Before the fall, Eve was a “help meet” to Adam. The term means a “companion equal.” While the account is figurative as far as humanity is concerned, it is also instructive as to what goes on in an idealized or perfect world. In such a world, women are equal companions to men and are not ruled over or presided over by men. That is the celestial law that we lost.
After the fall, one thing that happened is that hearts turned and women became vulnerable to having their hearts turn to men and to being dominated by men rather than being able to function as man’s equal. As Genesis 3:16 notes, in a fallen world a woman’s desire turns to her husband and he rules over her. That process is proof of a fallen world. Everyone has seen a turned heart in action. A friend gets a new boyfriend and she drops everything and everyone and quits thinking for herself. Anyone who has seen that in action can agree that it is both worse than co-dependence and a sign of a fallen nature.
So, what you you do, how should you respond to the urges of the natural (wo)man? What should you teach or inculcate?
First, learn to deal directly with God and to place your heart on Christ.
Second, promise God not to listen to men beyond the extent to which the men are listening to God. Learn to impose limits.
Third, seeks freedom by relying on Christ, through faith rather than relying on the arm of flesh.
Which is the path by which women regain their celestial equality to men, in spite of the fall, the false traditions of mankind or the limits of the flesh. Not surprisingly, in many ways, it is the same path by which men accomplish the same thing.
For an alternate reading of the scripture, consider http://www.bible.org/netbible/index.htm?gen3.htm footnote 48 or What is the Woman’s Desire. Both of these reflect the common understandings of a fallen world as they read scripture, and, I would suggest, illustrate exactly what the text does not mean, especially given what we know know of Paul’s writings without later scribal glosses. Compare “The word “obedience,” hupakoe, is quite different from the word “subjection.” Its corresponding verb, from which it comes, is hupakouo, and means literally, “to listen to,” ” [or, as someone else put it, to hearken]
The alternate readings, combined with considering real life and what the prophets have said, time and time again about how women are equal to men, gives us an idea of what we should be working for in a celestial relationship and in order to obey the celestial law.
What lesson do you take away from this and what lesson would you teach your daughter?
For example, the lesson in seeing someone do the “new boyfriend and drop everything else” routine, as my wife notes, is that “a girl needs to know that guys come and go but girlfriends are forever” — rather than learning to dump your girl friends every time you have a new guy.
Additions or thoughts?
I found this post hard to follow and a little bit biased. It was interesting that it focuses on the woman. It doesn’t say that men became vulnerable to being domineering, though that might be implied. Do guys never drop their friends and everything for a girlfriend? And in the end, isn’t that what spouses are to do, to leave their parents and cling to one another as one flesh? (And girlfriends aren’t forever, but families are!)
In the sentence, “A friend gets a new boyfriend and she drops everything and everyone and quits thinking for herself,” just the change of the word “for” to “of” would receive a stamp of approval from many. Isn’t that would we aim for in celestial marriage, to think of our spouses above ourselves?
And the sentence, “Which is the path by which women regain their celestial equality to men, in spite of the fall . . .” makes it sound like only women fell, and they are they only imperfect beings trying to measure up with men again.
Anyone else have similar thoughts?
I think you have made some really good points. But they lose their appeal to me when you assign them to a gender. I believe the lessons apply to both men and women and I’m not sure why you have directed them at women.
#1 & #2 – Stephen mentioned that the same things applies to men (“Not surprisingly, in many ways, it is the same path by which men accomplish the same thing.”). I believe he focused on women explicitly because it is women who historically have borne the brunt of social inequality caused by the Fall – and I think that is essentially indisputable.
I look at the way that the Brethren have begun speaking of “presiding” differently than in the past, and I see their words as evidence of their attempt to return to the pre-Fall situation of equality Stephen describes in this post. The equal partners sharing responsibility to accomplish together primary roles (with the counsel to make adjustments according to individual circumstances) outlined in the “Proclamation to the World” is a great example of this.
I read this post as Stephen’s attempt to articulate a return to a previous ideal – a higher law – that was lost at the Fall, buried in the annals of history, restored to a degree with the Restoration but still not fulfilled completely in our modern day and age. I agree that we need to redefine or even eliminate the idea of presiding within a marriage – as long as that marriage truly is functioning as a celestially equal partnership.
If anyone is interested in something I wrote last month:
Presiding: An Evolution of Definition
Genesis is, in my opinion, one of the most misunderstood books of Scripture. I prefer a literal interpretation of the first chapters of Genesis, for when you take a literal view, the story becomes quite feminist in nature.
Notice, for example, that woman is not given the commandment not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. That commandment is given to man only; and after that command is given to man, woman is created. I read this as woman being outside of the commandment not to eat the fruit of the tree in the midst of the garden.
After eating the fruit, the Lord God comes down to the garden to find man in his fallen condition, after finding Adam having hid himself and querying Adam as to what happened, Adam says, “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.” To paraphrase Adam’s response in modern language, he’s basically saying, “First of all you gave me this woman, then the woman made me eat it.”
Man’s sin in the fall is this: not accepting responsibility for his own actions. Instead of accepting responsibility for what he had done, Adam first blames the Lord, and then he blames the woman. Also, man mistaught woman that she was under the same commandment as him, so the serpent had to re-educate woman to get her to eat it (elsewhere in Scripture, the serpent is associated with knowledge and Christ).
You cite Genesis 3:16. I see this verse as evidence for why woman had to be outside the commandment, and why it had to be woman to decide when to take the fall, for it was woman that would have to bear the pains of founding the human family, it would largely be her struggle (consider there are more single mothers than there are single fathers, etc.).
In summary, man misteaches woman, influenced by woman man breaks his commandment, when confronted about breaking his commandment man blames God then woman. Read Genesis yourself and see what you come up with.
PS: It’s also interesting to note when the first prayer is said in Genesis, even if our own books of Scriptures say prayer started before Genesis does.
Ray’s post at http://thingsofmysoul.blogspot.com/2008/10/presiding-evolution-of-definition.html is an excellent corollary to my post here, and his response hits what I would have said. Too many people read the scripture in question as a command to woman to be dominated by man.
My point was that such a situation is just as telestial as murder, theft or other sins, not something we should be preaching. Instead, we should be preaching an escape from the fallen condition of being an enemy to God, and the method is the same for any sex, any gender.
I’m sorry if anyone got the impression that I did not believe that “Adam fell that man might be, men are that they might have joy” or that only women fell.
These posts are really too short sometimes.
“women are equal companions to men and are not ruled over or presided over by men. That is the celestial law that we lost”
This is interesting Stephen. I like it. I was reading Nibley recently about how our secular laws are a substitute for what we have lost, or have failed to live up to. Perhaps this business with husbands presiding “over” wives is due to the fall, as you seem to be saying.
Whoops, I was logged in on my mother’s computer… comment #6 was me.
I find this to be wildly interesting. Of course, there are circumstances where guys drop everything…but how often do you hear that story? Sure, women maybe be predisposed to excessive dependence just as men might be predisposed to dominance. Neither is healthy…both are fallen. This provides an important insight into the verses re: men ‘rulling’ over women. God is stating the natural order only inasmuch as “natural” means default. These things ought not to be.
Was checking http://www.revolutiontwo.com/ and realized that meant I could get on the internet again (I’ve had connection problems all week-end).
Neither is healthy…both are fallen. This provides an important insight into the verses re: men ‘ruling’ over women. God is stating the natural order only inasmuch as “natural” means default. These things ought not to be.
I’d agree. That is a nice summary, though I might add that “natural” = “result of the fall” rather than what so many assume as “perfect.” No more than bad body odor and starvation are perfect.