In the Garden of Eden, the tragic fall of man is displayed as Adam disobeys God and eats fruit he was told not to eat. The account tells of his wife, Eve, being convinced by a serpent that she could eat the fruit that Adam had been told not to eat, of her eating the fruit and of her offering it to her husband. Within the story, there is a moment when the temptation is fresh and the fruit is not yet eaten.
The modern understanding tells that in that moment Adam failed in his leadership role and did not protect his wife from the serpent’s temptation. Free Northerner describes Adam’s behavior as Beta, supplicant to women, instead of Alpha, leading women.
Here Adam displays a stunning lack of leadership and betaness leading to the fall.
First, while he is with her, he allows his helper to be tempted by the serpent, who is under his dominion, and he does nothing. He takes no leadership over either his helper or the one he rules.
Second, he then allows his helper to convince him to violate his duty. He falls into the woman’s frame and allows her to lead him against his own principles and duty.
The problem with blaming Adam for Eve’s temptation emerges when we ask the simple question of what were Adam’s available responses. Eve’s eating of the fruit would put her at odds with Adam, disrupting their union, with Adam having not eaten the fruit where Eve had. To prevent the shattering of their marriage that would follow, Adam would have had to act. I thought of four possible responses to the temptation before Eve.
1. He could have argued with the serpent, engaging in open debate. But God had already told Adam clearly the boundaries he was not to cross. It is implied that Adam, being the male authority, passed on God’s command to his wife. She knew the command; rhetoric would have solved nothing. Adam could have challenged the serpent with God’s command, but the command had already been given, so it would have fallen back into arguing.
2. He could have destroyed the snake through which the devil was speaking in an attempt to cut Eve of from the temptation. Given that there were other animals available for such manipulation, he would have again merely delayed the inevitable. The thoughts of doubt and temptation were already in Eve’s mind.
3. He could have physically pulled Eve away from the tree, using violence to keep her from eating the fruit. This would have destroyed the benevolent and poetic union they had, making Eve a prisoner instead of a wife. The desire for the fruit would be her will and Adam’s physical threats would only cause a rift between them, solved only with pacification by force. It would only shorten the delay to the inevitable when she fled from his violence.
4. Finally, he could have made grand gestures of pleading and wooing in an effort to win her affection away from the fruit. This, though, would have put him in a position of complete servitude to her whims and wants, always working overtime to keep her from wanting the fruit. Eve would have been given a point of threat over Adam so that he had to please her continually in hopes that she would not eat the fruit. It would hopefully delay the inevitable, hopefully forever.
The option that Adam went with was to preserve the marriage by surrendering to her rebellion and eating the fruit to please her. The penalty for eating the fruit was death and Adam would have had to face loss of the marriage, the loss of the woman. Eating the fruit spared him the pain of losing bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh.
There were two other options, of course.
1. Adam could have separated himself from his wife, disowned her as bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh, abandoned the union, suffered the loss and sought God’s comfort in the midst of a heartbreaking dilemma. This would have turned him away from listening to his wife’s voice and kept him in obedience to God’s voice. The fall would not have happened.
2. Eve could have turned away from the serpent and meekly submitted to the protection and authority of her husband’s voice and God’s command. It also would have kept Adam from disobeying God’s voice. The fall would not have happened.
Translating Adam and Eve into twenty-first century marriage, it breaks down along similar lines.
Feminism is offering to women the same thing as the serpent did to Eve. They can be like gods, independent and under no authority, free to live as they see fit. If they choose to marry, they are free to defy their husbands and divorce as they see fit. In order for Christian husbands to deal with this temptation and avoid the resultant destruction of marriage, they have several available responses.
1. A husband can argue with his wife, using rhetoric to convince her to submit to his lead and/or not divorce him. He attempts to preserve the marriage through arguing, only delaying the inevitable.
2. A husband can control whatever influences give his wife ideas about not submitting and/or to divorcing (books, friends, etc) by controlling her private and social life. He suppresses outside influences, but only ensures his wife’s ongoing rebellion and only delays the inevitable.
3. A husband can use the threat of violence or violence itself to beat his wife into submission, threatening her very life if need be to keep her in submission and/or from divorcing him. This will only give her the full justification she needs to completely rebel and divorce, delaying the inevitable.
4. Finally, a husband can buy flowers, chocolates, diamonds, cars, and houses. He can walk, talk, and dress in ways that please her. He can write poetry, watch chick flicks, and be the nicest guy in the world. He can do all of this to win her affection away from insubordination and/or divorce. He can run himself into the ground and still not prevent the inevitable divorce on the grounds of “irreconcilable differences.”
The evangelical church, having been completely infected with feminism while openly denouncing feminism, do not want men submitting to the leadership of women in a state of equality, as that would violate the New Testament calls to male headship. The issue of wives refusing to submit to their husband’s leadership remains a problem.
The church also does not want men to argue with their wives (option 1), as that is considered emotional abuse. They don’t want men to control their wives’ public and private life as that limits women’s freedom and is also considered abuse (option 2). And they definitely do not, under any circumstances, want men to physically abuse women into submission (option 3).
What the church leaves for husbands to do is the last option. They are called to “man up” and work harder and harder to win their wives’ affection, to be a brighter source of happiness than the fruit of independence and empowerment. This, of course, places these men in a position of laboring servitude to their wives’ infinite need for happiness. The church cannot guarantee this will preserve the marriage, but it might delay her divorcing him as long as possible.
Christian men do not really have the option of lifelong celibacy as they were not made by God to be celibate. They do not have the option of divorcing rebellious wives as the church and twenty-first century society has practically outlawed such an option. Any marriage a Christian man enters survives through his wife’s unconditional submission to his authority or through his laboring to constantly please her in hopes she will not leave.
The only other option is the abandonment of marriage for a life of rampant sexual license (fornication in the old vernacular), living as a pick-up-artist. For the Christian man, that is not an option.