02 January 2014
The Serpent Approached the Woman
While man (male) and woman have the same dignity as persons, the woman is of higher dignity in respect to her closeness to God. This is most evident in the way she was created and in the way her children are created, particularly in the Incarnation.
A man is not physically present when conception takes place within a woman. Only God and the woman are present with the donation made by a man. The man may be close, even in physical union with the woman, but the actual act of conception still takes place beyond his physical presence. In the Incarnation, the donation of a man is not even present.
“And the Lord God formed man of the slime of the earth: and breathed into his face the breath of life, and man became a living soul.” Man was created from the common substances that were first created, just as all the plants and animals. They were all created from non-living material. Woman was created from the side of man; from living material.
Although the two creation accounts use chronological time to describe different theological realities, it is interesting to note that when the man and woman are created at the same time, the animals are created before them. However, when the man and woman are created separately, the animals are created after the man, but before the woman.
Being created last shows woman as the pinnacle of creation and the first in the thought of God. This does show how man was created to serve woman, but it also shows how man is to serve the animals in serving the woman: the act of husbandry.
In becoming male in the Incarnation, God is able to serve man (male and female) due to the order of creation. God, Who is of infinite dignity, puts Himself in a lower order of dignity than man (male and female) in order to serve His creation, which is the greatest act of love.
This act of love is not natural to man (male and female), but a share in God’s Divinity (divinization or theosis). The act of love that is natural to man (male and female), is to receive the love of God. (Woman is physically and emotionally made to receive, where as man (male) is physically and emotionally made to give.) Thus, it is in serving woman that man (male) allows God to divinize him; the example for him to follow being the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity. It could be said that woman is closer to God on a natural level, whereas man has the potential to become closer to God on a supernatural level. The first is easier to obtain (passively, not actively) than the second. (Men are more inclined to be active rather than passive, and women are more inclined to be passive rather than active. Thus, women are more inclined to obtain a closer relationship with God.) Men have the potential to become closer to God than women, but it is more natural (and observably more common) for women to be closer to God.
Although this has many theological significances, such as why it is beneath the dignity of women to be given ordained roles of service in the Church, it also shows why the serpent approached the woman. Before the fall, man and woman were in the true natural state of love in the created order with woman fully recognizing her closer relationship to God than man had. If the serpent approached the man, would the woman follow the man, or would she remain loyal to God?
Due to her higher dignity in relationship with God, woman would have much more likely remained loyal to God. However, being on a higher dignity in relationship with God, man would have much more likely followed her as his loyalty to God is in serving the woman. And, this is in fact what happened.
Women are the weaker sex as it is in men’s strength that they have the potential to allow themselves to be divinized and serve women. In abusing this strength, men are, in essence, allowing themselves to be demonized. This use of male strength is less natural and more supernatural.
It is in our weakness that we are strong: thus, in being the weaker sex, women are naturally stronger than men. This is evident in the turn of events in the garden that resulted in the fall of man (male and female). This is why God said to the woman, “Thou shalt be under thy husband’s power, and he shall have dominion over thee.” If this were not the case, woman would become so powerful that man (male and female) would not allow God to redeem them.
Humorous speculation: Would dog have been created immediately after man and cat immediately before woman? Think of service and assumed dignity in the order of creation. Perhaps this should be catalogued as dogmatic.
O Theotokos, how close to infinity does thy finite and created mind comprehend the infinite mysteries of God, especially now that you have left the confines of chronological time. Pray that I, like you, ponder these mysteries in my heart.