The New Christians

The New Christians

Comment of the Day

Sara weighs in on Original Sin:

And now it’s time for a woman’s perspective on “original sin.”

Eve, the woman, fell for the snake’s deceit. Eve, the woman, was a
deceived transgressor, not Adam (1 Timothy 2:14). Eve, the woman, was
seduced by the snake and then tricked Adam into eating the forbidden
fruit. Eve, the woman, is to blame for the fall into original sin
resulting in the total depravity of all humankind. Eve, the woman,
forced God to exile all of humankind from the Garden of Eden.

Eve, the woman, is blamed by many church fathers, including Tertullian:

“…walking about as Eve mourning and repentant, in order that by
every garb of penitence she might the more fully expiate that which she
derives from Eve, — the ignominy, I mean, of the first sin, and the
odium (attaching to her as the cause) of human perdition. “In pains and
in anxieties dost thou bear (children), woman; and toward thine husband
(is) thy inclination, and he lords it over thee.” And do you not know
that you are (each) an Eve? The sentence of God on this sex of yours
lives in this age: the guilt must of necessity live too. You are the
devil’s gateway: you are the unsealer of that (forbidden) tree: you are
the first deserter of the divine law: you are she who persuaded him
whom the devil was not valiant enough to attack. You destroyed so
easily God’s image in man. On account of your desert — that is, death —
even the Son of God had to die.”


Eve, the woman, made women in all times and places more sinful,
deceit, and susceptible to evil. Women shouldn’t be leaders of a family
or ordained as pastors. The wisdom of women is only appropriate for
other women – not for men. The birth that women provide for their
children isn’t good enough, so they have to be baptized as “born again”
children. Women couldn’t possible reflect the Divine, so God is called
a “Father.” And on and on and on.

The messages of “original sin” are clear: (1) Men are bad because of
women. (2) Women are even worse because they caused men to be bad.

Men and women need a new theology, unless Christianity want to be forever based on misogynistic theology written by men.

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posted March 12, 2009 at 10:45 am

It’s okay they because all scripture is “God-breathed” and therefore free of any possible sexist undertones. Luck for you ladies too, human history, especially that of Judaism and Christianity, could have taken an ugly turn for being patriarchal if it wasn’t. We dodged a bullet on that…

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posted March 12, 2009 at 10:56 am

God-breathed (whatever _that_ means) or not,it is not hard to read Genesis from a feminist perspective. Eve was merely deceived, Adam rebelled, Eve’s answers to God were also much better than Adam’s, which were full of buck-passing. Eve, on the other hand, gave straightforward answers, “the serpent deceived me, and I ate”. Not that I think Eve was blameless in the story, but there is more than enough blame to go around.

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posted March 12, 2009 at 11:28 am

“Women couldn’t possible reflect the Divine, so God is called a “Father.” And on and on and on.”
Is this why God was born of a woman, then?

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posted March 12, 2009 at 5:58 pm

the thing to remember when talking about men and women in the view of Christianity is that women are just as likely to slip into pride and selfishness as men are
now that doesnt mean that men are the lesser of two evils. not by far, but just because men do a crappy job sometimes doesnt mean that women would do any better
the church is a body and Paul talks of the family as a body too. Christ is at the head of the man, and the man is at the head of the wife. Romans does not put blame on Eve for her sin, but blames Adam for our sin nature.
We do need to confess, as a body, that women, through the centuries, have gotten the short end of the stick. But we need not give them favor either. This is a dance, it take equal parts doing equal work. We need to be able to surrender our pride and work equally together in everything that the bible allows us to.(im sorry but the scripture is clear that women are to be held from offices in the church, and it gives clear reasons.)
So, bottom line. both sexes are equally prideful and sinful, but with the faith that has been given to us, we need to surrender to each other and work as a body to accomplish what we need to get done.

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posted March 12, 2009 at 8:18 pm

Men, as a whole, tend to struggle more with pride, anger, violence, self-entitlement, etc.
Women, as a whole, tend to struggle more with meekness, depression, voicelessness, selflessness, etc.

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posted March 12, 2009 at 8:21 pm

Mary Daly once said: “If God is male, then male is God.”

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Your Name

posted March 13, 2009 at 1:53 am

Time to re-discover the feminine images of the divine that are already in the scriptures.
Wisdom, Hokmah in Hebrew, Sophia in Greek, is found particularly in the Wisdom writing of the Hebrew scriptures, and has strong connections to the early church understanding of the pre-existent Christ.
Check out Jann Aldredge-Clanton’s book “In Search of the Christ-Sophia, An inclusive Christology for Liberating Christians”. It’s a good examination of this topic.

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Dave Metz

posted March 14, 2009 at 10:34 am

Benjamin said:
“We need to be able to surrender our pride and work equally together in everything that the bible allows us to.(im sorry but the scripture is clear that women are to be held from offices in the church, and it gives clear reasons.)”
The problem is that it is only clear in certain letters and certain situations. In fact, the restrictions on women in worship actually change if you look at scripture as a whole.
If there was a universal ban, why is it not in every letter, every gospel, etc.? Wouldn’t it’s absence have been confusing for those who got certain letters and not others? How would they have known?
Walter Brueggemann said “the arc of the gospel bends towards inclusion.” This is one of those situations. The Tanakh (OT or Hebrew bible if you will) has women completely separate from men in worship… in fact it was a lesser place. Jesus progressed to include women as his followers. The early church progressed to include women in certain aspects of worship (oh, and there were plenty of women in leadership positions by the way). The church then regressed in many ways through out the Middle Ages. The modern church has begun her progression again towards inclusion.
This is part of the gospel message; that it is not static but dynamnic. It’s bent toward inclusion should be the inspiration for society and not vice versa.
Anywho… I do agree that there needs to be balance and not a total swing either way. We need the gifts of all members of the Body of Christ to be lived out fully.

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posted March 14, 2009 at 9:30 pm

I’ll say it –
That’s one of the most absurd and worst interpretations of Original Sin that I think I’ve ever heard. We don’t need a “feminist” perspective (as feminism is just as detrimental to society as male chauvinism is). Paul states quite clearly in Romans 1 that death came into the world through Adam. Yes, Eve sinned first – but Adam sinned with her. Both are viewed as equally responsible within the Bible for bringing sin into the world, each in their respective manners.

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posted March 15, 2009 at 1:57 am

Great comments on the relationship between original sin and male and female relations. Women are given a bad reputation in the Bible, especially by Christians. We have to reinterpret this story to better fit our times and project a view of equality.

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posted March 15, 2009 at 8:02 am

Joel –
It’s true. The f-word is controversial. Some people don’t think it’s appropriate for Christianity. But you used it. Feminism! Now I’ve used it too. Now it’s out in the open. Now I think we should define it carefully and then apply it faithfully.
bell hooks says, “Feminism is the struggle to end sexist oppression. Its aim is not to benefit soley any specific group of women, any particular class of women. It does not privilege women over men. It has the power to transform all of our lives in meaningful ways.” So, it’s about fighting oppression in any form. Not so scary. In fact, it sounds good for everyone.
Bonnie Miller-McLemore says, “Feminism demands a critical analysis of the structures and ideologies that rank people as inferior and superior according to various traits of human nature, whether gender, sexual orientation, class, color, age physical ability, and so forth.” Okay, so it’s also about treating all people as equals, no matter how they are different. All are equal. Now it’s starting to sound like stuff from the Constitution and the Bible.
Basically, feminism seeks to fight oppression and build equality – for all people. Not too radical an idea after all! It just wants to deconstruct hierarchy and replace it with something more democratic. So it values sharing power with others instead of lording power over others. (Feminism, like anything else, is more complex than a simple definition can describe. But this is a good place to start). Feminism is, therefore, good for everyone.

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posted March 16, 2009 at 12:19 am

This assume that hierarchy in roles is always a bad thing. I guess I hold onto that old, archaic understanding that the Bible teaches that there are different roles for men and women that compliment each other. Not that the woman is unequal or has less rights or isn’t as important – the Bible doesn’t teach that, men’s brash interpretations teach that. But it seems we can’t really “reinterpret” the Bible in its teaching on women and men – we actually have to disagree with it.
I just believe there are certain gender roles and I believe this is obvious in both nature and the Bible. I also don’t like democracy, so maybe that’s why I have such a problem with the viewpoint.

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Arni Zachariassen

posted March 18, 2009 at 2:20 pm

Joel: “Paul states quite clearly in Romans 1 that death came into the world through Adam. Yes, Eve sinned first – but Adam sinned with her. Both are viewed as equally responsible within the Bible for bringing sin into the world, each in their respective manners.”
I presume that you think that Adam, not Eve, bearing the responsibility for sin entering the world somehow scores a point for the ladies. That even though Eve sinned first, she is not held up as responsible for sin entering the world, and that should somehow put women in a better position than men – at least in this regard. I always thought it was the other way around actually. The Bible is pretty clear that Eve sinned first, but for some reason Paul doesn’t think women important enough to even show them that rather dubious courtesy. So I find the way Paul relieving Eve of the blame for sin a bit of a backhanded compliment of sorts.
In my humble opinion, feminist theology is one the most important gifts God has given the church. It is absolutely essential for every Christian to engage feminist perspectives and critiques, not only because the church won’t survive without them (it won’t), but because theology will never more than partially reflect what Christianity essentially is without the voices of women. It’s an absolute disgrace and shame that it has taken so long for women to be regarded as full human beings in church.

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