The cover of Newsweek recently hailed Barack Obama as “the first gay president” after he formally announced his support for same-sex “marriage,” and this just weeks before Sports Illustrated published an article on the plight of the “transgender” athlete.
For people like me who “cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them” (to quote a famous liberal elitist) this is just further evidence of a society going to Hell in a hand basket, but while our culture may seem uniquely determined to disrupt the natural order, the truth of the matter is there’s nothing new under the sun; rather, this assault on the human family started all the way back on day one.
Well, make that shortly after day seven …
It seems rather clear to me that Satan has been seeking to disrupt God’s design relative to human gender from the very beginning as a matter of strategy; most especially as it concerns the male of the species. In fact, from that very first encounter in Eden, the Evil One has made it plain that deceiving and undermining males in such way as to tempt them into rejecting the God-given attributes that define “masculinity,” is among his top priorities.
The result of Satan’s nefarious attack is especially evident in today’s world where so many men demonstrate a palpable lack of masculinity; e.g., timid husbands who are afraid to take the lead in making difficult (and not so difficult) family decisions, fathers who are too weak to discipline their children, men who are more inclined to shed tears than to offer a strong shoulder upon which to cry when that is what is truly needed, etc.
The degree to which individuals and families suffer in our culture under these circumstances is noteworthy, but so too is the degree to which the children of the Church suffer when their spiritual fathers are weak and indecisive, but that’s another article for another day.
For now, let us turn our attention back to the very beginning …
According to the creation account recorded in the Book of Genesis, on the sixth day, God created humankind, male (Adam) first and then female (Eve) as his “helper.” The Lord then commanded them to “increase and multiply,” to which end the Scriptures inform us, “A man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they shall be two in one flesh.”
In the nuptial unity thus described, male and female together strike a particularly profound image of the Triune God - the Father whose eternal exchange of love with the Son is so superabundant as to be that from which the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life, proceeds.
Is it any wonder, therefore, that the Evil One is so determined to undermine God’s will by attacking the institution of marriage by seeking to distort the characteristics inherently appropriate to the genders as God created them?
Satan’s desire to so disrupt the natural order is directed at both males and females, certainly, but it seems reasonable to consider that the Devil may indeed harbor an especially intense hatred for the male of the species. The first and most obvious reason has to do with the basic principle of war that says, “Attack the head and the body will fall;” i.e., Adam’s primacy and the dominant role that the Lord had assigned to him in the order of creation was enough to place a target squarely on his back as well as the back of every male to follow.
More noteworthy still perhaps as it relates to life after the Fall is the fact that God’s plan of salvation is brought to fulfillment in the very Person of Jesus Christ who is both truly God and truly male. Ongoing motivation for this Satanic misandry (particular hatred of men), therefore, may logically be understood to perdure in light of the all-male priesthood that Jesus established in order to continue the work of Redemption through, with and in the Church.
Furthermore, one may also reasonably consider St. Paul’s exhortation in the Epistle to the Ephesians, “Husbands, love your wife as Christ loves the Church,” as yet more motivation for Satan’s ongoing disdain for masculinity, especially as it is expressed in the context of marriage and family. Why? Because masculinity well embraced in this environment strikes a particularly profound image of the Evil One’s mortal enemy, Christ.
Scriptural evidence for Satan’s anti-masculine agenda comes to light the moment he approaches Eve in the Garden of Eden that he might tempt her into disobedience.
While one might initially assume that the events here told reflect the exact opposite of my thesis, it is perhaps more accurate to consider it a reflection of Satan’s well-calculated plan to undermine first and foremost the male primacy that God had established; an act carried out through Eve since directly engaging Adam would be tantamount to abiding by the very same order that he sought to corrupt. In other words, playing by God’s rules isn’t exactly Satan’s way.
One might also find it noteworthy that Scripture gives no indication that God had directly forbidden Eve to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; rather, this prohibition was given to Adam even prior to his helpmate’s creation. It is entirely possible that the Divine ordinance was only later relayed to Eve by Adam himself, and if that be the case it is reasonable to understand that Satan was not so much urging Eve to disobey God (not directly in any case) as much as he was urging her to disobey her husband, and in so doing, attacking the very order that God had established.
More insight may also be gained by taking note of the fact that the serpent mentioned in Genesis 3 is not the harmless little garden snake seen in illustrated children’s Bible’s; rather, it is a creature that is far more imposing. The original Hebrew text describes the serpent as nahash which means leviathan or something more akin to a sea monster.
Eve’s role in this episode aside, one might reasonably ask where on earth Adam was when his wife, the “bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh,” was being engaged by this threatening beast.
Though Scripture doesn’t explicitly say one way or the other, it is reasonable for us to believe that he may in fact have been right there in the midst of them; frozen, it would seem, in fear and in silence while Eve is left to her own devices to fence with the tempter.
If this be the case, it becomes especially clear that Adam had failed even prior to his eating of the fruit in the dereliction of masculine duty that God had entrusted to him, namely, “to keep” the garden; that is, to protect it and to keep it and its inhabitants (including, of course, Eve) safe in order to preserve the peace and the friendship that they enjoyed with God and with one another.
Once again, the original Hebrew text offers more clarity as the word typically translated “to keep” is “shamar,” which more properly means, "to guard."
Before moving on, I’d like to briefly address the anticipated feminist objection to the very premise of Adam having been assigned the distinctly dominant role just described by pointing to the way in which God reprimanded him immediately after the Fall. Notice that God does not upbraid Adam for disobeying Him; but rather for “hearkening to the voice of his wife” (cf Gen. 3:17).
This is a rather strong indication that Adam’s primary failure - the one that preceded and then led to his taking of the fruit - was his unfaithfulness to the God-given requirements of his masculine identity; e.g., rather than lead his family, he followed his wife; instead of protecting and guarding her, he stood silent; rather than engaging the aggressor, he remained passive …
One might also take note of how other passages of Sacred Scripture assign primary blame for the Fall to Adam as opposed to Eve. The prophet Hosea, for example, points directly to Adam telling us that he “transgressed the covenant” (Hosea 6:7), while St. Paul writes, “in Adam all die” (1 Cor. 15:22).
This initial assault on masculinity in Eden is just the first indication of how the Evil One uses this strategy to separate mankind from God, but further Biblical evidence is also apparent in the lives of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob wherein a downhill slide in relative masculinity among them leads to a corresponding increase in turmoil and strife.
Saving a more detailed examination of the Patriarchs for another day, consider the life of Jacob, for example.
We get a sense even from his days in his father’s home that he was perhaps a bit soft and somewhat lacking in masculinity. Unlike his brother Esau, whom we are told was “a skillful hunter and husbandman,” Jacob was “a plain man who preferred to dwell in tents” (cf Gen 25:27). He was, it seems, rather attached to his mother’s hip; the son she most favored and protected, and he departed from her side only because his brother sought to kill him.
The Scriptures go on to attest to how often Jacob, as a father, appears rather unmanly, unassertive and unwilling to take charge. For instance, when his daughter Dinah was raped, rather than express outrage and indignation, he remained silent. When his sons, Dinah’s brothers, retaliated against their sister’s rapist and freed her from his captivity, Jacob reproved them, ultimately expressing fear for his own safety. What a stark contrast in masculinity to Abraham, his grandfather, who boldly went to war to rescue his nephew, Lot!
In sum, the further the men of Scripture strayed from masculinity, the more wounded becomes the relationship between their entire families and their Creator. At this, I trust the point is made.
Far from being the intellectual giants that so many liberals imagine themselves to be, modern day progressives who treat the God-given qualities inherent to “maleness” and “femaleness” as little more than shackles imposed by a backwards culture are really the unwitting (at least one hopes) dupes of the oldest trick in the Good Book.
Author and speaker Louie Verrecchio has been a columnist for Catholic News Agency since April 2009. His work, which includes Year of Faith resources like the Harvesting the Fruit of Vatican II Faith Formation Series, has been endorsed by Cardinal George Pell of Sydney, Australia; Bishop Emeritus Patrick O’Donoghue of Lancaster, England; Bishop R. Walker Nickless of Sioux City, IA, USA and others. For more information please visit: www.harvestingthefruit.com