Tuesday, March 3, 2015
At Home, Arlington, Massachusetts
I just read the most horrifying web post about a woman's vagina being ruined in childbirth. Why. Just... why? And not just why did she write it, or why did I read it, but why does this even happen? No wonder men have had multiple wives or lived outside the confines of the marriage bed for the entirety of history. It's difficult for me to even fathom the depths of sexual suffering that must happen when something like this occurs. For the woman, for her husband, it just seems so nasty.
Ultimately it leads me to questions about God and his creation of the world. Is this something natural, something that would have happened in a pre-fallen world? And if so... why? Why would God give women bodies that seem so ready to turn on them at some point in their lives? Maybe if humanity was not fallen, we would be able to properly think about sex and it's place in our lives and we would be able to live contentedly with destroyed vaginas. But then again, everything in the Bible points to sex as a really good thing and one of the central experiences of humanity.
Is female suffering fundamental to sex? Apart from modern medical and technological advances, suffering is intimately and intrinsically bound up in the physical experience of sex for a woman. It is not this way for a man. Sure, men deal with sexual frustration and have their own challenges, but those challenges tend to be of a spiritual or emotional nature. A man's physical reality is not consistently trying to kill him or destroy his ability to enjoy sexual activity.
I see two alternatives - either this reality for women is the result of sin entering the world, or it is not and therefore has something to tell us about ourselves and about God. I think most people would jump in to say that the suffering intimately wrapped up in female sexuality is a result of sin entering the world. I don't doubt this is partially true. After all, the curse Eve receives seems to pretty explicitly describe a certain kind of suffering that will enter the fabric and reality of womanhood. But unless we think that things somehow altered genetically for women, it's hard for me to accept that the entirety of female physicality altered when Eve stole the apple. Were vaginas somehow larger pre-fall and then shrunk after Eve was cursed? I'm just not so sure about that.
It seems to me that God created women and female physicality, female sexuality, with these risks always possible. Yes, something absolutely changed after Eve sinned and as our mother, she has passed the curse on to the eons of her daughters. But I also feel inclined to say that sex always has been, even from the very start, a very different experience for women than for men, and that this is quite possibly how God intended it. Even with all of our advances, women enter into their full sexual identities only at great risk to themselves. This is terrifying and it terrifies me trying to understand the mind of the Lord behind such a design.
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About the Project
This is a very personal project. It tracks my growth and development as I journeyed toward motherhood over the recent years. It doesn't document every experience I had, and probably neglects my more joyful and peaceful moments in the frenzy of trying to communicate my fears, anxieties, and doubts. If you are a friend or loved one, please do not let anything you read here overshadow what you know of me personally. If you are a stranger, please remember that a living and flawed person stands behind these words. To all my guests here, please understand these are not political statements and try to extend me grace, even as I share my failures and foibles - I have repented of much of what I share. I don't share this journal as an exemplar, but rather out of the desire to share my hope that entrance to motherhood does not need to be a fearful thing - despite the very real fears I have fought against. Motherhood is simply a part of life and one through which I am discovering more of myself and my God.