“The LORD God then took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it. The LORD God gave the man this order: You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden, except the tree of knowledge of good and evil. From that tree you shall not eat; when you eat from it you shall die. The LORD God said: It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suited to him.” Genesis 2:15-18
by: Ashley Blackburn and Susan Skinner
Have you ever noticed that there is a clear order to everything God created? The very universe we live in, it has order. We are considered by God, to be at the top of his chain of authority, of order. He loves us immensely. And when we take a closer look at this order we begin to see the loving plan God has for us. God gave Adam and Eve 4 commandments;
- Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. Genesis 1:28
- Have dominion over the earth. Genesis 1:28
- Don’t eat the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Genesis 2:16-17 (Eve received this command through Adam)
- Cleave to one another. Genesis 2:24
When we look at these commands, we can see the Authority God passes onto Adam and Eve. And we can see that clearly, the role of Fatherhood and Motherhood are upheld and valued by God, as he commanded them to be fruitful and multiply and to fill the earth. This is their purpose. And it is a spiritual purpose. Motherhood and Fatherhood are spiritual. So though not every man or every woman is called to literally have children, we are all called to this spiritual realm of Motherhood and Fatherhood when we interact with others in our daily lives because this helps us to fill the earth with God’s presence.
It is very important to note, God’s own authority was given to Adam. It is Adam who God reveals himself through by giving Adam the authority to name the animals. God’s very nature of love revealed in the man who was called to be Father. Through Fatherhood men are given the Authority of God. To protect and lead their family. Fatherhood ignites in the man his true espousal to his wife, his respect for her, his care and attention for her in the miraculous gift she has given to him and the world through childbirth. But this authority is weighted with a tremendous amount of responsibility and pressure, which can result in fear and anxiety in the father. Without the support and encouragement and nurturing of his wife, who is called to be mother, the man is left abandoned. He is overcome with the heavy burden.
On the other hand, this authority can also lead to an abuse of it. Man can make his wife and children out to be his servants instead of his family. But our Father in Heaven is merciful. His authority is not one of forced servitude, but one that instead evokes voluntary respect and charity. This is the authority the man is given in his role as merciful father.
God’s authority is only manifest in our freely choosing to serve Him, out of loving charity and respect for Him. Fathers cannot force their authority upon their family, it must be earned first and then supported thereafter.
The last command God gave them, to cleave to one another, shows that when properly ordered, the married couple reveals the image and likeness of God. When children spring forth from the love of a man and woman, we gain a complete whole picture. Just as the spirit proceeds from the love of the Father and the Son. The family mirrors the Trinity. We are fully aware that God created men and women physically complimentary, but we have also been created mentally, emotionally and spiritually complimentary. This is not so we would make a competition out of our gifts and try to rank one as more important than another, but that our gifts would be of aid to one another, giving where the other is lacking and receiving where we are in need. When we do this we flourish.
Today women are trying to procure this authority of men. Abandoning their own role as bearers of new life and spouses of the Holy Spirit, in which they have uniquely cooperated with God in order to bring forth new life. Women are uprooting themselves and trying to live as those having the authority of God. It’s exactly what Eve did in the garden. She was trying to gain authority to be like God, but this authority to reveal God was only granted to Adam. It’s as if it wasn’t just Satan who stole Adam’s authority, Eve did also. And where was Adam when she was speaking to the serpent? He had relinquished his duty that God had given him. He should have been looking out for her and he wasn’t. It isn’t much different today. History has shown that men abused woman in an effort to reassert their authority. This was not how God intended it.
When the woman steals the authority from man, or when he relinquished his own authority, it leaves the man without a purpose. Without the support of women to help empower him to live up to his role and the responsibility that comes with it, the man abandons his role and the authority given to him from God altogether. This is what Adam did in the garden, he abandoned his role as guardian of Eve and gave into temptation.
We see this so clearly today with the grave evils of abortion and contraception. With contraception, it is the rejection of the command of God by both parties to be fruitful and multiply. With abortion, the woman, the mother, has denied her purpose all together, choosing instead to bring death to her womb. The father has no say, unable to do his duty, to guard and protect the woman and his child. We see both men and women rejecting what they are called by God to do… their divine purpose. But God keeps chasing us, beckoning us back to the order of His Kingdom;
Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! Isaiah 49:15
It is through motherhood, the woman finds her dignity as beloved daughter of the Father and spouse of the Holy Spirit. By bringing forth new life from her womb, participating in the miracle, saying yes to all that motherhood entails (sacrifice, love, suffering, and rejoicing), the mother is led to a deep sense of gratitude and charity that springs forth like a fount from within her. This participation in motherhood is ongoing in that openness to it should never be thwarted. In this abundance of charity, the mother is empowered to extend this charity to her spouse, who has left his own mother, but still longs for a mother’s encouragement and nourishment.
Although not all women will become natural mothers, all women are created to live out their motherhood in some way. Denying her motherhood is denying her purpose in life, thus leaving a gaping hole in the divine unity between man and woman. Likewise, not all men will become natural fathers, but all men are called to live out their authority given to them by God in this fatherly role. The image of the merciful father, the FIAT of St Joseph, the servant role that Jesus displays at the last supper, as well as the self sacrifice of Christ on the cross are all models of this divine fatherhood. When man and woman live out their unique purpose that has been grafted into them upon creation, harmony will be restored.
Without the encouragement and nourishment of mothers, fathers will continue to fail in their attempts to exercise their authoritative role granted to them by God. Additionally, without men standing up and living their lives in restored authority, lives full of honor and holiness in which their gaze remains on Christ as the center of their lives, women will continue to take care of man’s unfinished business. After years of this cycle we have culminated in a place where women are bitter and resentful, making a society filled with rage. It is only through the cooperation of both male and female, living out their unique Divine purpose that will restore the dignity of mankind. Let us get on our knees and pray, that each of us, male and female alike, will embrace the purpose God created us for.