On Misreading Genesis 3: Hello, Bryan Fischer

In case you haven’t heard civilization as we know it has all but ceased to exist because (gasp) women now are the heads of 40% of American households, earning more than they have earned before. A full-on challenge to the “biblical” model of family, this new research has conservative radio host Bryan Fischer up in arms.

Since, according to Fischer, civilizations cannot exist without the traditional model of family intact (by this I assume he means the 1950s American version) America is on the fast road to demise with this new astounding evidence about female earning power.

His argument, of course, is firmly secured in his reading of Genesis 3 as THE FALL. Eve and Adam ate the forbidden fruit and forever created for all subsequent humans the result of their sin: Adam will be forced to work the hardened ground and Eve will experience pain in childbearing and throughout the childrearing years when her children disobey or generally cause heartache.

Fischer is not alone in his decision to read the world through the lens of THE FALL as many Evangelicals do this too. Nor is he the only one who makes claims about something or other being a biblical model and thus the whole world should adopt his version of what this means. Melanie and I find these themes repeatedly in our exploration of all things Evangelical.

But to extrapolate Genesis 3 into some kind of blueprint for families where men are designed by God to work, to toil in the field (I’m not sure how this applies in contemporary society since Fischer didn’t connect this particular interpretive leap) while women are made with a good brain, apparently, but one not inclined according to Fischer to be applied to things outside the home, is wrong.

Christians like Fischer who assert biblical models always start with Genesis 3 claiming THE FALL prescribes how the world works as a result of Eve and Adam’s massive disobedience. In this they fail to understand the basics of how Scripture—any sacred text—develops. Of course there are years of various written documents but before this there are generations of oral stories, told from mother to daughter to grand-daughter and so on. But, even before that, someone had an experience of God which was so transformative she or he told a friend or neighbor, a spouse or a loved one.

And this is the crucial reality the Bryan Fischers of our world discount: these biblical accounts emerge from human experience; from someone trying to understand why the world exists as it does. In the midst of this questioning and this exploration, divine interaction occurs and often insight and wisdom results.

For us this means Genesis 3 is not a divine decree that men are to work while women have pain in childbearing but rather is a realization that working the land is difficult because life itself is not easy and that of course women experience child-birthing pains just like all of us know the excruciating burden of bringing something new into existence: our dreams, our callings, our visions.

Genesis 3 reminds us, too, that we often forget about God’s presence in our lives, that our Divine Mother loves us even when we fail to remember Her. And, there is sin as well, but it isn’t some violation of a “biblical” marriage model, it is rather when we fail to live into the full expression of who God made us to be; when we do not listen to Sophia teaching us to live compassionately, to love Her by loving others.

The sin is when we let someone like Bryan Fischer lead us down a path that is stifling the liberating soul God embodied within us.