CTBHHM: In Which Debi Can’t Read Genesis

Created To Be His Help Meet, pp. 118

Debi starts this next section with a quick overview of what is required of a help meet:

God tells us that we are to be help meets: We are to submit, obey, and even reverence our husbands. He also tells us WHY we are assigned the role of helper.

Submit, obey, and reverence. No mincing words, that’s for sure. So let’s get into Debi’s why.

1. We came forth from man’s ribs and were created for him. We are a part of him.
“For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, for as much as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman, but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman, but the woman for the man” (I Cor. 11: 7-9).

Debi has already proven that she is really good at taking things out of context. Set alone like this, this scripture passage looks really stark. But this is what comes next:

Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that these two verses seriously undermine what Debi is trying to do with this passage. In fact, while I haven’t seen a Christian feminist tackle this passage in particular, I’m going to guess that they would argue that these two verses suggest that in Christ men and women are equal, and old hierarchies are no longer valid. Also, you know what’s curious? I remember hearing I Corinthians 11: 7-9 emphasized quite frequently growing up, and I never—and I do mean never—remember hearing the verses that follow it even given a mention. Curious, very curious.

2. Our position in relation to our husband is a picture of the Great Mystery, which is Christ and the Church. We, as the body of Christ, are for him, our living Head. It can be no other way!
“But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God” (I Cor. 11: 3).
“This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church . . . and the wife see that she reverence her husband” (Eph. 5: 32-33).

The first verse Debi cites here comes right before the passage she cited before, ignoring the following context, and the second passage omits “nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself.” Convenient.

I’ve mentioned that, as someone who no longer identifies as Christian, I try to avoid stepping too far into battles over Biblical interpretation. There are so many passages that seem to be in conflict with each other, and so many different interpretations that can be made, that in general I’d rather let those who take that label fight it out amongst themselves.

What Debi is doing here, though, is a problem. She says that women are assigned the role of help meet . . . because they were created from Adam’s rib, and because the Bible uses the husband and wife as a metaphor for Christ and the church. The thing is, I missed where these passages connect the one of these things to the other—there’s nothing about being created from Adam’s rib that means that women must obey, submit to, and reverence their husbands. The Christ and the church example only works if you assume that the author of those passages meant the metaphor to go that far, and if you assume that Christ wants the church to mindlessly submit to and obey him—an idea not all Christians ascribe to—and if you assume that Christ would want the church to mindlessly reverence him irrespective of whether he loved the church or treated her well—something else I’m pretty sure not all Christians ascribe to. The point I’m making is that Debi leaves out a step here, leaping from A to C without ever establishing B.

God tells us WHY our husband is to be the one who rules the home. God explains why it is never his will for the wife to rule.

Rule. Yes, Debi uses the word “rule.”

1. The fall into sin was due to a woman’s inherent vulnerability.
“For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression” (I Timothy 2: 13-14).
“For a man indeed . . . is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man” (I Cor. 11: 7).

We heard this before, remember? God created women without armor, created them to stand behind their husbands’ armor. I’m seriously unsure what the second passage she cites here has to do with the idea that women are inherently vulnerable, though. And as for the first—I don’t think Debi has a very good grasp on exactly what actually happened at the fall, but then, I don’t think the author of I Timothy did either.

2. Curses were placed on the guilty in the fall.
“Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee” (Genesis 3: 16).

And here is where Debi’s interpretive work seriously goes off the rails.

It was God’s design, before the fall, that the woman’s desire would be to her husband and that he would rule over her. This relationship was not punishment, but after the fall it would be a source of suffering for the woman. God created the woman to be the helper of the man—a sinless man. Now that she has led him into sin, she is still his helper, her desires are still focused on him and his goals, and he will still rule over her as before—but now he is sinful, selfish, and carnal.

Um. No. Actually, this is wrong.

Nowhere does the Bible say that it was God’s design before the fall for women to submit to their husbands and their husbands to rule over them. And in the context of Genesis, this relationship actually is meted out as a punishment. (As a side note: If God required Eve to submit to, obey, and reverence Adam when he was a sinless man, shouldn’t we expect that to change when Adam becomes “sinful, selfish, and carnal”?)

Look, the only—and I do mean only—verse that suggests anything other than complete equality between Adam and Eve post-fall is this:

And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

If we read into this short verse everything Debi says is entailed in being a “help meet” (which by the way she turns into a noun, even though in the actual text it isn’t), then yes, the submit/ruler relationship was indeed God’s design. But that’s reading things backwards and into the text rather than simply looking at what the text actually says.

And then, after the fall, comes this:

14 And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:

15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.

17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;

18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;

19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

This passage makes no sense unless we assume that each of these curses—each of these punishments—implies a change of some sort. In other words, Adam is told that he will have to work hard to farm the land, and will encounter thorns and thistles in the process. This section is generally taken to mean that before the fall, there were no thorns and thistles and there was no need to exert effort in farming the land. And as to the serpent, we would also assume that the curses he receives are new and different from how things were for him in the past. Likewise, any normal reading would conclude that Eve did not previously face labor pains, and that her husband did not previously rule over her. Otherwise it wouldn’t be a curse! Debi’s suggestion that all that has changed is that the man ruling over her is no longer perfect but sinful makes no sense, because that’s not actually what the text says.

You know what? It would be nice if Debi actually read and grappled with the holy text she claims to hold in such high esteem rather than just deciding it says what she already made her mind up that it says even when it doesn’t. But then, I suppose, she wouldn’t be Debi.

CTBHHM: What "Companionship" Means in Pearl World
CTBHHM: Why Was Marian's Husband So Loving?
CTBHHM: Blessings and Vessels
CTBHHM: A Young Wife Should Be "Bored and Lonely"
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.

  • Parisienne

    Meh. Saying that “help meet” implies inferiority is horrible exegesis. Pretty much every other time the same word pops up in the Scriptures (usually translated “help” or “helper”) it refers to God Himself, for example when the Psalmist says that He is a “very present help in trouble”. If you want to suggest that a help is inferior, then you also have to defend the idea that God is man’s inferior.

    • NeaDods

      Well, this atheist is giggling at the idea…

    • The_L1985

      Not to mention, as Libby points out, “help meet” is not a noun. The text is saying that God wanted Adam to have someone who was “meet [i.e., suitable] for him.” The word “meet” here is an adjective.

    • blarrie

      the fact that woman helps man is not what is the problem – there is nothing offensive or demeaning about helping somebody. the problem comes when the idea that the PURPOSE of a woman is to be a man’s helper comes into play, which is what the bible claims. that an entire gender was created to be an assistant to the other. if christians were claiming that blacks were created to be white people’s helpers, there would be an uproar, but nobody bats an eye at the claim that women’s purpose is to help men. and it doesn’t go both ways either – 1 Corinthians 11:8 says “For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; 9 neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.” men were created for their own sake. men are not women’s helpmeets, women are men’s helpmeets. i can’t think of any way to read that to get to a conclusion that women are not inferior.

  • NeaDods

    Libby Anne, I think you’re falling into the “the woman is always to blame” trap. How much of this is Debi all on her own and how much is Michael’s conditioning of her? He is, after all, the “Biblical scholar” that she is bound to bow to and who literally blessed this book of hers.

    • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

      Debi is still a grown woman with her very own brain. If she’s talking crap, she’s still responsible for it being crap.

      • NeaDods

        This is the same person who has earlier written about how stupid all women are and talks at length about the horrors of divorce. I’m not saying she’s totally innocent of the impact of her message, but it’s really obvious that she’s an abused wife with no way out.

      • Kristen Rosser

        It all does seem like a vast enabling/coping mechanism to me.

    • J-Rex

      Well she did write the book. It’s sad that she believes these things and it makes me feel sorry for her, but then she passes it along to other women and gives despicable advice to stay with abusers and to abuse children.

    • persephone

      Debi has said that she fell in love with Michael when she was 13. She seems to have stopped maturing at that point and focused solely on him until they were married when she turned 18. Michael acts in ways that I would attribute to an immature 12-year old boy. I tend to take minimal life advice from middle schoolers.

      I’ve come to the conclusion that religions, fundamentalist ones (not just Christian versions) especially, groom their adherents just as pedophiles groom their victims. I was reflecting on the idea that often comes up that females must wear loose skirts to be modest, when I suddenly remembered that loose skirts were the required clothing for the women in The Story of O. It made them easily available sexually, and they were always required to be submissive and sexually available. And then my brain just ran with the idea. I kept running through the behavior training and grooming done to the women in the book, and then I became nauseated because I realized that this is what is being done to the millions of women and girls who are members of these religions.

      • http://aztecqueen2000.blogspot.com/ AztecQueen2000

        Unfortunately, you’re not the first person to think that way.

      • NeaDods

        It’s incredibly obvious that she still has that crush, that Michael groomed her, and that he has threatened to leave her destitute and grind her replacement in her face if she ever leaves. He’s an immature narcissist and she’s an immature bully… but the longer this book goes on, the more I see her as a victim of Michael too.

      • Sally

        I like to wear skirts, but I have long wondered how skirts could be more modest than pants, particulary loose pants. Of all the clothing women wear around the world, I have thought that the tunic over loose pants look was truly the most modest yet practical.

        My relatives who are conservatve and dresses only wear leggings underneath at least in cold weather, but imo that adds considerably to the modesty they’re going for.
        But, yeah, there’s somethin’ really strange about the dresses only as modesty thing.

      • sylvia_rachel

        I think it’s partly that thing about how men and women shouldn’t wear each other’s garments. What constitutes “male” and “female” garb is completely culturally dependent, of course…

      • Jennifer Anker

        The idea of skirts being more modest than pants comes from a silly idea that men are attracted to anything with legs. This is why tableclothes were invented: to prevent man and furniture from coupling. At least, according to the History of Sex documentary I watched. >.>;; But yeah, hiding the legs so you cannot be reminded that they can be spread…

    • Alix

      Any pity I’d feel for Debi is all burned up by my hatred of the message she’s willfully pushing. I can feel sympathy for a victim of abuse – but that sympathy vanishes when she becomes an abuser and enabler of abuse herself.

      Maybe that makes me evil. I don’t know. But this is like telling someone getting his face pounded by a bully on the playground that that bully just has a miserable home life, so he should feel sorry for him.

      Debi Pearl is hurting real people. She is not an infant; she is a grown woman. Where she learned her beliefs and why she holds to them is, honestly, about the last thing I’m concerned with here.

      • NeaDods

        But this is like telling someone getting his face pounded by a bully on the playground that that bully just has a miserable home life, so he should feel sorry for him.

        A very valid point!

        Let me rephrase mine, then. Even when putting the blame on Debi for her toxic message and her insistence that women suck up abuse, I don’t feel that she alone is 100% to blame. It’s Michael’s message too; he’s equally tarred by it and, by blessing her message, equally to blame for it. He’s the nitro to her glycerin; the destructive message comes from both of them, so IMO blaming just one of them for it erases the culpability of the other. Michael is the accessory to Debi’s crimes.

      • Alix

        I agree with that. I definitely think Michael’s just as much, if not much more, of a problem than Debi. (Hasn’t he written some books too? And he’s a pastor, so.)

  • Rilian Sharp

    What do you think of Daniel Quinn’s interpretation? He said this is a metaphor for when the hebrews, or jews or whatever they were at this point, switched from pastoral life to agricultural. Men did the heavy-lifting type work of farming, and there was also an increase in population (“I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception”?). And um, maybe they felt at odds with other animals? I donno.

    • The_L1985

      I’ve long felt that this was supposed to be a metaphor for the change from hunter-gatherer to agricultural society. Hunter-gatherer societies do a lot less work (I’ve seen estimates of as little as 2 hr/day on average), but they have to constantly keep moving to where food is plentiful, and if there’s not enough food within walking distance, they go hungry until they can find some.

      Agricultural societies, OTOH, have to work hard for much of the year to produce crops, but the increased amount of food in a smaller space means that they can also support more people. Also, in a sense, agriculture removes humanity from a “natural” context of hunting and grazing like other animals do.

      • persephone

        I had not heard of that theory, but I think it could fit beautifully with the stories starting with Abraham through the settling of Israel. They were nomads, then they settled in Egypt and the wickedness of settled life nearly destroys them, whereupon a leader rises up and takes them back to their nomadic roots for the next forty years, at the end of which they have built up their numbers to the point that they could seize a settled country, after which they fall back into sinful behavior.

      • Helix Luco

        that estimate depends on what exactly you consider ‘work’, they might spend two hours a week directly engaged in getting food, but there’s prep work, making the right tools, actually finding where the food is, cooking, and that’s not including all the other stuff that has to be done; cleaning, waste disposal, minding kids and who knows what else. the main difference between foraging versus pastoralist and agricultural cultures is the latter have an environment that allows for the accumulation of wealth in the form of herds of animals and stored grain.

      • Rilian Sharp

        But what out of those is not work also done by an agricultural group? Maybe “finding where the food is”, but I don’t think they just wandered around looking, I think they *knew* where to go because of knowledge passed down from ancestors who had been gatherers for hundreds of thousands of years.

      • Alix

        That stuff is typically accounted for in estimates of work – just as similar things related to agriculture (making and maintenance of tools, processing and cooking of harvested products, other chores) are accounted for in agriculturalist work estimates.

    • Carol Lynn

      Hunter-gatherers still get most of their diet from nuts, veggies and fruit and other plants they use but not cultivate. These guys were nomadic herders. They had domesticated animals but even if they hadn’t quite figured out agriculture yet, they still had to use and eat a lot of plants or have nice fodder available for their herds. Isn’t this sort of the same vibe as a few verses later where god prefers meat sacrifices as plants are (obviously) inferior? “Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor.” Does the “some of the fruits” bit mean that Cain brought bruised and rotten fruit, wilted leaves and rusty grain as his sacrifice? Otherwise why would the meat be automatically the better sacrifice? God just likes meat best and creams off the best portions of the carcass for himself.

      The “everything (including carnivores!) in the utopian garden was vegetarian” thing is totally incomprehensible to me. God *loves* meat and fresh, hot dripping blood!

      • Jayn

        “Does the “some of the fruits” bit mean that Cain brought bruised and
        rotten fruit, wilted leaves and rusty grain as his sacrifice? Otherwise
        why would the meat be automatically the better sacrifice?”

        This has always confused the hell out of me–I could get that God preferred one over the other, but there was never any explanation as to why one was better. A lot of the Bible I never questioned or realised how effed up it was until I got older (cripes, I didn’t notice how screwed up Exodus was until South Park), but there was never a point where this bit seemed sensible to me.

      • guest

        In the Mystery Plays (again, you can see where I get all my theology :)) Cain picks out the worst 1/10 of his harvest to give to God–since God doesn’t need it as much as he and his family.

      • Mogg

        I would have thought that was something to do with the link between wealth and fatness in many ancient cultures. The only way to get fat was to eat lots of meat, especially fatty meat, which only the highest and wealthiest in society could do. Therefore, “fat portions” of meat was the absolute highest sacrifice in terms of food. Which also gives some background to some other biblical stories, like Daniel and his three mates miraculously being in better (meaning fatter) condition while only eating vegetables, and why slaughtering the fatted calf for the Prodigal Son was the highest expression of celebration his father could have shown.

      • Helix Luco

        it’s not fair to say they hadn’t “figured out agriculture” pastoralism is just the most efficient way to sustainably take advantage of certain areas that aren’t suited to agriculture. They very well could have forced it and farmed anyway, but it would have ended up depleting the land and starving them all to death in short order.

      • Carol Lynn

        It wasn’t a slur. It was a description of the transition period between being nomadic herders and settled agriculturalists. My point was that even if they were not yet farmers, they certainly had to have had an appreciation of how grasses and fodder their herds depended upon could be depleted and that plants were valuable resources.

      • Alix

        There’s also a lot of indications that non-agriculturalists still half-cultivated wild grasses, by essentially propagating the seeds but leaving the growing entirely up to nature. There’s even some evidence that this “stage” went on for quite a while, with people passing on where their wild stands of grain were.

        The history of agriculture is rather fascinating.

      • Sally

        I’ve read that the point of this part of the story was to make sure the priests got meat to eat. In other words, it’s a story told at a much later time when a sacrifice was brought to the temple (where the priests would eat it after it was offered to God). This makes more sense to me than a God who randomly rejects one sacrifice.

    • Alix

      A lot of Genesis revolves around the conflict between pastoralists and settled folk. (Sodom and Gomorrah being perhaps the most blatant example.) It’s also a running theme in Mesopotamian mythologies in general; “the conflict between cattle and grain,” they call it.

      Eden is totally a pastoralist’s paradise. Maybe even a forager’s.

  • Monica

    Step 1: God is the ruler over the church.

    Step 2: Man is the ruler over woman.

    Step 3: ???

    Step 4: Prophet.

    • http://Thechurchproject.me/ Tracey


  • Baby_Raptor

    It can be no other way? Really?

    I’d suggest you remove your head from your rear and take a look at the world around you. LOTS of us are doing it “other ways,” lady. And you insisting that we somehow can’t doesn’t change anything.

    • The_L1985

      Didn’t you notice? We’re all miserable and lonely! And living in a duplex! A DUUUUPLEEEEEEEX!!! :P

      • Parisienne

        Ha! Where I live you need to be a multi-millionaire to live in a duplex. I DREAM of a duplex. ;)

      • Rilian Sharp

        My grandma lived in a duplex once. It had two bedrooms, two bathrooms, kitchen, livingroom, yards… I don’t see the problem. And one of my friends lived in one too. It was HUGE. It was practically a mansion. It was 3 stories. One half of one story was WAY bigger than the apartment I live in now… with my parents … who are married… so… yeah…

      • Kit

        Add me to the list of people who dream about living in a duplex. Where I live, I can’t even afford an apartment with actual BEDROOMS. ><

      • sylvia_rachel

        Totally. The typical “duplex” here would be twice the size of our current flat. With a BASEMENT. (We don’t need more living space; we just need a basement in which to stash all the stuff that we don’t need or want to throw away, but also don’t need to have underfoot every single second.)

      • Mogg

        My duplex is pretty cute, actually. Not multi-millionaire territory, but it does have an open fireplace for burning terrible books.

      • Hat Stealer

        Yeah, we’re pretty much all sad sacks of shit because we turned our backs on God. We certainly aren’t having a great old time. No siree. Not us. I can’t speak for anyone else, but all of my time is spent trying to restrain myself from raping killing and looting. That’s what living without God does to you.

      • gimpi1

        DUUUPLEEEEEX ineeed. I OWN a duplex. We rent out the other half to help pay our mortgage. I guess I must be some sort of denizen of hell, huh?

      • Alix

        I think actually owning the duplex makes you Satan. :P

      • eamonknight

        My son lives in what probably qualifies as Debi’s crappy duplex. It’s the top floor of an old house, right downtown in a medium-sized city, and it’s “cozy”, and the floors kinda sag, and it has mice (we offered to lend him one of our cats). No, I probably wouldn’t want to raise umpteen kids in there. But for a young single guy, however…..

      • Little Magpie

        Okay, I’m not sure what everyone’s definition of duplex is, because I know the (Torontonian) way I use the word is unfamiliar to my (Chicagoan) brother in law. To me, a duplex is what other people call a semi-detached house (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semi-detached, the first paragraph talks about regional variation in what this is called) ie two single family dwellings, which share one wall and are mirror-images of each other. For a couple of years I lived in an apartment which was the upstairs of (one side) of one of these, ie it had been originally a single family home but had been renovated to make the second floor a separate unit. My landlord was the young-ish single guy who lived downstairs in the first floor + finished basement. And despite my odd regional definition I pretty much agree with you. “homey” with quirks rather than a cookie-cutter soulless apartment such as you get in modern apartment towers. I had hardwood floors; less old – perhaps from the 1940s or 50s; not right downtown but in what would have been suburbs a long time ago and is now “midtown,” right by a subway line, reasonably safe and nice if not very posh neighbourhood. It was, I would say, a reasonably roomy 1-bedroom. No mice. :) Indeed, wouldn’t be good for a divorced mom with a lot of kids, but I was quite comfortable there with my live-in bf and cats. :)

      • thatotherjean

        Where do the Pearls actually live? From the few pictures I could find on the internet, a duplex might be a step up. Or have they moved into something a bit more luxurious?

  • Amtep

    Eve was made from a rib, but Adam was made from dust. Adam should obey, submit to, and reverence dust.

    • The_L1985

      For dust thou art, and to dust thou shalt return…

    • http://kagerato.net/ kagerato

      Seems to conflict with the whole dominion of the Earth thing, too. How can man rule the Earth if he was made from the Earth? Doesn’t that make him inferior to it, just as he is inferior to God?

  • Hat Stealer

    The problem with getting your morals from a book of fairy tales is that fairy tales can pretty much be interpreted to mean anything that you want them to mean. Looking for logic and consistency in the Bible is a futile task, because the Bible can be interpreted to MEAN ANYTHING.

    • phantomreader42

      It can be interpreted to mean anything and its opposite simultaneously, and the people making such interpretations never notice the contradiction.

  • Rachel of J101

    Aw, Libby, you’ve reached the same conclusion that midrash has reached! Before the fall, there were no labor pains! Babies would just appear if you wanted babies! (Well, that’s what my grade-school teachers taught me, anyway. Reading over what the rabbis actually said, it seems like sex is a necessary ingredient for that.)

    Also, Eve wasn’t named until after the curses were finished — and Adam is actually never officially named until Genesis 5:2.

    • persephone

      I always wondered how if things were perfect in Eden, Adam and Eve weren’t popping out perfect babies on a regular schedule before the fall.

      • grindstone

        Because sex is sinful, duh. Haven’t you been following the evangelical playbook?? (This is total sarcasm, btw.)

      • Alice

        I always assumed they weren’t in the garden very long, a month or two at best. You have two naive child-adults with not a lot to do, a God-parent who is away at work until the “cool of the day,” a talking snake, and a big ol’ tree of shiny forbidden fruit smack dab in the middle of the garden. That, my friends, is a microwave recipe for trouble.

      • Rachel of J101

        I believe Midrash says it was only a day or two — they sinned on the day they were created (and wished/fucked Cain and Abel/variety of unnamed twin sisters into existence), and Hashem waited until after Shabbat was over to kick them out.

        Adam and Eve are the original “this is why we can’t have nice things.”

      • LadyCricket

        The explanation I heard growing up was that Adam and Eve were infertile before the fall.

        Interestingly, I’ve always thought this makes the Genesis story a bit of a metaphor for puberty. We start out with two perfectly innocent humans who know nothing of right and wrong, who live a life of ease without any work, and walk naked everywhere without caring that they’re naked. They trust their “father” wholly and never question him… at first.

        But time passes, and eventually these two rebel, and after hearing the serpent offer a viewpoint other than their father’s, they disobey him and eat the forbidden fruit (Eve went first… don’t girls hit sexual maturity before boys?) Having eaten the fruit, they hide away from the father they used to trust, and they suddenly care that they’re naked.

        After the fall, they live together, apart from their father, no longer innocent as children, have to toil for their living, and, oh yes, they can now bear children. Adam and Eve grew up!

        I know this is a flawed analogy, but I’d love it if some of you would run with it.

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

        That’s actually pretty similar to Jewish teachings on the story, except it’s taught less as a sexual maturation and just childhood –> adulthood story. Eden is the ignorance and carefree nature of childhood, where all our needs are taken care of. We learn things (Tree of Knowledge) and we can’t unlearn them; we become adults and realize that adulthood is hard, but we can’t ever go back to being ignorant children.

      • guest

        In the York Mystery Plays staged last year Adam and Eve in the scenes before the fall were played by children, and after were played by adults.

    • Alice

      So I just thought of this: if there was no pain in the childbearing process before the fall, no labor pains, no menstrual cramps, nothing…does that mean Eve getting her cherry popped didn’t hurt either? Or was there even a cherry to pop?

      • Rachel of J101

        …I’ve never thought of that before! Hmm. Logically, no, Eve shouldn’t have had a hymen, just like Adam shouldn’t necessarily have a navel. Eve’s hymen grows in painfully as part of the curse, I guess. Poor woman.

      • Helix Luco

        this isn’t precisely what you’re asking about but the way you’re talking about hymens is creepin’ me out a little so here’s some handy information??

      • Alice

        I’m sorry. I didn’t know it would offend people. I know it is an inaccurate description, and I don’t normally use this common cliche. Next time I will use clinical terms. Sorry for creeping people out.

      • Helix Luco

        it’s ok, i know that you were using widely accepted attitudes and terms. i just can’t tolerate the idea that women *have to be* physically injured by sex at some point and trauma to the genitals is something women just have to accept as a part of life no matter their feelings about it.

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

        I wasn’t! I did gymnastics as a kid and used tampons almost from my first menstrual period; my first time with sex I apparently didn’t have a hymen left at all. No bleeding and no pain.

      • Christine

        I’m not sure that the tampons necessarily get the credit – everyone has a different amount of tissue there. I’m skeptical about tampons helping, because those things are so tiny. If they were enough to do the trick, my cup really should have done so as well.

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

        It could very well be an urban legend, that’s just what I was told at one point. I make no claim to a well-researched claim on that one!

      • Little Magpie

        In the department of possibly TMI (too much information) – my introitus was too small for me to use tampons (or, well, I could sorta work it in but it was terribly unconfortable, so I didn’t) until my first PIV sex. But I don’t recall my “first time” as being terribly painful, and I wouldn’t have been fazed by blood, because, you know, I’m used to menstruation.

  • BobaFuct

    She skips over the best part of Genesis, which is 2:18-20: ” 18Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.”19Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name.20The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him.”

    First, you’d think god would’ve been able to anticipate beforehand that it wasn’t good for man to be alone, being omniscient and all. Why didn’t he create woman at the same time (ignoring the OTHER creation story in Gen 1). Second, god doesn’t say “so I’ll make a woman”. No, he checks out the animals first, but none of them are a good fit…only then does he create the woman. Sorry ladies, you were Plan C.

    • Hilary

      Or, the earthing ha-adam needed a partner that was both other, and equal. Since neither God nor the other animals were equals, a helper who could stand opposite to . . . . well, it/adam, was created, and that creation was what split the earthing adam into man (ish) and woman (ishah).
      As best I can tell, “A helper who stands opposite to support” is really the best translation of the Hebrew ezer k’negdo, not “Helpmeet.”

    • Kristen Rosser

      Or the point was that the man needed to also experience aloneness, to see that there were no creatures among the animals who could give him an equal meeting of minds– and that the man needed to understand that the woman was of one substance with him and thus his equal– his “face-to-face strong aid,” which is own best translation of “ezer k’negdo.”

      • http://Thechurchproject.me/ Tracey

        Hey Kristen,
        I’m related to Roesser’s and I keep wondering if you and I are relatives.

  • Truthspew

    I’m not sure what reverencing does. But revere is a more accurate term.

    • http://kagerato.net/ kagerato

      It’s like referencing, only with more… reverence.

  • Glia

    ADAM was (rather obviously figuratively, I think) made from dust. Every single other man since was literally made from a woman. Clearly if we follow the “if you are made from X, you must obey X” rule, everybody is stuck doing what their Mommys say forever. My MIL is going to be SO HAPPY.

    • Gillianren

      My understanding is that it’s a pun that gets lost in the translation. “Adamah” means “dust.” “Adam” means “man.”

      • Hilary

        It is a pun in Hebrew. Like saying, this is the earthling, made from the earth.

    • BobaFuct

      Jesus is the prime example of this, allegedly having no male genetic material.

      As an aside, there is a theory among fundgelicals that “sin” is passed through the man (like, literally…sin is transmitted in semen/male genetic material) because Jesus was perfect and had a physical mother but not a physical father.

      • Glia

        Yet somehow Jesus qualifies as the line of David via Joseph, despite his having had nothing to do with it…

      • Sally

        -One of the gazillion things that is just ignored. I actually didn’t notice this glaring flaw in reasoning until a pastor preached that Mary must have also been of the line of David in order for the prophesy to be true, but Joseph is used because no one recorded lineages through women at that time.

        That made no sense to me (the Bible telling it wrong), so she (yes, it was a woman pastor) actually pointed out a huge flaw I had overlooked but didn’t fix it, imo, at all.

      • http://noadi.etsy.com/ Sheryl Westleigh

        One of the justification I’ve heard for that is that Mary was a cousin of Joseph’s which would have been very common at the time. I think there might even be something in the Apocrypha to that effect (and despite not being ‘officially’ in the Bible it’s been a strong influence on Christian theology).

      • Mogg

        I’ve also heard it said that the Matthew version of the genealogy is Joseph’s, and the slightly different one in Luke is Mary’s father’s, which does make them cousins of one degree or another. No hint at all in the text as to why this would be the case, but your True Believer has to justify it *somehow*.

  • Elin

    I agree Libby Anne that why would it be a curse unless there wasn’t really any change. I also see the fact that Eve was created from Adam as a sign that they are of the same substance and that there are not a lot of different rules for men and women.

    • Jayn

      I also see the fact that Eve was created from Adam as a sign that they are of the same substance

      Agreed. I’ve always read Genesis 2 as being inherently egalitarian myself–there were other creatures but only one Adam, so God created what was basically a second Adam, slightly different but essentially the same. I’ve never interpreted it as meaning Eve was to serve Adam.

      • Sally

        Right. And I think it’s a balance to goddess worship which assumes female gods based on the whole birth thing. In that context it makes sense to tell a story different from a goddess giving birth to mankind. It’s a shame when it’s used to oppress women, though, even when twisted to do so in the New Testament.

  • Christopher Borum

    Debi sez: “It was God’s design, before the fall, that the woman’s desire would be to her husband and that he would rule over her. ”

    If God is omniscient, and knows all of the past, present, and future, then surely the fall itself was part of his overall plan, at least he knew it would happen. So whatever the plan was before the fall is moot. The question is, did God know that Adam would eat the apple?

    • Sally

      If not, why make the whole world? Why not just make the garden of Eden? Seems like he planned it all, all along. :)

      • Rilian Sharp

        No because the garden needed all that other ground to sit on. You can’t just have a garden floating in space! /s

      • Amtep

        Surely you can! WE know how to make gardens floating in space, why wouldn’t God be up to the engineering challenge :)

        Of course, maybe it was just easier for him to make a whole planet. But actually I don’t think so. After all he did the whole Flood thing to re-use this planet, rather than starting over somewhere else.

    • http://kagerato.net/ kagerato

      Yeah, the combination of omniscience and omnipotence basically turns God into the most evil being imaginable. He’s responsible for everything wrong that happens, and he doesn’t even care.

  • Christine

    Maybe this is Debi’s answer to those who point out that God had to have known that Adam and Eve would eat of the fruit, so why did he set it up that way.

    God wanted men to rule over women, so he set up a situation where Eve would do something that would result in that situation. Adam ruling over Eve is a consequence of her actions (like parents, God clearly exaggerates the consequences a bit). This does require the idea that it was all Eve’s fault, but Debi already pushed that.

    Of course, this takes it away from being all Eve’s fault, because she’s doing what God wanted. It is the most sociopathic version of God I’ve heard presented, and that’s despite having a train-wreck response to a lot of fundamentalism.

    • http://kagerato.net/ kagerato

      There’s no mainstream concept of the Jewish, Christian, or Muslim God that can dodge the problem of evil. Omnipotence and omniscience totally ruins it. Believers turn to “free will”, which doesn’t help unless you’re a moral absolutist. It’s not interfering with a person’s will to give people truthful information. If that were the case, education would be immoral. All kinds of absurdities abound.

    • NeaDods

      One of the reasons I left the church was being told by everyone around me that Judas was damned to hell for betraying Jesus just like god planned for him to do. It makes god into quite the underhanded sadist.

  • Monala

    I have seen a few feminist interpretations of Genesis, some of which note that the same word translated as “help meet” for Eve is also used to describe God as a helper for his people in other parts of the OT. So, is God supposed to be submissive to people because he’s their help meet? I think not.

    Second, I saw a poem (of course, non-Biblical, but an interesting take on Adam & Eve) that went something like this:

    God did not make Eve from Adam’s head, to rule over him;

    nor from his foot, to be trampled by him;

    but from his rib, to walk beside him and be close to his heart.

    • Golgaronok

      The idea was originally Matthew Henry’s, AFAIK:

      [T]he woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved.”

      It’s a touching explication of the story, and (damning with faint praise, perhaps) much better than any of the Pearls’ misogynist claptrap.

  • Kristen

    I have been really bored this summer so I’ve taken to watching an open Yale course on Intro to the Old Testament which examines the Hebrew Bible without presupposition from strictly literary, historical, and anthropological perspective. The professor pointed out something from a straight reading of the Hebrew text of Genesis that I had never heard before. The language suggests that Adam and Eve were together when the fruit was eaten. Eve didn’t get tempted, eat, and go feed it to Adam who was at a different location. It says she took and ate and gave some to her husband WITH HER. Another thing that was noted was the Eve was never given explicit instruction not to eat from that particular tree. I don’t view the Bible as a sacred text or instruction manual for life, so evidence from the Bible is not relevant to me, but these are just some interesting things to think about.

  • Mars

    There is no way you can convince me that Michael Pearl didn’t write this.