Can “Daughters of Eve” Never Be Free from The Curse? Exploring “Rule” and “Desire” in Genesis

Until now, I have avoided blogging about “the woman issue” in the church because, frankly, I grew tired many years ago of being “the issue” and just decided to fulfill my calling. No need for further debate. Just lead by example and move on, I convinced myself.

Recently, however, one of the young women I used to mentor told me she would be using the book Captivating by Stasi Eldredge for a women’s Bible study she leads. I told her to be sure she sought out other sources for a balanced view. The very same day, I ran across Samantha Field’s blog and connected her to it since Field is currently running a series reviewing the Eldredge book.

I’ve had several follow-up conversations with the young woman as she’s gone through her studies. This has taken place in a private Facebook group we share with several other women. What has struck me in this group discussion is that, no matter how many voices there are out there encouraging women, the voices that seem to penetrate deepest (probably because they’ve heard them the longest) are those that tell them to “stay in their place.” This grieves my heart. And so, with that, I add my voice to those calling out for the redemption of the “daughters of Eve.”

As a starting point, I’ve chosen to add some commentary to Field’s most recent post. Here’s the excerpt from her post that prompted me to write today.

From Field – The next two pages are Stasi Eldredge sounding exactly like Helen Andelin (“It was a brilliant trap, well set,” because women should “cunningly” ensnare their husbands with manipulative traps), and then she relates a story about “Betsy” who was married to a “verbally abusive man” who was an elder, “mean,” who “villainized her to their children, their church.” But what did Betsy do– and what all women in her situation should do? She “didn’t seek divorce”; instead she: invited him to feel the weight of his consequences … She fasted and prayed … She gave him many tastes of what life could be like together …

The advice from Eldredge sounds a lot like the consequences of the curse for the relationship between men and women. When studying the curse and specifically the word “desire” in Genesis 3:16 (“Your desire will be for your husband, but he will rule over you.”), it is interesting to see the wording of that passage is almost identical to Genesis 4:7 in the story of Cain and Abel. There, sin is said to be desiring to overtake Cain, but he can master it. It seems like Eldredge is advising women to give in to the ungodly desires and tactics brought on by the curse.

A third parallel passage to this usage of “desire” (the only three times this word is used in the Bible) is found in Song of Solomon 7:10. There it says, “I am my beloved’s and his desire is for me.” Note the positive image of desire in Song of Solomon, as well as the role reversal. The context is a picture of a mutual relationship – She is his; he does not have to make her submit. “Rule” is not found, or needed, here. The context of Song of Solomon would indicate that this is a description of what the redeemed male-female relationship should be like, a contrast to the fallen state. It is a beautiful image.

But alas, most patriarchists would have women forever bound to the curse. “Daughters of Eve” are never to be free – not even in Christ.

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