Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Death of the Death of Desire


Some wordplay in the nature of John Owen with the above title.  Playing on his monumental work The Death of Death in the Death of Christ.  Playing with a similar thesis... but let's play it out.

Got the idea for this post from a post by Rocking With Hawking. Numerous poignant points by the daring and delightful, Christian apologist Rocking.  He received some assistance from the brilliant and acerbic, Christian apologist Steve Hays.  So we have a collaboration of brave and cutting comments in that post. Comments of significant import.

Significant import because it affects numerous people significantly.  Particularly women, as we shall see.

Salient points pertinent to our post include:

#5- a man finds sexual intercourse enjoyable even if he doesn't find the woman attractive.
#8- women can find sexual intercourse physically enjoyable even if she doesn't find the man attractive.
#24-  Low desire was the most common sexual problem in women, reported by 39 percent of women and associated with distress in 10 to 14 percent [1].  [several surveys are cited]

As mentioned in the Triablogue comments, these points caused me to re-consider the nature of the  Garden Curse of Genesis 3:16.  That the woman's "desire shall be for her husband"- ESV translation.

The NET Bible that is hyperlinked on the text above quite admittedly adds considerable "interpretation" on this verse (see its textual note).  In that verse the NET narrows the semantic range of "desire" considerably.  In that verse the NET has narrowed the range to merely 'the desire of usurping the authority of the man'.  That is the traditional interpretation.  But is it 'too narrow of an interpretation' as others have suggested?  Is that 'limiting the scope too much'?

Yet to the NET's credit, at least the NET gives some indication of the gloss.  Unlike the egalitarian folks at CBE who seem too offended and afraid to give ANY indication what this "desire" actually is (do the search!).  I see that as a far greater disservice to wives.

In other versions, the NASB altered their translation from the indicative "will be for her husband" to the imperative "shall be for her husband" in their 1995 update.  Suggesting something more than just some innocuous passive passion.
In other versions, the 2011 NIV update has retained the less offensive indicative translation from their 1984 version.
While the NKJV retained the more demanding imperative from the old KJV.  Suggesting that there is something far less innocuous there.

But what if both are right?  What if it is both indicative and imperative?  What if is both descriptive and prescriptive?
What if we can actually embrace a much bigger gloss?  One that actually has application?  One that doesn't make that Genesis verse a waste of ink and inkling.

What if- if Rocking's stats are some indication- we can also embrace the gloss that wives are predisposed to 'lose their sexual desire' yet are commanded to 'strive for desire for their husbands' regardless?  A command for wives to put to death their Death of Desire for their husbands?

At least that embracing grants some alternate implication and application.  Are egalitarians willing to grant that much at least?  Sure is less hostile than the 'usurping authority desire', huh?  Less mutinous.

Yet egalitarians insist that "this is merely a descriptive of mans inhumanity to women"? That this Death of Desire 'couldn't possibly be something intrinsic to wives'. "That would be frankly soul crushing!"  'Why can't us girls just follow our feelings?'

However, wouldn't this be consistent with the primary parallel-interpretation of Cain "desiring" to kill his brother but God commanding him to "subdue that illicit desire"?  Isn't that a bigger gloss?  Isn't the indicative as well as the imperative in view here?  Why couldn't Cain just follow his feelings?

Or would this not be consistent with the other parallel-interpretation of "desire" in Song of Songs 7:10?  Of the context of the "desired" being rather reluctant to please her Lover?
Of being reluctant due to her presumed impediments of 'immature vines, blossoms and pomegranates'- 7:12? Despite her breasts actually being like "fortress towers"-8:10?
Did she not falsely think that her vineyard was at her "very own" disposal rather than his?- 8:12
That she held complete authority over her "very own" body?- cf. 1 Cor. 7:4

And isn't that a bigger gloss of "desire"?  Isn't the descriptive as well as the prescriptive in view here?  Why couldn't the "desired" just follow her reluctance there?

Or would this not be consistent with the subsequent verse?  Consistent with the Garden Curse given to the man that 'thorns and thistles will now impede you so that you shall now sweat to overcome these impediments'?  Of the ground being predisposed to giving the man grief so that he must now overcome that grief?

In similar manner the women is given grief and distress in her Death of Desire.  A death that she is commanded to overcome.  A death that she is given hope of overcoming.

In this chapter, man is given hope in overcoming those thorns and thistles.  That man "will eat the plants of the field" despite those thorns and thistles.
Are women being given a similar hope and mandate here?  A mandate to overcome their own predisposed thorns and thistles?