Sexuality and Renunciation Section One (9:35a)ID 900222618Topic: What does Eve do to help?  Place this question into a evaluation of interpretations of sex and gender we have read about and discussed during this term.  How Does Eve Help?     The very first sentence of the Bible declares that God created the heavens and the earth.  He created the plants, the animals, the water, and everything one sees and hears.  He spent days working on His creation, as He wanted it to be good.  Each day was used to create some part of the world as we know it.  On the sixth day, He created man.  “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God He created them: male and female He created them.  God blessed them  and God said unto them, ‘Be fruitful,  and multiply, and replenish the earth'” (Genesis 1: 27-28, KJV).  At the end of the first chapter of Genesis, God sees all that He had made and acknowledges that what He had made was good.  He is pleased with His creations:  the animals, the plants, the rivers, the plains and mankind.  The very first chapter of the Bible informs that the world was created in just six days, and on the seventh day, God rested.  However, one must read further into Genesis to find the detailed story about Adam and Eve and their creation.  The second chapter of Genesis explains that God had put every plant in the ground, yet had not allowed rain to shower down on the plants to cause them to grow. The fields were not allowed to flourish and bloom.  A caretaker was needed.  God saw this and created man. Man was alone and God saw that this was not good.  He created an innumerable amount of animals, looking for the perfect helper for man.  None of the animals sufficed.  At this point, God created woman from man’s rib. Going back to the beginning of Genesis, it is clear that God wants more than just a helper for man.  He wants man and woman to “be fruitful and multiply”.  And it was good.     The immediate thought might be that Eve’s place here on Earth and in the Garden of Eden was a companion and a helpmate.  She was created to make Adam’s life easier by helping take care of the plants and animals.  She was created to chase away Adam’s loneliness.  She was created to procreate.  But is this all?  Surely God could not have had such a limited view for Eve.  She is much more than a simple helper and companion.  God knew this, saw this and it was good.  As Phyllis Trible suggests in her book, History of Biblical Interpretation, man and woman were created on an equal basis, rather than on a hierarchy (Trible, 362).  This leads to the long-standing belief that Adam (man) is superior to Eve (woman) is simply not true.  This chapter in Genesis is not, as many claim, “legitimizing male supremacy and female subordination” (Trible, 368).  She goes on to say that man cannot be lauded over women because man did not have any part in the creation of women.  He was asleep and God created woman. Man was not even aware of what was happening.  It was, quite obviously, all in God’s plan.  If Eve (woman) was not created as an afterthought, or a person to be dominated by Adam (man) why was she created.  Woman was made to help man procreate the earth.  As God had said, “Be fruitful and multiply.”  It would be impossible for Adam to replenish the earth by himself.  Or wouldn’t it?  In the text, The Symposium, written by a well-known philosopher, Plato, it is suggested that it could be possible to procreate without a man and a woman.  This dialogue contributes to philosophical, psychological and religious beliefs of then and now.  The belief at the time is alluded to as women were not allowed into the Symposium.  Nonetheless, a woman becomes one of the most important people to tell a story.  This, once again, causes confusion as to a woman’s place and status in a “man’s world”.  Aristophanes’ speech near the beginning of The Symposium, tells a tale of three sexes. These being male, female and androgynous. These creatures were sphere-shaped and had features on both sides of the sphere.  When they became too annoying to the gods, Zeus and the other gods chose to slice them in half.  At first, there was no sexual attraction, as the creatures would mate as insects did.  Zeus, however, took pity on them and turned them around and thus sexual attraction was introduced (Plato, 9).  This suggests an interesting correlation to the lack of sexual desire before the forbidden fruit was eaten in the Garden of Eden.  As the Symposium continues, Socrates tells a story of a conversation that he had with a woman named Diotima.  The simple fact that Diotima is the character telling the story suggests that woman is far more than a helpmate to man.  She tells a story of how Penia deceives Poros and lies with him while he is drunk.  A child, Eros, is born.  Eros is the god of love and the word in which comes the word erotic.  Another similarity to the fall of innocence in the Garden of Eden.  Before the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge is eaten, there is no sexual desire, yet afterwards there is. Eve is viewed as being responsible for the fall of innocence and Penia’s deceit is viewed as the creation of desire.  Yet, The Symposium, also refers to the power of man and his dominance over woman.  The act of penetration is power.  The difference between common love and heavenly love is also noted.  Heavenly love includes emotional content, common love is not really love at all, but simply sex.  How does this contribute to Eve’s role?  The early Christians liked Plato’s writings and theories and copied them. Is Eve’s role similar to that of Penia?  Is her role to develop sexual longing and desire?  It seems as though this is part of her role.  Is desire necessary to procreate and replenish the earth?  What then comes of desire that is not heterosexual?  These questions are also answered through the readings of Paul.  Corinthians is his letter to the people of the Corinthian church.  He attempts to explain to them the position of Adam and Eve in the the Garden of Eden.  Adam and Eve have been joined together, forever.  This indicates that Adam and Eve are married and through this marriage they begin to procreate the earth.  After the fall from grace, desire is born.  According to The Nashville Statement God has designed marriage to be the union of one man and one woman .  Sexual attraction is meant to be between different sex individuals.  Same sex attraction is not part of God’s original plan, therefore did not exist in the Garden of Eden.  St. Augustine of Hippo, a fourth century writer, accepts that we live outside of the Garden of Eden.  He sees desire as an infection, or an addiction.  The church needs to be a strong part of life as a way to control this “addiction”.  Sex becomes ecstasy and part of the original sin.  Man is unable to control his desires and looks to the church for the guidance and discipline necessary to live in fallen Eden.  Sexual desire is a trap, not a gift (Brown 1988, pp. 387-427).  That brings about some concluding thoughts about Eve’s role.  What does she do to help?  Eve provides Adam with a helpmate.  That is one of her greatest accomplishments.  However, Eve is not just Adam’s helpmate.  One must also see that  Adam is Eve’s helpmate.  They are created the same, man and woman.  They are equal.  Eve deceived Adam in the Garden of Eden by feeding him the fruit of the forbidden tree.  One of her roles was to introduce sexuality to the human race.  Sex becomes more than an act.  It becomes part of heavenly love, with feelings and emotions attached.  It is therefore understandable that the desire does not always occur between people of the opposite sex.  The Garden of Eden is the location in which sin first occurred.  Eve had a role in this fall from grace, yet Adam and Eve were created in the same image, so then doesn’t Adam have a part in this too?  What does Eve do to help?  She helps create the world and sexuality as we know it.  She becomes a strong figure in the creation of mankind.  She does, as women continue to do, nurture and sustain life.  

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