Saturday, April 25, 2009

Overcoming the Gender Effect of the Fall II

Just because the gender curse wasn't spoken directly to Adam, doesn't mean men weren't cursed along with women. Their side of the equation was to rule over their wives and face their insurgency. I can understand why any women (and some small-minded men) would wonder where the curse was in that, but it is in fact the source of men's alienation from the fairer sex. In their finer moments men seek companionship, partnership, intimacy with their mates, but the curse has them thinking in most moments of dominance, possession, and detachment.

Clearly, the creation account makes no distinction between the humanity of men and women. They are all man-- male and female he created them. The wonder that is a human, built in the image of God, is indistinguishable between genders. When Eve was fashioned from Adam's rib it was as a corresponding companion in mission (a help meet) without any reference to any differential in authority. They were partners in the grace of God. That changed with the curse, and has been the unpleasant reality of life since.

Adam was cursed directly as well as Eve. He was a gardener: it was an expression of his God-given authority over land and animal. Now, thorns and thistles would battle his efforts at making a living, and in the new curse economy if he didn't work, he wouldn't eat. Eve was made to stand beside him in that authority, but now she became part of what he had authority over but which resisted him. She who had been made a partner for him, now took on some of the same characteristics of the parasites that plagued him. But Jesus changes all that.

Nature and the curse may have given men the opportunity to domineer women-- they're bigger and stronger, and in most societies still have the imprimatur to do so. But that is not Christ-like and its bondage is a two-way street. Who would want to use such a framework as a basis for Christian marriage? God says to men, "put aside your crown and your glory, step into your wife's world and lay down your life for her. Make it your mission to help her be all she can be." The trump card of decisive authority is one gender effect of the Fall that must be sloughed off.