Purity Boys Take on Feminism

This essay — Feminism and Biblical Roles — is really something. These kids aren’t idiots, that’s for sure, but they do have a nasty little habit of shifting and re-defining reality in order to make it fit into their world view. Example: This paragraph, written under the heading “Feminism: A Predictable Movement”:

From a Christian perspective, the development of such a movement is entirely predictable. In the book of Genesis, chapter 3, verse 16, after sin enters the world for the first time, God says to the guilty Eve: “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”

SAT Question: In the context of that sentence, what does the word “desire” mean? Sexual desire? Desire to be his companion? Desire to be ruled by him? Desire to be his wife? Love?

No, silly rabbit, none of that would “prove” that the Bible predicted feminism. So let’s make something up:

This word “desire” is properly translated as, “a desire to conquer”, and implies that Eve would have a wrongful desire to usurp authority over her husband. Furthermore, the word “rule” as used in the phrase, “he shall rule over you,” is a strong term usually used to refer to monarchical governments and containing nuances of dictatorial or absolute, uncaring use of authority.


Yes, that crazy sinnin’ Eve had a desire to conquer her husband, and God preempted that by saying that he should rule over her. Really. That’s what happened, even if a simple reading of the passage says differently.

On the other side of the fence you have biblical teaching regarding man and woman. When God created mankind, He create both “male and female” in His image (Genesis 1:27).

As Dr. Wayne Grudem says, in his book Systematic Theology: “We are equally in God’s image, [therefore] men and women are equally important to God and equally valuable to him. [This] excludes all feelings of pride or inferiority and any idea that one sex is ‘better’ than the other.” This equality is both amazing and wonderful in that it sets Christianity apart from almost all religions, societies, and cultures.

However, the Bible clearly teaches fundamental differences in roles and authority. This is based on the parallels the Bible draws between the Divine Trinity and husband and wife. The Bible teaches that the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) share equal importance, personhood, and deity—and that they have distinct roles and functions which make them necessary, valuable, and complementary.

Similarly, the Bible teaches that man and woman are equal in importance, but have different responsibilities. Coming from a biblical perspective, equality finds its base in male and female, created in the image of God, who both fulfill necessary and complementary roles.

I love the “complementary roles” argument. Would this “separate but equal” ideal be an acceptable stance for any other group of people? If Brown v. Board of Education is any indication, no, it’s not.

The author of this piece is wise enough to not actually list what those roles are — because he knows that if he does, his argument goes straight to Hell. After all, the primary difference between Biblical manhood and womanhood is that the man has all the authority and leadership power, while the woman is supposed to listen to him, have children, and keep house. Religious fundamentalists love to pat the little ladies on the head by saying, “It’s the woman, who raises the children, who has the realpower in the family,” but that’s about as accurate as telling a servant that it’s really him, not the King, who has the authority because, if he really wanted to, he could poison the King’s food.

So which is better: feminism or the Bible? They are both concerned with equality between men and women, as well as with preventing harsh male dominance, yet both have chosen different means to reach those goals, which have led to very different results.

Especially today, feminism attempts to reach equality by abolishing all distinctions between man and woman, based on the assumption that to be equal is to be identical. The Bible, on the other hand, assumes equality from the very beginning and uses that equality as a guard against abuse either in the form of male dominance or female usurpation.

According to the Bible equality is inherent in our very nature as distinct male and female and each gender’s value is highlighted by the way their different, necessary, and complementary roles interact and overlap. However, the ultimate consequence of core feminist theory is a complete lack of distinction between genders, which, according to the economic rule of supply-and-demand does not increase the value of woman but rather decreases the value of both male and female.

Whoever taught this boy economics needs to be shot. Ditto with whoever taught him about feminism.

For the one millionth time, feminism never says that men and women are totally exactly the same and there are no differences. There are differences. But the vast majority of those differences are socialized, not natural, and are not significant enough to justify unequal legal and social treatment of women.

I also love the idea of “female usurpation.” What are we usurping? Why, male authority, of course! Feminism asks why men are handed authority as their birthright. We aren’t trying to take “their” authority — we’re pointing out that power isn’t inherently theirs.

The Bible predicts that if the feminist movement reaches equality, it will not stop there. Instead, woman will replace men as the dominators—and perhaps that is their true goal. But the feminist who is truly concerned about equality would do well to consider the biblical argument, which, when fully embraced, sidesteps both male dominance and female usurpation by emphasizing distinct roles—recognizing that both men and women are irreplaceable due to the parts they play.

I’d love to see where the Bible predicts this.

And no, it is not the goal of the feminist movement to dominate men the way that they’ve dominated women for the past few thousand years (although that would be a fair goal, given history). We just want all individual human beings to have a full array of human rights, and be able to be who and what they want to be, regardless of their gender.

It is much like a high school football team, in which both offense and defense are important and irreplaceable components for success. There is nothing more beautiful to watch than a team that has both functioning and flourishing in their roles. Roles, I might add, that are consistent yet flexible (i.e. the defense can score off an intercepted pass).

Sort of… except a more accurate comparison might be between the team captain and the water boy.

The key difference between feminism and the Bible is that feminism sees any such distinctions as negative whereas the Bible holds that true equality and joy in being male or female require these distinctions.

The Bible teaches that female usurpation and male dominance are the result of mankind’s fall into sin, but biblical manhood and womanhood are God’s cure for both evils. On the road of history mankind has fallen into both ditches, as predicted by Genesis 3:16, but true equality will only be found in the Bible’s teaching that man and woman are necessary because they’re complementary and equal because they’re different.

I ain’t buyin it. The Bible has been around for a pretty long time now. People have made attempts to live pretty closely to its ideals. And there hasn’t ever been a time when men and women were equal. The Biblical view has made a whole lot of people (especially women) completely miserable. I realize that women’s feelings aren’t of utmost importance to many Biblical dudes, but they do matter to people who care about human rights. And from that perspective, Biblical gender separatism has been a remarkable failure, and an abusive and discriminatory standard.


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53 comments for “Purity Boys Take on Feminism

  1. January 27, 2007 at 12:39 pm

    Clearly, the Purity Boys have never heard of Christians for Biblical Equality and their reading of the fall:

    The Bible teaches that the rulership of Adam over Eve resulted from the Fall and was therefore not a part of the original created order. Genesis 3:16 is a prediction of the effects of the Fall rather than a prescription of God’s ideal order.

    So, if you look at it this way, Christians should not view Adam and Eve after tha fall as the ideal of male-female relationships. Which makes a lot more sense to me.
    (but I’m a feminist bisexual pro-choice Catholic, what do I know compared to those Purity Boys? ;) )

  2. Becky
    January 27, 2007 at 12:47 pm

    Wow. I was especially struck by the interpretation of Eve’s desire — they do realize that the Bible wasn’t written in English, right? This looks like “close reading” gone terribly awry. I guess one can pull about any message out of the Bible if they stare at a few selections long enough and throw any sort of intellectual honesty out the window.

  3. FashionablyEvil
    January 27, 2007 at 1:07 pm

    Especially today, feminism attempts to reach equality by abolishing all distinctions between man and woman, based on the assumption that to be equal is to be identical.

    I’m sorry, but this just seems like a reformulation of Phyllis Schafly’s [spelled correctly?] line about how the ERA would result in unisex toilets. Can’t we get some new rhetoric? Or at least pretend to formulate some new ideas?

    Also, I’m with Becky: I don’t think you can play SAT Practice Test using a translation of a dead language.

  4. Anne
    January 27, 2007 at 1:07 pm

    Well said; great post.

  5. Mnemosyne
    January 27, 2007 at 1:07 pm

    “The Bible predicts that if the feminist movement reaches equality, it will not stop there. Instead, woman will replace men as the dominators—and perhaps that is their true goal.”

    I’d love a count of how many times the dominant group has declared that if blacks/Latinos/women/Asians/gays/whomever are given what they ask for, they will immediately start treating straight, white men the same nasty way that straight, white men have been treating blacks/Latinos/women/Asians/gays/whomever.

    Sounds like a guilty conscience to me.

  6. January 27, 2007 at 1:54 pm

    I love the way they use a half-assed, poorly understood economic slogan to prop up their half-assed, poorly understood Biblical sloganeering. One think that strikes me about the American wing-nut is his vulgarity. Crudely understood free market economics are almost as much of a Father figure/handy source for arguments from authority as the Bible or God. I remember a commenter at Feministing telling a story about how in high school they were given business cards saying they were abstaining until marriage that they were supposed to give to boys who wanted, as the commenter said, “teh sex” (I don’t remember if boys got them, too). The belief that business cards have some sort of magical anti-sex power or ability to command assent is almost touching. Almost.

    Meanwhile, you and zuzu, with your fearless descent or submersion into the dark, dank, malodorous and increasingly scary world of the wing-nutteria, are in danger of moving past the point of exploding the stereotype that women are timid and afeard of unpleasant things like spiders and half-mad douches and moving on to the point of reinforcing the stereotype of woman as masochists. You should write a post about a good bottle of wine or something just to break things up. We’re worried about your mental health if you keep this up.

  7. alex
    January 27, 2007 at 2:06 pm

    Hmm, now, I’m not the most pro-evangelical out there, but I did notice a positive statement in this particular essay

    “At its core, however, feminism seeks to promote equality and combat harsh male dominance, two necessary and worthy goals.”

    But, that doesn’t exactly press my button, considering they don’t see the contradiction set by their Genesis quote “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” , nor did they pick up on the “ some pigs are more equal than others” fallacy in their” Biblical Roles: Equal But Different” section.

    But hey,at least it was well written essay. (within the bondaries set by biblical quotation and gobbelsalian logic)

    (note: Alex’s anti-evangelical prejudices are a product of her Calvinist upbringing and do not reflect the views of http://feministe.us/blog/, it’s affiliates, sponsors, and or commenters)

  8. January 27, 2007 at 2:58 pm

    That’s what happened, even if a simple reading of the passage says differently.

    To be fair, this is because we read a translation. The word in Hebrew, in fact, carries neither sexual connotations nor the reading these nitwits are giving to it. It could actually mean both.

    Forgetting all of that, however, it does not seem surprising either way. If it’s sexual desire, this means, according to Yahweh, being a lesbian or anything other than heterosexual is disobeying God. If it’s desire for power, then trying to get out of one’s subjugated station is disobedience. This is obviously because men wrote the Bible. Gotta keep the wimminz in line and all.

  9. mustelid
    January 27, 2007 at 3:43 pm

    For those of you in the mood for some lowbrow humor, click on the link to the article. As you scroll down, look over to your right to see the Rebelution series. One subgroup: Do Hard Things :) Under this promising heading, there’s: Hard Things in Small Packages, You Can’t Fake Hard Things, and When You Fail At Hard Things. Now, I haven’t read any of this series, because it’s almost certainly something very different from what my skeevy little mind is envisioning.

    As for the essay at hand, bleah. I’m sick and tired of hearing that same old repackaged dreck, “Guys and gals are just different, no matter what those hairylegged manhaters would have you believe. You’ll never be as strong, brave, or rational as your menfolk, so let us protect you, and oh, gimme a beer on your way back to the kitchen, sweetie.”

    I dumped a guy with a very similar mindset about a year ago. Yes, a Nice Guy(tm). Funny story. He started out self-supporting, doing a good imitation of a female-friendly guy. After a long illness and a truly evil boss, Nice Guy(tm) became very focused on a quasiPagan flavor of “guys and gals are different”.

    He wanted to take his place as the Rightful Ruler of the house. Of course, there’s lotsa time to rule when you haven’t bothered to get a job. In the final edition of Nice Guy’s(tm) Great Plan, I was supposed to drop out of school, quit a job I liked, and move with him to a town where the job options were very limited. Especially for two people with no specialized skills, and no licenses. Oh, and then I was supposed to start popping out kids that we’d somehow be capable of supporting.

    To end this pathetic tale, I dumped his sorry ass, and stayed in both school and job. I’m living a comfy life, working towards my degree. Mr. Nice Guy’s(tm) living off Mommy, like the rugged manly man he is. As of one month ago, he still had no job.

    Sorry for the depressing rant. The point is, that’s my firsthand experience with the “separate but equal” gender bullshit. My only regret is wasting so much time in that kind of relationship.

  10. zuzu
    January 27, 2007 at 3:57 pm

    Forgetting all of that, however, it does not seem surprising either way. If it’s sexual desire, this means, according to Yahweh, being a lesbian or anything other than heterosexual is disobeying God.

    Well, even if you grant that, there’s no reason to believe that it applies to all men and all women. After all, Cain’s wife and the wife of the third son of Adam and Eve came from somewhere else; nobody said it had to apply to them.

  11. January 27, 2007 at 4:29 pm

    To be sure, if you’ve only created one man and one woman, they’d darn well better both heterosexually desire each other and be fruitful and multiply, if the project’s going to be kept going at all.

    At any rate, I go for the reading where the whole “rule over you” business is about how Adam’s and Eve’s relationship got twisted by the Fall, not God’s original plan for them.

  12. Frumious B
    January 27, 2007 at 5:19 pm

    the reading where the whole “rule over you” business is about how Adam’s and Eve’s relationship got twisted by the Fall, not God’s original plan for them.

    So when women transgress, we get a man to rule over us and set us straight. Not sure I like this version any better.

  13. January 27, 2007 at 5:51 pm

    So when women transgress, we get a man to rule over us and set us straight

    I read it as more of an unfortunate prediction of what the world is going to be like than a prescription of how things should be. But then, I’m not a fundamentalist with Issues.

  14. January 27, 2007 at 6:18 pm

    Typical Promise-Keepery desperation. They know Teh Womenz are getting out of hand…what with education, ability to work, and legal protection from getting assaulted (in principle). So they are trying to candy-coat the suddenly less-effective “God wants me to dominate ya’ll, cuz I gots me a penis” philosophy. Not only doing violence to any accepted translations (by actual scholars) of the bible, but to truth and common sense as well. And it’s STILL not working.

    As my mom likes to say, you can’t polish a turd. Give it up guys.

  15. January 27, 2007 at 6:27 pm

    Well, even if you grant that, there’s no reason to believe that it applies to all men and all women. After all, Cain’s wife and the wife of the third son of Adam and Eve came from somewhere else; nobody said it had to apply to them.

    Very true. In fact, even the Bible itself admits to the existence of other gods and other possible creations. Again, because it was written by men trying to explain away the Babylonian captivity.

  16. January 27, 2007 at 6:28 pm

    I’m delighted to see CBE linked in the very first comment! Awesome!

    The evangelical world is split between conservative “complementarians” (of whom these boys are a crass example) and more progressive “egalitarians”. We all have our proof texts and our arguments, and give us five minutes, and we’ll start arguing about koine Greek.

    I blogged a long time ago about how which bible version you use can dramatically impact your views.

  17. January 27, 2007 at 7:25 pm

    It’s not that the man is going to set Eve straight; it’s that struggle and domination, like shame and the need for clothing, are the consequence of their going astray. And God’s pointing this out. Eventually, though, Eve gets to crush the snake, which metaphorically points to a hope for an end to the curses (at least the ones on Adam and Eve – the snake doesn’t get any hope to look forward to).

  18. January 27, 2007 at 8:15 pm

    this is what i posted on their site:

    sorry. this was not a very well-researched piece, from a biblical-studies stand-point.
    the words in Gen 3:16 “your desire” (or translated as “your urge” by the NJPS) is found in the Hebrew original as “Teshukateikh.” this word has explicit connotations of sexual desire, not of political overthrow. Song of Songs (Canticle) 7:11 has “Ani L’Dodi V’Eilai TESHUKATO” (”I am for my beloved, and my DESIRED one is for me,” tran. my own).
    please do the philological reserch before you claim to know what the Bible is saying. I am a bible major, and it’s just insulting, especially when you use God’s word to do this.

    hope that helps.

  19. LiberalCatholicGirl
    January 27, 2007 at 8:19 pm

    I agree…the dominance, twisting of their relationship, in addition to shame at nakedness, were all results of the fall.

    For Christians then, REAL Christians, the entire point of the faith is that the consequences of the fall are something we have overcome (even if that takes a little time…like centuries, for mankind to figure it out). To a people truly moving towards spiritual liberation, that would mean the body and sexuality would become less shameful and relations between men and women more egalitarian. Most of the patriarchy in the Bible is in the stories of the OT, and even then patriarchy is hardly portrayed in a positive light; then men are constantly fucking up and women are often (but not always ie. Delilah and Jezebel) portrayed as being as noble as possible while working within the dysfunctional system created by the fall (Ruth, Naomi, Abigail, Esther). And the OT is meant not to show the human ideal, but to show what fallen life looks like and how much it sucks…war, poverty, oppression, rape, men screwing up, massive family dysfunction, etc. Redemption comes with the coordinated effort of both men and women in the NT. People who really take the radical message of Christianity seriously will see equality between men and women as one of the conditions for a redeemed life, in addition to other prescriptions like justice for the poor, the oppressed, etc (which conservatives strangely seem to forget about when waving around the name of Christ in the name of cutting welfare and tax breaks for the rich) Jesus himself was constantly subverting the traditional order, and he was far more sympathetic to women who had broken society’s mores than he was to the men that enforced them, and he had rather progressive ideas about “a woman’s place”; ie. witnessing the resurrection and preaching to all the wussy faithless male apostles about it. And the Church in Revelation is imaged as a woman in labor kicking the ass of a dragon. And as for the snake…go into many Catholic Churches and very often Mary is imaged as the “New Eve” crushing his head. At several places in the OT God is given maternal imagery, and in the original languages the words used for the Holy Spirit are always feminine. Even the modern Catholic Catechism goes as far as to say that God can be imaged as both father or mother.

    The Bible is such a complex book that it really has something for everyone depending on how you look at it; it is in a sense a “living” word by which God speaks to different people and cultures in different ways. I think it is beyond arrogant to use it to prove your personal point; it;s not an apologetical textbook but a combination of culturally conditioned literature, history/myth, poetry, and spirituality with LAYERS of possible meaning.

  20. January 27, 2007 at 8:58 pm

    this was not a very well-researched piece, from a biblical-studies stand-point.
    the words in Gen 3:16 “your desire” (or translated as “your urge” by the NJPS) is found in the Hebrew original as “Teshukateikh.” this word has explicit connotations of sexual desire, not of political overthrow.

    Hmm…I’ll have to back and read the reference I read a long time ago, but it said that “Teshukateikh” didn’t carry the meaning of sexual desire until around 1000 years after the Bible was written…interesting…

  21. January 27, 2007 at 9:00 pm

    the Bible

    Um…should be the Hebrew Bible.

  22. Lizard
    January 27, 2007 at 9:25 pm

    If your ipecac supply is running low, see more of the Harris Boys’ patronizing attack on feminism here.

    Best Freudian typo on that page:

    God created woman as a help-mate for man. This doesn’t mean she is a slave like feminists try to claim, but that she is complimentary to man, just as man is complementary to woman.

  23. January 27, 2007 at 9:32 pm

    Is there a reason why my comment wasn’t posted on this topic?

  24. January 27, 2007 at 9:34 pm

    s there a reason why my comment wasn’t posted on this topic?

    Hmm… not as far as I know. I didn’t see it in moderation, so perhaps it got eaten by the internets. I’m sorry!

  25. January 27, 2007 at 9:36 pm

    jackgoff- i find that suspect. how would you explain the reference in the song of songs, then? it’s a pretty erotic book, explicitly so ;-).
    also: please understand that my comment was not meant to justify the sexual oppression of women. i was only trying to undermine the rebelution essay.

    liberal catholic girl – as a devoted jew and a bible major, i am pretty attached to the “greatest book ever written.” however, if one reads it with a critical eye, one simply must admit its patriarchal bias. of course, this is not unique or novel, as all contemporary literature was similarly patriarchal. this is why it is a huge overstep when feminist (christian) bible scholars claim all patriarchy came from the hebrew bible. please remember that “the fall” is a christian reading of the expulsion from eden. a plain reading of the text would not claim a world that is inherently flawed. this is not to deny the power and compelling nature of your theology, which i find very inspiring and noble. holy even. i applaud your recognition of the multi-valence of the biblical text. i also like your feminist midrash (exegetical reading) of the bible. but: this is a subtle yet important point that seems to escape the fundies. indeed, while i believe that the world is in need of redemption, but the strict text of the hebrew bible does not attach that to a “fall.”
    consider this: it’s a specifically christian reading that the hebrew bible displays a fallen world with horrible things. but, as you state yourself, there is serious complexity to the bible. for every story of salaciousness, there is another of joy, celebration, holiness, love, etc. while christians may especially love the psalms, remember that they came from the hebrew bible. let’s please loose ourselves of such a derogatory reading of the hebrew bible, especially in such enlightened company.

  26. January 27, 2007 at 9:38 pm

    also: it’s a noteworthy thing to look into that jewish second wave feminists undertook a project to reclaim the midrashic character of lillith, the mythical first wife who was sent away for a rebellious spirit. they sought to venerate lillith for her independence and proto-feminism. neat stuff. check out susannah heschel’s ON BEING A JEWISH FEMINIST. it’s a classic reader.

  27. ellenbrenna
    January 27, 2007 at 9:46 pm

    That is no reason to believe that women could not be sexist and abusive towards men or that if given economic and political power that any group could oppress any other ethnic group. That is part of the point of anti-discrimination laws and standards. They apply to everyone and protect everyone.

    The problem is that historically, recently most of the power has been held by and therefore most of the abuses to be addressed have been commited by straight, white men.

  28. January 27, 2007 at 9:56 pm

    FWIW, invisible_hand, I agree. I’ve been unable to locate my source (which was online at the time, but it appears to have disappeared). And I am definitely NOT trying to defend this horseshit. I was merely stating that I’ve read the specific analysis that these idiots have given before. Hope that clarifies…

  29. LiberalCatholicGirl
    January 27, 2007 at 10:12 pm

    sorry invisible hand! I didn’t mean to come down so hard on your scriptures. But, while acknowlading that there are other ways to read it, I am looking at it from a Catholic/Christian perspective which does see at least in the narratives of (what we call) the OT as largely those of a people who are awaiting deliverance from either oppression, the evils of the world, the effects of original sin, etc, not as portraying an ideal world. In those stories, the suffering and evils are mixed in with heroism and holiness. Many fundie Christians, however, use the narratives in the OT selectively to justify their own prejudices and to impose what they consider a “biblical” way of life on believers by saying “that’s how they did things in the OT so it is ‘biblical'” without realizing that from a Christian perspective, all of the OT laws, curses, and rituals are either done away with, elevated to a higher level, or fullfilled by the New. From a Christian’s perspective, it would be pretty inconsistant to use the family structures, roles, and courtship rituals, ritual laws, etc of the patriarchs or other OT figures as models for what God intends redeemed life to like. But this is sometimes exactly what fundamentalists do (selectively…I don;t see too many fundie preachers going around saying its okay to have your wife’s servant as a concubine to get an extra-full “quiver”). But it is especially common in fundamentalist circles to see OT sex roles or courtship used as models or examples of how men and women should relate in the ideal or how people should find a spouse, or to justify attitudes towards women from the story of the Fall, the effects of which the redemption of is the entire point of the Christian religion.

    I was just trying to point out that from a *Christian* perspective, the way some fundies use the Bible is selective, simplistic, and contradictory. I didn’t mean to cause offense. I’m a pretty big fan of the Psalms and the book of Isaiah myself :)

  30. karpad
    January 27, 2007 at 10:28 pm

    also: it’s a noteworthy thing to look into that jewish second wave feminists undertook a project to reclaim the midrashic character of lillith, the mythical first wife who was sent away for a rebellious spirit. they sought to venerate lillith for her independence and proto-feminism. neat stuff. check out susannah heschel’s ON BEING A JEWISH FEMINIST. it’s a classic reader.

    and they did such a great job. by which I mean they achieved little other than bringing the name to prominence to the point where whenever ANY hackneyed fiction needs a female demon type, they reach for lillith.

    So she who was once an obscure midrashic figure ends up the Mother of Vampirella.

    sorry. that’s just one of those things that bugs me (I’m also quite aware that there aren’t any feminists who are by any means wholly or even mostly responsible for a bunch of hackneyed fanatsy lit. graahg.)

  31. Kyra
    January 27, 2007 at 11:49 pm

    So which is better: feminism or the Bible? They are both concerned with equality between men and women, as well as with preventing harsh male dominance, yet both have chosen different means to reach those goals, which have led to very different results.

    Yeah. Feminism works.

    Feminism just from 1848 to today—a century and a half—has done more for women in the countries in which it has established itself, than the Bible and Christianity have done in nearly two thousand years. Feminism has given women opportunities for meaningful equality and expanded their horizons regarding the pursuit of happines, whereas the Bible has shunted them into limiting roles, justified their oppression, and at times taken away meaningful equality from societies that already had it.

    Give me feminism over the Bible any day.

  32. January 28, 2007 at 12:22 am

    Thanks Jill, then I shall repost.

    I made the observation that several others have that the Hebrew word for desire has many meanings, depending on context. As well as that anything resulting from the Fall is not normative. In Christianity Jesus reverses the Fall and restores us to God’s original creation where men and women were created equal in all ways.

    I have a post on my website that talks about equality in Creation: Does It Really Mean Helpmate? I also have a series that shows the leadership positions that women held in the Bible: Career Women of the Bible if anyone is interested in the biblical view and not the 1950 attitude imposed on the Bible.

  33. TomCody
    January 28, 2007 at 12:25 am

    Karpad,

    I’m going to have to do some backup research but I believe that the story of Lilith being the batshit crazy soul sucking demon came from men trying to quell the original story, or make sure that when it got out (it was cut from the cannon) it would be discredited. It was to show what sort of punishment awaited a women who wanted to have sex on top, or out did her man in talking to the animals. In our case now it’s the “If you don’t tow the line you’ll grow up to be a lonely cat lady,” instead of “If you don’t tow the line you’re turn into demon spawn.”

    Either way, in both cases of Adam’s wives they both did something they weren’t supposed to and they were punished for it, only Eve’s was a bit *less* harsh because she was allowed to stay with Adam (because he kept her. Adam went to God and complained about Lilith so she got the boot).

  34. January 28, 2007 at 12:57 am

    The batshit Lilith thing was actually a superstition about Lilith being a danger to babies, i.e. the descendants of her husband’s second wife. The ‘evil, vengeful female spirit killing babies’ is a pretty common myth and you see it in many cultures.

    The idea that there is a Secret Council of Men reviewing and issuing counterpropaganda to folks beliefs is itself more than a little batshit.

  35. January 28, 2007 at 1:20 am

    Again, because it was written by men trying to explain away the Babylonian captivity.

    Also, it was written by different authors for different audiences at different times–with the various accounts being edited together by yet another party (or parties) at another time. As a result, there are so many inconsistencies and lacunae throughout the Bible as a whole and within individual books and stories themselves. Check out the different accounts, one following after the other, of creation in Genesis 1-2. Or the story of Noah in Genesis 6-9, which cites the duration Noah was in the ark as being both 40 days [7:13; 8:6] and 150 days [8:3], and the number of animals in the ark as being one male and female pair per species [6:19-20] and “seven pairs of each kind of ritually clean animal, but only one pair of each kind of unclean animal” [7:2].

    Thanks for posting this, Jill.

  36. January 28, 2007 at 1:23 am

    The “it” in my first sentence = “the Bible.”

  37. karpad
    January 28, 2007 at 2:11 am

    I’m going to have to do some backup research but I believe that the story of Lilith being the batshit crazy soul sucking demon came from men trying to quell the original story, or make sure that when it got out (it was cut from the cannon) it would be discredited. It was to show what sort of punishment awaited a women who wanted to have sex on top, or out did her man in talking to the animals. In our case now it’s the “If you don’t tow the line you’ll grow up to be a lonely cat lady,” instead of “If you don’t tow the line you’re turn into demon spawn.”

    you’re right-ish. the whole existence of the story is to get women to tow the party line (there is no “original story” to suppress.) The character is minor from the midrash. it’ll poke out periodically, just as most other really arcane stuff will poke out of canon from time to time (think for a minute about the last time you heard about any demon being refered to by name. there’s only a handful that get mentioned. Lucifer, Beelzebub, Azazel, Mammon, and Lillith are pretty much it.)

    but that it came out so promenently in in the last century means Lillith shows up in popular culture. so she’s a character in Marvel comics, she shows up in Niel Gaiman books, Fraiser’s ex-wife was named after her, etc. etc.

    was the superstition there? yeah. but that isn’t why she’s an enemy in the last several Castlevania titles. Pop culture hacks are why.

  38. TomCody
    January 28, 2007 at 3:30 am

    The idea that there is a Secret Council of Men reviewing and issuing counterpropaganda to folks beliefs is itself more than a little batshit.

    Fox News anyone? ;)

    And don’t forget, there really was a council of men who picked and chose what books went into the Bible to suit their needs. That’s why there are several different interpretations, the King James version being the most popular here.

    There was even a book to explain where all those extra people came from in order for Adam and Eve’s kids to marry, however the explanation was incest between the children and it was left out.

  39. January 28, 2007 at 3:48 am

    The idea that there is a Secret Council of Men reviewing and issuing counterpropaganda to folks beliefs is itself more than a little batshit.

    Secret?

  40. Em
    January 28, 2007 at 10:07 am

    “The thrust of our position?”

  41. LD
    January 28, 2007 at 1:24 pm

    Reading this I thought, “I’m sure I heard a Wayne Grudem talk like this once.” And then they go and quote him. Anyway, I remeber him justifying the weird reinterpretion of ‘desire’ by refering to Gen 4:7, where God warns Cain “…sin is a demon crouching at the door; it will desire you, and you will be mastered by it.” (REB)

  42. W. Kiernan
    January 28, 2007 at 1:41 pm

    It is much like a high school football team, in which both offense and defense are important and irreplaceable components for success.

    This is a metaphor, ya see, for the interplay of couples in their various sexual roles. For “offense” read “males” and for “defense” read “females,” or vice versa. So,

    There is nothing more beautiful to watch than a team that has both functioning and flourishing in their roles.

    Yeah, this “beautiful to watch” business, it’s a multi-billion-dollar industry these days, or so I’m told. Bringing us to the punch line:

    Roles, I might add, that are consistent yet flexible (i.e. the defense can score off an intercepted pass).

    Sounds kinda kinky to me, but who am I to judge? That’s beautiful to watch too.

  43. Ledasmom
    January 28, 2007 at 1:45 pm

    If I remember correctly, and it’s been some time since I read “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” so it’s possible I don’t, C.S. Lewis used Lilith as the ancestor of the White Witch, who was, therefore, not a “Daughter of Eve”.

  44. NancyP
    January 28, 2007 at 5:32 pm

    Another reason why the fundies leave “women’s role” undefined except for “submit to your husband and have kids” is that a large proportion of “mainstream fundamentalist” married women work, of necessity or of preference for a middle-class lifestyle such as home ownership. Plus, I don’t have statistics or a citation for this, but it would not surprise me if the major pressure to tithe within the couple comes from the woman more often than not. It just doesn’t do to spell out the menial parts of “women’s role” too clearly to the controllers of the collection basket contents.

  45. January 28, 2007 at 7:23 pm

    Ledasmom, yes Lilith was part of the White Witch, but I forget if she was descended from Lilith or was Lilith, but that is where Lewis got the idea for her.

  46. zuzu
    January 28, 2007 at 7:38 pm

    This is a metaphor, ya see, for the interplay of couples in their various sexual roles. For “offense” read “males” and for “defense” read “females,” or vice versa.

    What about the special teams?

  47. Starfoxy
    January 29, 2007 at 12:14 am

    Re: The White Witch- According to Lewis’ version Lilith left Adam and her descendents were the Jinn- Jadis (aka The White Witch) is a Jinn. She was brought to Narnia by Professor Kirke when he was a child. All of this is detailed in The Magician’s Nephew.
    Lewis didn’t have the best view of women, but I still love his books.

  48. January 29, 2007 at 10:30 am

    I as a Christian who has for years been recovering from the anti-woman bullshit spewed at me from the pulpit, I want to bring you the words of my friend, a Russian Orthodox priest:

    His reading of the Adam & Eve verse is thus;

    Desire really does equal desire. Even in the dead language, he believes (professionally). Not just sexual desire – but desire for companionship, family, all those things.

    When God says that your husband will “rule” over you – what he means is that your husband is physically stronger than you. You need to be careful. It’s a warning to Eve – don’t lose your head. You will want to be with this man, but he will have ample opportunity to be unpleasant if he wants, because he’s bigger. You are especially vulnerable when you are in the process of procreating – hence the comments on multiplying Eve’s woe in relation to the birthing process.

    It could even be addressed to all women following the Fall – be careful who you fall in love with. Men have brute strength, and you never know when they might use it against you. You are in the ugly “real world” now.

    As CatholicGirl has already pointed out – these are difficult times that God is describing. They come after the Fall and before Jesus. God is angry. Humankind has to overcome a lot of the roadblocks that are set up for them at this point.

  49. E.A.P
    January 29, 2007 at 2:48 pm

    I’m not sure how many people will make it to the bottom of this excellent comment thread, but no one’s mentioned this, so I’ll just write anyway.

    I grew up with with Christian complementarians and with exactly that reading of Genesis. Recently, I came across the reading several commentors have pointed out: if this section falls under the post-Fall “curse” section of the story, maybe it’s not prescriptive but descriptive of the evil that will arise out of the Fall.

    Nonetheless, there’s an even simpler problem with their hermeneutic. The rest of the “curses” are seen as evils to be overcome by these folks. After all, they don’t actively seek to make farming harder; they don’t even revile anything that makes farming easier (v. 17: “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it”). They don’t think go about doing battle with snakes (v.15: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers”). Most wouldn’t even prohibit painkillers for childbirth (v. 16a “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children” ). Ah, but halfway through that 16th verse, and only there, they make it a command for men to get the power and women to merely pine for it (and of course they shouldn’t even do that according to these essayists).

    Talk about your selective readings.

  50. Josh Oman
    January 29, 2007 at 4:47 pm

    Good thoughts, EAP. It almost seems like these “essayists” are calling it descriptive of the evil that arose out of the Fall… Like you said. That’s good, right?

  51. E.A.P
    January 29, 2007 at 11:33 pm

    Close, Josh Oman. Instead of saying that verse 16b describes the Fall’s consequences (descriptive) and is therefore something we can combat (like tough farming conditions and painful childbirth), they’re saying it’s a prescription for the right order of things (prescriptive) and saying that men SHOULD rule over their wives. It’s pretty convenient for them to get to keep their domination as-is but not all the other problems which issued from the Fall.

  52. Josh Oman
    January 30, 2007 at 12:35 am

    Thanks for the explanation, EAP. I understand what you were saying now. Of course, they do say:

    “The Bible teaches that female usurpation and male dominance are the result of mankind’s fall into sin, but biblical manhood and womanhood are God’s cure for both evils.”

    So, aren’t they naming it as an evil to be cured? They just have “different” ideas on how to cure it.

  53. E.A.P
    January 30, 2007 at 9:56 am

    I hadn’t keyed in to that sentence, so your earlier confusion makes more sense. They’re basically saying that the evil is “women wanting power and men having it” but their solution is “women not wanting power and men still having it.” To put it another way, they’re saying that their version of male dominance is different and therefore curative, but the main difference I can see is that the women are supposed to submit and basically remove their “usurpation” from the equation. The second half of the formula (men get the power) remains unchanged.

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