Men and women: the state of our disunion (II)
(NOTE: This is part of a series titled, “The state of our disunion.”)
I was her, she was me
We were one, we were free
If there’s somebody calling me on
She’s the one
If there’s somebody calling me on
She’s the one.
When God finished His creation, He pronounced everything “good.” Actually, not quite everything because, seeing Adam, He declared, “It is not good for the man to be alone.”
Adam’s aloneness was not good, so God created a helper suitable for him. Her name was Eve. Her name was woman.
Adam became one with her and loved her as he loved himself. His love song was,
This is now bone of my bones,
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman (Hebrew ishah),
Because she was taken out of Man (Hebrew ish). 1
All started well between man and woman, but all did not end well.
Quickly the serpent moved in to destroy Eden and foment rebellion against God. The corruption of man had to be accomplished through man, not woman. God tested the race through the one the race was named for—Adam.
The serpent knew this. Unless Adam himself was convinced to rebel against God and eat the fruit, the perfection of obedience would continue forever. But how to convince him—that was the question.
But of course, the perfect approach to the man was through Eve. How he loved her. How tender he was to her. They shared all things together. How carefully he listened to her.
So the serpent approached Adam from below, from underneath; as through a mine, says Luther. The serpent became a sapper, going up through the second to attack and destroy the first. He deceived Eve, but he didn’t deceive Adam. He left Adam to Eve—who then spoke to Adam. He listened to her and death entered the world. He ate the forbidden fruit and everything since then has been A.F. After the Fall.
Oh what an awful moment that was! What a terrible rebellion that was! God tested the race through its head, Adam, and the moment Adam sinned, he himself became subject to God’s promised death sentence. But also, the moment he sinned, he doomed his entire seed to birth, life, death, and eternity under the curse of His Fall. And what a curse it is—sin, death, and Hell.
Even pagans realize the Fall’s corruption. Think of the birth of a child. How many fathers have cried as our dear wife presented us our newborn child, joining the Roman poet Lucretius in his lament:
The wailing of the newborn infant
is mingled with the dirge for the dead.
The centuries-old graveside service used down to this day by many pastors in the English-speaking world begins:
Man that is born of a woman hath but a short time to live, and is full of misery. He cometh up, and is cut down, like a flower; he fleeth as it were a shadow, and never continueth in one stay. In the midst of life, we are in death: of whom may we seek for succour, but of thee, O Lord, who for our sins art justly displeased?
God is displeased with us. He has been since Adam’s Fall. It is for this reason we have only a short time to live and our lives are full of misery. Those awakened from our slumber by His Spirit flee to Him for relief and comfort provided us by His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto the Father but through Him.
Yes, the Fall is the center of man’s existence, being so very evil that even nature groans awaiting its release.
In the Garden, the Fall immediately corrupted Adam and Eve’s loving intimacy with one another. Before the Fall, they were naked together, and unashamed; but after the Fall, still naked together, now they were ashamed, so they took leaves and tried to cover themselves from the other’s eyes.
There was another result of the Fall infinitely worse than the corruption of the man and his wife’s love for each other. Adam and Eve lost their intimacy with God. Having rebelled against Him, in their guilt and shame, His presence became unbearable to them:
They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. (Genesis 3:8)
Again, God called Adam himself to account for both the rebellion his wife had led him into. Because Adam was Eve’s head and representative before God, God spoke to Adam alone, asking whether he had eaten from the tree forbidden him:
Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?
At the end of the first installment in this series, I told of the man in our congregation who was angered by being told he was responsible for the sins and failures of his home. He thought this was unfair and expressed hostility towards the author of the book he and his small group were reading who opened up his responsibility as father and husband.
It shocked me. I’d thought he was a stand-up guy and knew his responsibility, but here he was resisting it. As the situation opened up in the months following, this man proved to be incapable of taking responsibility. In a while, he’d left his wife and son. His fellow deacons and the elders sought to bring him to repentance, but finally were forced to excommunicate him. It was very sad.
But it got worse. As the years went by, he refused to get a job in any way commensurate with his graduate degree and gifting. He didn’t pay his child support. He ended up living in a hovel of a motel outside town whose rates were cheap by the month. He hung with several men who shared bitterness against the church, their families, their friends, their present and former bosses, their civil authorities, and life itself.
In the courts, on social media, and in podcasts and talk radio, we see this growing movement among men to shirk, and even deny, their male responsibilities. Like my former parishioner, these men refuse to acknowledge any personal responsibility for the inevitable sins and failures that follow—the bad and broken marriages, the weak and sickly sons who learned to shirk responsibility and spend their time playing video games from their father.
Nothing was ever this man’s fault, and to this day nothing sticks to him. He bears the likeness of his first father Adam, who excused his own individual, personal, specific responsibility for the Fall, whining to God about his wife:
The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate. 1
Sure, it’s all the fault of “the woman.”
It’s easy to construct how the bitter and weak men of our own time would embellish Adam’s denial of responsibility were they doing it on social media today:
It’s the woman’s fault. It’s Your fault for giving her to me. I was fine until she came along, but she ruined everything. And now, what? You’re blaming ME?!?
She ate the fruit first! She’s the one who got me to eat it. Why are you singling me out? Doesn’t she have some responsibility, too?
The deck’s stacked against men, You know. There’s no reason why You should single me out. Why are You coming at me, demanding I answer for what she did first and led me into? It’s not fair!
Where’s a god who is man enough to stand up to a woman? Where is a god who isn’t afraid of saying “no” to a woman? Where is a god who will defend me from the female oppression I’ve suffered?
I’m dying here!
A couple things before we end this second post in this series.
What became clear to me about this man in our congregation was that, as he saw it, if he were responsible for the sins and failures of himself (obviously), but also his wife, child, and home, this did not absolve his wife of her responsibility. She was a moral agent and would answer to God just as her first mother, Eve, ended up answering to God for her sin and suffering God’s curse specifically given to her.
Often, it seems that bitter men who live to play the blame game aren’t interested in justice, but only excuses. As they see it, all evils are properly assigned to one person who is wholly to blame. There can’t be shared responsibility for sin and failure. Just find the woman (or man) who is most easily blamed and put the sins of the world on his head.
Men today who are busy copying Adam easily blame their own sin on the woman, going on even to deny their own responsibility for the woman’s sin, also. Not all the responsibility, but if God calls the husband to sanctify his wife, it is sin for him to refuse to sanctify his wife. Very often, this is what is noticeable in marital breakdowns and the the destruction of families and homes of the church.
The man listens to the voice of his wife and follows her in sin. Then when the evil fruit falls from this tree, he blames the woman for what she said to him as well as the sin he himself committed after listening to her.
We can imagine what the man might have said to his wife as they walked away from the angel and his flaming sword barring them forever from the Garden:
Now look what you’ve done! You had to eat it, didn’t you? You always have to get your way, don’t you? You realize what we had in there? We could have spent eternity eating the fruit of 100,000 trees God permitted us, but no, it had to be the one tree He forbade us, didn’t it? You ruined it.
I knew you were going to screw everything up! Serves you right, having your pain increased in childbirth. Serves you right, having to desire me.
I’m so sick of you. I wish I could get a divorce from you, but God won’t let me. He refuses to admit His mistake in making you.
I’d rather have a pickup truck. I’d rather have a horse. I’d rather play video games. I’d rather have a dog.
What we have to get into our heads and hearts is that the sins of marriages and families are properly laid at the door of the head of the home, and this in no way absolves the wife and mother of her own sins which harm her husband and children.
To say the man is responsible for his home is not to say the woman is not responsible for her home. It is only to say that the man is primarily responsible for the home and the wife’s responsibility is only secondary.
This is how God created us, calling us all together “adam” or “man.” Not “Eve.” Not “AdamEve.”
Own it, men. Don’t whine. Don’t let them geld you. Rise up to your full stature and confess your (and my) male responsibility for this world we have made for ourselves.