February 10, 2023
by Eileen Wirth
Creighton University -Retired
click here for photo and information about the writer

Memorial of Saint Scholastica, virgin
Lectionary: 333

Genesis 3:1-8
Psalm 32:1-2, 5, 6, 7
Mark 7:31-37

Praying Ordinary Time

Lent Audio Conversations - Preparing for Lent


“The woman saw that the tree was good for food, pleasing to the eyes, and desirable for gaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” - Genesis

In one of my favorite New Testament passages, Jesus protects a woman accused of adultery from being stoned by telling her attackers, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” Gradually they slink away, and Jesus admonishes the woman to sin no more.

Jesus knew that in such situations, two people with free will had equally consented to sin and it was unfair to just punish one of them.

Bravo, Jesus!

I bring up Jesus’ approach to sins involving partners because it contrasts with the way today’s story of Adam and Eve has often been interpreted: that Adam sinned only because Eve led him into it – that it was mostly her fault, along with the snake.

I’ve always cringed at the portrayal of Eve – and by extension women in general – as temptress because it has had horrifying consequences for women for millennia.  

We saw it in the time of Christ when women were stoned for adultery while their partners went unpunished. We see it today in Iran where women have been jailed and even killed for failing to completely cover their hair. Who knows what such provocative behavior might lead men to do!

As a young reporter in the 1970’s, I wrote stories about rape victims whose assailants were found innocent because they were wearing the standard short skirts of the era. In effect women attired like this invited such attacks and thus men were not responsible for their behavior. Now we know that sexual assault is a crime of violence, not passion, but countless women suffered from the tradition of shame and blame that shielded men from consequences for their violence.

Ironically although women have suffered terribly from the seeming need to keep them from tempting men, men are not unscathed by this mentality. It suggests that they are too weak to resist temptation. If I were a man, I would be insulted by this.  

I like to think that most men are strong enough to make moral decisions regardless of who suggests they sin – man or woman. 

Both women and men are endowed with free will and the ability to either consent to sin or to refuse to do so.  This is what a fair interpretation of the commission of “original sin” should tell us.

It’s time for good and strong men and women to claim their equality as moral adults and to retire forever the sick view of women as temptresses.

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