CTBHHM: The Woman Was Deceived

Created To Be His Help Meet, pp. 106—108

This chapter is called “The Nature of Man and Woman.” Last week, in the first section of this chapter, we learned that it is in men’s nature to beat their chests and roar at each other while women by nature sit back, admire, and wait to be conquered. This next section is called “The Woman Was Deceived.” I think you can guess the topic. Debi starts by telling the story of the fallen angel Lucifer and God’s creation of Adam.

Debi explains that Adam was lonely and that Satan could have taken that time to tempt him, taking advantage of his loneliness. But instead Satan “waited for the creation of the weaker vessel.” See, “Satan knew that the man could not be deceived, but the woman could.”

Lucifer is a male being (Isaiah 14:12—20). He understands the natural resistance of the male. He knows males say “no” just to prove they are in command. But Lucifer could see that this soft, sweet female was vulnerable. God had made her by nature to be responsive, and she was trusting and naive.

This is why Satan approached Eve rather than Adam, and this is why his temptation was successful. Eve ate the forbidden fruit at Satan’s urging because she was the weaker vessel, not as strong as Adam. She would listen to Satan ready to be convinced while Adam would have listened with skepticism. The interesting thing is that the Bible doesn’t actually back up what Debi is saying here. Nowhere does the Bible say the snake approached Eve because she was female, and nowhere does the Bible say that Adam would never have succumbed to temptation. Debi is just making this stuff up.

Regardless, Debi is playing into some stereotypes here—namely, the idea that men are guided by logic and thought while women are guided by feelings and emotions. This idea is in no sense unique to Debi; rather, it pervades our culture today. And explaining everything that is wrong with it would take several blog posts. For one thing, lots of people don’t fit these stereotypes. Second, women are socialized to be more concerned with people’s feelings while men are socialized to be more interested in try argument. Third, this logic/emotion male/female dichotomy results in positioning feelings as inferior and pure unaffected “reason” as superior, which has all sorts of negative effects when it comes to things like classism and imperialism. The thing is, Debi takes these stereotypes, treats them as universal, and covers them with a religious gloss.

In my mind, I picture the man being created heavily armored. His armor is helpful both spiritually and physically. God loaded him down with resistances, giving him a nature that is doubting, skeptical, forceful, and pushy. God knew that in order for man to survive, and even prosper, he would need a natural armor that would drive him to keep pushing against the odds, while enjoying the challenge. God knew that Satan was a liar and the master of deceit, so he created man to question first and believe later. Man’s objectivity and lack of intuitiveness make him appear less spiritual than the sensitive, believing female. As a general rule, man is ruled more by his mind than the female, who is governed more by her sensibilities.

Picture God as deliberately creating the woman without this armor, because he intended for her to stand behind her husband’s armor. He was to be her covering her shield, and her protector. Satan was able to deceive her when she left Adam’s side and was confronted by the Devil’s logic alone. She didn’t have the armor to ward off his fiery darts of deceit.

Oh, so much to say here.

It’s worth noting Debi is simply pulling all this out of her magic hat (which is of course simply a nicer way to say that she’s pulling it out of her ass). This is true for both the idea that women are more easily deceived and the suggestion that men are more cerebral. For one thing, the Bible doesn’t say that women are more easily deceived. Sure, it says some things you can fairly easily twist into meaning that, but people like the Pearls claim that they are merely taking the Bible at face value. The Bible also doesn’t say that men are more cerebral or that women are more intuitive. Seriously, look for it. It’s not there. This stuff comes not from the Bible but rather from culture. Basically, when it comes to these points Debi is basing her theology on both medieval (women are easily deceived) and Victorian (men are cerebral and women are intuitive) gender stereotypes. (Yes, misogyny in the church goes back much further than that, but I am completely unconvinced that Debi’s actually pulling on figures from church history rather than more present cultural factors like the remnants of medieval and Victorian ideas about gender.)

This bit about men being created with armor and men without is likewise a product of Debi’s magic hat. It’s not in the Bible, anywhere, and it also doesn’t fit into actual lived experience. The problem with what Debi is doing is that being told over and over that you are weak and cannot do things yourself or safely make your own decisions may result in you actually starting to believe it. In other words, it becomes a self fulfilling prophesy. But I want to return to the Bible for a second, because it occurs to me that Debi is ignoring the most explicit place in the Bible that having armor is discussed: Ephesians 6:10-17.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

The book of Ephesians was written to both male and female Christians in Ephesus and there is nothing in this passage that indicates that Paul only intended to address the men in his audience with this passage. Rather, this passage appears to suggest that both men and women can put on the armor of God and “stand against the devil’s schemes.” Both men and women can take up the sword of the spirit and the breastplate of righteousness and the shield of faith and the belt of truth. What Debi is saying is that this is wrong, that God made men with armor and left women defenseless.

Speaking of which, how in the world does that make any sense, right? If you were creating two turtles, would you intentionally leave one defenseless, bereft of a shell? Seriously, the turtle without a shell is just supposed to stand behind the turtle that does have a shell? Why not just create both turtles with shells? And beside that, we’re supposed to believe that women should never leave the side of their male protector? Really? What if a woman needs to do some shopping, is she supposed to take her husband with her, always? I’m guessing Debi would say no, but isn’t that what Debi suggests Eve’s mistake was—that she stepped away from Adam for a moment?

As for why women would be created without armor:

God designed the woman to be sensitive and vulnerable for the sake of the little ones whom she must nurture. The soul of a mother had to be vulnerable, the outer shell thin. She must be quick to feel, to hurt, to love, to have compassion, to take in the broken, and to believe the best. Vulnerability is a woman’s greatest natural asset and the point of her greatest weakness.

You can see how a reader predisposed to believe Debi’s words would be nodding along here. Debi is putting together something that appears to make some internal sense. But when I read these sentences, I can’t help but think of a mama bear. Would someone seriously suggest that a mama bear’s “vulnerability” is her greatest natural asset? Would someone seriously suggest that a mama bear needs to be “vulnerable” in order to nurture her cubs? I’d rather think the opposite. Being a mother does not require being vulnerable or having a thin outer shell. Sure, being a parent means you open yourself up to hurt, but if you go into it being exposed and think-skinned, you’re going to find yourself in a heap of trouble. Motherhood—parenthood—requires inner strength, tenacity, and grit. It is not for the weak at heart.

Having given this reason for women’s lack of armor, Debi next explains that a woman can become like a man—can attempt to fashion armor for herself, if you like. But the results, according to Debi, aren’t pretty.

A woman can become tough and hard, skeptical and cautious in relationships, just like a man. She can become guarded and cynical, but in so doing, she is no longer feminine, no longer attractive to a man, and she will even begin to not like herself. Unprotected by the covering of her husband, she will grow miserable fighting her own battles and trying to survive on an equal footing with men. Just look at the faces and mannerisms of outspoken feminists and lesbians. In their attempt to shed their vulnerability and express their independence, feminists begin to exhibit traits and behaviors completely outside of their created feminine nature. They lose their beauty and charm and become very poor excuses of men.

Feminists and lesbians seem to be the perennial punching bag of female readers who write books for conservative Christian audiences. I’m not the second, but I’m definitely the first, and let me st your mind at easy: My husband still finds plenty of beauty and charm in me. Also, I promise that I don’t actually hate myself.

One line from this very typical paragraph especially stuck out to me: “In their attempt to shed their vulnerability and express their independence . . . ” In Debi’s world, women are to be vulnerable and men are to be independent. While ordinary people generally see an individual’s attempt to shed vulnerability and embrace independence as a positive thing, Debi only sees it as a positive thing if it’s a man who is doing it. Men are to be bold independent leaders; women are to be vulnerable submissive followers. Independence in the hand of a man is invigorating and attractive while independence in the hand of a woman is ugly and unfeminine.

In the end, this entire section is in some sense simply Debi’s attempt to justify the “weaker vessel” rhetoric. Women are more vulnerable and sensitive because they must be suited to raising children; Men are stronger and more independent because they must protect and provide for the women and children under their care. The idea that both men and women might be able to cooperatively find a balance between the two, each with aspects of vulnerability and aspects of independence, eludes Debi completely, as does the increasing obviousness that her stereotypes about gender come not from the Bible or nature but rather from Victorian social norms.

About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • NeaDods

    We’re reaching the point in the book where, if you already aren’t indoctrinated and have the faintest grasp of the world and history, all you can do is point, laugh, and jeer. “Feminists are ugly” is a schoolyard taunt; also, objectively untrue. There’s a brilliant book about warrior queens derisively titled The Weaker Vessel. And neither Debi nor Michael has read their Kipling – “the female of the species is more deadly than the male.”

    • centaurie

      “And neither Debi nor Michael has read their Kipling – “the female of the species is more deadly than the male.””

      Raksha, anyone? As the wiki-page puts it :”Defying the tiger Shere Khan, who is determined to eat the man-cub, she reveals that her name is Raksha (which means “protection”) because of her ferocity as a fighter, and she will fight to the death for any of her cubs, natural or adopted.”

      (And for that reason, one of my fav characters in the stories. Next to Tikki-Tikki-Tavi.:D)

    • KarenJo12

      Using Deb’s favorite book, I find the story of David and my Biblical girl-crush Abigail, in I Samuel 25:4 – 40.* Short version, Abigail is married to one Nabal, who tells David and his soldiers to get lost from the sheep-shearing party. Abigail defies her husband’s very clear direct order and sends Dave food and drink, for which she is praised as being wiser than her husband. Nabal falls dead when he hears about it, and Abigail becomes one of David’s wives.

      Read the King James for the delight in seeing the phrase “every man who pisseth against the wall.”

      • AlisonCummins

        I didn’t know this story so I looked it up. Sounds like David was running a protection racket. “Nice sheep farm you got here. It would be too bad if any of my young men got out of hand. Weren’t they nice to you last summer? I think they deserve some gratitude.” Nabal is prepared to die rather than give into blackmail and gets plastered while waiting to be taught the inevitable lesson. Abigail, however, is not prepared to lose her life to protect her husband’s pride and uses flattery and bribery to save the sheep farm. She can see which way the wind is blowing and when she’s widowed she doesn’t put up any resistance when the local warlord summons her.
        (Possible glossed-over-detail being that Abigail succeeded in saving herself and the farmhands but that David sent someone to teach Nabal a long, slow, agonizing lesson personally. Abigail is not stupid, and having seen close up what happens to defiant people, she doesn’t put up any resistance when the local warlord summons her.)
        Is this how it reads to everyone else?

      • http://www.facebook.com/melody.marie Melody Jones

        Alison, your take on the wonderful romance of David and Abigail is quite possibly the best thing I have read this week. Thank you so much. :D

    • Niemand

      Heck, Debi Pearl’s named after Deborah, judge of Israel and leader in battle. I’m not sure Pearl has read the book she claims to be basing her life on.

  • Antigone10

    She contradicts herself multiple times here:

    He understands the natural resistance of the male. He knows males say “no” just to prove they are in command.

    As a general rule, man is ruled more by his mind than the female, who is governed more by her sensibilities.

    These contradict themselves on their face. Someone who says “no” to everything is not generally considered a “person of the mind”- they are stubborn control freaks. Someone who was ruled by the mind might say “I’ll consider it” but they wouldn’t just reject everything out of hand.

    Additionally, she’s just flat wrong about not just men, but Adam. When Eve offered him the fruit, he didn’t say “no” to prove he was in command. He just flat-out ate it. And how does “more ruled by his mind” square with the “keep yourself covered up, don’t have sex with anyone, and bow to his every whim”? That’s not being ruled by the mind.

    • AlisonCummins

      Someone who reflexively says “no” to everything just to prove that he’s a big dick would be extremely easy to manipulate.

      You pull a Tom Sawyer and bet him ten bucks he can’t climb the tree to get the apple, or tell him he’s too much of a pussy to eat it because he’s so dependent on his nanny-god.

    • http://twitter.com/TrollfaceMcFart Trollface McGee

      Stubborn control freak seems to be the gold standard of “manlyness” in Debi’s world. Her manly men don’t actually seem very “manly” as they seem to be incapable of basic tasks like taking out the trash but they do have magic..er God-given powers to automatically transfer all blame and fault to the women in their lives.

  • Anne

    I tend to interpret the story differently. Assuming the serpent is Satan (which isn’t in the text), Adam was led astray by a mere fellow human, while it took the father of lies to convince Eve. It was also Eve, not Adam, who questioned the serpent and needed to be reassured with the serpent’s lies. Eve is also the only one who tells the truth to God. Adam, who was there the whole time and didn’t resist blames it all on Eve, while Eve tells the truth about the serpent.

    • Jayn

      If anything it reinforces the idea that men are easily deceived by
      feminine wiles. Which would explain the emphasis on total
      submission–men are scared of us because they know we have the ‘real’
      power in this worldview.

      • Anne

        Mostly it reinforces the idea that men will blame women.

  • http://valuesfromscratch.blogspot.com/ Marian

    Ugh… this kind of rhetoric makes me SO MAD! I know you’re not a Christian, Libby Anne, but I am, and it ticks me off that people use the fall to defend patriarchy and antiquated gender roles. But nothing ticks me off more than when people say that Eve was deceived because she was vulnerable because she had left Adam’s side. Because that is simply 100% contradictory to what the Bible says.

    “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, WHO WAS WITH HER, and he ate it.” Genesis 3:6.

    You can read the story of the fall to defend patriarchy if that is what you are looking for. You can read the story of the fall to defend egalitarianism if that is what you are looking for. Personally, I think the egalitarian interpretation is a lot more compelling, but that’s neither here nor there. The point is that while you can have either interpretation, the one thing you CANNOT do is claim that you are reading the Bible 100% literally and taking it at face-value and then turn around and claim that Eve was deceived when she was alone. Unless, of course, you’re not ACTUALLY reading the Bible.

    • kagekiri

      I’ve heard a talk (probably from Bill Gothard’s crud) that leaned on that bit that mentions Adam and Eve were together. The gist of it:

      “Oh, see, Eve was the one taking the lead and talking for the pair, showing that she had stepped out from under the protection/authority of Adam. Adam in turn failed by not keeping his wife under his authority. And see, they ended up making the biggest mistake ever! THEREFORE, women should be subordinate to men in decision making!”

      So yeah, the patriarchal spin version is definitely out there.

      “The point is that while you can have either interpretation, the one thing you CANNOT do is claim that you are reading the Bible 100% literally and taking it at face-value and then turn around and claim that Eve was deceived when she was alone.”

      Well, you could do both; lying and inventing things out of whole cloth are obviously par for the course with this fundamentalist stuff.

      • http://valuesfromscratch.blogspot.com/ Marian

        Oh yeah, I know the patriarchal spin exists even when people acknowledge that Adam was standing there the whole time. I used to parrot it when I was lost in that world. Eve’s sin was eating the fruit, but Adam’s sin was not being the leader he was supposed to be, he abdicated his responsibilities and blah blah blah barf. But even back then it bothered me when people tried to pretend Adam wasn’t even there.

        Personally, I tend the view the creation story and the story of the Fall as mythological, metaphorical in nature (because, you know, science). I don’t think there was a literal Adam and Eve. I think it’s God’s way of explaining to a very primitive culture that the world is messed up, and here are some of the consequences of it being messed up (if you read the text, I think it’s pretty clear that patriarchy is a consequence of a “fallen” world and not the original design) and here are some of the reasons the world is fallen (namely, some humans trying to be better than others, again, patriarchy and hierarchy being the problem, not the solution.)

  • wanderer

    I love how in Debi’s mind satan is so omniscient and wise that he knows god is going to create a woman before she existed. He knew she would be created and even knew what her vulnerabilities would be. Wow, god isn’t very smart at all to not have foreseen this.

    • Baby_Raptor

      That thought crossed my mind as well. It confuses me, because supposedly God is the only omniscient one.

      As to God not having foreseen it…Yeah, he knew. He specifically created humans with “free will”….Hence Eve being able to decide to listen to the serpent instead of God. God KNEW he was screwing everyone…He did it anyway.

    • kamikaze

      And also, If Eve was deceived by Satan and Adam deceived by Eve, doesn’t that make Adam the more gullible of the two? I mean, Satan is not only making very convincing arguments, but he is apparently omniscient! Eve didn’t stand a chance!

  • KarenJo12

    “What Debi is saying is that this is wrong, that God made men without armor and left women defenseless.”

    I’m being sorta picky, but I think you meant that God made men WITH armor and women without. Since I would be typing incoherent strings of random letters in a fit of blind rage after reading Debi’s dreck, I completely understand how this happened.

  • Rachel of J101

    In what may be my weekly “No, Debi, that is not the Bible you say it is…”

    Isaiah 14:12-20 is not about Lucifer, fallen angel. Instead, it’s almost certainly (and has been understood as such throughout the ages) to be a metaphor for the King of Babylon, likely Nebuchadnezzar II. The Hebrew word is “hey-lel”, which appears nowhere else in the text. It is not a reference to Satan: that’s a later amalgamation that both Jews and Christians struggle against. No modern Christian interpretation interprets it as Lucifer.

    If Michael Pearl were actually a Bible scholar, he would know this. But — oh yeah, KJV can’t have any errors at all, right? Except this one is a major, major mistranslation, and once you take that out, most of Debi’s flimsy justification falls apart, and all Debi’s left with is her ass-pull.

  • http://musings.northerngrove.com/ JarredH

    Can we also dispense with this nonsense that Eve was deceived? Here is what the serpent actually said:

    The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

    So Eve ate. And she continued to live. (God never qualified that he was only talking about a “spiritual death” rather than a physical death. And besides, if we accept the creationist mumbo-jumbo that death only entered the world with sin, how could Eve even comprehend what it meant to “die,” let alone evaluate a statement saying she would or would not die?) And after eating, she did indeed know good and evil.

    I see no deceit.

    • Sally

      Right, and what about Eve eating an apple brings sin into the world? If the snake is tempting her to do something wrong, apparently sin already exists in the world (in the snake).

      And it’s just mean to put the tree there in the first place. It’s not like there wasn’t free will without the tree. Eve used her free will to eat of it when she was told not to. And you have to really do some mind twists to get yourself to believe that the person deciding to reach for the apple was doing so in a time and place where there was no sin (deciding and reaching isn’t sin?) but as soon as her mouth bit, “poof” now there’s sin. What?

      And then there’s two versions of the story in Genesis. They contradict each other. Makes me think the people putting the scriptures together didn’t take these stories literally. They probably thought, well, we’ll put these two versions in so people understand this is allegory.

      I’m getting off-topic. But it bugs me how people can use such a child-like story to control people in real life.

      • Speedwell

        My mother used to explain this by saying that in other parts of the bible, the phrase “the fruit of the tree” is the equivalent of saying “the results of the actions”. Therefore Jesus cursed the fruitless fig tree (despite the fact that it wasn’t fig season) to make a point about people not doing what it took to get godly results (that bit about it not being fig season is nuts though). So she believed that “eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” was really a thumbnail description of behaving experimentally, going your own way, making mistakes, having successes, and relying on the consequences, rather than trusting God, praying, and waiting for explicit guidance, which she would carefully explain was the proper relationship with God, and she would draw a parallel to the sermon in which Jesus declared that people needed to become like children. To Mom, Eve was tempted by the world to become worldly. Though how Eve was supposed to have done so without leaving the Garden always bothered me, but I never managed to ask her.

      • Rosie

        The story of the Fall is in fact modeled on a folk-tale motif called “the one forbidden thing”. See, for example, Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ retelling of the Bluebeard tale for a representative version (and excellent analysis in Women Who Run With The Wolves). But you’ll notice if you read a few of these that Yahweh in the Fall story tracks to Bluebeard, the predator of the psyche, that Eve and the serpent are actually the heroes (because the psyche can’t grow up until the one forbidden thing is done and knowledge, however painful, is gained), and Adam, who should have done the protecting and dismantled the predator, fails in his job.

        So yes, the story of the Fall as written is a warning against gaining knowledge, experimentation, taking initiative, and growing up in general. And yes, it’s reinforced throughout Genesis as well as in the rest of the Biblical canon. It’s also what Joseph Campbell calls a “refusal to affirm life” (in The Power of Myth).

      • Sally

        Interesting!

      • Jayn

        For me the kicker is them hiding their nudity. Did that become bad only after they ate the fruit? Which doesn’t make sense. So I tend to believe that God made us imperfect (seriously, not knowing good from evil seems like a major flaw to me) and eating the fruit was the first step towards perfection.

    • Conuly

      Well, there is some deceit, but it’s not from the serpent. There is a reason the Gnostics considered the serpent the hero of the story.

  • Sally

    If women are “weaker” so that they can raise children properly, why didn’t Debi write the To Train up a Child book instead of Michael? Not only that, but Debi uses the same methods in childrearing as Michael. They are NOT to “…be quick to feel, to hurt, to love, to have compassion, to take in the broken, and to believe the best.” The Train up method is almost the exact opposite of that.
    That seems like the biggest contradiction of all that I’ve seen in the world of the Pearls.

    • Angela

      This is exactly what I was about to write. Sensitive and nurturing parents would never whip infants with plumbing pipe.

      • herewegokids7

        I’m going to correct something that’s been said a few times now, not in defense (never) of the Pearls but so that maybe it might prevent readers from discounting other things that are being said. The book actually recommends not ‘plumbing pipe’ but ‘plumbing line’ or tubing. It’s bad enough for sure. It’s tough flexible tubing with a small o-ring on one end for either grasping, or harder hitting depending on which end you grab.

      • http://lanahobbs.wordpress.com/ lana hobbs

        Yes, and you could cut the tubing into lengths and get a small connector. Made a lovely bracelet. All us older siblings had one to use on the littles. Looked like a trendy jelly bracelet, actually for hitting our baby brothers and sisters. You could wear it to Walmart and no one would blink.

      • sylvia_rachel

        :( I’m sorry that you and your siblings had to grow up that way.

      • http://lanahobbs.wordpress.com/ lana hobbs

        Thanks. But at least I have my own kids and thoughts now :) no plumbing lines, no broken cooking spoons-unless they break drumming pots!

      • sylvia_rachel

        no broken cooking spoons-unless they break drumming pots!

        Which can happen to the best of us when we get really into our percussion appreciation ;)

      • jmb

        AKA the “rubber hoses” so much beloved of secret police throughout the 20th century.

  • Niemand

    Adam was deceived by Eve. If Adam couldn’t even see through weak, gullible Eve, how could he possibly have seen through Satan? I think Satan went for Eve because she was the one who presented a bit of a challenge. He left Adam alone for the same reason that Muhammed Ali at his peak would have refused to fight Steven Hawking after his ALS set in: just no point. Eve at least made Satan work for it a little.

    • Heather

      Oh, but the party line is that Adam wasn’t deceived at all but just chose Eve over God, possibly because she was so sexy. If you read “that kind” of Christian fiction about the Fall, that’s always how Adam’s choice goes: “Oh no! Eve has sinned and cut herself off from God? I can’t bear to lose her, I’d better jump on the bandwagon!”

      Although in the *actual* Genesis account, it says she gave the fruit to her husband “who was with her”–suggesting that he didn’t just walk up that moment, he was there the whole time and didn’t even say anything. Interesting, that.

      • Niemand

        So then the official line is that this is the first instance of a man thinking with his genitalia? Ok. But doesn’t that pretty much negate all the “men are more rational and cerebral” stuff? Adam was too busy thinking about sex to even worry about eternal damnation? Not someone I want in charge!

      • sylvia_rachel

        Another interesting thing about that story is that nothing at all is explicitly said about Eve tempting, persuading, guilting, or even encouraging Adam to eat the fruit — she just gives it to him, and he eats it. Why? Either he was there the whole time (as you suggest) and he’s just as persuaded by the serpent’s argument (and/or just as eager to expand his horizons) as she is, or he wasn’t there but is so incurious, so unable to think for himself, and so accustomed to doing exactly as he’s told that he just eats it without even asking what it is. I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel that either interpretation exactly inspires confidence in Adam’s superior leadership qualities — either man and woman are essentially equal (as the first creation story in Gen 1:27 suggests) or, if anyone’s in charge, it shouldn’t be him ;)

      • http://www.facebook.com/retha.faurie Retha Faurie

        “If you read “that kind” of Christian fiction about the Fall, that’s always how Adam’s choice goes: “Oh no! Eve has sinned and cut herself off from God? I can’t bear to lose her, I’d better jump on the bandwagon!” – Heather

        The interesting thing is that the story could be read exactly the other way round. Gen 3:24 say God drove out the man, and later we see both outside the garden.

        We could say – and some outside patriarchy have speculated it – that Eve said something like “”Oh no! Adam has sinned and cut herself off from God? I can’t bear to lose him, I’d better jfollow him out of the garden!” But where, in your pic, the man is seen as hero for doing so, nobody sees the woman in this pic as a hero for doing so.

  • Niemand

    Incidentally, my personal, new-agey feel good interpretation of the whole eating the fruit thing is this: It isn’t a parable of sin, but rather a parable of growing up. Eve made her own decision and that decision was to learn and specifically to learn how to make her own judgements about good and evil instead of relying on god all the time. She convinces Adam, who is a bit more reluctant, having spent more time relying on god, but in the end is willing to trust himself enough to follow Eve’s lead. And god doesn’t kick them out of Eden as punishment, but rather sends them out as a parent sends his or her adult children from home to build their own lives and families. And Eve gets to be the one who bears children because she is the one who took the initiative and made the decision first. In short, the more adult of the two.

    • Speedwell

      I didn’t see your comment when I posted mine above, but I’m in agreement with you.

    • Rosie

      It’s not just your take. Joseph Campbell compared the story of the fall to the Bluebeard folk-tale, which is indeed an initiation story about growing up. Except the Biblical authors mixed a few things up in the telling, and made the heroes into villains, and vice versa.

      • Alix

        It’s also probably related to various Golden Age myths around the Near East and eastern Mediterranean, designed to explain why the world isn’t quite as awesome as it could have been.

        The motif of a snake (or a god often symbolized by such) arranging for a mortal to gain wisdom but pointedly not immortality’s a really common Near Eastern motif, but usually the snake is dealing with a man and his advice is to not eat something (see, for example, the story of Adapa). And, of course, the Tree of Life is a common feature in Mesopotamian mythology. The Genesis narrative is not exactly unique, but it’s pretty interesting.

  • Ibis3

    God knew that in order for man to survive, and even prosper, he would
    need a natural armor that would drive him to keep pushing against the
    odds, while enjoying the challenge.

    What kind of challenge was there supposed to be in Eden? There were meant to be no odds to push against. So is Debi claiming that God created Adam already equipped for life *after* the Fall?

  • Hat Stealer

    God designed the woman to be sensitive and vulnerable for the sake of the little ones whom she must nurture. The soul of a mother had to be vulnerable, the outer shell thin. She must be quick to feel, to hurt, to love, to have compassion, to take in the broken, and to believe the best. Vulnerability is a woman’s greatest natural asset and the point of her greatest weakness.

    I find this all very ironic coming from Debbi Pearl, a woman who advocates for beating your children with a pipe wrench until they bleed if they so much as offer a frown. Apparently either God’s defenition of ‘compassion’ and ‘love’ are very different than what appears in the dictionary, or he just did a really sucky job when creating women.

    • Lauralee Moss

      I was just thinking that. I must be more feminine than Debi because I cannot bring myself to beat my children.

    • sylvia_rachel

      Yeah, that’s the first thing I thought of, too — if the Pearls’ childrearing oeuvre is an example of that maternal feminine tenderness she’s talking about here, I’ll stick with my ugly non-child-beating feminist self, thank you :P

  • http://twitter.com/kitsunerei88 Mary

    My most striking thought? If men are so “cerebral” and posed a tougher challenge to Satan and can resist temptation FAR BETTER than women, why can’t I strip in front of one with no consequences? Why is my sexuality so TERRIFYING to them, and why can’t I wear whatever I want? Seriously, the culture can’t be talking about how men are so rational and cerebral out of one side of their mouths and then talk about the threat of immodest women out of the other. And moreover, in that case, why can’t I express my own opinions? Why can’t I have personality of my own? I feel like she’s saying men are really, really rational and strong, etc, but just a few chapters ago she basically said that men couldn’t handle women having opinions….

    • Sue Blue

      Exactly!! You’d have thought all Satan would have had to do would be to appear to Adam as a really hot, naked, lusty woman telling Adam he could do whatever kinky things he wanted to if he ate this one apple. Judging from Debi’s previous characterizations of men as walking erections, Adam would have “fallen” in a split second. Lots less effort involved than sweet-talking Eve.

  • Lunch Meat

    The first few chapters of Genesis in Debi’s Bible seem to have been torn out and replaced with Paradise Lost. PL basically says straight out that Eve was meant to be the one deceived because she’s weaker, stupider, and more vain. And Milton’s god is a big jerk for not only telling Adam, but not Eve, about Satan when he knows that Satan is on the prowl and that Eve is gullible, but at the very time when Satan is tempting them, god is sitting in heaven boasting about how humans were created “sufficient to have stood, yet free to fall.” Adam and Eve were capable of resisting, but god knew they wouldn’t. He knew the consequences of their deception but instead of protecting them to make sure it wouldn’t happen he just made sure he couldn’t be blamed for it.

    That would be stupid even if god didn’t intentionally create one human stupider than the other. Debi would probably say he did it to show how great they were when working together because of complementarianism, but you can have complementary people without making one stupid and weak and pretty and incompetent. You can have two people with different skills without having one be dominant.

    And even if none of the above was stupid, it would still be dumb that Eve is more easily tempted to sin because of her submissiveness and gullibility. We’re all supposed to be submissive to God, right? We’re not supposed to be thinking about or questioning commands, we’re just supposed to blindly believe? Then how is Adam’s stubbornness and use of his mind a strength? Surely Satan could have played on that just as easily as he played on Eve’s weaknesses. Look at the temptations that Satan gave, it wasn’t just Satan telling her what to do (in which case Debi might have a point), it was Satan making her think, making her doubt. “Does this really make sense?” If Debi’s characterization was correct, it should have been Adam who was deceived, although it’s more likely that he’d say “No!” the moment God gave him a rule, like the petulant toddler complementarianism makes all men out to be.

    • Leigha7

      A lot of Paradise Lost has just gotten absorbed into modern Christianity as if it came straight from the bible. The creation story in the bible is actually pretty short and not tremendously descriptive, but somehow everyone just KNOWS that Lucifer did it and so on and so forth, and not a single bit of that is biblical in any way.

  • http://ripeningreason.com/ Rachel Marcy (Bix)

    Wait. Eve craves knowledge while Adam is happy to meekly obey God and never think for himself, and women are supposed to be irrational and dependent? Eve takes the fruit after hearing the serpent’s arguments, and Adam, without attempting any sort of counter-argument for why they shouldn’t eat the fruit, takes the fruit from Eve and eats it, and women are supposed to be easily led? Why on earth would anyone put Adam in charge after this incident?

    • Victoria 1

      That’s the way I have always felt about this story. Eve shows signs of intelligence, curiosity and maturity, while Adam seems slow, incurious and immature. It’s a good thing it’s just a story. If I really believed this stuff, I might lose some respect for my husband.

    • Alix

      Yeah. Conuly mentioned this way upthread, but all of these various issues with the, shall we say, backwardness of the Genesis account are why a lot of Gnostics and other heterodox forms of Christianity existed.

      One frequent thread in these movements was the idea that the God of the Old Testament was evil, that Adam acted as his slave/stooge and thus never broke into true wisdom, and the Wisdom (a deity or quasi-deity herself) had as one of her avatars Eve, and has had nothing but female manifestations down through history. Another of Wisdom’s manifestations was the serpent itself, in some versions. She’s been perpetually trying to get humanity to realize its true divine nature ever since, and been degraded for it.

      …And people wonder why I find these “heresies” more appealing than the orthodox account.

    • Monimonika

      Rachel,
      Isn’t that the whole point of the story Debbie is imagining? If Adam and Eve had acted the way they were supposed to act (Adam to Snake: “No.” & Eve to Snake: *blank uncomprehending stare*), instead of Adam unthinkingly going along with whatever Eve did and Eve using her brain to take action on her own, then all this “Fall” mess wouldn’t have happened!

      • http://ripeningreason.com/ Rachel Marcy (Bix)

        Yeah, but it still doesn’t make any sense. How do you go from Adam to Mr. Command Man? If Adam is supposed to represent all men everywhere, and all men everywhere are supposed to be assertive, logical leaders, then Adam needs to undergo a serious personality change.

      • Mishellie

        I agree. If this is the first example of the way men and women are “supposed to be” … They kinda seem like god created something to be one way and it… Was really not what he intended…

  • http://plantsarethestrangestpeople.blogspot.com/ mr_subjunctive

    Debi is simply pulling all this out of her magic hat (which is of course
    simply a nicer way to say that she’s pulling it out of her ass).

    You should split the difference and say she’s pulling it out of her magic ass.

  • The Other Weirdo

    doesn’t actually back up what Debi is saying here. Nowhere does the
    Bible say the snake approached Eve because she was female, and nowhere
    does the Bible say that Adam would never have succumbed to temptation.
    Debi is just making this stuff up.

    The Bible also doesn’t say that it was Lucifer or Satan or any other fallen angel who tempted Eve. It was a talking snake, and when God punishes it, it punishes it as one would a snake, not an immortal might-as-well-be-god being. So why quibble over other technicalities when she gets the basis of Genesis wrong?

    • Alix

      Well, Revelation eventually does make that connection (20:2, I think). But that’s a much later addition to the mythology of the Bible, and until then I’m pretty sure you’re right – the connection’s not explicitly made.

      The existence of the idea in Revelation is slim evidence for the equation in folk belief around the early Christian era, if not before, but there were and still are plenty of people who a) don’t consider Revelation orthodox and b) don’t accept the equation of all those figures.

  • herewegokids7

    Oh boy. “…for the sake of the little ones whom she must nurture. The soul of a mother had to be vulnerable, the outer shell thin. She must be quick to feel, to hurt, to love, to have compassion, to take in the broken, and to believe the best.” Hmm.. That’s interesting. B/c I thought we were supposed to be whopping small children (even other people’s) upside the head with a foam bat or some such just to prove who is in charge. And liking it. With glee.

  • http://tellmewhytheworldisweird.blogspot.com/ perfectnumber628

    So according to Debi, men don’t sin?

    I mean, I guess that was kind of implied by all that stuff about how a wife can never ever make suggestions to her husband- ya know, because he’s perfect and she mustn’t try to ever get him to do anything different…

    Also, Libby Anne, you’re totally spot-on with what the bible says and doesn’t say about this. Debi is just making stuff up from “her magic hat.” :)

    • Alice

      Yes, I am always amused when atheists know the Bible better than Christians.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1410786214 Karen Hammond

    Um, didn’t Adam’s entire argument against eating the fruit consist of “Okay, yeah, I’d like some, too!”

  • Anne

    My thoughts- having not yet read any of the other comments:

    In Genesis 1 God speaks to Adam and Eve together, and gives to them every plant and tree, with no restrictions.
    In Genesis 2, God forbids Adam to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil BEFORE Eve is created.
    In Chapter 3 Eve does tell Satan what God said, but if we’re going to take this completely literally like were supposed to (right?) there’s no record of God telling Eve not to eat the fruit.

    We can just as easily fill in the blanks by assuming that command was given only to Adam and that it was his responsibility to make sure Eve understood it.
    (not a traditional view, but just as possible based on what the words actually say.)

    Debi says: “Satan was able to deceive her when she left Adam’s side and was confronted by the Devil’s logic alone.”
    …really? In what Bible?
    Genesis 3:6 says that she ate the fruit and then “gave some to her husband who was with her”. (18 English translations on bible.cc, and they all say that.)

    I’ve heard it said, in church, by pastors who like to take every word of Genesis literally, that obviously this means that Adam was with her when HE ate the fruit, but NOT when SHE ate the fruit. Because of course he would have stopped her!

    …But that’s not what it says.
    The man who was given the instructions straight from God sat there like a bump on a log while the vulnerable woman Debi says he was heavily armored to protect was being tempted by Satan. Just wasn’t his problem, apparently. (Maybe the devil knew something about Adam’s character as well as Eve’s..?)

    Point is- we can draw any conclusions about male/female we want to based on this short little story, depending on how we elaborate on it and fill in the missing pieces.

    Still, it takes a lot to come up with Adam being heavily armored! Adam and Eve were both created totally naked, and left that way until after they sinned. At which point they both clothe themselves with leaves and then God re-clothes them with animal skins. (Literal or metaphorical, they wore the same thing. Just like when Christians put their armor on in Ephesians.)

    Uck. I could go on, but this is already too long!

    Re: the fate of unarmed, vulnerable women- here are the words of Eowyn in Lord of the Rings, when Lord Aragorn compliments her sword-fighting skills: “The women of this country learned long ago, those without swords can still die upon them.”

    God deliberately left us unarmed because he intended for us to hide behind the men? I don’t think so!

  • Stacia R

    Slightly off topic, but what made me do a double take was that Debi, in this book, says, “The soul of a mother had to be vulnerable, the outer shell thin. She must be quick to feel, to hurt, to love, to have compassion, to take in the broken, and to believe the best. ”

    But in her book about parenting, she tells a mother to do the exact opposite – harden your heart against your children and see them as adversaries that need to be conquered.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001411188910 Lucreza Borgia

    Under what authority is Debbi interpreting scripture???

    • Baby_Raptor

      We can assume she’s using her husband’s interpretation…I’m no expert on the pair, but I seem to remember Libby saying that Mr. Pearl has a couple degrees in theology? Someone feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

      • Sally

        He went to Bible college. As to whether or not he got a degree and whether the college was acredited, I’m not sure. -Not a couple of degrees, though.

  • http://www.facebook.com/melody.marie Melody Jones

    I have a question that I really want an answer to. Where on *earth* is Debbie finding these feminists and lesbians?? To hear her talk, they practically line the ground she walks on (where they are laying because they hate themselves. and everything.) and if you throw a rock in any direction, you’ll hit a woman who got all “independent” and “tough” and left her god given protector and now lives in a duplex.

    And if being ruled by your mind is such a good thing (God only gave it to men! neyyaaah you can’t do that you’re a GIRL) then why is it that using your mind is so awful? I just.

    How.

    • http://www.facebook.com/rosa.pedersen.10 Rosa Pedersen

      didn’t you know that rural Tennessee is a hotbed of trendy lesbians and feminist former housewives? It’s where every queer girl in America dreams of running away to when she grows up and escapes from her homophobic big city childhood.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1155930572 Siobhan Duffey

    That story does not mean what misogynist theologians and social prescriptivists throughout the ages want it to mean. And I don’t mean “mean” in a deep read of the text, contextual analysis kinda way. I mean that’s not what the words say. Here, try this bit. I haven’t gone back to the Greek like a fancy person, because my Greek is very bad (and, well, mainly from inly Homeric), but this is from the NIV, so that’s pretty legit.

    “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.”

    If you are a critical reader at a more than first grade level, you’ll notice she gave fruit to her husband… “who was with her.” Not joined her later. Not wandered up just then. Was with her. Anyone who knows how stories work would take this detail to mean he was standing there the whole time, watching the snake and hearing the spiel.

    In other words, it’s completely clear that Mr. Logic McManly was there the whole time, and blamed the whole thing on his wife only later. Despite it being right in the text in a way that would be clear to a child taking a quiz on reading comprehension, this detail is aggressively avoided by pretty much everyone. Back when I was stuck in Catholic school, I loved trolling my teachers with this simple observation.

  • Lisa

    Or maybe Eve just wandered off, and was deceived by the snake because unlike her idiot husband, the snake actually, you know, COMMUNICATED with her. Because I do not think that a concept like that exists in Debi’s male-female world.

    Not to mentioned the other issues genesis brings in respect to who deceives whom here, as pointed out in earlier comments.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mtillsley Monika Tillsley

    The funny thing is I always saw Eve as the hero in this story. She gave us the knowledge of good and evil. Where would we be without her?

    I’d rather be typing comments on my laptop enjoying the sun streaming in my window and about to make tea (Turkish Apple & Cinnamon, yum) than sitting naked in a garden doing nothing at all.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mtillsley Monika Tillsley

    The funny thing is I always saw Eve as the hero in this story. She gave us the knowledge of good and evil. Where would we be without her?

    I’d rather be typing comments on my laptop enjoying the sun streaming in my window and about to make tea (Turkish Apple & Cinnamon, yum) than sitting naked in a garden doing nothing at all.

  • http://twitter.com/AmethystMarieTM Amethyst Marie

    “Just look at the faces and mannerisms of outspoken feminists and lesbians. In their attempt to shed their vulnerability and express their independence, feminists begin to exhibit traits and behaviors completely outside of their created feminine nature. They lose their beauty and charm and become very poor excuses of men.”

    I would give anything to see Debi say this to Rachel Maddow’s face. Or Ellen’s.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

      Me too! Somehow I actually think each one would be rendered initially speechless. :P

    • Leigha7

      Every time I hear the stereotype that lesbians are ugly and mannish, I can’t help but respond with, “Um, have you seen Portia De Rossi (Ellen’s wife)?” Because…no.

      Of course, the idea that being ugly and/or mannish is this terrible awful thing that no one woman should ever allow herself to be is problematic as well, but one thing at a time.

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        Or even feminists who are straight! I’d like to see her say nasty things about Anita Sarkeesian’s looks either.

  • Rose

    Great post.

    One thing I’m seeing in the comments, is how Adam didn’t argue with Eve and also how he was there the whole time… I’ve seen people explaining the different explanations for this, but I haven’t actually seen anybody give the one I was given. Growing up in an evangelical culture, what I was told was pretty simple–Adam failed. He was there the whole time, his duty was to protect Eve and “be the man”, but he didn’t. He just stood by.

    Just a thought. I totally don’t agree with the Pearls. But that’s the explanation the Christians I grew up with would say (who I’m starting to disagree with more and more as time passes).

  • http://www.facebook.com/kelly.crawford.182 Kelly Crawford

    You know what I always found interesting about the whole tree of knowledge story? (And I admit that I have read Milton far more recently than the Bible so I might be remembering this incorrectly) The serpent seduced Eve into taking the fruit, to me this implies that this took some time, some persuasive arguments. Whereas, Adam just takes the fruit from Eve even after he knows what it is. It seems it took far more time and energy to get Eve to eat that “apple” then it took to get Adam to eat the apple. So, I never got the impression that Eve was the weak one. Of course, I don’t think that Adam was some big pushover, more that they were an equal couple and he was trusting her opinion and experiences.

  • Leigha7

    I’ve always felt the story of the garden of Eden was pretty much just setting them up to fail, like leaving a cookie jar in the middle of the playroom and telling your kids (who have never been punished or even heard of punishment) not to touch it. Gee, what do you expect to happen? Why even put it there?

    But if God deliberately made Eve more naive and trusting, and the serpent exploited this weakness to trick her into eating the fruit, then that’s even worse. He set them up to fail to begin with, and he made it extra likely that she would fail.

    But of course, the entire story is proof of how women suck and should never be trusted with anything because it’s all our fault that they got kicked out of the garden (nevermind that I didn’t do anything, nor did any of the other women here, or currently on the planet, it’s still our fault because…um…you know, lady stuff.)


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