Thursday, May 20, 2010

desire bordering on disease

I remember distinctly the first time I saw pornography. It was in a cheap hotel room in Rome and I was a young teenager. I still remember the nauseating feeling as I discovered the well used stash of magazines in the bottom dresser drawer. I didn't understand exactly what use they were put to - nonetheless, it was a sickening moment which has stayed with me till now as a vivid memory.

Another one of those moments was experienced recently while reading Keil and Delitzsch page 103 - the same mixture of nausea and disbelief, the same loss of innocence. I read,
    The woman had so broken through her divinely appointed subordination to the man; she had not only emancipated herself from the man to listen to the serpent, but had led the man into sin. For that, she was punished with a desire bordering upon disease (תְּשׁוּקָה from שׁוּק to run, to have a violent craving for a thing), and with subjection to the man. "And he shall rule over thee." Created for the man, the woman was made subordinate to him from the very first; but the supremacy of the man was not intended to become a despotic rule, crushing the woman into a slave, which has been the rule in ancient and modern Heathenism, and even in Mohametanism also, - a rule which was first softened by the sin-destroying grace of the gospel, and changed into a form more in harmony with the original relation, viz. that of a rule on the one hand, and subordination on the other, which have their roots in mutual esteem and love.
I wish I had never read this, had never known that bible commentators thought these things about women, thought that being ruled was a mark of mutual esteem, etc. etc. Now I know that apparently some men, in spite of the fact that men are not innocent of creating pornography, believe that it is women who are diseased in their sexuality. Nice!

A woman can never study bible commentaries with the same freedom as a man. I personally - clearly many women won't share my reaction - regard reading bible commentaries as risky business, knowing that I am exposing myself to unmitigated nonsense, and in some cases simple filth. Blogging about the bible, for women, can never be a light hobby, a satisfying preoccupation. It is more like wandering through a minefield, or more like walking across my backyard, after the dog has been lounging around using it for his own needs.

I would really like to find this kind of thing funny. I do my best. But ultimately, I have to resort to other sources for humour, that elixir of life.


Charis said...

What happened in Gen 3:15 is not called a "curse". God did not "curse" Eve (or Adam). They received consequences, IMO the consequences recorded in Gen 3:16 are redemptive in that they create a level of pain which causes one to turn from what has become an idol and see God.

1. Before the Fall, they were eternal beings so if they had children they would not need to have many of them

2. Nearly ALL animals only mate seasonally. Among animals (besides humans) a female "desire" for the male does not exist and there is no mating outside the season of fertility. Why are humans different when a rare "season" like animals would work fine for fulfilling "be fruitful and multiply"? For redemptive purposes IMO.

3. In the immediate context of Gen 3:16, multiplication of childbirth and pain in it is mentioned- two mentions of pregnancy, which is a result of sex

4. This one is anecdotal, but my mother always referred to menstruation as "the curse" and it does come with such unpleasantries as PMS and menopause so I rather think it was not part of Eve's garden experience

5. There is no record that Adam "knew" Eve nor did she conceive before the Fall. People ASSUME that means I consider sexual pleasure an evil along the lines of Augustine who thought they would multiply with no pleasure. Not true. Sex was God ordained by "be fruitful and multiply" and God designed it pleasurable. But I believe their total intimacy with God and one another was extremely satisfying and pleasurable in a way we only see in a mirror dimly (if we are so blessed) and they were not focused on sex like we are. They were, perhaps, quite young and it was not time for that yet- Eve had not come into season

6. Gen 3:16 indicates that Adam would now "rule over her". Testosterone is the hormone which drives male aggression. So, perhaps just as Eve had a huge hormonal change upon the Fall, so did Adam.

7. Husband "rule over" goes right along with "wives are subject" and that is in the PASSIVE voice as we have discussed in the past (click on my name for my research on this). I know you have reservations about using voice to frame theology. But my experience is that my husband DOES "rule over" me, I AM "subject to him" in a way over which I have absolutely no control. He has the power to wilt me with a few sharp words or to make me bloom with some nourishing and cherishing.

DESIRE and RULE can be so very destructive, but they can also be REDEMPTIVE, bringing the marriage relationship into closer resemblance with garden intimacy.

Charis said...

some men.... believe that it is women who are diseased in their sexuality.

So, would they rather go to a once a year season with no interest in mating at any other time?

Maybe they should quit complaining! ;)

Anonymous said...


Re: your point 2. - read about the Bonobo.

Bob MacDonald said...

Hi Suzanne
There is lots of swill written in theology and Biblical studies by people who like the power that justifies their ignorance.

Don't let the bastards get you down. Your voice and your study is valuable and doesn't require your depression!

Kristen said...

I have seen "he shall rule over thee" carried out to the extent that it borders on, if not actually being, a disease. It seems to me that the commentators Keil and Delitszch are at least partially afflicted, as they are so eager to read authority-subordination into passages where it does not actually appear.

Mara Reid said...

Looking at this post and the one you wrote on women bloggers reinforces my thinking on one thing.

It appears that many women are tired of being defined by fallen men who have a prejudiced and twisted view of women.

These women are done listening to such men and are turning their eyes to the Bible and their ears to the Holy Spirit and are asking, "But how do You define me, God? What am I to You? What did You create me to be? Where have I fallen and how do I get back up again?"

And the answers these women are finding are so different than the answers these commetaries and many preachers are giving. The commentaries and power-hungry preachers are just adding death on top of death.

The answers from the Bible and the Spirit are bringing life.

The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Jesus came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)

Janice said...

fallen men who have a prejudiced and twisted view of women


It's a form of psychological projection in which men, having high levels of circulating testosterone and, as a consequence, thinking about sex a lot, therefore assume that women are the same and that the "desire" being spoken about in Gen 3:16 must be desire for sex. Or, having high levels of circulating testosterone, they want to be the one in charge and so assume that women want the same and the "desire" must be desire to rule.

In fact, as Charis hinted, a woman's desire is to be loved wholeheartedly and unconditionally by her husband. That is why, "[h]e has the power to wilt me with a few sharp words or to make me bloom with some nourishing and cherishing." That is the basis of his power to "rule over", at least it is in marriages where he hasn't simply resorted to violence to get his own way.

However, I do not agree that this is something over which women have "absolutely no control". To want something from a source that cannot supply it is, I think, a form of idolatry and the remedy for idolatry of any sort is always to repent and turn to Christ (again and again, as many times as is necessary) who, after all, loves each of us better than a husband ever could.

Kristen said...

I think I, too, have the power to cause my husband to bloom or to wilt him. Men as well as women need the affirmation of their spouses and are negatively affected by negative words. I don't really see the connection with "ruling over," I'm afraid.

Charis said...


While that's true

(and you would see that in the analysis I linked to my name "Of interest to those who will object that a wife has equal power to “wilt” her husband, the hupotasso verb in Ephesians 5:21- upotassomeno- is also in the passive voice according to numerous interlinear resources.[1]")

still, I find some pretty significant biblical differences between the sexes/genders.

The consequences resulting from the Fall appear to be gender specific. Corresponding the those consequences, I have observed that women tend to idolize their husbands (Gen 3:16) and men tend to make their work/ministry/livelihood into an idol (Gen 3:17ff).

The instructions for husbands and wives both in OT and NT are gender specific.
-Only the husband is ever instructed to "leave and cleave" starting before the Fall and repeated by both Jesus and Paul.
-Paul observes that WIVES are subject to their husbands IN EVERYTHING and there is no vice versa for husbands.
-Peter tells husbands to live with their wives in an understanding way as the weaker vessel

The latter two lead me to conclude that wives are UNIQUELY vulnerable to the wilting/crushing power of their husbands in a way which does not go "vice versa". I think men are far more vulnerable to the wilting/crushing power of job/income issues.

Charis said...

QUOTE Janice said: "However, I do not agree that this is something over which women have "absolutely no control". To want something from a source that cannot supply it is, I think, a form of idolatry and the remedy for idolatry of any sort is always to repent and turn to Christ (again and again, as many times as is necessary) who, after all, loves each of us better than a husband ever could. -Janice

I agree. The consequences of the Fall are redemptive in that our idolatries bring such pain and emptiness that we have nowhere to turn but to Christ.

Bob MacDonald said...

Charis - I wonder if there is a way that you could reframe your phrase 'the Fall' so that it was not capitalized? There are many who would not count the first disobedience as 'fall' but rather as more like 'birth'.

Anonymous said...

I see the consequences of the Fall as sin specific, not (necessarily) gender specific.

The serpent was a deceiving sinner and the worst consequences are the result.

The woman was a deceived sinner with a mix of consequences, some negative and some positive. (Some translations obscure this.)

The man was a deliberate sinner, with consequences between the other two.

Don Johnson

believer333 said...

In their collection commentary on the OT, Keil and Delitzsch also are of the opinion that the man being created first gives men priority and superiority. (pg 56 of the Pentateuch Commentary) This is where they went off. This seems to be the foundation where all hierarchalists lead themselves off track.

The idea of the first created therefore being superior means that the second created is less than perfect. Less than perfect is NOT good. Of course this conflicts with the rest of the Genesis account.

Bob MacDonald said...

Such a primacy conflicts with the second Adam theology as well. There is a problem with comparatives - the better is the enemy of the good.