05 January 2011

More dumbness from me

Overwrought and CSPP. But I repeat myself.

I wonder if the precise meaning of "your desire shall be for your husband and he shall rule over you" has ever been dissected as much as in contemporary times. The conservative explanation I've heard most often is that all women resent masculine rule and desire to rule themselves. For what it's worth (ie, nothing) this seems a little aggressive to me: accusing where no accusation is explicit, excessively psychological (reflective of our time), retrofitting Modern and Postmodern problems on a timeless structure. Or maybe its problem is that it assumes the converse of the Curse to be its explanation, and this is fallacious or something. Furthermore, it is relatively inconsequential. Sin means that all of us resent rule: children of parents, workers of masters, wives of husbands, men of God. Isn't the bottom line just that childbearing is messed up, desire is messed up, rule is messed up?

While male/female tension, disrespect, and antagonism are nothing new, the world turned without "equal rights" for women or any meaningful fomentation for such for a long, long time. This is because for most of history most women were too busy having children for the entirety of their fertile years and dealing with the fallout (or dying) to go around carrying signs and shouting for something more. The Confessions didn't have to have an article on women's ordination or address complementarianism or even give a friendly shout out to Dear Mother. Feminism as such is philosophically and historically Modern. To impose a reactionary hermeneutic of only recent historical relevance on the Curse doesn't, you know, help.

(
Personal disclaimer) My perspective is profoundly influenced by the fact that I have a really good husband. He is my lord and it pains me not to say it or live under his lordship (unless I'm being a jerk) because of his great benevolence. His headship of our family is a blessed relief to me--it's a fantastic system when the components are in working order. One thing with which I've never been able to help a sad friend is husband problems, because I just don't have them. I don't doubt that if he were any less faithful, dutiful, reliable, wise, gentle, and kind I'd feel quite differently. (And as for the primacy of men in general, well, that's a fact of history, and anyone who can't live with it can't live with God.)

This is where I take all the foregoing disjointed blather and get to the point. Despite my own easy ride, I do not feel that I've dodged the curse of desire, and here is how I, and I daresay my similarly lifestyled friends, encounter it: though it will mean for you pain upon pain, though it will make of your body a mass of woeful wounds, though it will maroon you with loneliness and desperation and envy* and contempt and something that feels very much and terrifyingly like despair, you will keep going back to him. If you don't, you will lose him. This is the point at which, if it could, resentment and fear would begin their corrosive attack on Love. And frankly, this rebellion is of dreadful substance and much more dangerous than a vainly competitive pursuit of human power. The latter makes the world silly; the former would choke it with malice. It takes something infinitely better than the world's flabby imitation of familial love and makes it something damnably worse than the world's quibbling over whose tur
n it is to change Junior's diaper.

". . . the women in Peru, even her nuns, went through life with two notions: one, that all the misfortunes that might befall them were merely due to the fact that they were not sufficiently attractive to bind some man to their maintenance; and, two, that all the misery in the world was worth his caress."

Most husbands of our time and place don't come home with sweaty brows or bloody hands, and yet they toil. The curse does its work even when the details change, when modernity presents us with a service economy, contraception, and androgyny to get us off the hook. But the ancient effect is alive and well where it is allowed to be and doesn't syllogistically require us to hate men and especially our husbands, or implicitly accuse us of doing so (contrariwise, rejecting one's God-given work is likely to cause precisely those problems, thus occasioning the contemporary understanding). It is simple and self-propogating: desire, suffer, repeat if desired--whoops!

Our pain is literal as it was east of Eden, and we hate it and fear it and keep signing up for more. But, sisters, we must. For the joy set before us we must. The deceiver's horrific picture of ruination only comes to life if we settle into the muck of bitterness, accepting that brief, shallow, lonely, and perverse pleasure. Ora et labora, the only way out. God help us. And He has.

*Envy of what? Not authority, but freedom. Or, more accurately, what looks to me like a greater freedom than my own, which it only sort of is.

6 comments:

Gauntlets said...

From where does that quotation RE: browbeaten virgins come?

More to the point, what continues to amaze me is even as I strive and strive harder to achieve humble submission to my lord, I am rewarded, in the now, with a lord who bears my burdens with me, as best he can. I mean, I still have to birth the baby, but he has no qualms about that first meconium-filled diaper. :P

I am his and an extension of him. When I hurt, so does he. So my suffering is never done in isolation, as if I were a cow in a field. I am a woman. This is what comfort it is.

HappyFox said...

Man, I'm gonna be thinking about these for a while. Luckily, Mary is teething and wants to nurse all night, so I'll have time. :)

Tired Bonnie who's working on not despairing about the tiredness

Leah said...

I think you are right about the possible incorrectness of the modern explanation of that scripture. I have heard that too.
It seems to me, like you say, more than just a struggle for "equality". Perhaps it stems from our being inveterate "theologians of glory", seeking to be "as gods", not being content to be "creatures" living humbly and obediently each in our God-given stations, but wanting to control, and like those at the Tower of Babel, make a name for ourselves.

Rebekah said...

Gauntlets, The Bridge of San Luis Rey. And I don't know, marooned feels pretty marooned to me, probably because I don't know how good I have it.

HappyFox, I'll be up with you, and not even because anyone around here has the ambition to pursue teeth. :P

Leah, in all honesty, I really don't think I'm that interested in a name for myself any more. I just don't want to get torn up again.

Genuine Lustre said...

I've always associated this verse with my frustrations with NFP. Though I don't "want" to go through another birth, I still desire my husband and um..can't stop.

Elizabeth said...

I needed to hear this, because today, I was whining a little when my husband went back over to work, because I wanted more time with him. So selfish I am. I forget that there are so many others who don't get to see their beloved for lunch every day like me. Granted, he may be gone many an evening, but I do get some occasional slower mornings and lunch every day.
Genuine Lustre - that makes me giggle and I have to agree. I always figured that curse was speaking to my overactive sex drive. (Okay, only mostly kidding.)