July 6, 2014: Eve Was Framed!

Posted on : Jul 1st, 2014 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

Amid all the human rights stickers, buttons and advocacy things I have in my office, there is one item that gets commented on more often than any other. It’s a bumper sticker that I have posted on the bulletin board above my desk. It reads: “Eve Was Framed.”

I’ve kept those words right in front of my eyes for over 25 years. The sticker came out of the Christian feminist movement of the 1960’s which has worked to overcome gender bias and inequality based on gender in all religious institutions, and especially Christianity. That in and of itself, is enough of a reason to have it in front of me every day. But it is there for another reason I keep it in front of me, and that is Biblical.

As someone who loves the scriptures and has now spent nearly a life-time studying them, and as a gay man and clergyperson who has experienced nearly a lifetime of being beat up with the Bible, I keep those words before me to remind me that every word of Scripture, every word in the Bible is conditioned by both those who wrote them and the time in history in which they were written. Eve was framed. She got blamed, put down, dehumanized, and made less than “man” by the patriarchal men who wrote Genesis.

In the many religions that were in existence in what we today call the Mediterranean and Middle East, the concept of a god creating a “paradise” or “garden” (such as the garden of Eden) in which humanity was “planted” was very common. Even expulsion from the garden was not all that uncommon in many of these stories but blaming Eve for the indiscretion of “seeking knowledge and truth” when Adam does the same thing, is unfair. This injustice gets magnified millions and billions of times when you realize that “Eve” and “Adam” are not first names, they are the names for all females and males of the human species.

In the beginning of this second story of creation (Genesis 2-3) God creates man from the ground (dirt) and creates an equal, “wo-man,” to be together as companions. In Hebrew, the language most of the Hebrew Scriptures are written in, this connection and equality is obvious. The Hebrew word for woman is “ish” and the Hebrew word for man is “ishshah.” Same word, just a masculine and feminine form of the word.

In the ancient world – as is still true today – religions were either patriarchal, matriarchal or egalitarian. Judaism was a patriarchal religion. Patriarchy means men are given greater value, privilege and power over women. Matriarchy means women are given greater value, privilege and power over men. Egalitarian means women and men are given equal power, privilege and value. Jesus was egalitarian and practiced an egalitarian faith. His treatment of women as equals was violently opposed by the Jewish religious establishment. Christianity did not become a patriarchal religion until the Apostle Paul screwed it up, and because of him, we’ve never been able to reclaim the egalitarian origins of our faith.

The “Framing of Eve” – that is, the perpetuation of patriarchal religion – continues to play out today. In fact, as recently as Monday of this week, patriarchal region again dominated women’s reproductive rights for healthcare with the Supreme Court’s latest ruling, which allows certain privately held corporations to discriminate by not providing women certain birth control options on the grounds of religious belief. No surprise here that the three female justices of the Supreme Court and one progressive man were in the minority and the five conservative men were in the majority. The Court bought into patriarchal religion, “hook, line and sinker.” And now everyone is wondering if this same “religious freedom” is going to allow businesses to refuse services to gay men and lesbians based on personal religious objections?

Do you think the writers of Genesis would have ever guessed that the mess they made by “framing Eve” would still carry on to today? More thoughts on this on Sunday.

God Bless!



 ~ This Sunday’s Scripture ~

Genesis 3

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that God had made. The serpent said to the woman, ‘Did God say, “You shall not eat from any tree in the garden”?’ The woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; but God said, “You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.” ’ But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not die; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.

They heard the sound of God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the two hid themselves from the presence of God among the trees of the garden. But God called to the man, and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ The man said, ‘I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.’ God said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?’ The man said, ‘The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.’ Then God said to the woman, ‘What is this that you have done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent tricked me, and I ate.’ Then God said to the serpent,

‘Because you have done this,

   cursed are you among all animals

   and among all wild creatures;

upon your belly you shall go,

   and dust you shall eat

   all the days of your life.

I will put enmity between you and the woman,

   and between your offspring and hers;

she will strike your head,

   and you will strike her heel.’

To the woman God said,

‘I will greatly increase your pain in childbearing;

yet your desire shall be for your husband,

   and he shall rule over you.’

And to the man God said,

‘Because you have listened to the voice of your wife,

   and have eaten of the tree

about which I commanded you,

   “You shall not eat of it”,

cursed is the ground because of you;

   in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life;

thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;

   and you shall eat the plants of the field.

By the sweat of your face

   you shall eat bread

until you return to the ground,

   for out of it you were taken;

you are dust,

   and to dust you shall return.’

The man named his wife Eve, because she was the mother of all who live. And God made garments of skins for the man and for his wife, and clothed them.

Then God said, ‘See, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever’— therefore God sent the man forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man; and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim, and a sword flaming and turning to guard the way to the tree of life.

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