FIRST SINS AND THEIR FRUITS.
163. The more frequently a vice is indulged the greater its tyranny. Hence, the older a sin the stronger its sway over the moral character, the more blinding its effect upon the intellect, and the less likely is it to be recognized as a sin. Now we must consider the first sin of the human race, its longest indulged vice. This sin will be the chief characteristic of Antichrist, when he comes. He "opposeth and exalteth himself against all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he sitteth in the temple of God, setting himself forth as God" (2 Thessalonians 2:4, R. V.)
164. The first indulged temptation,—that is, Adam's wilfully indulged sin (Eve repented), was to be "as God" (Genesis 3:5, R. V.; "gods" is incorrect, for Adam, as yet, had heard of but one God to envy). What must have been the inevitable result of Adam's continuing to indulge the desire to be "as God?" These two already had equal dominion over all the earth; so Adam, in his desire to be "as God," had no one else to be "as God" to, but to Eve. He would wish, therefore, to extend his dominion by subjugating Eve to his rule. This is precisely what God warned Eve against, if she for a moment, in the weakness of affectionate attachment, turned away to Adam. But we infer Eve did this, with the predicted result.
165. The sin of the male in loving the pre-eminence began so early in the world's history, and has prevailed so persistently, as to gain respectability, in accordance with the teaching expressed by the poet Pope:
"Vice is a monster of such frightful mien,
Over and over, Jesus Christ rebuked this sin in His disciples, but the rebuke seemed to fall on uncomprehending ears. Matthew 18:1-5, Mark 9:33-37, Luke 14:8-11, and Luke 20:46 should all be read before we proceed further. This was the last sin among His Twelve that Jesus rebuked when on earth, Luke 22:24-27. In these passages there is not a hint that the duty is to be limited to one sex. So far as the teaching of Jesus Christ is concerned, it seems to matter little whether it be the sin of woman exalting herself over man, or man over woman; it is not the sex which is rebuked, but the sin itself. Jesus does not speak merely with reference to man's attitude towards man, but man's attitude towards all. In Christ "there is neither bond nor free." "Ye know that they . . . exercise lordship . . . But among you it shall not be so." Matthew 20:25-26, Mark 10:42, etc., are rules for the future Church, not merely for the Twelve.
166. Strange to say (yet not so strange when we consider Pope's lines), we are all able to see the hatefulness of a woman's attempt to exercise government over her husband, but beyond that point our moral sense has become dulled. Because the government of a man over his wife is customary, it seems natural and quite proper to us. Modesty, meekness, humility, become woman; these virtues became Jesus Christ; but as to men in general, there are doubts with many as to these being virtues at all in them.
We may take courage. Up to very recent times a slave class was looked upon as a necessity and slavery as legitimate. Some men were born, it was supposed, to be slaves; others to be their masters; and the world could not go on without the two classes. That misconception was exploded, and the world goes on quite comfortably. So long as slavery existed, men thought they found warrant for it in the Word of God. But the number who thought so came to be a decreasing number. Just so, the number of those who imagine they find, in the Word of God, warrant for the dominion of the male over the female, is an ever-decreasing number.
167. The third chapter of Genesis, rightly translated and interpreted, reveals to us the fact that lordship of the husband over the wife, which began when man sinned, was Satanic in origin. Knowing this, and the strong force of a long-indulged habit, it need not surprise us if we discover that men have gone to their Bibles (as they did on the slavery question), to find warrant for what they were already doing, not to find a clue as to what they should do.
168. Again we turn to William Law, who says: "As a less evil, and to prevent a greater, God divided the first perfect human nature into two parts, into a male and female creature. . . . It was at first the total humanity in one creature, who should in that state of perfection, have brought forth his own likeness out of himself, in such purity of love and divine power as he himself was brought forth from God. . . . This purity of love and delight in the image of God, would have carried on the birth of humanity, in the same manner, and by the same divine power, as the first man was brought forth; for it was only a continuation of the same generating love that gave birth to the first man."
169. "The first step therefore towards the redemption or recovery of man, beginning to fall, was the taking of his Eve out of him. . . . God took part of his nature out of him, so that the eye of his desire, which was turned to the life of this world, might be directed to that part of his nature that was taken from him. And this is the reason of my saying before, that this was chosen as a less evil, and to avoid a greater; for it was a less degree of falling from his first perfection to love the female part of his own divided nature, than to turn his love towards that which was so much lower than his nature. And thus, at that time, Eve was an help that was truly and properly meet for him."
170. We have no reason for inferring here that this interest and desire of Adam for the animals about him, of which the writer speaks, was sensual, in our use of that term; but Adam was beginning to lose delight in communion with God, to take a correspondingly greater interest in the natural creation about him; he was becoming more material in his interests. God would instruct him that they were not suitable as his companions and equals, by supplying him with a help meet for him. "But for man there was not found an help meet for him" was the verdict, after Adam had surveyed all the animals, and named them. But to what purpose this division of man into male and female, that through the woman half, in cooperation with the divine will, deliverance from sin might come, unless God's primal intention in it was THE INDEPENDENCE OF THE FEMALE from all dominion but God's! And what could more completely frustrate this beneficent plan than to teach her that God demands that she submerge her identity in man?
171. We have preferred to quote the teachings of a highly esteemed and widely known theologian; gifted as a writer to a very unusual degree; reputed as a veritable saint; removed by his very sex from all imputation of sex bias in his opinion,—a view that he considered to be necessitated by the general tenor of Scriptural teaching as to the fall and redemption of man. We believe that his view will appeal to the consciousness of every thoughtful woman as at least far superior to the more generally-accepted rabbinical view, especially after a careful re-reading of the first three chapters of Genesis. We do not set forth William Law as an infallible guide; but we do contend that his very holiness of life may have enabled him to examine impartially and expound clearly the simple teaching of the Bible at this point, where the blindness of sex-bias and of self-interest would lead others astray. Certain we are that the ordinary rabbinical view, that woman rests under the curse of God, a slave to the base passions of men, is both cruel and immoral, as well as being contrary to the plain teachings of Scripture. Almost any view of the matter would be more creditable to a Christian, which at all agreed with the Scriptures, than the one at present generally taught.Lesson 23 Home