Caution and the Bible

My husband is a cautious man, who treasures harmony. And he is never more careful than when he treads though the minefields that lurk in inter-gender communication. Having been raised with six sisters, a strong-willed mother, and a very diplomatic father, he always thinks before he speaks. Long before his hair started turning silver, his tongue had been marinated in it, and spiced with a bit of blarney. He believes that a soft answer turneth away wrath, and never ventures a negative opinion about any women’s appearance, ever. He has read about communications differences between the sexes, how guys error trying to solve problems, when their wives really just want soothing noises, and is always careful to ask before responding:

“Are you looking for a solution here, or do you want sympathy?”

And he avoids potentially dangerous situations. The movie that the female reviewer reported as leaving her furious with every male in the universe.

“Uh uh. See that one with someone else.”

The couple that that constantly wars with each other, and gender bashes as a competitive sport.

“Let’s not play bridge with them tonight. I’m not up to it.”

And if all else fails, and he does stumble onto a sudden deadly turn of the conversation, he quickly changes the subject. He is well trained in the art of side-stepping the gender wars of the 90’s.

But, he made a mistake early this fall. We took a class called Kerygma, Discovering the Bible. He must have figured that taking bible classes together couldn’t go wrong. Wrong. He had forgotten about Adam and Eve.

Unlike my husband, my early training, as one of the feminist shock troops from the 70’s, does not predispose me to shirk my duty to point out cases of rampant chauvinism. On this evening, I did the Kerygma homework first, and stormed out to the kitchen to complain to him.

“You know,” I said. “I’ve always really resented this rib business. YOU’RE created in God’s image, and WE were just placed here to keep you company?”

I was definitely on a roll.

“And why does Eve get all the blame for the Fall? Where is Promise Keeper Adam in all this?” I went on. “Eve showed initiative; curiosity. She figured out that God lied. They didn’t die after eating the fruit. At least, not right away. And did Adam stand up for his woman? No, he blamed her. Is that just like a guy or what? I demanded. “And don’t change the subject.”

“Gee, it sounds like you’ll have a lot of interesting insights to add to the class.” he parried.

“Yeah. We’ll see.” I muttered darkly.

In truth, part of the reason I had taken the course was to answer my own questions about the relevance of the bible. Why were these still OUR stories? I wondered. What do these desert nomads, who lived so far away, and so long ago, and were so different, have to say to a 20th century women? And my suspicions were hardly allayed when the first few pages of Genesis immediately roused my slumbering feminist from the 70’s.

To my surprise, the pastor did not entirely side-step the question. He tried to explain something. There were two Genesis stories; two versions of the creation. And, in the first version, God created man and women, together in his own image. The lesson, the pastor claimed, and the belief, of those ancient Hebrews, is that man alone is not complete, nor are women complete on their own. Together, that they form the image of God.

I thought about that. One of the things about getting older is that I believe that I have gained some wisdom, and learned something over the years. Mainly, what I have learned is how often I am wrong. And how often I have been, in the long run, better off when I lost the arguments, or didn’t win the battles. Particularly with my husband. In retrospect, I’ve come to think that it probably was a good thing that my husband stubbornly refused to let me decorate my house with mirror tiles, tube furniture and futons. And he was probably right about me wearing a helmet while roller-blading. And, maybe, although this one is tough to concede, he was right about the kids needing a little discipline, as well as freedom and nurturing. And he is probably glad that he lost a few of our arguments. I don’t know about the image of God thing, but I think that ancients did have it right about men and women being incomplete without the other. That men and women, Adam’s rib which come back to him as Eve; work far better with each other, despite, or perhaps because of, the continuing fiction and pain that comes of never quite being in sync.

And I am certain my husband would agree with me. Because, after all, he is a cautious man.

“Right love?”

“Whatever you say dear.”

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