Genesis (Part 10)

Questions to think about during this lesson…

  • What role did the Incarnation of Christ play in sanctifying our nature and undoing the effects of the Fall? How is it that we participate in the Kingdom of God through the created elements and materials of the earth? What does this have to do with the Sacraments of the Church? How is it that in the Divine Liturgy we are already participating in the Kingdom of Heaven?
  • Why does the Gospel of Matthew list the genealogy of Joseph instead of Mary (Matthew 1:16)? How does this relate to the importance of understanding early Christianity, the Bible and the writings of the Fathers in their historical context?
  • It’s not uncommon for people to be critical of Christianity (particularly traditional Christianity) by sometimes identifying it with an attitude that subjugates women and that holds women down. But rather than Christianity being something that brought subjugation to women, as some people think today, Christ and Christianity were actually the great liberators of womankind. What are two specific ways this was so?
  • On one hand, we have St. Paul’s statements that in Christ Jesus there is no male or female (Galatians 3:28) and that wives can save their unbelieving husbands (1 Corinthians 7:15-16). On the other hand, however, we have his statements that women are to submit to their husbands as to the Lord (Ephesians 5:22), remain silent in church (1 Corinthians 14:34) and ought not teach or preach (1 Timothy 2:12). According to St. John Chrysostom, how is St. Paul not contradicting himself? What does St. Paul really mean? How does Chrysostom interpret these passages (along with the account of the Fall in Genesis) to prove that subjugation comes from sin and NOT from one’s gender?
  • The Orthodox Church is certainly traditional, but teaching was never prohibited to women. Nor was preaching. In fact, women have the same role and function in the Church as lay men… as readers, teachers, preachers, theologians, etc. What are your thoughts on this?
  • Christian marriage is not a hierarchy of who wears the pants or who controls whom or who has the final say. It’s a partnership of love and service to each other. As St. Paul writes in Ephesians 5:21: “Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.” This is the way we acquire holiness through our marriage. Marriage is not an adversarial relationship but a God-given partnership by which the two partners help each other to reach the Kingdom of Heaven. That’s the purpose of marriage in the Orthodox Church — that’s the Orthodox understanding of marriage. The purpose isn’t the procreation of children but to help each other achieve salvation. What are your thoughts on this and how does this idea relate to the Church’s recognition and allowance of divorce?
We’re always looking for ideas to get the most out of Dr. Jeannie’s lessons. With this in mind, the following questions were provided by Marianna Sayeg from the Bible study group at St. Mary’s Orthodox Church in Cambridge, MA. These questions are related to both Genesis (Part 10) and Genesis (Part 11).

Review Questions:

  1. Why was Eve made subject to her husband after the fall? Was her punishment intended for all of womankind? How are we to understand “subjugation” and its relationship to sin?
  2. How were Christ and Christianity the great liberators of women?
  3. What can we say about gender dynamics knowing that Christ reversed the effects of the fall? What is the purpose and ideal paradigm of an Orthodox marriage?
  4. How can we see God’s compassion even in his punishments? Why is death a natural consequence of sin?
  5. What controversies surround the fact that Adam and Eve did not procreate until after they had been expelled from the garden? What is the Orthodox understanding of this?

Discussion Questions:

  1. If we understand that subjugation is due to sin and not gender, then why are women still not allowed to serve as clergy?
  2. If subjugation is a consequence of sin, why are we called to submit to one another?
  3. Do you agree with Jeannie’s statement that above all, women need to be loved and men need to be respected? Do you think these traits are innate elements of our natures or driven by long-lasting cultural schemas?

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