When Dogmas Die: The Return of Biblical Equality
When theological beliefs remain unchallenged, false beliefs can still affect how we view each other even when modern research tells us otherwise. When Dogmas Die begins with a comprehensive look at Genesis 3:16 and the view that women are born inferior. Author Susanna Krizo presents a convincing argument that once you understand the original meaning of this verse, equality for women cannot be refuted. Thoroughly researched, and addressing every relevant verse in the Bible from a linguistic, historical, and practical perspective, When Dogmas Die is a must-read for anyone interested in biblical equality.
The editors of Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, John Piper and Wayne Grudem, agree with Christians for Biblical Equality that Genesis 3:16 is not a prescription of what should be. However, Grudem does not believe that the verse is the beginning of the man’s rule, but that it describes a distortion of the previously harmonious relationship due to man’s harsh rule and the woman’s desire to rebel against the man’s authority. Piper acknowledges that historically there has been “grave abuse” and that even in our days men are sometimes “too possessive, harsh, domineering, and belittling,” but he cannot provide historical proof of a similar “grave abuse” of women controlling men, for women have never ruled over men; instead, they have cooperated by “trying hard to live down to what is expected of them.” Most women have been, and still are, dominated by men and Raymond C. Ortlund Jr. believes there is a good reason for it.
"Because she usurped his headship in the temptation, God hands her over to the misery of competition with her rightful head. This is justice, a measure-for measure response to her sin. … First, God may be saying, “You will have a desire, Eve. You will want to control your husband. But he must not allow you to have your way with him. He must rule over you.” … In this case, we would take “rule” as the exercise of godly headship. … Second, God may be saying, “You will have a desire, Eve. You will want to control your husband, But he will not allow you to have your way with him, He will rule over you.” If this is the true sense, then, in giving the woman up to her insubordinate desire, God is penalizing her with domination by her husband. Accordingly, 3:16b should be rendered” “Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” The word “rule” would now be construed as the exercise of ungodly domination."
Ortlund cannot choose either of the two options he gives, for the first option goes against Grudem’s view that “he must rule over you” is not “a prescription of what should be.” The second option would make God, not sin, the source of the man’s harsh rule, since God is seen as penalizing the woman with the man’s ungodly dominion, which Ortlund himself calls “a monster and a virus,” from which women need to be released . That God punished Eve with subjection was the patristic interpretation based on the sole guilt of Eve which became the foundation for the twofold subjection of the woman in the thirteenth century. And as seen in Ortlund’s theology, it is still a necessary component to support the subjection of woman as a created order.
Neither Grudem nor Ortlund are able to explain Genesis 3:16 for they give teshuwqah the meaning “desire to conquer or control” because of Genesis 4:7:“If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.” Grudem finds a connection between the two verses because of the similarity of the language and he concludes that the woman has a desire to conquer the man just as sin has a desire to conquer humans. But if the woman desires to control the man while the man becomes increasingly passive  how should one explain the conspicuous absence of matriarchs, especially since a society in which sin is ruled by humans does not exist? In addition, if the woman desires to conquer and control the man, she becomes an enemy who must be subjected and ruled as Ortlund perhaps unwittingly recognized.
Also Augustine made a connection between Genesis 3:16 and 4:7, but for a different reason.
"“Fret not thyself,” or compose thyself, He says: withhold thy hand from crime; let not sin reign in your mortal body to fulfill it in the lusts thereof, nor yield your members instruments of unrighteousness unto sin. “For to thee shall be its turning,” so long as you do not encourage it by giving it the rein, but bridle it by quenching its fire. “And thou shall rule over it;” for when it is not allowed any external actings, it yields itself to the rule of the governing mind and righteous will, and ceases from even internal motions. There is something similar said in the same divine book of the woman, when God questioned and judged them after their sin, and pronounced sentence on them all,—the devil in the form of the serpent, the woman and her husband in their own persons. For when He had said to her, “I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow shall thou bring forth children,” then He added, “and thy turning shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” What is said to Cain about his sin, or about the vicious concupiscence of his flesh, is here said of the woman who had sinned; and we are to understand that the husband is to rule his wife as the soul rules the flesh. And therefore, says the apostle, “He that loveth his wife, loveth himself; for no man ever yet hated his own flesh.” This flesh, then, is to be healed, because it belongs to ourselves: is not to be abandoned to destruction as if it were alien to our nature."
Augustine was a Platonist before converting to Christianity  and he used Plato’s body-soul dichotomy as the foundation for his doctrine on how men and women should relate to each. In Augustine’s theology, the soul will be restored to its proper nature only through its subjection to the spirit, and likewise, the body, which has become a nature that serves the law of sin, will be restored only through subjection to the soul. By analogy, the woman must be in subjection to the man to restore her to her proper nature, for Augustine believed that it was only after sin entered that “we are to understand that the husband is to rule his wife as the soul rules the flesh.”
Despite all efforts, it is not possible to create an analogy between the woman and sin, for as Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato explains, when the objects are found to be dissimilar, the analogy is invalid. In chapter 3 God speaks to Eve about the man’s rule, while in chapter 4 God speaks to Cain about his own rule over sin; one is acted upon while the other is the actor. In other words, Cain is warned that the he must resist sin to protect himself, but the woman is warned that the man is going to rule over her when she turns to him.
The pre-Christian Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, (ca 250 B.C.) translated teshuwqah with apostrophê, which means “to turn,” “to resort, to recourse,” and rhetorically, “when one turns away from all others to one, and addresses him specially.” The apostolic church used the Septuagint, but with the introduction of the sole guilt of Eve, the woman’s turning to the man begun to be viewed as a sentence from God – a tradition begun, as far as can be ascertained, in the second century with Tertullian.
If there dwelt upon earth a faith as great as is the reward of faith which is expected in the heavens, no one of you at all, best beloved sisters, from the time that she had first “known the Lord,” and learned (the truth) concerning her own (that is, woman’s) condition, would have desired too gladsome (not to say too ostentatious) a style of dress; so as not rather to go about in humble garb, and rather to affect meanness of appearance, 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 (conuersion), 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, man. On account of your desert—that is, death—even the Son of God had to die 
That all blame was placed on women was a decidedly Roman concept, which departed from the Grecian belief that the woman was helpless and therefore blameless, for the Roman woman was a force to be reckoned with. Even when the fault was clearly the man’s, the woman had to accept the consequences, wherefore Lucretia committed suicide after being raped rather than be a living unchaste example. Although the woman’s only option was to die if she fell for temptation, the man went ahead and married someone else, innocent as he was in the eyes of the world. Ellen G. White, the founder of the Seventh Day Adventists, had a similar view of the superfluity of women, for she wrote, “Had Adam remained faithful God would have created another companion for him.”
Jerome knew teshuwqah meant “to turn,” but he understood the woman’s turning to signify her subjection to the man because of her sole guilt. Also Jerome’s contemporary, Chrysostom, believed that the woman was subjected because “she made an ill use of her privilege and she who had been made a helper was found to be an ensnarer and ruined all then she is justly told for the future, ‘thy turning shall be to thy husband.’”
Sir Lancelot C.L. Brenton translated the Septuagint into English in 1851, but he followed the theology of his time (or the Vulgate) more than the Greek text for he wrote, “And thy submission shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” Robert J.V. Hiebert (2007) followed the Greek literally and therefore translated the verse, “Your recourse will be to your husband and he will dominate you.” In La Sagrada Biblia, a Spanish translation of the Septuagint, teshuwqah is translated with the word “conversion,” which is derived from the Latin convertere (“to turn around”).
Because modern theology rejects the sole guilt of Eve, and because the belief that the woman desires to conquer the man is clearly incorrect, how should we understand Genesis 3:16? The context is that of childbearing and the woman’s relationship to the man. Caring for an infant in the hostile new world made Eve unable to provide for herself and her child, which caused her to turn to Adam for protection and provisions. According to Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, “The new conditions of life that made sustenance the product of hard labor would naturally make women dependent on the physically stronger men.” But as the woman turned to the man, he had an opportunity to rule over her due to his greater physical strength. Childbearing and ruling have traditionally been considered the dividing difference between men and women due to the false interpretation of Genesis 3:16. But in reality it is only in the physical realm that men and women differ, for both men and woman are equally intelligent and capable of making decisions, although they may perform the tasks differently.
John Stuart Mill explained how man’s strength became the source of his rule in The Subjection of Women (1869):
"And in the second place, the adoption of this system of inequality never was the result of deliberation, or forethought, or any social idea, or any notion whatever of what conducted to the benefit of humanity or the good order of society. It arouse simply from the fact that from the very earliest twilight of human society, every woman (owing to the value attached to her by men, combined with her inferiority in muscular strength) was found in a state of bondage to some man. Laws and system of polity always begin by recognising [sic] the relations they find already existing between individuals. They convert what was mere physical fact into a legal right, give it the sanction of society, and principally aim at the substitution of public and organized means of asserting and protecting these rights, instead of the irregular and lawless conflict of physical strength. Those who were already been compelled to obedience became in this manner legally bound to it."
Mill explained that as “the law of the strongest” was abandoned and no one was allowed to practice it in the civilized nations, people forgot the true reason for the institution. He wrote, “People flatter themselves that the rule of mere force is ended; that the law of the strongest cannot be the reason of existence of anything which has remained in full operation down to the present time.” Instead, they thought the institutions had “been preserved to this period of advanced civilization by a well-grounded feeling of its adaptation to human nature, and conductiveness to the general good.” But as Mill points out, the “unnatural generally means only uncustomary, and that everything which is usual appears natural.” Thus Aristotle considered slavery natural; the divine right of the king was believed to have originated from God and the feudal nobility considered their power over the serfs to be “supremely natural” - as did the serfs themselves.
The seductiveness of the man’s rule over the woman is that it gives every man the opportunity to rule, even if they are subject to other men.
"Instead of being, to most of its supporters, a thing desirable chiefly in the abstract, or, like the political ends usually contended for by factions, of little private importance to any but the leaders; it comes home to the person and hearth of every male head of a family, and of every one who looks forwards to being so. The clodhopper exercises, or is to exercise, his share of the power equally with the highest nobleman. And the case is that in which the desire of power is the strongest: for every one who desires power, desires it most over those who are nearest to him, with whom his life is passed, with whom he has most concerns in common, and in whom any independence of his authority is oftenest likely to interfere with his individual preferences. It, in the other cases specified, powers manifestly grounded only on force, and having so much less to support them, are so slowly and with so much difficulty got rid of, much more it be so with this, even if it rests on no better foundation than those. We must consider, too, that the possessors of the power have facilities in this case, greater than in any other, to prevent any uprising against it. Every one of the subjects lives under the very eye, and almost, it may be said, in the hands, of one of the masters – in closer intimacy with him than with any of her fellow-subjects; with no means of combining against him, no power of even locally overmastering him, and, on the other hand, with the strongest motives for seeking his favor and avoiding to give him offence. In struggles for political emancipation, everybody knows how often its champions are bought off by bribes, or daunted by terrors. In the case of women, each individual of the subject-class is in a chronic state of bribery and intimidation combined."
The subject feels compelled to please the master, especially if she fears violence, and this has been true of women ever since their subjection to men began. Male violence against women is accepted in all societies in which women are excluded from lawmaking, but female violence against men is not equally tolerated. As a result, few women have complained about the subjection openly. Most have accepted the rule, for “it is a political law of nature that those who are under any power of ancient origin, never begin by complaining of the power itself, but only of its oppressive exercise.” As women obtained the right to vote in the twentieth century, and the opportunity to change laws, they made male violence against themselves illegal and eventually felt safe enough to begin to challenge the rule itself, such as the false interpretation of Genesis 3:16 – the foundation of the twofold subjection.
 Piper and Grudem, 409.
 Systematic Theology, 463-464.
 Piper and Grudem, 42.
 Rosalind Rosenberg, Beyond Separate Spheres: Intellectual Roots of Modern Feminism (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1982), 111.
 Ibid., 172.
 Piper and Grudem, 109.
 Ibid., 409.
 Ibid., 105.
 Systematic Theology, Footnote 20, 464.s
 Piper and Grudem, 346.
 Augustine, City of God, Book XV, Ch. 7.
 Augustine, Confessions, Book VII, Ch. XX-XXI.
 Augustine, A Treatise on Faith and the Creed, Ch. 10, 23.
 City of God, Book XV, Ch 7.
 Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato, The Ways of Reason, New Revised Edition (Jerusalem: Feldheim Publisher, 1997), 100.
 Perseus Digital Library, www.perseus.tufts.edu (accessed June 29, 2009), s.v. “apostrophe.”
 Tertullian, On the Apparel of Women, Book I, Ch. I.
 The Roman Way, 149-150.
 Mercedes H. Dyer, ed. Prove All Things, a response to Women in Ministry (Berrien Springs, MI: Adventists Affirm, 2000), 118.
 “And that after displeasing God she was immediately subjected to the man, and began to turn to her husband.” (Against Jovinianus, Book I, 27).
 Homilies on 1 Corinthians 11, Homily XXVI.
 “Homilies on 1 Corinthians 11, Homily XXVI.
 “Genesis,” A New English Translation of the Septuagint Bible (Oxford University Press, 2007) http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/nets/edition/01-gen-nets.pdf (accessed June 29, 2009).
 “Y hacia tu marido, tu conversión, y él te dominará.” (La Sagrada Biblia, Version de la Septuaginta al Espanol, Pbro. Guillermo Junemann Beckschaefer, http://www.synodia.org/libros/junemann/ [accessed June 29, 2009]).
 Rabbit Samson Raphael Hirsch, The Chumash: The Stone edition (Brooklyn, NY: Mesorah Publications, 1996), 8.
 John Stuart Mill, The Subjection of Women (New York City: Source Book Press, 1970), 8-9.
 Ibid., 11.
 Ibid., 21-23.
 Ibid., 18-20.
 E.g. in England the old law used to condemn the wife who killed her husband (who was legally her Lord) to be burnt on the stake (Ibid., 54).
 Ibid., 25.
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