The Fault of Eve and Women in Society and Religion; A Catholic Perspective

Wow!

Hello everyone,

I was just looking into the claim of how women are more prone to evil and the occult and that this is linked back to Eve and how she was deceived by Satan. The idea presents women as having some intrinsic evil in their nature. When I read this, of course, I did not like it.

The claim concerns me as there is an evangelical group in the Dominican Republic that has men going around with microphones in the street corners of the cities accusing women and blaming them for the the evil in the world and recommending to men that they should be aware and cautious with the women in their lives. It is very disturbing and hurtful especially when as one of them speaks you may see a 102 lbs mother of five on her way home knowing that she will not have enough to feed her children and she has to walk by a callous man claiming to be a christian who is plainly accusing her of being evil. It would not surprise me at all if the people who are going around making these announcements day in and day out like the fanatics that they are; have affected the increase in the mortality of Dominican women by men which accord some years back.

Because I have witness how fanatical people can get, it concerned me that women could be thought to be responsible, cursed and evil and as proof to provide Eve and how it is her fault that we live in sin and that even Jesus had to sacrifice Himself to save us.

In my ignorance of the topic I started a little research and what I have found it not encouraging. It seems like everyone hold the position that there is something wrong and dangerous about women which is traced back to Eve. There is Saint Paul giving warnings, Saint Augustine, Saint Thomas and even in Judaism the men in their daily prayer thank God for not making them female. Out of the three religions; Christianity, Judaism and Islam, Islam is more equal with women and holds both Adam and Even responsible.

Take a look here:

"To the present day, orthodox Jewish men in their daily morning prayer recite “Blessed be God King of the universe that Thou has not made me a woman.”; The women, on the other hand, thank God every morning for “making me according to Thy will.”; 3 Another prayer found in many Jewish prayer books: “Praised be God that he has not created me a gentile. Praised be God that he has not created me a woman. Praised be God that he has not created me an ignoramus.”; 4

The Biblical Eve has played a far bigger role in Christianity than in Judaism. Her sin has been pivotal to the whole Christian faith because the Christian conception of the reason for the mission of Jesus Christ on Earth stems from Eve’s disobedience to God. She had sinned and then seduced Adam to follow her suit. Consequently, God expelled both of them from Heaven to Earth, which had been cursed because of them. They bequeathed their sin, which had not been forgiven by God, to all their descendants and, thus, all humans are born in sin. In order to purify human beings from their ‘original sin’, God had to sacrifice Jesus, who is considered to be the Son of God, on the cross. Therefore, Eve is responsible for her own mistake, her husband’s sin, the original sin of all humanity, and the death of the Son of God. In other words, one woman acting on her own caused the fall of humanity. 5 What about her daughters? They are sinners like her and have to be treated as such. Listen to the severe tone of St. Paul in the New Testament: “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I don’t permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner” (I Timothy 2:11-14).

St. Tertullian was even more blunt than St. Paul, while he was talking to his ‘best beloved sisters’ in the faith, he said: 6 “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 the 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 even the Son of God had to die.”

St. Augustine was faithful to the legacy of his predecessors, he wrote to a friend: “What is the difference whether it is in a wife or a mother, it is still Eve the temptress that we must beware of in any woman…I fail to see what use woman can be to man, if one excludes the function of bearing children.”

Centuries later, St. Thomas Aquinas still considered women as defective: “As regards the individual nature, woman is defective and misbegotten, for the active force in the male seed tends to the production of a perfect likeness in the masculine sex; while the production of woman comes from a defect in the active force or from some material indisposition, or even from some external influence.”

Finally, the renowned reformer Martin Luther could not see any benefit from a woman but bringing into the world as many children as possible regardless of any side effects: “If they become tired or even die, that does not matter. Let them die in childbirth, that’s why they are there” islamawareness.net/Adam/fault.html

I am reading some of Pope John Paul the Great for consolation:

When the Book of Genesis speaks of “help”, it is not referring merely to acting, but also to being. Womanhood and manhood are complementary not only from the physical and psychological points of view, but also from the ontological. It is only through the duality of the “masculine” and the “feminine” that the “human” finds full realization."
vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/letters/documents/hf_jp-ii_let_29061995_women_en.html

Any thoughts?

Humans are intrinsically good but have a fallen nature. Neither men nor women are intrinsically evil.

This sounds a little bit facetious, but it is the thought that strikes me as common in these passages. The men who are writing sound as if they are blaming women for their own frustrations. Almost as if instinctual, biological (sexual) motivations got the better of them, and rather than accept their own failings they’re scapegoating the women.

Sure, it’s not a particularly reverent or respectful opinion, but that would explain a lot.

It’s still being lamented in modern, secular terms:
My mama done tol’ me, when I was in knee-pants
My mama done tol’ me, “Son, a woman’ll sweet talk”
And give ya the big eye, but when the sweet talkin’s done
A woman’s a two-face, a worrisome thing who’ll leave ya to sing the blues in the night

From which work of Augustine’s is this quote?

Paul might not be as “severe” as you think. The times and culture were much different in his day. We look back at everything with modern minds. In order to appreciate historical writings, one must set aside modern thinking for a moment.

Note that Paul says a woman should LEARN. Education for women was not valued back then. Paul was simply dealing with the limitations of the customs and culture of the time. He couldn’t simply instruct Timothy to liberate women in the fashion that they are today, because the people that Timothy was dealing with wouldn’t accept it. But he could at least get the ball rolling by telling Timothy to at least let the women start learning.

And Was Paul really against women speaking and teaching? In Romans 16, he says, “I commend you to our sister Phoebe, a deaconess of the church at Cenchre-ae, that you may receive her in the Lord as befits the saints, and help her in whatever she may require from you.” Here we have a woman who is a deaconess. He says to “help her in whatever she may require from you,” implying she is making decisions. Decisions are made by leaders, not silent, submissive people with no authority.

So is Paul contradictiong himself? I think not. This simply means he is writing to different audiences and has to deal with each in different ways. At the very least, we can see that the idea of Paul as a mysoginist is not as clear cut as some might like to believe. To take a single line from a single letter and develop an entire understanding of Paul’s ideas of women is shortsighted at best, misleading and dishonest at worst. There are plenty of statements made by Paul which support an equality of men and women in Christianity.

As for the part about Eve and original sin, consider that Paul points out that Adam was NOT deceived. Let that sink in for a moment. Eve was deceived, Adam was not. Eve was tricked into becoming a sinner. Adam was not, which means he became a sinner with full culpability.

Was Paul backing up a command of silence for women by saying Eve was the root of all evil? Or was he backing up his command of letting women be educated, pointing out that Adam was not superior to Eve, but was actually the one with the greater sin? Obviously this can be debated, but that’s just the point. The mere fact that there can be a debate puts light on the fact that Paul’s ideas about women are not so black and white as some would have you think. He had some hardline customs to deal with in regards to women, but I think he can be understood as planting the seeds of liberation in his time. Let’s not forget that he, himself, comes from a culture where women are not treated equally, so he’s breaking out of his own mold on this topic. Perhaps he struggles with this, or perhaps his views on women develop over time. But one thing is clear: to assert that Paul’s view of women is that they should just shut up and make babies is clearly contested and should not be accepted whole sale.

My thought- It took Satan and all the his powers to make Eve eat the forbidden fruit. It just took a woman saying “hey try this” to make Adam eat it. Not a very good indication of the moral fiber of us men.

I agree, in Genesis 2:15 God commands the man, “You may eat freely of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day you eat of it you shall die.” But where is Eve when this command was given, she had not been formed yet from the rib of Adam. Adam is the one who got this command straight from God.

Men don’t have a very good track record when it comes to evil; most wars in the history of this planet were started by men. Even in the twentieth century; Mao, Stalin and Hitler killed more people than anyone else in human history! So to blame woman in the world for the evil that exists is not only unhistorical it is ignorant! :shrug:
(By the way I am a man).

Had Eve not have eaten the fruit, the world would not be.in an imperfect state and Maol, Stalin, and Hitler as we know them, would not have existed lol

Yeah, but then we’d all live naked in an Earthly Paradise. How much fun would that be, eh?

Oh Horsefeathers!

:smiley:
I searched high and I searched low and could not find anything for quite sometime. Everyone is just quoting each other.

:hammering:

Then finally I found that a feminist in a book actually provides information of the exact writing of Augustine - a letter.
The Gospel According to Woman: Christianity’s Creation of the Sex War in the West. Karen Armstrong
amazon.com/The-Gospel-According-Woman-Christianitys/dp/0385240791
However, she is mis-quoting the exact letter in her book as she is taking the quote from the article that I linked to in the OP.

I continued my search for a letter of Saint Augustine where he wrote the quote. I found a book in Internet Archive which claims to be the collected works of the letters of Saint Augustine. However, the quote is not there… (so the book is actually incomplete):

THE LETTERS OF
ST. AUGUSTINE

HANDBOOKS OF CHRISTIAN LITERATURE
THE LETTERS OF
ST. AUGUSTINE
BY
W. J. SPARROW-SIMPSON, D.D.
LONDON :
SOCIETY FOR PROMOTING
CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE
NEW YORK: THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
1919
archive.org/stream/lettersofstaugus00sparuoft/lettersofstaugus00sparuoft_djvu.txt

Then I found a fantastic counter argument by a Catholic prepared specially in response to the article cited on the OP. Wow!!! Hat’s off to Anthony Wales! :tiphat::tiphat::tiphat:

The below article was contributed to Answering Islam by a Catholic Christian and contains a few statements (i.e., beliefs taught only by the Catholic Church) which Answering Islam does not agree with. This refers mainly to the Catholic doctrine of the sinlessness of Mary, but it will be obvious throughout that the author writes as a Catholic. Nevertheless, this paper is a thorough rebuttal to a Muslim polemic against the position of women in Christianity, and it skillfully exposes how the Muslim author has misrepresented the Bible and Christian belief. ]

A Response to Sherif Abdel Azeem’s
Eve’s Fault and Eve’s Legacy

by Anthony Wales

"St. Augustine was faithful to the legacy of his predecessors, he wrote to a friend:

“What is the difference whether it is in a wife or a mother, it is still Eve the temptress that we must beware of in any woman… I fail to see what use woman can be to man, if one excludes the function of bearing children.”

This quote comes from St Augustine’s 243rd letter. The second half of the quote “I fail to see what use woman can be to man, if one excludes the function of bearing children” is not part of the letter. Therefore, it appears that Sherif Abdel Azeem has invented a bad statement and falsely attributed it to a great Christian. Anyone who wants a copy of the entire letter is welcome to email me. Alternately, the entire letter can be found in

The Fathers of the Church - A New Translation, Volume 32, St Augustine Letters (204-270), trans. Sr Wilfrid Parsons, S. N. D. (New York: Fathers of the Church, Inc, 1956).

St Augustine wrote this letter to a friend named Laetus. Laetus had entered religious life and his mother was tempting him to abandon this way of life for worldly reasons. Religious life consists in Christian men and women committing themselves completely to the service of God and his Church in a life of poverty, celibacy and obedience. Laetus wanted St Augustine to write to him.

The context explains why St Augustine said, “What is the difference whether it is in a wife or a mother, it is still Eve the temptress that we must beware of in any woman.” This was not an arbitrary statement, but was said to strengthen Laetus against his mother’s attempts to remove him from religious life for worldly reasons. The rest of the letter is filled with other Biblical ideas and images. Augustine’s statement is similar to Christians saying “Beware of Pharaoh the tyrant in rulers”, “Beware of Adam the blame-shifter in men”, “Beware of Judas the traitor in the people around you”, or “Beware of Peter the denier in yourself” (Genesis 3:12; Exodus 1:8-16; Matthew 26:14-16, 69-75). Elsewhere in the same letter, St Augustine tells Laetus to treat his mother with respect because she is a sister to him in Christ.

Speaking more generally about St Augustine’s view of women, it is fair to say that Sherif Abdel Azeem’s picture of St Augustine is not accurate. Firstly, Augustine supported and praised virginity, widowhood and monasticism. Therefore, it is incorrect to say that he thought the only purpose of women was for childbearing. Secondly, in the classic autobiography of his spiritual journey and conversion to Christianity (the Confessions), Augustine says that male and female are one and that God does not discriminate between them (Book 13, Section 23). Thirdly, Augustine talks about Adam being the cause and transmitter of original sin and its consequences (City of God, Books 13 and 14)".
answering-islam.org/Wales/eve.htm

Regarding Paul, Wales writes:

Listen to the severe tone of St. Paul in the New Testament:

“A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I don’t permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner” (1 Timothy 2:11-14).

This statement by St Paul needs to be read in context. St Paul was writing to a bishop named Timothy to give him instructions for his ministry. From the statement mentioned above it appears that there were women who were acting improperly during Church services. For example: Constantly talking, asking questions and interrupting. St Paul’s words should be understood as a response to this particular problem. He may have used strong words to ensure that his message was understood and put into practice. The reference to Adam and Eve may have been used to give Scriptural support to his instruction. (This explanation is partly based on what is said in the New Jerome Biblical Commentary - Student Edition.)

In his letter to the Romans, St Paul placed great emphasis on Adam’s sin being the cause of sin and death for the entire human race (5:12-21; see also 1 Corinthians 15:21-22). This is St Paul’s major theological statement about the crucial topics of (original) sin, death, Jesus Christ and redemption. St Paul’s letter to the Romans is his longest and its purpose is to present the central teachings of Christianity. Therefore the words in Romans, and not the words to St Timothy, should be seen as best representing St Paul’s view of original sin. The statement to St Timothy is (merely) a pastoral statement given to a single Bishop in response to a particular problem at a particular time and a particular place.

If people take the time to read the letters of St Paul (Romans to Philemon in the New Testament) they will see that he taught the equality of men and women. In his first letter to the Corinthians, St Paul says that in marriage the wife’s body belongs to her husband and the husband’s body belongs to his wife (7:4). In his letter to the Galatians he says that women and men are one in Christ Jesus (3:28). St Paul allowed women to help him in his ministry and permitted women to prophesy/preach (Acts 18:1-3, 24:26, Romans 16:1-2, 1 Corinthians 11:5, Titus 2:3).

It really nice to see that people like Anthony Wales take the time to defend the faith in the internet. I also like very much that Catholics and Catholic organizations and priests are making it a point to properly present and defend the faith on Youtube. Some years back we were getting butchered and it’s really nice to see some many Catholic videos now on Youtube, not just defending and teaching the faith but also just plain sharing its richness.

1 Like

If Eve hadn’t offered Adam the forbidden fruit or if he refused, then there wouldn’t have been the Holocaust, and Hitler would have been remembered for the Autobahn and the Volkswagon.

PAX
:smiley:

Pithy. But woulda coulda shoulda. Had Eve not bitten the apple, the serpent would have gone directly to Adam.

Why didn’t the serpent go directly to Adam in the first place?

PAX
:heaven:

Well, who are you going to listen to, a talking snake or your wife?

Misogyny reflects a very dark side of society, like racism to be confronted and overcome.

Even among “progressive” atheists who have accused the church of sexism :rolleyes::

At the June 2011 World Atheist Convention, Rebecca Watson spoke about her experiences with sexism and subsequently found a man from the group following her into an elevator and proposing a liaison. :eek: She later went on to advise, “…guys, don’t do that.” :tsktsk: This raised quite a stink in that community leading to name-calling :slapfight: and threats that included rape and death. :mad: Richard Dawkins weighed in, calling her response an overreaction, observing that she had not been harmed, and, in ignorant fashion, comparing her experience to that of women in Islamic countries. Watson :doh2: repled that she would no longer support him. There followed a number of reports by female atheists regarding sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior.

I do not want to make light of an issue that is quite serious :blush:;
I do find the behaviour of some of the personalities involved to have a humorous side. :stuck_out_tongue:

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