Reading: Genesis 2-3
I read these passages with my sisters, with those who as a result of what has been written in this text, have suffered at the hands of men who felt they had the right to rule.
For some, Genesis 1-3 is a framework that confirms their beliefs about male dominance and heads-up. They have taken these passages and used them as a weapon, forming culture and systems that have oppressed and devalued women throughout generations.
There is no denying that the Scriptures are heavily patriarchal, they are written by men, for men. Often the role of women in these stories are devalued or ignored. As we read through the Old Testament we will see how women are mistreated and subjected to the whims of men, used as slaves, and valued as property. There is much which is disordered about the way many of the biblical writers viewed and spoke about women.
And yet, when I read these passages I do not see a confirmation of my sisters oppression. I see the seeds of their Liberation.
In chapter one we have the startling revelation that both men and women are created in the very image of the Divine. “God created human beings in His own image, in the image of God he created them…”
Women are not simply reflections of men, they are Divine image bearers in their own right.
In chapter three we have the curses. Right here in this passage the Patriarchy is mentioned, but not as a part of Gods order, or Her good creation, no as a consequence of humanity rejecting the Divine.
Some men reading this text have assumed that because it says in the Scriptures that as a result of humanities rebellion He will rule over you, that this is the way that it will always be.
Yet, this interpretation clearly ignores the context of the narrative itself.
Genesis three is not laying out order, but disorder.
The Patriarchy is inherently disordered, it is not a part of the Divines good creation, it is humanities curse.
But here we also see the seeds of our sister’s Liberation, she is not bound forever to the chains of man, no she will be Liberated, and it will be through a daughter of Eve that this Liberation will be made possible.
The Serpent and the offspring of Eve will be locked in combat, and through Her one day humanities Liberation will come. The curse will be reversed and Eve’s daughters will be Liberated.
The picture in this blog hangs in our living room. It depicts Mary comforting Eve, her foot crushing the Serpent.
Through Mary this promise has been fulfilled.
The iron grip of the Patriarchy has been broken, Mary the Liberator gives birth to humanities salvation, giving life to the One who will bring Life to all.
My mother, my daughter, life-giving Eve,
Do not be ashamed, do not grieve.
The former things have passed away,
Our God has brought us to a New Day.
See, I am with Child,
Through whom all will be reconciled.
O Eve! My sister, my friend,
We will rejoice together
Life without end.
Sr Columba Guare
© 2005, Sisters of the Mississippi Abbey