Did God give up on the woman?

Did God give up on the woman?

pregnant on Women in Ministry blog by Cheryl Schatz

Many people think that God was especially hard on Eve after she was deceived by the serpent in the garden.  In fact hierarchists have determined that God was so hard on Eve by punishing her with a multitude of lashes for her sin, that some might get the idea that God punished the one who was deceived in a more severe way than the one who sinned willfully and without remorse.  Others are so confused about what God said to Eve many think that sexuality is a necessary evil that came after Adam and Eve left the garden, since Eve experienced no pregnancy before they left the garden.  Understanding exactly what God did say to Eve can help to remove the misconceptions.

God’s words to Eve gives us the reason why Eve did not get pregnant in the garden after her marriage to Adam.  It would not have been because Adam and Eve did not have normal marital relations.  After all God blessed them and told them to be fruitful and multiply and marital relations is the normal way of making that happen.  However Adam and Eve were created to live without dying and in that original creation, Eve’s rate of conception was not the same as it was after she ate the fruit and became subject to death.  Let’s look at the first part of God’s words to Eve  in Genesis 3:16.

Gen 3:16  He said to the woman, I will greatly increase your sorrow and your conception;… (LITV)

The first thing that we can notice about God’s words is that there is something missing from God’s communication to Eve that is there in His communication with both the serpent and with Adam.

To the serpent He said:

Gen 3:14  And Jehovah God said to the serpent, Because you have done this, you are cursed above all beasts, and above every animal of the field. You shall go on your belly, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life.

And to Adam He said:

Gen 3:17  And He said to the man, Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree about which I commanded you, saying, You shall not eat from it, the ground shall be cursed because of you; you shall eat of it in sorrow all the days of your life.

Notice that God never said to Eve, “Because you have done this…”  Instead of giving her a punishment for what she has done, he gives her the consequences that are the natural fallout from her new mortality and the survival of humanity.  We have no idea how long Eve’s fertile period was before she ate the fruit, but after she ate, God said that he would “greatly multiply” her conception.  The Hebrew word hêrôn means pregnancy or conception.  When God said that he will greatly multiply her pregnancy or conception, this means that Eve will have many more children much quicker than she was originally designed to have.  No matter how long Eve was in the garden with Adam, it was not within the time for her much longer original cycle to conceive, but very quickly after she left the garden she conceived.  It was God’s will to greatly multiply her conception because God wanted to keep humanity alive and still able to fill the earth even with mortality now a part of every human’s life.  Because God greatly increased Eve’s conception there were two side effects.  The first side effect for Eve is the Hebrew word ‘itstsâbôn which is often translated “sorrow” and it is the same word as God used for Adam when he says that “you shall eat of it in sorrow all the days of your life.”  It means pain, labour, hardship, sorrow, toil.  The increased labor or work for Eve will give her child after child after child to look after and her increased toil or work will now be necessary as the earth is to be filled with mortal people.

The second result of God’s change on the woman’s body to cause her to conceive in a “greatly” multiplied way, would be a painful childbirth which was not the original design of her conception and childbirth.

Gen 3:16 …you shall bear sons in sorrow,

The second word for “sorrow” is a different word.  It is the Hebrew word ‘etseb and it means pain, hurt or toil.

Another thing to note is that God said “I will…” to Eve.  God is the one who changed Eve’s conception.

Even though Eve’s pain would be from the effects of the change on her conception and her sorrow because of the number of children that she would have to bear, God did not directly curse anything on her behalf and God did not curse the woman either.  God did bring a curse on the earth because of the man’s sin and God brought a curse on the animals because of what the serpent did, however there is not even one curse brought because of the sin of the deceived woman.  Yet Raymond C. Ortlund Jr. in chapter 3 in CBMW’s book Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood pronounces many punishments on the woman as a result of her falling into sin.  On page 108 Ortlund writes:

But now the woman will suffer in childbirth.  This is God’s severity for her sin.

Where does the Bible say that Eve will suffer for her “sin”?  There is no doubt that the change that occurred in her body will cause her pain in childbirth, but to say that the pain is for Eve’s “sin” is going beyond the Word of God.  Certainly God made it clear that the curses that comes into the world was because of Adam’s sin and because of the serpent’s act, however God never once said that the woman’s pain is because of her sin.  We pronounce a judgment on Eve when we do this since God did not give her pain in judgment but his actions of greatly increasing her conception caused a change in her body.

Ortlund goes on to give the woman further punishment by God making a “decree” causing suffering for the woman in her marriage.

God’s decree is two fold… as a wife, the woman will suffer in relation to her husband.  The exact content of her marital suffering could be defined in either of two ways.  Either she will suffer conflict with her husband, or she will suffer domination by him.

So it is God’s desire that the woman be “punished” by suffering at the hands of her husband?  So according to these statements, Ortlund appears to be saying that it is God who originates male domination.  Ortlund has totally missed the boat by reading into the text instead of looking carefully to see what God actually said.  God did not say that “I will cause the man to dominate you” nor did God say “I will cause you suffering in your marriage by causing conflict with your husband”.  God said “He will….”  This clearly identifies the source of the conflict.  The source of the conflict is the will of the manHe will overrule her and overrun her by taking a position of rulership over her.  Mr. Ortlund has taken God’s words of warning to Eve about the trials that await her outside the garden and he has removed the will of man and replaced it with the will of God.  This is very poor exegesis and it completely twists the passage to make the continued sin of the man to be the punishment of God.

In a final knock against the woman, Ray Ortlund says that God gives the woman up.  Ortlund sees Eve’s decision to accept the deception of the serpent as an act of insubordination towards the man – a sin that scripture never charges Eve with – and this act of insubordination causes God to give her up to her sin.

If this is the true sense, then, in giving the woman up to her insubordinate desire, God is penalizing her with domination by her husband.

Ortlund is saying that the woman sinned before she ate the fruit by having an attitude of insubordination towards her husband.  In fact he implies that her insubordination was so bad that she usurped what belonged to the man alone.

Eve usurped Adam’s headship and led the way into sin.

Nowhere in the scriptures does it say that Eve “usurped” Adam’s headship.  Nowhere does it say that Eve led the way into sin.  In fact God blames Adam for leading the way into sin by “listening” to the voice of his wife and doing nothing to protect her as he was responsible for being the watchman as protector in the garden.  For more information see my post called The Unfaithful Watchman.

What CBMW has done with Ray Ortlund’s writings on Genesis is a major rewrite on the Genesis account creating a rulership for Adam that did not also belong to Eve which she could “usurp”.  By charging Eve with usurping Adam’s “headship” and special rulership, Ortlund brings  a charge that it was actually Eve who led the way into sin when scripture clearly blames the one who sinned with knowledge as the one who is blamed for bringing sin into the world.  Orlund also lists a number of punishments for the woman including male domination that scripture never lists as decrees of God against Eve.

I think that it is time that we stop the abuse of Eve that is done in the name of God.  I think that we should name it for what it really is – unbiblical male domination disguised as biblical manhood.

83 thoughts on “Did God give up on the woman?

  1. ‘unbiblical male domination disguised as biblical manhood.’

    It’s also clearly hatred of some kind for woman.

  2. I really cannot understand why these non-egals cannot see how they are disrespecting Scripture by doing these types of things you mention. The sad thing is that some are respected and use this respect to promote blarney. It is one thing to quibble about a few points in a story, it is another to make up stories.

  3. “In a final knock against the woman, Ray Ortlund says that God gives the woman up. Ortlund sees Eve’s decision to accept the deception of the serpent as an act of insubordination towards the man – a sin that scripture never charges Eve with – and this act of insubordination causes God to give her up to her sin.”

    Once again, man centered religion.

    “If this is the true sense, then, in giving the woman up to her insubordinate desire, God is penalizing her with domination by her husband.”

    No, God is telling us what will happen because the wife will turn toward her husband isntead of God. Domination by the husband is part of his sinful nature.

    “Ortlund is saying that the woman sinned before she ate the fruit by having an attitude of insubordination towards her husband. In fact he implies that her insubordination was so bad that she usurped what belonged to the man alone.”

    and

    “Eve usurped Adam’s headship and led the way into sin.”

    Ortlund cannot see how sinful his view of this passage really is. He is looking for a scape goat interpretation to make Adam not look so bad and to justify his views of rulership over women. It is nothing less than a carnal desire for power.

    Another point: Eve was going to have children anyway. Now she will have more, quicker and in pain. However, Adam now has to deal with cursed land his sinful desire will be to dominate his wife and she allows it by turning to Adam instead of God.

  4. As I was contemplating what God said to Eve a couple days ago, I had an interesting thought. What if God was telling Eve in a way that she would understand then, at the beginning of time, that because of sin her hormones would go haywire, as well as the man’s. A lot of studies about hormones show that testosterone overbalance is partly responsible for rage and domination desires in males. And well, we women know what some of the hormonal imbalances do to us.

  5. Interesting, tiro.

    These guys love to talk about history teaching us truths of scripture but history teaches us that women have not sought to dominate men. Just the opposite. Even today many are still wearing burkas.

    If women were seeking to dominate men, they really have been quite incompetent in their quest. :o)

  6. So true Lin. The evidence is all around us. Maybe women who do want to dominate have an imbalance or too much testosterone in their systems. 🙂

  7. In Genesis 3:16 my Bible (NIV) says “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children.” You are saying it says, “I will greatly increase your sorrow and your conception.”
    That is a big difference between “increase your pain IN” and “increase your sorrow AND.” How do you explain the difference in translation?

  8. Cheryl,
    Can you tell me from the passage where we know that the first man and woman had marital relations before the fall? I don’t see it in there. I’m not saying they did or didn’t nor would I ever claim “sex is a consequence of the fall” as God told them clearly to “be fruitful and multiply” before the fall, and they would not be able to do that apart from sex. But I don’t see any indication in the text that they did have sex before the fall. Maybe they were just busy enjoying each other’s and God’s company, the great fellowship and non-sexual affection and intimacy? When you just assume they had sex aren’t you imposing something on the passage? reading your own assumptions into it? (You point that out to others when they do it)

    I think that the “desire” in “your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you” must have a sexual component to it. I base this on the context of Genesis 3:16 which mentions pregnancy and childbirth twice. As you observed, God increases her fertility post-Fall per Gen 3:16. I think God not only increased her fertility but also increased her sexual desire. The consequences of the Fall are not God’s “curse” or “punishment” but are genuinely redemptive. Thus seeing increased sexual passion in marriage as a consequence of the Fall does not make me view sexual passion as “negative”.

    I believe the “desire” spoken of in Genesis 3:16 has other components besides the sexual component. She desired to please, to satisfy, to “be enough” for her husband. This can go off the deep end into husband idolatry- where she lives to please man instead of God. I say this from personal experience living in a woman’s skin.

  9. #8 lorene,

    Welcome to my blog! I am going to answer your question first since you are new to this forum. You said:

    That is a big difference between “increase your pain IN” and “increase your sorrow AND.” How do you explain the difference in translation?

    The NIV is not a word for word translation but a thought for thought translation. It is what the translators thought that God meant that is shown in the NIV. However the original does not have “IN” childbearing but “I am increasing grief of you AND pregnancy of you” You can see the original Hebrew words with the word for word translation here:
    http://scripture4all.org/OnlineInterlinear/OTpdf/gen3.pdf

    There are two things that God said he would greatly increase – Eve’s grief (meaning work or labor) and her pregnancy (meaning conception). Eve’s conception would be increased because she now is mortal and humanity must still be able to fill the earth even with death in the picture. Her work (grief) would also be greatly increased because of all the work that would result from all the pregnancies that she would have to endure and how quickly she could now become pregnant since God said he would “greatly” increase her conception.

    I hope that looking at the original Hebrew with the English translation will help you out with understanding God’s meaning.

  10. Charis,

    Can you tell me from the passage where we know that the first man and woman had marital relations before the fall? I don’t see it in there.

    There are two places where we can understand that Adam and Eve had normal marital relations in the garden. The first indication is that God commanded it in Genesis 1:28.

    Genesis 1:28 God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it;

    There is no indication at all that the man and woman would not have naturally obeyed the command. The second very strong indication is in Genesis 2.

    Gen 2:23 The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.”
    Gen 2:24 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.

    Right after Adam accepts Eve as his own flesh and bone mate, it is immediately said “For this reason” that they are to come together and it is so that “they shall become one flesh.” Although it isn’t worded that Adam “knew” Eve, it is clear that God joined the man and woman together in marriage and right after he joined them their becoming one flesh is a very proper way of letting us know that they indeed did become one flesh as a result of God joining them in marriage. If they didn’t have sex, then verse 24 is meaningless in the verse immediately following Adam’s complete acceptance of Eve.

    When we also take into consideration that Adam and Eve likely lived in the garden for an extended period of time before the fall happened, it would be unnatural for two married people who are sexual beings to not obey God and have marital relations.

    You also said:

    I think that the “desire” in “your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you” must have a sexual component to it. I base this on the context of Genesis 3:16 which mentions pregnancy and childbirth twice. As you observed, God increases her fertility post-Fall per Gen 3:16. I think God not only increased her fertility but also increased her sexual desire.

    God did not say that he would increase her sexual desire. He only said that he would greatly increase her conception and her toil. The problem with making sex a post fall thing would be that we would have to see Adam’s desire as not there also before the fall because sex can certainly happen with only one person’s strong desire and the other person’s lesser desire but willingness to give of themselves. If we see animals as blessed by God and going about obeying God by doing what animals do naturally, surely we shouldn’t think that God’s blessing on the man and woman would cause them to choose to ignore the marital “becoming one flesh” in order to only enjoy talking with each other. Nothing in the text shows that “one flesh” was not part of their obedience to God.

    I believe the “desire” spoken of in Genesis 3:16 has other components besides the sexual component. She desired to please, to satisfy, to “be enough” for her husband. This can go off the deep end into husband idolatry- where she lives to please man instead of God. I say this from personal experience living in a woman’s skin.

    The Hebrew word for “desire” according to Strong’s means:

    in the original sense of stretching out after; a longing: – desire.

    Since it is a stretching out after, a longing for the man and since only Adam was forced out of the garden, it clearly explains why Eve left to go after the man instead of staying in the Garden with God.

    So as far as sexuality goes, unless God said that he would increase the man’s sexuality after sin happened, and he didn’t say that, then we can assume that Adam and Eve had normal sexual relations in the garden just as they were commanded by God.

  11. Lin #3,

    Ortlund cannot see how sinful his view of this passage really is. He is looking for a scape goat interpretation to make Adam not look so bad and to justify his views of rulership over women. It is nothing less than a carnal desire for power.

    Another point: Eve was going to have children anyway. Now she will have more, quicker and in pain. However, Adam now has to deal with cursed land his sinful desire will be to dominate his wife and she allows it by turning to Adam instead of God.

    Excellent thoughts!

  12. #2 Don,

    I really cannot understand why these non-egals cannot see how they are disrespecting Scripture by doing these types of things you mention. The sad thing is that some are respected and use this respect to promote blarney. It is one thing to quibble about a few points in a story, it is another to make up stories.

    I agree! When I read the ideas of these men that have been imported into the Genesis account, it makes me very sad because so many people think that what these men say is the truth and the “fairy tale” account now becomes what actually happened. No wonder so many look down on women as if they are worth less in some way than a man is worth.

  13. #5 Lin,

    These guys love to talk about history teaching us truths of scripture but history teaches us that women have not sought to dominate men. Just the opposite. Even today many are still wearing burkas.

    If women were seeking to dominate men, they really have been quite incompetent in their quest. :o)

    This is so true! Why is it that so many think these men are telling the truth about Genesis, when their theory is disproven throughout history with no historical evidence of these burkha-clad women fighting to “dominate men”. The evidence to the contrary is clear and evident for anyone to see who has an open mind.

  14. Cheryl,
    I don’t feel really comfortable with putting it this way:

    we can assume that Adam and Eve had normal sexual relations in the garden just as they were commanded by God.

    I don’t like your use of the work “commanded” in that context. I’ll use commissioned. They were commissioned to “be fruitful and multiply” not to “have sexual relations”. Some animals are fertile annually and that is when they mate. So, they can “be fruitful and multiply” and only have sex rarely.

    Your point about “they will become one flesh” makes more sense as evidence that they did have marital relations, although I do not believe that becoming “one flesh”refers to mere physical “connection”. I believe it means much more than that. The other question mark about the context of the “one flesh” remark is that it is a general statement not really applying to the first man and woman since they had no father and mother to leave:

    23And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.

    24Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

    And, you are right that he does not mention increased desire. But God does tell Eve “your desire will be for your husband” in the context of mentioning increased pregnancy and childbirth twice. Many church fathers understood it as a sexual desire (in a very disrespectful demeaning manner). While I disagree with their disrespect of a woman’s sexual desire, I do wonder if they were seeing something that we have wrongfully dismissed (because we don’t want to acknowledge that the increased sexual desire of the woman is a consequence of the fall)?

  15. Only female humans had the “consequence” of “your desire will be for your husband”. Female animals only mate when fertile.

    Animals (even monogamous ones) fulfill “be fruitful and multiply” WITHOUT “your desire will be for your husband”. They have a periodic appetite they feed which takes care of being fruitful and multiplying. You have noted that conception and birth would need to have been infrequent with immortals.

    I don’t think there will be sex in heaven, yet people will be more satisfied. What if the intimacy in the Garden was intensely satisfying without lots of sex? What if sexual intimacy was infrequent before the Fall, just a periodic appetite as it is for animals?

  16. “Can you tell me from the passage where we know that the first man and woman had marital relations before the fall? I don’t see it in there. I’m not saying they did or didn’t nor would I ever claim “sex is a consequence of the fall” as God told them clearly to “be fruitful and multiply” before the fall, and they would not be able to do that apart from sex. But I don’t see any indication in the text that they did have sex before the fall. Maybe they were just busy enjoying each other’s and God’s company, the great fellowship and non-sexual affection and intimacy? When you just assume they had sex aren’t you imposing something on the passage? reading your own assumptions into it? (You point that out to others when they do it)”

    We also have to ask why they all of a sudden became ashamed of their nakedness after they ate the fruit. I also believe the ‘be fruitful and multiply’ command is a very strong indicator that they had sex before the fall. This was a command of God to them. As Cheryl pointed out, there are other indicators. But why be ashamed of nakedness after their eyes were opened?

    “I think that the “desire” in “your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you” must have a sexual component to it.”

    I think this is reading into it. We see early translations with the word ‘turning’ instead of desire. That was a later translation by a monk Pagnini (sp?). I believe it was turned into making it a sexual thing by male translators. But history does not bear this out. Who has the sexual drive in a relationship in general? It is the man. That is not in anyway to say that the woman does not have it more in some cases but like Tiro alluded to above, our hormones must have changed after the fall.

    “I base this on the context of Genesis 3:16 which mentions pregnancy and childbirth twice. As you observed, God increases her fertility post-Fall per Gen 3:16. I think God not only increased her fertility but also increased her sexual desire. The consequences of the Fall are not God’s “curse” or “punishment” but are genuinely redemptive. Thus seeing increased sexual passion in marriage as a consequence of the Fall does not make me view sexual passion as “negative”.”

    Keep reading in Gensis after the fall. What is one of the first things we see? Polygamy by Lamech. Sexually this sends a different message than what you are saying. Polygamy lessened a woman’s opportunity for sex but they went along with it willingly all through the OT. Why?

  17. I also believe the ‘be fruitful and multiply’ command is a very strong indicator that they had sex before the fall. This was a command of God to them.

    The first man and woman certainly were not going to “fill the earth” so God’s commission in Genesis 1 must go forward to the rest of us.

    So, are you and Cheryl claiming that a woman who never has children has disobeyed God’s command in Genesis 1? Or is that null and void nowadays now that the earth is pretty full? Were only the early women “required” to give birth or else be in disobedience to a command of God? What happened to the women who were infertile or never married?

  18. Lin,

    I am not claiming that the woman has higher libido than the man. I am suggesting the possibility- based upon two mentions of childbirth in the immediate context of this “desire” (right in Genesis 3:16)- that this “desire” God speaks of toward her husband does have a component of an increase in her libido as a consequence of the Fall. Again, I don’t see this as a bad thing. I see this as a redemptive thing.

  19. I got stuck wondering about the issue of polygamy being brought into this discussion… I don’t think anyone here would consider polygamy a good thing. But it occurred to me that if you take “be fruitful and multiply” as a command which must be obeyed lest one sizzle in hell, then I suppose a polygamist could be viewed as just doing his duty by impregnating as many women as possible to protect them from disobeying God’s command and incurring God’s judgment…

    Personally, I don’t perceive God as being that way…

  20. #4 tiro,

    A lot of studies about hormones show that testosterone overbalance is partly responsible for rage and domination desires in males. And well, we women know what some of the hormonal imbalances do to us.

    This certainly is a consideration that the change in woman and the fall itself for man changed the relationship of hormones to our moods/actions. Interesting position.

  21. “Seems like a red herring to bring in polygamy.
    Polygamy cannot be blamed on the woman’s “desire” (or lack thereof)”

    Charis, I don’t have time to respond to all of your comments tonight but this one kind of stuck out at me. I don’t think it is a red herring at all. Why polygamy? We also see it happen very soon after the fall. The first polygamist was also a murderer.

    It is a result of sin being brought into the world. It has nothing to do with one flesh union. It is sexual sin, too, and goes against a one flesh union. God allowed it and regulated it later with the Law. It certainly caused a lot of problems in the OT!

    I am not blaming polygamy on women. But women were ‘turning’ to men for all their needs after the fall. Men, in turn, were dominating women after the fall. The OT is all about people living out the consequences of the fall and God working through sinful man for His purposes.

    Keep in mind that Eve was never ordered out of the garden yet she followed Adam out.

  22. “The first man and woman certainly were not going to “fill the earth” so God’s commission in Genesis 1 must go forward to the rest of us.”

    How do we know what was going to happen before the fall in this respect? Here is what we DO know: Even after the fall, folks lived to 900 years old for a time until God declared the years to be 120. Adam and Eve were to live forever before the fall so the be ‘fruitful and mulitply command’, given BEFORE the fall, could have brought in quite a population before Gen 3. For whatever God’s purposes, they did not have children before the fall.

    “So, are you and Cheryl claiming that a woman who never has children has disobeyed God’s command in Genesis 1? Or is that null and void nowadays now that the earth is pretty full? ”

    That was a command before the fall. And, We are under a New Covenant now. The command now is to go and make disciples. If the command were still to be ‘fruitful and mulitply’ then Paul would never have written that it is ok not to marry so as to serve the Lord better. (I realize I am saying this to woman with a passel of kids so please do not be offended. I think large families are wonderful and a gift from God. That does not mean it is still a command)

    “Were only the early women “required” to give birth or else be in disobedience to a command of God? What happened to the women who were infertile or never married?””

    You are forgetting that sin entered the world and changed everything. Besides, we have examples of such women in Hannah, Sarah, Rachael and others who struggled with this. In a Patriarchal culture it is all they had to offer in many ways.

    Being a woman who has only one child after many years of trying, I can certainly relate to those who have trouble in this regard. The most horrible thing was to hear from some patriarchal pastor that a closed womb was a punishment from God for some besetting sin. We live in a fallen world and bad stuff happens to both followers of Christ and pagans. How we deal with the bad stuff is what counts.

    Have you ever wondered why a drug abuser can have child after child but a follower of Christ is infertile? Some dear friends of mine are adopting children of a drug abuser (they came about this as fostor parents) who keeps getting pregnant but the court has ordered she cannot keep them. They are now adopting her second child. Why would God allow the drug abuser to keep having children yet allow the follower of Christ to be barren? Such is our fallen world where it rains on the just and unjust.

  23. Aside from the essentials which are spelled out clearly in the Apostle’s creed, what other doctrines in addition to patriarchy have been manufactured out of the thin air between the pages of the Bible?

  24. #15 Charis,

    You said:

    But God does tell Eve “your desire will be for your husband” in the context of mentioning increased pregnancy and childbirth twice. Many church fathers understood it as a sexual desire (in a very disrespectful demeaning manner). While I disagree with their disrespect of a woman’s sexual desire, I do wonder if they were seeing something that we have wrongfully dismissed (because we don’t want to acknowledge that the increased sexual desire of the woman is a consequence of the fall)?

    It may be that many church fathers understood God’s words to mean that she will have a sexual desire for the man, but many of the same men blamed the woman for the man’s problems. They weren’t looking at the issue with unbiased eyes. However if I had a roomful of women and I asked them to tell me about the desire that they have for their man, I would say that most women would describe their need for emotional intimacy and friendship/partnership. I would venture to guess that most women would not describe an overriding sexual desire as primary nor would they describe their need to dominate the man. Sometimes I just wish that men would stop thinking that they know who women are and just take the time to ask women how they think instead of just assuming. Perhaps this would have cleared up a lot of misconceptions even by the early church fathers.

    As far as an increased sexual desire of women after the fall, I don’t see any evidence for this. Many women have a problem the other way especially those who have a number of small children that keep them busy from morning until night so that they fall into bed exhausted. Tell them that their “desire” is increased from the time of the fall and I’ll bet you’ll get a laugh back.

    I think the biggest thing that women have for men that can be unhealthy is a desire to be needed and wanted that makes many women “men pleasers” and ones who are ripe for abuse because they are feel like they need a man.

  25. #16 Charis,

    Only female humans had the “consequence” of “your desire will be for your husband”. Female animals only mate when fertile.

    Animals (even monogamous ones) fulfill “be fruitful and multiply” WITHOUT “your desire will be for your husband”. They have a periodic appetite they feed which takes care of being fruitful and multiplying. You have noted that conception and birth would need to have been infrequent with immortals.

    Humans also are one of the only ones who appear to mate even when there is no possibility of conception. Only in humans is the “one flesh union” a huge part of our inner souls. Animals are just not in the same category.

    I don’t think there will be sex in heaven, yet people will be more satisfied. What if the intimacy in the Garden was intensely satisfying without lots of sex? What if sexual intimacy was infrequent before the Fall, just a periodic appetite as it is for animals?

    These are good questions. I see nothing that would suggest that sexual intimacy was less in intensity or frequency than any other normal newly married couple. The satisfaction would not have been either/or but both intimate physical bonding and intimate emotional bonding. As far as the future goes, the Bible gives us the picture of a bride and her husband joining together in union. I have no idea what that means in our relationship with Jesus as we are the bride of Christ, but I do know that we are joined together into one body as the bride and then with Jesus and whatever that entails will be fulfilling in our relationship with our God and Savior Jesus Christ far more than any mere human relationship here on earth could be. I guess we will find out when we get to Heaven. One thing I do know is that marriage and human sexuality is not needed in Heaven and what we will experience is far better like the shadow is nothing compared to the real thing.

  26. #18 Charis,

    The first man and woman certainly were not going to “fill the earth” so God’s commission in Genesis 1 must go forward to the rest of us.

    This was the original command to Adam and Eve and it is their descendants who will ultimately fill the earth. I do not believe that the command is demanded from each one of us individually.

    So, are you and Cheryl claiming that a woman who never has children has disobeyed God’s command in Genesis 1? Or is that null and void nowadays now that the earth is pretty full?

    My answer would be the same as my answer above.

    Were only the early women “required” to give birth or else be in disobedience to a command of God? What happened to the women who were infertile or never married?

    I don’t think they saw it as an individual “requirement” but a blessing from God. Those who were infertile or never married could still be seen as obedient to God in the areas that He called them in. But marrying and having children was certainly seen as the “norm”. Paul did speak to this when he said that being single was also a blessing because it gave one more time to spend serving God alone.

  27. #19 Charis,

    I am suggesting the possibility- based upon two mentions of childbirth in the immediate context of this “desire” (right in Genesis 3:16)- that this “desire” God speaks of toward her husband does have a component of an increase in her libido as a consequence of the Fall. Again, I don’t see this as a bad thing. I see this as a redemptive thing.

    If it was this way, I wouldn’t see it as a bad thing either, but it would give an idea that in the garden before sin, that the woman and man were quite mismatched sexually. I also don’t see this as a redemptive thing. I would need you to explain this because I don’t see this as anything to do with salvation.

  28. #21 Charis,

    I got stuck wondering about the issue of polygamy being brought into this discussion… I don’t think anyone here would consider polygamy a good thing.

    I think you are right.

    But it occurred to me that if you take “be fruitful and multiply” as a command which must be obeyed lest one sizzle in hell, then I suppose a polygamist could be viewed as just doing his duty by impregnating as many women as possible to protect them from disobeying God’s command and incurring God’s judgment…

    I don’t think we can equate “be fruitful land multiply” as a prohibition command. I see it as a blessing on the union of the original man and original woman and there is an entire world of their offspring, so God truly has blessed them. Also it wasn’t a command that demanded a punishment for disobedience. Once they experienced the blessing of marital life, I don’t think they worried about being disobedient.

  29. #25 Greg Anderson,

    Aside from the essentials which are spelled out clearly in the Apostle’s creed, what other doctrines in addition to patriarchy have been manufactured out of the thin air between the pages of the Bible?

    Oh boy, Greg, are there a lot of sub-patriarchy additions that have been added to the scriptures. I believe CBMW has produced a “Christian Talmud” to deal with the ever increasing additions. No longer do many of these men look to the Bible for the answers because the foundation is not solid enough to hold even a fraction of the answers from scripture alone. It is only when they lay down the view of a “male bias” and realize that men and women are both made spiritually equal as joint heirs with Christ, can they stop asking such silly questions as “Can a woman be an usher and pass the offering plate from front to back instead of just from left to right?”

  30. Humans also are one of the only ones who appear to mate even when there is no possibility of conception. Only in humans is the “one flesh union” a huge part of our inner souls. Animals are just not in the same category.

    Are you claiming that “one flesh union”= sex?
    and that humans are in a different category because humans do it even when there is no possibility of conception?

    I say “one flesh union” is far deeper than just sex. Just sex does not make a “one flesh union” or animals would have a “one flesh union”. I think in the Garden they knew about the other aspects very deeply, in a very heavenly kind of way and that sex was just not as important as fallen man has made it.

    And though I agree that a woman’s desire for her husband is much more than physical, just think how it would be if she never ever had any sexual desire except during fertility (like animals). I think it would take away a lot of the sexualization of media, the exploitation of women, and it would make women much less dependent upon male opinion. And I think men would adjust. Monogomous men who followed the Law lived close to such a pattern (sex only in fertile periods). Two week abstinence every month was part of the Law (Lev 15:19ff; Lev 20:18)

    If it was this way, I wouldn’t see it as a bad thing either, but it would give an idea that in the garden before sin, that the woman and man were quite mismatched sexually. I also don’t see this as a redemptive thing. I would need you to explain this because I don’t see this as anything to do with salvation.

    I don’t see them as sexually mismatched before the Fall. They had much deep intense intimacy of other kinds. We have no comprehension of how good it was for them. We think sex is “ultimate”. Like a child might think chocolate is ultimate and say “what you want to take time for sex when you could be eating chocolate instead?”. Well they had intimacy which was so far beyond sex- face to face intimacy with God so that they would say “what you want to spend time on sex when you could be doing this instead?” They were not sex obsessed like modern mankind, nor did they feel a lack. Think of two children together. They never think about sex (hopefully). That’s how I see them in the Garden. They were God’s children.
    Young children remain “naked and unashamed” to this day (unless violated)
    Animals are “naked and unashamed”
    Neither children nor animals are sex obsessed

    I think that before the Fall the man and woman were not sex obsessed. We impose that on there. And I think “desire” of Genesis 3:16 has a libido component. I think the frequency of sexual activity increased after the Fall. Interesting that God never even mentioned Adam KNOWING his wife pre-Fall. If it was such a central part of what marriage is all about then its odd that it is really unclear that they ever even had sex before the Fall.

  31. Interesting post. Have you read the work of Carrie Miles? She has an interesting perspective on the world of thorns as an economic reality after the fall. In the world of thornes there is a struggle for life and because of the multiple conceptions, women gravitate toward roles that keep them near the home and able to care for the children. Roles evolved according to economic need in the world of thorns. This vulnerability also created the circumstances in which the woman was dominated by the man. Close to the hearth, the woman did not experience nor did she have the time to engage in the outside world. This led to views of women intelligence as lesser ect, that women needed beauty to attract a man who would be able to provide for her and her many children. It was about survival. children also were born as workers…so the family could survuve in a agraian culture in a world of thorns.

    Miles then goes on to speak about redemption and reversing the effects of the fall. It’s a fascinating book and very relevent. I love her discussion on Redemptive Love that returns to the vision for marriage that moves beyond survival toward the kind of mutual love God intended for us to have. And for the lives of shared reigning as God’s vice regents. It is about a restoration of mutual reign and God-based love.

    I think Ortberg is really off based when he grounds original sin as insubordination of women and failing to be head in men. Sin corrupted the world after the fall in all ways. If Ortberg were correct, we would not need Jesus to redeem us. We would only need roles.

    I think Christ did much more than that. Orberg has reduced salvation to living out roles.

    Christ redeemed us and the world… we are in the already but not yet period. One day, all things will be put to rights at the return of Christ. In Ortbergs world, women will remain in subordination eternally.

  32. For Richer, For Poorer, Materialism’s Corruption of Marriage
    http://www.carriemiles.com/
    click on the article For Richer, For Poorer, PDF version
    for a brief explanation of her perspective on marriage in a world of thorns, current issues, and the redemption of love.

  33. “Are you claiming that “one flesh union”= sex?
    and that humans are in a different category because humans do it even when there is no possibility of conception?”

    Charis, I certainly do not think that at all about ‘one flesh union’. I agree it went much deeper than that…and even intellectually deeper as a partnership than it is considered today.

    “And though I agree that a woman’s desire for her husband is much more than physical, just think how it would be if she never ever had any sexual desire except during fertility (like animals). I think it would take away a lot of the sexualization of media, the exploitation of women, and it would make women much less dependent upon male opinion. And I think men would adjust. ”

    Personally, I think the word ‘desire’ in Gen 3:16 is a horrible translation. It gets us off on the wrong track completely. I do not think it maps to the consequence of sin for women at all. But that is my opinion. I believe that the best translation is’ turning’…as in turning toward her husband and away from God. I think that matches the consequences of being dominated by her husband. She would turn to him to fulfill all her needs instead of also having an intimate relationship with God. If only we were teaching women to turn to God instead of their husbands for all their needs, especially their spiritual needs. I think we would see a huge change in the evangelical divorce rate.

  34. I’ve always been taught that “I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception” to mean (particularly about the word “conception”) that God would increase the length of time for a pregnancy. That’s just been the really quick answer given to that passage.

    This has been an eye-opening study and I’m learning lots from this site.

  35. # 26 Cheryl,
    “Sometimes I just wish that men would stop thinking that they know who women are and just take the time to ask women how they think instead of just assuming.”

    LOL – every man should read “For Men Only” by Shaunti Feldhahn and Jeff Feldhahn (of course, every woman should read its counterpart – “For Women Only”)

    Charis,
    You seem to have some underlying issues with sex but I can’t quite put my finger on what you are getting at. I do know that neither Cheryl or Lin take the position that the “one flesh” union is only physical. We all know that sex within marriage is designed by God for purposes of not only being fruitful but also fostering “oneness” with all of it’s relational and emotional implications. It is in fact all of these non-procreative, non-physical realities which starkly contrast human sexual relations from those of the animals. Since Adam and Eve clearly had that kind of “bond” from the very beginning, and because God designed sex as both the ultimate expression of that bond and a primary contributor to it, it seems illogical to me to believe Adam and Eve could have become “one flesh” as scripture says they did as a matter of fact, without “normal marital relations” having been involved.

  36. #33 Charis,

    You said:

    Are you claiming that “one flesh union”= sex?

    The “one flesh union” is not just sex at all but the emotional, spiritual and physical bonding make up that union. However if we take out the sexual component and say that Adam and Eve had a special union in the garden of Eden without sex, we destroy the language. Let’s take an example to clearly bring to light what I mean. Women are generally very relational people and easily bond on an emotional level. Let’s say that you have a good woman friend and you do everything together. Is it proper to say that you and your girl friend are a “one flesh union”? No, that isn’t proper because a “one flesh union” implies bonding that encompasses more than emotional and spiritual. It also touches the sexual part of us.

    There is no doubt in my mind that Adam and Eve had the very best intimacy in their marriage as they bonded together on all levels. It is unnatural to see them relating as brother and sister instead of a fully one-flesh union as husband and wife.

  37. Charis,

    You said:

    And though I agree that a woman’s desire for her husband is much more than physical, just think how it would be if she never ever had any sexual desire except during fertility (like animals). I think it would take away a lot of the sexualization of media, the exploitation of women, and it would make women much less dependent upon male opinion. And I think men would adjust.

    I am not 100% sure of what you are getting at but the way this is worded comes across as if sexual intimacy is only dependent on a woman’s desire. I think that mutual respect means giving even when you don’t always want to give and/or respecting the other person’s need to not be forced.

    Think of two children together. They never think about sex (hopefully). That’s how I see them in the Garden. They were God’s children.

    I don’t see this in scripture. God created the man and woman not as young children, but as full grown mature adults. The marriage that God performed by bringing the woman to the man had nothing to do with any childlike state that they were in. If so, then I would think he would have waited to bring them together in marriage until they were emotionally and/or physically ready for marriage. Since God didn’t wait for that, we can reason it through that they were ready for marriage.

    Neither children nor animals are sex obsessed

    That is true, but Adam and Eve were neither children nor were they animals. And when God brought them together he didn’t identify their “one flesh union” as sex obsession. I do think that sex obsession probably did come into play after the fall and Adam’s domination of his wife may have included demands from someone who was not respectful of his wife. But do I think this was the case in the garden pre-fall? No. I think they experienced the very best that God intended marriage to be before the fall.

    And I think “desire” of Genesis 3:16 has a libido component. I think the frequency of sexual activity increased after the Fall.

    The problem is that “desire” was not a change made in the man, so to reason this way would mean that man’s desire in the garden was frustrated and only fulfilled once sin occurred. This doesn’t seem to be a natural reading of the text.

    Interesting that God never even mentioned Adam KNOWING his wife pre-Fall. If it was such a central part of what marriage is all about then its odd that it is really unclear that they ever even had sex before the Fall.

    The “one-flesh union” mention is a clear indication that their bonding was not merely emotional. In the after-fall account the “knowing” is attached to conception. Since there was no conception before Eve’s conception was “greatly increased” after the fall, there was no need to expand on “one flesh union” regarding the pre-fall life in the garden.

    This is where so many go wrong in thinking that sex is somehow not quite right because it didn’t happen until sin entered the world. What people need to realize is that it isn’t sex that was the focus as if sex was something new, but the conception was the focus and it was a new component to their relationship.

  38. #38 Kathleen,

    I’ve always been taught that “I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception” to mean (particularly about the word “conception”) that God would increase the length of time for a pregnancy.

    I haven’t heard this one myself. If this was the case, then I wonder how they would explain why Eve did not get pregnant and have a child before they left the garden. Lots to think about, eh?

  39. #43
    Prior to reading your translation of Genesis 3:16 (I wonder why I have never looked at scripture4all.org on this verse as I rely heavily on it for so many others) I was under a similar impression as Kathleen. Having read “traditional” translations, it seemed to me that the “punishment” (pain IN childbirth) would have no meaning to Eve unless she had already experienced painless childbirth. I am rethinking as your analysis makes much more sense with the cleaner reading of the Hebrew.

    I am not sure it matters in the long run. Would it be a big deal if Eve had already had a few children pre-fall? It still wouldn’t change the impact of the changes in conception, pregnancy, and child birth that you outline the fall brought about, would it?

    Of course, the bible doesn’t say she had children pre-fall, nor does it say she didn’t have any. Either conclusion seems to be an argument from silence. The bible also doesn’t say that Cain was her first child specifically (or Able her second, for that matter). As best we can tell, Cain is the first child of any consequence. The only thing the bible is consistent in is leaving out mention of children who don’t factor into the Genesis story line. Although I leave open the possibility that some of those unmentioned children may have been pre-fall, I won’t lose any sleep over it. I will make a point of asking once I get to heaven though, just to satisfy my curiosity ;-).

  40. After reading all of this, the same question keeps coming into my mind: What kind of marriages do these men have? And did they think this way about marriage or one’s relationship with women before they married? My, my. It all sounds like a sad commentary on their relationships when I read this stuff.

  41. I feel frustrated at having to keep repeating myself.
    Its like you are seeing this in 3D and I see it in 4D. There is another dimension in the Garden that we DON’T HAVE ANYMORE.
    The man was NOT frustrated before the Fall.
    The intimacy they had was satisfying FAR BEYOND anything mere sex offered.

    I still think you are imposing things on the text that aren’t in there. You make much of that when others do it and don’t seem to be willing to see it when you do it. You are IMPOSING frequent sexuality and your own experience of the centrality of that to marital intimacy. Its not in the text.

    But I don’t wish to keep explaining myself. I feel some of the comments are misjudging me. Good and frequent sex does not a good marriage make- I know of what I speak. IF they had it (which you have convinced me they did on occasion), it was a nice perk (like chocolate to a child) but was NOT a centerpiece of the Garden experience. That experience was so far beyond sex and chocolate that Adam felt satisfied and so did Eve.

  42. “I feel frustrated at having to keep repeating myself.
    Its like you are seeing this in 3D and I see it in 4D. There is another dimension in the Garden that we DON’T HAVE ANYMORE.
    The man was NOT frustrated before the Fall.
    The intimacy they had was satisfying FAR BEYOND anything mere sex offered. ”

    Charis, I am not sure how anyone could say this to your satfisfaction but from what I have read here most agree with this .

    “I still think you are imposing things on the text that aren’t in there. You make much of that when others do it and don’t seem to be willing to see it when you do it. You are IMPOSING frequent sexuality and your own experience of the centrality of that to marital intimacy. Its not in the text. ”

    Wow, I think this is a bit strong. Can you be more specific? An exact quote or something?

    “But I don’t wish to keep explaining myself. I feel some of the comments are misjudging me. Good and frequent sex does not a good marriage make- I know of what I speak. IF they had it (which you have convinced me they did on occasion), it was a nice perk (like chocolate to a child) but was NOT a centerpiece of the Garden experience. That experience was so far beyond sex and chocolate that Adam felt satisfied and so did Eve.”

    Yes, and sin entered the world. But what do you do with ‘be fruitful and mulitply’ command in Gen 1? Are you saying they ignored it whether or not God allowed children to be born before the fall? Are children the only proof of sex? I am just not sure I am following you and what you are saying.

    Did it ever occur to us that by women turing to man instead of God and being dominated by man that she then became a sex object? Good only for having sex and babies in the eyes of many throughout history? We see how this thinking has progressed throughout history into porn and sex being preached in the pulpits. Now, we even have John Piper defining what is beauty in a woman as in gentle and quiet as if these are not qualities for a man, too.

  43. Charis,
    I suggest your fourth dimension differs little from the 4th dimension Ortlund sees things through. Where in the text do you discern that “There is another dimension in the Garden that we DON’T HAVE ANYMORE”? I see nothing to suggest that. What we know is that the result of the fall is that our relationships will be much harder because of our sinful tendancies. But I see nothing in the punishments and prophecies of Genesis 3:14-17 to suggest that pre-fall intimacy is impossible or that some component of it has been lost to us. Moreover, if you are correct, you have actually diminished sex post-fall into less than God intended it to be. In fact, you seem to suggest that frequent sex within marriage is actually a bad thing; part of the consequences of the fall.

    Although scripture has a LOT to say about sex and its important, positive contribution to the marital relationship, it makes no mention of the idea that either sex was less frequent or good pre-fall, or that frequent, good sex post-fall is some kind of substitute for some mystical relational dimension we have subsequently lost.

  44. Charis,

    I guess I am disturbed by what I see as a pessimism in your comments. Personally, I believe that, based upon that which Cheryl has described well, though we are not explicitly told all the fine details (to the same degree of assurance that “God created”), to say that Adam and Eve were not together as man and wife in the Garden (something weird that I think might come out of the Kabbalah or the Gnostic gospels or some weird mystical writings) is to say that sex and unity of husband and wife came to us as a result of the fall. Some groups interpret this through a belief in a pervasive innocence, but this is not what I believe. That whole “Sex is Evil” is more Greek and Roman Catholic, actually.

    I’m also disturbed by what I would describe as a “disease model” that you seem to read through. Sex as a disease, childbirth as a state of disease… And from the very beginning — from the two most healthy and perfectly healthy people that ever existed. Some of the comments here about Testosterone offered by others are all disease model approaches and perspectives. That really just disturbs me a great deal to read through a disease model anyway. I do not view childbirth as a disease state, nor do I view sex that way.

    My first sexual experience was one of violation and was sick, but I never tagged sex as sick in my head. My marriage was holy before God, and I don’t read any of my marital relationship through my experience of being violated. The whole “nice perk” about “chocolate to a child” seems like another example of something of a disease model rather than that of wholeness. That doesn’t mean that Adam and Eve walked around obsessed with sex which is another disease model.

    And that’s something that I fear so much about these gender teachings. They make anything gender oriented either evil or a sacrament. They are neither. Sex was likely something Adam and Eve did, right along with everything else they did, in balance. It was neither more nor less than God designed it to be, yet still a very powerful and wonderful way of unity between man and wife that changes over time and over the course of a relationship — and theirs was apparently all honeymoon. God said that His creation was good and He blessed it as such.

    With sin came the consequences: painful childbirth, but still not a disease but a promise of hope and blessing.

  45. #44 Gengwall,

    You said:

    Of course, the bible doesn’t say she had children pre-fall, nor does it say she didn’t have any. Either conclusion seems to be an argument from silence.

    While I agree that it would be an argument from silence, the fact is that it is such an important subject that silence from the Bible regarding any children born before the fall would have a huge implication regarding the whole issue of salvation. For example if Eve had a boy and a girl prior to the fall, then this boy and this girl would not have inherited death through Adam since they came before the fall and not after. If they married, we would have a sub-set of people who were not affected by the fall and who did not need a Savior. Yet scripture says that all of us born from our father Adam were “in Adam” when he sinned so that “in Adam all die”.

    1 Cor 15:21 For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead.
    1 Cor 15:22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.

    Rom 5:12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned–

    Rom 5:15 But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many.
    Rom 5:16 The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification.
    Rom 5:17 For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.
    Rom 5:18 So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.
    Rom 5:19 For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.

    Where would we fit children who were not “in Adam” when he sinned? I think that this is one area that no children were mentioned as being born in the garden and no children left the garden with Adam and Eve, we can be sure that the only people here are earth are those who were “in Adam” when he sinned and who are all subject to death. If there are two “kinds” of humans, one subject to death and the other not subject to death then God made a huge mistake by not telling us about another “kind” of person born without the sentence of death upon them through Adam.

  46. #45 Cindy K,

    After reading all of this, the same question keeps coming into my mind: What kind of marriages do these men have?

    I have had the same questions in my mind. When I read what they write about the origin of the female and God’s intention for her and her “punishment” I think how difficult it would be for them not to look down on their women in some way. I am just glad I am not married to a man who thinks these thoughts. I think it would be deeply troubling personally to me.

  47. “I have had the same questions in my mind. When I read what they write about the origin of the female and God’s intention for her and her “punishment” I think how difficult it would be for them not to look down on their women in some way. I am just glad I am not married to a man who thinks these thoughts. I think it would be deeply troubling personally to me.”

    I am writing from personal experience so please do not think I am being uncharitable. I am only speaking what I saw. If these couples make a living in ministry, these types of sermons, books, conferences are huge money makers for them. It also keeps them in the right circles to further their income. If they dared to change their minds on any of it, much income would dry up and they may even be in danger of losing their jobs as they would be labeled as liberals. It is in their best interest to further these bizarre doctrines about women and men. It sells. People love roles, rules and formulas. It is easier to read a book and follow it than it is to follow Christ.

    But, I have a question that I saw someone pose on another blog that has just intrigued me for days. If they really believe these gender roles and in biblical womanhood and separate the two so much in all terms, even spiritual, then how can women be Christlike since Christ came in human male form?

  48. #46 Charis,

    I feel frustrated at having to keep repeating myself.

    I am truly sorry for your frustration. I personally do not mean to offend you in any way and I can also sense your frustration. I do admit that I may not fully understand what you are getting at, but I also think that you may be misunderstanding me and reading into my writing more than I am saying. I sense that this is because you are deeply wounded and this is an area that you need to protect from receiving further wounding. Please believe me that I am not trying to hurt you or rub salt into any wound that you may have.

    Its like you are seeing this in 3D and I see it in 4D. There is another dimension in the Garden that we DON’T HAVE ANYMORE.

    Okay. I understand that you are trying to tell me that I am not seeing another dimension that you clearly see in Genesis. May I ask some questions to help me understand? If there is another dimension of marriage in the garden that we no longer have access to, how can we relate to that since we do not have access to it? How can we understand from the text that they had something different in marriage than what the best marriage here on earth does not have? Is this a feeling? Or is there something specific in the text that I have missed?

    The man was NOT frustrated before the Fall.

    Okay. So if I understand you right, the man had all the sexual desires of a normal male (since his desire was not increased after the fall) and the woman had much less desires than now, but the emotional/friendship/spiritual intimacy was good enough to replace sexuality and somehow made the intimacy they had impacted him enough so that he needed less sex than he needed after the fall. Is this what you mean? If this is so, is there anything in the text that would allow us to see that sexuality was not a healthy physical need in the garden but that friendship and the perfection of the garden were enough to satisfy everything that was needed? Also would it be reasonable to expect that God would not comment about the details about Adam and Eve’s private sexual lives either pre or post-fall? Would it also be reasonable to expect that Adam and Eve had more sexual encounters than the couple of times mentioned in scripture that resulted in a couple of noteworthy births? I think that it would be reasonable that the absence of the number of times per day/week/month/year that they had marital relations would not be expected to be in the biblical account to prove that they were a “normal” married couple both pre and post-fall.

    Charis, I am not relating this to your experiences at all. I am not implying that you are not “normal” or that you are expected to be a one-sided giver and your husband a one-sided taker.

    The intimacy they had was satisfying FAR BEYOND anything mere sex offered.

    I happen to think that this quote is exactly what we will experience in heaven because in heaven we will not be married or given in marriage. But I just don’t see where you get this information from in the Genesis account regarding Adam and Eve’s relationship. It seems to me that you may be implying that the closer a couple gets to a perfect intimate relationship on an emotional level, the less they will desire a physical relationship. At least, this is what it seems that you are saying about Adam and Eve. While I can stand firmly with you regarding our new bodies that will be created after the likes of the new resurrected and glorified body of Jesus Christ, I do not see any evidence in the scriptures that the perfect bodies that God originally gave Adam and Eve which had all the plumbing for the experience of a completed physical relationship would have been there if the parts were not needed. Please do not get me wrong. I am not saying that their sexual relationship was the most important. I am just saying that I do not think that this part of their relationship was ignored because this would lessen the need for marriage. If this was so, I would think that God would have waited to marry them until they left the garden since their relationship in the garden would not need marital physical intimacy and could have been completely fulfilling as brother and sister or as two child-like humans exploring emotional relationships alone.

    I still think you are imposing things on the text that aren’t in there. You make much of that when others do it and don’t seem to be willing to see it when you do it. You are IMPOSING frequent sexuality and your own experience of the centrality of that to marital intimacy. Its not in the text.

    Charis, I didn’t realize that I did this. Where was it that I imposed “frequent sexuality”. What I intended to do was to show that the sexual relationship was part of the pre-fall blessing of their marriage in contrast to those who see sexuality as something not so much God-ordained but as a “necessary evil”. I also intended to reason through the issues of “increased desire” to show from my viewpoint that an “increased desire” implied a “lesser” desire pre-fall and with only one partner having their desire changed, it appears to me that this would make Adam and Eve quite a mismatch pre-fall. Well, either that or they are a mismatch post-fall. Perhaps there are other options that I haven’t thought through yet, but I think my conclusions have merit and logic to them even without my ability to see a fifth dimension in the account.

    I feel some of the comments are misjudging me.

    If this is something that I have done, I sincerely apologize. I do not mean to cause you pain nor do I mean to misjudge you.

    Good and frequent sex does not a good marriage make- I know of what I speak.

    I agree. I am not trying to put down the other wonderful ways that husband and wife bond with each other.

    IF they had it (which you have convinced me they did on occasion), it was a nice perk (like chocolate to a child) but was NOT a centerpiece of the Garden experience. That experience was so far beyond sex and chocolate that Adam felt satisfied and so did Eve.

    I am absolutely delighted that I was able to reason through the issue and convince you of this one thing. Thank you for telling me this because it makes me feel like I have done well in the one area of communication. I like that feeling.

    As far as what was the centerpiece of the Garden experience, I believe that walking with God in the cool of the evening had to be the absolute centerpiece of their Garden experience. I believe that this was far more fulfilling to them than even their own experiences as husband and wife. Perhaps I am reading into the text from my own love of God, but that is what I believe. I could stand to be corrected though.

    Your comment about sex and chocolate made me smile. My husband and I joined a Good Sams club here to get to know some of the people and the club members are all much older than we are. Every month there are comments about the things that elderly people do less frequently. I do not think eating chocolate is one of those things that is done less frequently. 😉

    Charis, if there is anyway that I can communicate in a way that is less offensive, I would be willing to learn. I think that you are a precious contributor here and I do not want you to think that I am trying to paint you into a corner or try to fit you into a one-size-fits-all box. You are certainly one of a kind just like all of us are and together we are brethren in Christ.

  49. Lin, I didn’t read you as being uncharitable at all. I agree and have seen the same thing in patriarchal circles, where their teaching/”ministry” is their livelihood. Even these people have to meet their mortgage payments.

    I have seen first-hand the kind of subserviance of the wife in a vocally patriarchal marriage. It was a bit astonishing to watch a late-term pregnant wife wait on her husband hand and foot while company (my family) was visiting at their home, while she also tended to their other 3 children. I helped, but wondered why the husband didn’t while he talked with my husband. We’re no longer in relationship with this couple, as their extreme forms of patriarchy became quite judgemental and they began to even question our parenting with our own teenage daughter.

    I also see that people don’t want to challenge the thinking that is comfortable for them. They stay in rules and roles out of fear, I think.

  50. Ha! My anti-spam word was “MALE” in all caps. Is such name calling really necessary?!? :-0

    I have seen some pretty wild interpretations of Genesis 3:16b in my day. Frankly, the one by Ortlund, while oppressive to women, is not the worst of its kind. But I do want to point out that conservative males are not universally in the patriarchal camp, nor are all egalitarian ideas necessarily “liberal” (at least not in fact, although they are to patriarchal thinkers). The problem for many conservatives is a knee jerk fear of radical feminism. But those conservative males (like me) who do not see burning bras around every corner (and who find it refreshing to hear a woman “roar” every once in a while) are far more open and less fearful of an egalitarian view. We don’t need to twist the bible in order to feel protected from those evil women’s libbers.

    I don’t know if you are familiar with Dr. Robert Lewis. He is pastor at large of Fellowship Bible Church in Little Rock. By the name, you can probably tell this is a pretty conservative bunch of believers. He is also founder of Men’s Fraternity, a kinder, gentler version of Promise keepers. You may find it interesting what his views are on Genesis 3 (I know this because I have attended his Men’s Fraternity bible studies for the last 4 years). You will be happy to learn that he holds a similar view to Cheryl’s “Unfaithful Watchman” in regards to Adam’s dismal performance in the garden. He has little regard for patriarchy, calling its promotion a “moral failure” on the part of men. If you would like a counter “conservative” take on the marriage partnership that should be far more encouraging, I would recommend his book “Rocking the Roles: Building a Win-Win Marriage”. Also, a little more intimidating to some because of the title but also far more positive in relation to the fall and Eve, is his book “The New Eve”. Take heart ladies – not every “conservative”, and dare I say not even every “patriarch” (we should explore that word some time), is a woman oppressing, wife dominating fiend.

  51. #47 Lin,

    You said:

    Did it ever occur to us that by women turing to man instead of God and being dominated by man that she then became a sex object? Good only for having sex and babies in the eyes of many throughout history? We see how this thinking has progressed throughout history into porn and sex being preached in the pulpits. Now, we even have John Piper defining what is beauty in a woman as in gentle and quiet as if these are not qualities for a man, too.

    This is an excellent point! Woman in the garden was not a “sex object” and marital unity would have included an intimate relationship in all areas. It wasn’t until after the fall that sex was taken outside of the emotional/spiritual intimacy.

  52. #48 Gengwall, very good points!

    #49 Cindy K, thanks for bringing up the foundation of the “sex is evil” belief. I do think that our misunderstanding of what happened when God confronted Eve lends itself to the misunderstanding about sex. There are a lot of people who still think that sex wasn’t the original good creation and only came after sin entered the world. We need to dispel this myth.

    You said:

    My first sexual experience was one of violation and was sick, but I never tagged sex as sick in my head.

    Praise God that you were not destroyed for life by that terrible experience!

    And that’s something that I fear so much about these gender teachings. They make anything gender oriented either evil or a sacrament. They are neither.

    Amen! The teachings of “biblical manhood” and “biblical womanhood” seem to suggest that we cannot follow Christ in the same way. They suggest that our faith must be lived out in a way that is tied to our gender and so it appears that somehow women have lost out in being as good a Christian example since Jesus was male and only males could then live out the gendered example of Jesus. This is hogwash. It seems to me that this is what separates us in the body when we think that our spirituality is gender specific. Are the fruits of the spirit gendered?

    With sin came the consequences: painful childbirth, but still not a disease but a promise of hope and blessing.

    I liked how you brought hope and blessing out of this rather than discipline and God’s turning his back on women. This is the way that I read scripture as well. Good job!

  53. #53 Lin,

    I am writing from personal experience so please do not think I am being uncharitable. I am only speaking what I saw.

    I absolutely do not see you as uncharitable!

    But, I have a question that I saw someone pose on another blog that has just intrigued me for days. If they really believe these gender roles and in biblical womanhood and separate the two so much in all terms, even spiritual, then how can women be Christlike since Christ came in human male form?

    I would really like to hear the thoughts of others? What Lin has posed is an excellent question.

  54. #57 Gengwall,

    I have seen some pretty wild interpretations of Genesis 3:16b in my day. Frankly, the one by Ortlund, while oppressive to women, is not the worst of its kind. But I do want to point out that conservative males are not universally in the patriarchal camp, nor are all egalitarian ideas necessarily “liberal” (at least not in fact, although they are to patriarchal thinkers).

    This is good to remember. It is sometimes easy to want to put people into boxes. Creating boxes where we can place people in is just an easy way to dismiss them and not give their view the time of day. Thanks for reminding us that there are no one-size-fits-all boxes even in the patriarchal camp.

    I don’t know if you are familiar with Dr. Robert Lewis. He is pastor at large of Fellowship Bible Church in Little Rock. </blockquote
    No I am not familiar with Dr. Lewis or his teachings.

    You may find it interesting what his views are on Genesis 3 (I know this because I have attended his Men’s Fraternity bible studies for the last 4 years). You will be happy to learn that he holds a similar view to Cheryl’s “Unfaithful Watchman” in regards to Adam’s dismal performance in the garden.

    I like this guy already!

    He has little regard for patriarchy, calling its promotion a “moral failure” on the part of men.

    This is very refreshing coming from the conservative man camp.

    Take heart ladies – not every “conservative”, and dare I say not even every “patriarch” (we should explore that word some time), is a woman oppressing, wife dominating fiend.

    We should explore what good there is in “patriarch” vs “patriarchy”. I will bookmark that thought in my mind.

  55. LOL! Now my anti spam word is ADAM! Is someone trying to tell me something or what?

    We should explore what good there is in “patriarch” vs “patriarchy”. I will bookmark that thought in my mind.

    A couple of years ago (almost to the day) I started a thread on this topic at christianforums.com. It was quite a barn burner, generating 72 followup posts. You may find it an interesting read, especially considering the wide ranging audience that frequents those haunts (be kind to me, remembering this was two years ago when I was just beginning to earnestly study not only marriage and the creation account but the bible in general). Here is the link: Patriarchy – contrasting the societal and biblical ideas Ironically, the posts ended with me giving an etomological analysis of the word patriarch. I suppose I could argue that it was so good, no one had a response. But I know better.

  56. “Well, I do love rules (my nickname when we play games is “RULE BOY”).”

    I need you to play UNO with my daughter. She makes up rules as we go along. Same with Battleship.

  57. I was thinking about this post this morning and thinking about the command God gave in the garden. His command was, “do not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.” If God commanded the first couple to not eat from the tree. how could the first couple be punished for breaking the order of God in creation, the woman taking the place of the man as head and the man following in submission.

    That would make God incredibly unclear as one who gave commands. The serpant also refered to the eating of the tree as the tempation to disobey God. I don’t know how patriarchialists and complimentarians get that sin had to do with the failure of the woman and the man to adhere to their roles.

    would not God have been more clear in his commands and said something like this, “Adam, i have made you head and you must not abandon your headship and follow your wife. She is to follow your leadership.”

    To me that would be far more clear of a command.

  58. Arlene,
    Your comments are incredibly insightful and well said. You are right. If God had an order of creation “role” that could not be broken, then the command to keep the “roles” would have been said. God did not command these things to either the man or the woman and God did not call them to account for a reversal of the “roles”. Such an application of Genesis is reading into the account something that is not there.

  59. My take is that the non-egals are wearing “blue” glasses and see blue in lots of places it does not exist.

  60. What is even more telling is what the Genesis account DOES say about “roles”. The two roles given by God to mankind were to “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” Propogation and dominion are the ONLY two roles spoken of in Genesis 1-3 and they are distributed to the human race as a whole. No distinction or “weighting” is mentioned and so the assignment falls equally on the male and female. Now, I think there are persuasive arguments that males and females are designed to approach those two tasks in different ways. But that has nothing to do with roles.

    In fact, I find not a single shred of biblical teaching that says that either the male or the female has a particular “role”, especially when it comes to activities of daily living. This is true even for some of the most contentious subjects like providing, protecting, nurturing, and home making. On the contrary, God makes it clear that both genders have a contribution to make in every aspect of family life. And although it may be true that one gender or the other may be generally better suited to particular tasks, that neither excludes nor excuses the other gender from contributing. Even then, every individual is unique, and God has graciously put little or no restriction on how each family distributes roles or even delegates authority! Only in our fallen state have we dreamed up this hierarchical world – just as God said we would in Genesis 3:16.

  61. Wow – i miss reading all your contributions everyone and Cheryl your posts always teach me so much. I have had so little time to ‘blog’ since my third child…but managed to come ‘visit’ today… interesting stuff to read indeed!

    Question (for anyone!) – re: the whole ‘cycle’ of Eve – in terms of her potentially fertility and conception opportunity etc… i found that interesting and had never remotely thought about it before this post!
    It’s so hard with Genesis 1-3 – as there is so much left ‘unsaid’ (and since God’s word is perfect, it must be ‘all’ we ‘need’ to know!)… so many of our thoughts and ideas are just assumptions we make based on what is actually ‘silence’ in the Scriptures…
    we dont really know HOW LONG they were in the garden before they sinned and left… so regarding ‘why’ didn’t adam / eve have kids before they left the garden (and i agree with you cheryl that they didn’t for the reasons you stated in #50)… why do we assume that they were there a ‘long’ time… perhaps it was just a matter of days? weeks? ie: longer than even a ‘normal’ monthly cycle?
    i haven’t looked into this – so just a question that came to my mind – anyone got any thoughts that can help me?

    (-:
    kerryn

  62. Kerryn,

    I think that we assume that Adam and Eve were in the garden for an extended period of time since the third son of Adam that is named in scripture was born when Adam was 130 years old.

    Gen 5:3 When Adam had lived one hundred and thirty years, he became the father of a son in his own likeness, according to his image, and named him Seth.

    Seth was a son who was said by Eve to be a replacement given by God for Abel who was killed by Cain. The fact that Seth was born when Adam was 130 years old and appears to be the first son born after the death of Abel seems to suggest that Adam and Eve were in the garden for years rather than days or weeks.

  63. This brings in an interesting question of who actually did the naming.

    Gen. 4:25 And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and named him Seth, “For God has appointed another seed for me instead of Abel, whom Cain killed.” 26 And as for Seth, to him also a son was born; and he named him Enosh.[c] Then men began to call on the name of the LORD.

    Gen. 5:3 And Adam lived one hundred and thirty years, and begot a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth.

    It could very well be that because in a marriage the two are viewed as one, so that the wife may do most of the naming but the husband when speaking represented the two of them when it was said “he named”. So even if the two of them named together, either could say “I named”. Interesting.

    Interesting also, is that was said right after it was said that their name was Mankind, or Humanity, or Human. Your pick. So in Genesis 5, maybe the first three uses of adham, could more properly be read as “the human”. Thus, the geneology of the human, they both having the designation of ‘the human’ and the birth of their first son and ‘the human’ naming him Seth.

  64. I’ve often wondered whether they ‘knew’ each other a lot more often than Scripture states. 🙂 Oral history simply did not record the names of every child. Because otherwise, we’d have to say that they sure weren’t much interested in sex, with the third child being born at 130 years later.

    LOL

  65. Although I happily concede that there were no children before A @ E left the garden. It hardly seems likely Seth was chronologically only the third son born. At this same time Cain was married and off building a city which certainly was inhabited by the people of Nod. There had to be at least serveral generations at work at this point in time, meaning A @ E had to have had other children, male and female, by the time Seth came along.

  66. LOL yes, gengwall. That was my point. Oral history tends to leave out a lot of facts and just homes in on certain pertinent ones.

    🙂

  67. gengwall,

    Yes there were likely more children born to Adam and Eve between Abel and Seth that is why I said that Seth is the 3rd named son. It does appear that he is the first son that Eve gave birth to after Abel died. Of course we can also understand that A & E’s children were having children of their own during this time too. The bible is silent on the amount of time that Adam and Eve were in the garden. The only clues we have are that there was no pregnancy in the garden, no children born in the garden and Adam was 130 years old when a replacement for Abel was born. I guess we will have to ask Eve when we get to heaven 🙂

  68. tiro,

    Or we could say that Eve’s conception was GREATLY increased after the fall. Many speculate that they were in the garden for a year or so. That is possible. I don’t think that it was only just a day, but that is also possible.

  69. LOL yes, Eve’s conception was GREATLY increased. 🙂

    Conception can be a large category. I’ve been pondering the whole hormonal thing. We see how intense the rest of the animal/creaturely kingdom gets during mating season. That is all they think about. Everything stands almost still while all attention is given to mating.

    But humans have mating season all year long after puberty. And when hormones kick in, young adults are out of control with the whole male/female thing. Especially in the first 25 or so years many men and women revolve life around their sexuality. I am really wondering if this is what God meant when He said that conception will increase.

  70. tiro,

    I’ve wondered that too, having just passed menopause and having just spent several years re-evaluating my entire “marriage doctrine” and discovering so much of it was sand and the “house” built upon it was a disaster. Also, observing my own teenagers, and 20something children so focused on sexuality. Its like a blindness- kept in place by hormones, momentum, fear of change… I have wondered if everyone goes through their own re-play of “Adam and Eve”, their own personal experience with Genesis 3 consequences of the Fall. Their own awakening (HOPEfully!) Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord for HIS deliverance! (I hope some people don’t take as looooooong to “get it” as I!)

  71. Charis,

    Nice to see someone else ‘gets’ what I’m pondering about. 🙂

    Relative to that are the admonishments about elders in 1 Tim. The Greek word has a foundation in one being older. There are words that just mean aged, that mean aged man or woman, that mean elder in ministry and that mean an elder man or woman in ministry. They all share a root that mean aged/elder. The thing that is important about it IMO, is that an older person has some maturity (well not all ) from the experiences of life and seeing his perspectives change. As well, an older person is not as controlled by hormones. Sometimes hormones are like “blood in the eyes”. We still see something through them but they definitely color what we see.

    As you can tell I am not in agreement with the view that being “an elder” in the church is just about being in a supervisory ‘position’ of authority over. IMO it is about an older more experienced and mature person being a spiritual watcher over those who are younger. There are those elders who teach and there are those elders who watch and whatever else that entails.

  72. First, really cool audio security. Such a blessing to find this site, been going through for a long time. We are of like mind, yet we differ. A rebellious Adam never knew Eve as his wife in the Garden, Eve did not even obediently get her name from the mouth of a now punished Adam until post fall in 3:20. Also, God’s stated will was for conception, that God spoke of increased conception in 3:16 is prophectic and derived from the future actions of a now increasing obedient Adam. Adam, in 4:1 would for the first time obediently know his wife, which is exactly why conception immediately took place. The first daughter had no issues of conception, the only problem was in physically coming together with a husband who would rather her dead than alive. She was eternal, therefore any elapse of time would have been of no effect upon her. She was in a physically perfected state. Further, just as a now awake but bleeding and sore Adam realised he was missing a rib, so to would Eve have felt the natural pains of childbirth, even as a God of Foreknowledge respectively also felt His own pains in the Creation and birth of his human children. Also, yes, a knowledgable Adam was present in 3:1-6 yet remained silent. It is imparative to make examination of his actual motives in doing this, the situation was extremely dark. Many more things to discuss. For instance 3:13 was a confession even honored by God, proven by both a name and title which she alone received, even post-fall, speaking to life, purpose and position in 3:20. Adam received no like recognition in the garden. He had a name speaking of shame only and received no title of “father of all living,” this is a like spiritual title he forfeited by withholding the garden confession before God. So much to this, but one more, according to the Hebrew, did you know that Adam was a “man” only as he is defined by the name of Adam (meaning to be “ashamed” as the word “man” also has a secondary meaning to be a “mighty champion” which Adam was not), and because Adam only achieved status as being a “man”, as only defined by the name of “Adam”, he was not therefore also, spiritually speaking and according to the Hebrew, a “male” (noteworthy sex). And even if Adam achieved status as a “male”, being the “noteworthy sex” only speaks to the greater difficulty of the male in humbling himself before God and admitting fault. That’s it. Even that has nothing to do with an elevated position of authority. What also of Adam’s illegal name changes in 2:23? That he was a man created by the Foreknowledge of God from “dust” which ultmately equated to death? Please visit my website, and consider my book: “The Real Skinny on Eve” sub-titled, “A Short but Comprehensive Guide on the Real Identity of Sisters in the Church of Jesus Christ.” There is still so much to say.

  73. I have this question: if Eve stay in the garden could she still have the promise seed…after she had sex/relations with Adam? Didn’t the Seed/Jesus have to be born of a virgin, if she had sex with Adam then she wouldn’t be a virgin? You typed once that she could have stayed in the garden but turned to her husband and went with him and i agree with that. I’m just trying to make sense of it all.

    Yes I agree that her body did change after eating the fruit, a fallen body would expe. pain. Even if she had sex with Adam before the fall and then stayed in the garden after the fall, could Christ/the seed still come through her unvirgin body, that’s my question….all things are possible with God, right? Please explain, thanks

  74. If Eve had stayed in the garden then none of the other prophesies would have been made since no other human would have been born except for the Messiah. The prophecy about the virgin birth of Jesus came much later. The original prophesy made in the garden was that it was the woman’s seed that would produce the Messiah. The man’s seed wasn’t involved but no other details were given. So the provision was there that Eve could have stayed in the garden and produced the Messiah alone but God knew for sure that she would leave. In fact he prophesied it by saying that she will desire her husband. It was the desire for him and Adam’s taking his rule over her that caused her to leave the garden. God knew all of these details and the rest is history.

  75. I was think just that and you just put the icing on that white cake! Thanks for clearing that up I know it will help everyone who will listen. I’m going to print this. Thanks

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