Jesus that we all got the radical message of equality. As Paul said, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28) Jesus disrupted the old order of submit and obey. His order was based on compassion and mercy.

A few additional notes: A close reading shows it is not Adam who is cursed in verse 17, but rather the ground. And I've always found the vegetarian command interesting. Verse 21 is intended to show God caring for his people and providing for their needs.

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