Saturday, September 25, 2010

Eve's transgression

A couple of days ago, I was having a phone conversation with Heather (TopHat in internet circles) and we were talking about Eve's transgression in the Garden of Eve. I kind of went off-topic and ended up thinking and speaking out loud about why Eve then is commanded to be obedient her husband's counsel (which then is still expected of women today). I know that some women in the church struggle with that expectation. Their question is along the lines of: If men and women are supposedly equal partners in marriage (see The Family: A Proclamation to the World), why does a woman need to be subordinate to her husband?

In our conversation with each other, we discussed how the fact that EVE ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil is actually celebrated in our church. She made a wise and courageous decision to experience mortality and to know good from evil. As Sheri L. Dew said, "In addition to bearing children, she mothered all of mankind when she made the most courageous decision any woman has ever made and with Adam opened the way for us to progress."

But there has always been something that bothers me about her decision. She obviously saw the virtue of experiencing mortality and saw that the knowledge gained from it was necessary for her and Adam to progress and that becoming like God was a good thing and not a prideful motivation like Satan implied. But, she made a decision that forced Adam to choose a certain path and she did not consult with him first.

I am sensitive to this sort of injustice. I don't appreciate people speaking for me, or compelling me to make choices that I otherwise might not have chosen for myself. I most certainly would not appreciate it if it was my husband who forced me into that situation.

And, that, is what I think Eve did to Adam. Though she made a good decision, and perhaps the right decision, she did not consult with Adam, come to an agreement and act together in unity.

I feel badly for Adam to be in a place where he was stuck between obeying commandments: staying with his wife and fulfilling the command to multiply and replenish the earth or to not partake of the fruit of that tree. It was Eve that put him in that situation by hastily rushing forward and partaking of the fruit without consulting with Adam and taking into account the implications.

What if Adam had said, "I'm not going to partake of that fruit and I'm going to stay here while you are banished from the garden and we will both be alone?" What if he had gotten mad at her for limiting his choices instead of seeing the situation with the clarity of knowing that he needed to stay by his wife? Her choice and his compulsion to choose along with her had long lasting effects on him. He learned what suffering was as a result of her choice, and while he did freely choose it, it should have been a decision they made together.

I wonder if its for this reason Eve and in extension her daughters have the obligation to counsel with their husbands and to listen to their counsel. This begs the question however, if "men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression (Second Article of Faith), then are women being punished for Eve's transgression by being compelled to a subordinate status under their husbands?

I would also add its likely that women who are disturbed by the hearken counsel would comforted if men were also counseled to hearken to their wives and both husband and wife communicated with God with equal footing where both go through their spouse when making decisions, instead of one going through the other and it not being reciprocated.

1 comment:

alisaterry said...

Something I've always noted is that the scriptures say that the land is cursed "for your sake." Several church articles and talks bring up this point - "sake" means "cause, account, interest, or benefit." The curses were not punishment; they were part of Eve's desire to have trials and grow, and subsequently Adam's choice to join her in that endeavor.

Genesis Ch 3
16 Unto the awoman he said, I will greatly bmultiply thy csorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth dchildren; and thy desire shall be to thy ehusband, and he shall rule over thee.
17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy awife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: bcursed is the ground for thy sake; in csorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
18 aThorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;
19 In the asweat of thy face shalt thou eat bbread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for cdust thou art, and unto ddust shalt thou return.

Nowhere does he imply these are punishments. They are the listed consequences of choosing to eat the fruit and gain knowledge. "Okay, because you, Eve, chose this, and you, Adam, followed Eve, this is what life is going to be like on the outside."