I am just sneaking this in while the world hibernates. But if you’re awake and have a minute, Beth’s thoughts are worth your time.
Someone alerted me to a little castigation directed toward people like me- maybe me in particular. Maybe. Directed toward people who do not interpret Genesis 3:16 the way this guy does. People, okay women, who get uppity and speak up for abused women. The response from this guy is, very unfortunatley exactly what I expected- Call the women bitter and unsubmissive for standing up to the man bully and defending the abused woman.
But what thrilled me seriously to bits was one woman’s amazing response to his post. Here’s the thing about blogging: Sometimes you can get so busy trying to poke someone in the eye, bash them over the head with a two by four that you can forget other sweet people are reading the blog too. So here this gentleman was carefully attempting to skewer good honest folk like me for thinking that Genesis 3:16 meant “a woman will desire her husband,” you know, like the text says, and this kind woman, Beth, comes up with a polite and pointedly accurate response that just nails it.
Because just where do you begin to unravel sane logic. Maybe silence was best in this case. So here is her response. And you will notice at the end of her second comment that she feels the need to say she “is not a feminist.” Because if you are “for women” in ways that are not condoned in certain tight circles, you are immediately, unequivocally a shrieking feminist:
December 21, 2013 at 2:48 pm
In all humility, brother, can I suggest a different reading (interpretation) of that passage [Genesis 3:16]? it is one that made all the pieces fall into place for me, and I see the pattern everywhere. The great gulf between men and women caused by the fall. The reading I prefer (and as I understand is a sustainable reading both linguistically and theologically) “Her desire shall be towards her husband and he WILL LORD IT OVER HER.” I may have a biased sample, but I see more young christian women guilty of idolatry than unsubmissiveness. Disraeli’s wife said it outright “my husband is my God.” Husbands, however are not God, and so they will eventually turn out to be an inadequate model of God,with feet of clay. and this will be bitterly resented by the wife who has to come to terms with the real fact that her idol has fallen. Her husband cannot be her knight in shining armour, her God, fulfill all her needs, he is just a human being.
And the wife will have to learn to turn to God, who alone is worthy of worship, with her unconditional adoration. And she has to learn to forgive her husband for being a human being and for not being God. In the young stages of marriage, I see young women (at least the Godly women I know) not being unsubmissive but pushing the boundaries of co-dependency, letting their husbands do some pretty outrageous things without confronting them with it. ( meanwhile they do get petty and irritated by little things like who takes out the garbage and why he won’t take her out to eat, but those are small sins.)
To me, this is a more typical story, and the sort of story I hear often. Is she being unsubmissive ( a real question I welcome comment on)? Or is she fulfilling one of God’s roles for women. The word used for “helpmeet” in Genesis, is the same word used for the holy spirit. We women are not called to a menial sort of submission, nor are we called to nag. Somewhere in between, “how it was supposed to be” before the fall – we have insights and vision that our husbands, as far as I can tell, do not in fact have – good christians or not we all fall short.
In the balance of relationship, our greatest sorrow and dilemma is that one day we wake up, realize we have given 180% to our husbands, given more than we really, healthily should have, and not only has he not noticed, considered it his due, and demanded more, in there-doing we have enabled him to get meaner and meaner (this goes even for the good christian faithful trying to walk with God guys) and Lord it over us more and more.
A righteous wife weeps to God, and works on setting the boundaries in the right places. it is not as easy as your blog makes it out to be. THIS is the cause of bitterness. Not that you are not doing “what we (women) want” whatever that means. We actually do not want to lord it over you, but are bitter because instead of loving us, sinners like we are sinners, you have chosen to Lord it over us instead. ( This is of course, no excuse for the before God.)What that love looks like is not containable in a few words about “wives be submissive”. And the “be submissive” is a compromise given that we are all sinners. At the very least, at the very last, in the end, our overall demeanor, your basic mindset towards our husband, when all else fails (just like your mindset towards governmental authority) is to be submissive (in so far as it is possible without denying God or doing damage to the loved one.) It may be the final strong-meat key to entering the kingdom for a man, when he realizes (or continually realizes) that he is a sinner, and has a sinful tendency to Lord it Over the gentle creature beside him.
Why then is she a virago? Shakespeare said it ”Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” This is also a sin. But it is not one sided. Tough row to hoe on both sides. Only God can keep a marriage going. Thanks for listening. Discussion welcome Dr. Mrs. Mommy Grandma Beth, almost 60 yrs old, Christian for 55 years, married for 39.
December 19, 2013 at 6:18 am
“This is not referring to a woman’s desire for moonlit walks on the beach with her baby, but rather a desire for control or mastery” — say what? / / / Every commentary I’ve seen (Calvin, Delitzsch, Phillips, Von Rad, etc.) interprets this as saying that the woman would desire to be subservient to the man, or would desire the man sexually (and hence would inevitably experience painful childbirth). This is perhaps more consistent with the use of the word תְּשׁוּקָה in Song of Songs 7:10, and with the context here. / / / Also, most modern translations translate Gen. 4:7 differently (e.g. ESV: “And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it”). / / / I’m not sure that your Biblical argument works here.
My understanding is that there is a split in the ancient Jewish interpretation of this passage, with the Babylonian Talmud suggesting the reading Calvin et al used, and (is it the Askenazi traditions?) preferring the interpretation I cite. Calvin was a great man, and what the church needed at the time – a faithful legal mind to help develop civil rules at the point where church authority (the only real authority to that point, canon law was IT) and he did a good job doing that.
But a good juridical mind is a mind that sees things in black and white. It is of note to me that he never (Like Martin Luther) married a wife who could give him a run for his money. He married young uneducated girls, who couldn’t compete with him in intellect. (which is by no means wrong in itself). I think because of this, the Calvinist tradition (with seeds of sin it it like all traditions from man, however good) has lost enormously.
What would a woman of the intellectual stature of Calvin have said/preached/influenced? We will never know, but I personally do not think we would have ”calvinism” as an “ism” in the same form we have it today. For this reason alone I strongly prefer the teachings of Martin Luther to that of Calvin. Reason alone, however good, won’t get us there.