Tuesday, September 20, 2016

That Wonderful Urge

Women overwhelmingly want to get married.  They long for the love of a man.  According to research on the romance fiction industry compiled by Romance Writers of America:

—Estimated annual total sales value of romance in 2013: $1.08 billion
—Romance unit share of adult fiction: 13%
—Who is the romance book buyer?  Female: 84%

84 percent of the billion dollar a year romance book market is female!  If you will know a tree by its fruit, then clearly woman is a tree with a wonderful urge, to quote the title of the 1948 romance comedy which starred Tyrone Power and Gene Tierney.  Make no mistake, this urge is wonderful.  Surprisingly though, we should have known this without the statistics.  The wonderful urge is embedded in Genesis 3:16:

To the woman He said,
“I will greatly multiply
Your pain in childbirth,
In pain you will bring forth children;
Yet your desire will be for your husband,
And he will rule over you.”

Let's consider woman and this wonderful urge.

To properly analyze anything specific in Genesis 3:14-19 we must consider everything as interrelated, a sort of ecosystem.  In Genesis 3:14-19 sin has now entered the realm of man and woman.  To compensate for this change, our Great Physician moves in to temporarily salvage woman, man, and mission;  salvage them until a later date when He will ultimately make all things new.  He does this by way of remedial punishments.  To quote the 16th-century Italian theologian, Peter Martyr: "The punishments inflicted by God are the remedies and the restraints of our vitiated nature."  With this in mind, we see the Lord proceeds to delve out specific punishments to each of the parties involved, starting with the serpent; then the woman; then the man.   We are only concerned about the woman, specifically the implications of "your desire will be for your husband”.  In the first Woman is generally comprehended all women, married and unmarried.

Recall, that in the beginning The Lord had said to the first couple: “Be fruitful and multiply”.  The creation design was that the man and woman would replicate the image of God through successive  generations until the whole earth swarmed with daughters and sons of God.  The Lord still wants this swarm to take place, even after sin has infected the system.  However, due to the reality of death that sin introduced, and the nature of sin in woman and man, additional helps needed to be introduced, similar to Paul’s necessary thorn in the flesh.  One of the additives was increased pain in childbirth for woman, another was an increase in the number of conceptions.  In an age with no contraceptives, one would think this added travail would turn all women away from marriage—and it probably would barring an added stimulant.  Enter romantic drive: “Yet your desire will be for your husband."  This  impetus implanted by the Lord was necessary to keep woman on the right trajectory in regards to the original mission.  Consequently, this stimulus could explain why some women tend to stick with abusive husbands.  I was once in a group being interviewed for jury duty in a domestic abuse case.  As potential jurors, we were each asked the specific question: “Do you think a husband hitting a wife is ever justified?”  I remember the stunning response of one particular woman: “My husband beats me up all the time.  I don’t like the beating up, but I sure like the making up!"  As one commenter on a blog post said in reference to a similar scenario: "Hope springs eternal."  It is a divine impulse that drives her on.  Consider the words of Saint Paul: "But refuse to put younger widows on the list, for when they feel sensual desires in disregard of Christ, they want to get married..." (1 Timothy 5:11)  Again, Peter Martyr: "It is the decidedly pleasing thing to have children and to become a mother, but God does not wish it to be given to the woman without agony.  When, therefore, every day we either see or hear them give birth in pain, it is for us a symbol and certain indication of the sin of womankind.  But after the affliction, so much happiness at the birth of a baby seizes the woman...that the mother forgets previous calamities and at once seeks again the embraces of the husband."

Unfortunately, the contraceptives and pain-free labor of our day have clouded our vision of God's word in regards to women and marriage.  For instance, studies have actually shown how labor pain beneficially affects the way a mother relates to her child from birth on (see Mom: The Transformation of Motherhood in Modern America by Rebecca Jo Plant).  Likewise, the pregnancy and labor pains of a wife are calculated to have a tenderizing effect on the husband who hates to see his beloved suffer.  Consequently, it was because of the dangers and sacrifice which historically were associated with motherhood, that mothers used to be looked at in a similar vein as soldiers by society at large.  In better days they were seen as heroines.  It goes without saying, apart from women and that wonderful urge, we'd probably have no history at all.