I’m currently immersed in Genesis, with Adam and Eve at the Fall, this is because I may be doing some work with Confirmation classes this Autumn and I think it is so important the Fall is dealt with engagingly and properly. I never feel I do it justice. This is the passage I’m currently up against.
Genesis Chapter 3 vs 16
To the woman also he said: I will multiply thy sorrows and thy conceptions. In sorrow shalt thou bring forth children, and thou shalt be under thy husband’s power, and he shall have dominion over thee.
This is the assistance we get from The Jerome Biblical Commentary (1968) :
The present condition of woman as wife and mother is seen as punishment of the first sin…. man dominates woman in the domestic and social order. Man’s domination, although part of the order of creation is intensified by sin beyond the divinely willed measure.
What is missing from the commentary is any concept that verse 16 is prophesying Eve’s sorrows over the death of her second born at the hands of her first born (and many mothers’ subsequent sorrow over their children). But that doesn’t bother me here. What is of interest is the whole framework into which “Man’s domination” of women is put.
God mentions man “shall have dominion over thee” as a matter of fact (divinely willed), it is NOT a commandment. The Jerome commentary makes it clear that the manner of this dominion depends on the level to which those involved sin. It is giving us an order for society.
I can live with that, surely we can all live with that. Also there is no contradiction with 1 Peter 3, 1 Timothy 2:9-15, Colossians 3:17-19, Ephesians 5:21-28 and 1 Corinthians 11.
Seeking equality is an act of rebellion to this order, and in doing so perpetuates that first sin.
Women can have no authority over men in their teaching and other visible hierarchies within the church. There can be no female priesthood because that would imply equality in the social ordering of the Church on earth where it can’t exist. That our souls are of equal worth in the eyes of God is of no doubt. That women can be and are often more powerful soldiers in the Church Militant is not in question either.
Men rule, for women it is ordained to remain somewhat anonymous and spread the gospel quietly, unobtrusively, submissively and under the eyes of the radar (devastatingly brilliant stuff if done correctly).
Deal with it my feminist friends, the answers are all there in scriptures and commentaries inspired by Pius XII’s modernizing tendencies and the clean breeze blowing through Vatican II!
Eve - Jan Van Eyck