Uxorious = Adam's Sin

I found this old box of notebooks and whatnot from my college days, and I spent some time sifting through it last night, trying to determine what I could legitimately let go, and what things I should keep for sentimental reasons. Needless to say, my Macro Econ notes ended up in the fireplace and kept me toasty warm last night!

My women's studies notes, however, were a little more difficult to let go. One in particular intrigued me, because my shorthand from seven years ago confounded me a bit. For example, from my Feminist Theory cause I noticed this comment:

Uxorious = Adam's Sin

What in the world does that mean? I've always been fond of using the world uxorial snidely, since it means "befitting or characteristic of a wife." And really, given the connotation there, snidely is the only proper way to use that word. But uxorious was giving me a little trouble. What does "wifeliness" have to do with the fall of man?

Turns out, the definition of uxorious is "foolishly fond of or submissive to your wife." Adam's sin, of course, was listening to Eve, poor maligned Eve, who wasn't even around when God told Adam not to eat that apple. I think my distrust of Christianity was solidified the moment I realized that all of the evil in the world was supposedly caused by a guy who just loved his wife too much.

So, I was intrigued by this notion of being "foolishly fond of" your wife, and wondered if there was a husbandly corollary. Google to the rescue:

Yeah, that's what I thought.

annamaria at 7:24 AM

6 spoke


at Friday, February 24, 2006 9:59:00 AM Blogger Wake of the Flood said...

Annamaria: your unease with preachers and teachers making Eve the scapegoat is well founded. The biblical scholar who takes the Adam and Eve story and comes up with uxorious = Adam's sin is doing some really crappy exegesis. It's taking an incredibly complex and dense treatment of evil and free will and reducing it to its most simplistic terms. And I would say that it misreads the story in doing so. And that's not simply a modern, "enlightened" reading on my part.

I don't remember the exact sources since it's been a while, but in my readings of works by theologians of the 2nd and 3rd centuries I don't remember them letting Adam off the hook because he let Eve wear the pants in the family (doesn't that great old idiom get the blood boiling!). That's how our fundie friends read it: Adam had a choice but instead of listening to God he listened to Eve. Which implicitly says it's not Adam's fault but Eve's.

That's very different from the way many early church writers frame the story. They do write about seduction, but not in a way that is pre-occupied with Eve seducing Adam, but instead they do so in a way that deals with the common human susceptibility to being seduced by power and control. They delve deep into what it is to be a created being that has free will.

Thanks for sharing your notes and, as Kurt says of your blog in his link, "Annamaria makes me think."

at Friday, February 24, 2006 10:20:00 AM Blogger annamaria said...

Wake: I vaguely remember in that particular class that the discussion of "uxorious" took a turn where we discussed the implications of "homosociality," that is, the social forces that tell men that their friendships with other men must take precedence over their relationships with women. Homosociality is a topic for another post, but this particular reading of the story of Adam and Eve seems to exemplify it: Adam believed a woman rather than one of his boys (God), and for that we've all been punished.

I grew up Catholic, and my catechism classes were pretty clear that despite John Paul II's claims of being the "feminist pope," the Church put the blame for the fall squarely on Eve's shoulders. She was capricious at best, though the implication was often that she was a temptress who knowingly defied God and brought Adam down with her. Of course, this is the Catholic Church we're talking about, so the unveiled hatred of women is pretty much par for the course!

But, this topic does give me the opportunity to use one of my favorite quotes, from British politician Nancy Astor: "In passing, also, I would like to say that the first time Adam had a chance he laid the blame on a woman." :)

at Friday, February 24, 2006 10:22:00 AM Blogger Kurt said...

Leave it to annamaria to come up with real fancy way to say "pussy-whipped."
Sorry if that is a little too crude, but it is Friday of a very busy week in what is turning into a very busy life...

at Friday, February 24, 2006 10:28:00 AM Blogger annamaria said...

Kurt, I am shocked and dismayed by your language! And you might just owe me a new keyboard, since I made the mistake of reading your comment after taking a large sip of my morning coffee.

at Friday, February 24, 2006 11:49:00 AM Blogger Wake of the Flood said...

And Kurt talking like that surprised you why? Rather than declaring him crude I just say he's succint. I'll bet your instructor in that feminist studies class would have just loved the way Kurt makes uxorious = p**-whipped. He'd have been the perfect male to be hoisted upon his own phallic symbol.....

at Friday, February 24, 2006 12:01:00 PM Blogger Wake of the Flood said...

not having been raised Catholic, but having been exposed to plenty of the cathecism informally, I can't speak from firsthand knowledge, but from what I've seen and heard it really does appear that traditional American Catholicism has used this text in support of a Father Knows Best worldview. But that hasn't been the only view, or even always the most dominant, throughout history, nor within orthodox teaching. Which undercuts the popular revisionist reading of Christian theological history that the "non-patriarchal" voices were oppressed and lost until the current folks like Dan Brown "recovered" it.


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