Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Conspicuous by its absence

I happened upon the latest post of CBE's "Scroll" blog, I think, just moments after it went up. I read it with some interest because the blogger, Liz, expresses one of the same concerns I had back when I was a religious feminist, too. Why do we patriarchalists (seemingly) adhere so rigidly to just that one portion of the "Curse" which says a woman will desire her husband and he shall rule over her -- and yet ignore the other bits about pain in childbirth and working the land with much toil and sweat? I mean, farmers even have air conditioned cabs on their combines now for mercy's sake - why would I still have to live under my husband's thumb? Or, at least, that's how the religious feminist views it.

You see there's a little wrinkle in that view. St. Paul has a thing or two to say about it. Most obviously that he links gender "roles", not to "the fall", the "curse" or our "sin nature" but to our undefiled created natures. St. Paul links that supposed curse of our fallen natures *not* to our fallen nature but our good, created natures as they were before the serpent whispered his lies to Eve. For Adam was formed first and then Eve and all that folderol.

As a somewhat humorous aside, note that Liz also wrote, "many believers teach that wives should show desire toward their husbands . . ." Well, thank heaven for that! I'm not quite sure, though, who else the wives should show desire towards other than their husbands. But there was another little nugget that intrigued me in tonight's post. It is this:

"The reality is now that many women do not have to experience pain in childbirth and many men do not have to work the land to make a living."

Epidurals and air-conditioned combines, right? But when I first read this I was caught up short and realized, once again, the connection to sex. How it all really does boil down to sex. And here is the bit that is conspicuous in its absence: the admission that many women now choose to entirely avoid not merely the pain of childbearing but the childbearing in itself - many women are now childless by choice. At the Lambeth conference in 1930 the Anglican communion became the first Christian body to officially approve of the use of birth control. The rest of the Protestant bodies followed like a line of dominoes, clink, clink, clink until, just a couple of generations later, birth control is a given in premarital counseling and many don't even want to know about, let alone seriously consider, the moral implications of contracepted sex. And heaven forbid we should talk about the dire consequences to our unborn children from some birth control methods we use without a second's hesitation.

So this is what we have come to. Without wanting to commit the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy, I do take note that the acceptance of birth control as a matter of course was followed, very rapidly, by the advent of religious feminism within formerly staid and traditional BEAP denominations, churches and institutions. Religious feminism was certainly not "caused" by the advent of birth control, but it certainly wasn't harmed by it, either.

In an era when women increasingly choose not just to have painless deliveries but to experience no pregnancies and their consequent deliveries at all -- when they have increasingly forsaken and dismissed women's glorious vocations as beneath them, the work of "kitchen wives" and women too stupid to understand there is more to life than birthing babies, is it any wonder they turn to the province of men to fill their days?

Think about it.


GL said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
GL said...

And let's not forget the men who seek to avoid earning their living by the sweat of their brow by avoiding the cost of child rearing. No children, no need for a large income, no need for a taxing job. They want the sex, of course, just not the consequences. They mistake the burden of child rearing with the curse, when, in fact, God's Word repeatedly and in no uncertain terms declares children to be a blessing. As any good father can tell you, the burden of children is one of life's greatest blessings.

In short, contrary to what many in our society, including many otherwise orthodox Christians, believe, burden does not equal curse. In fact, burden often equals blessing.

Judy K. Warner said...

I don't think they're referring to air-conditioned combines. Most people have no connection to the land at all, let alone sweat. Is this a good thing? Our advanced economy has certainly made life easier and more pleasurable for most people. But I think that losing all connection with the soil is not good, and in fact many people try to keep some relationship to land, even if it's a potted plant or a little patch of lawn.

Trev and Liz/Equals said...

Hi Kamilla........this is Liz who wrote the post you are discussing. Firstly....I was careful to not use the word 'curse' because only 2 things were cursed - the ground and the serpent.

My point was that the statements of God to Adam & Eve after their sin were ones of consequences - bad things which would happen because of their sin which included having to leave the garden.

Whatever we imagine 'desire' to be or 'work hard' to mean, it was not going to be as good as in the beginning.

However life was from creation it was good as God said after he had finished the work of creation. Sin messed it up and it continues to be messed up until the day when God says 'enough' and there is an end to all sin and damage.

Meanwhile, we can live in the redemption bought for us by Christ as much as our sinful self and world allows. This redemption includes a wonderful relationship between wives and husbands and a wonderful relationship with the earth.

Kamilla said...

"However life was from creation . . ." indeed.

We need only refer to St. Paul to see what that was.


Ethan C. said...

"Meanwhile, we can live in the redemption bought for us by Christ as much as our sinful self and world allows. This redemption includes a wonderful relationship between wives and husbands and a wonderful relationship with the earth."

I most certainly agree with this statement. However, I think what such a relationship entails is differently defined by sexual traditionalists and modern religious feminists. As Kamilla notes, St. Paul's descriptions seem to militate toward the traditionalist position. Unless we're willing to deprecate him as a source of authority, we'd do well consider whether our ideas of what constitutes that "wonderful relationship" line up with his.