“Put not your trust in princes: in the children of men, in whom there is no salvation.” Psalm 145:2-3 (Douay-Rheims; your version might say this is Psalm 146)
One of the things you have to get used to as a Catholic is how even seemingly very solid Catholic leaders sometimes fail. They fall flat. They say or write something erroneous, or even heretical. They scandalize us. They botch answers to obvious questions. They flee in cowardice when confronted by a hostile argument or an uncomfortable truth.
When I say “seemingly very solid Catholic leaders,” I don’t just mean, “Oh, you know people that *other* people trust, but I know better than to trust.” I mean people you likely trust, and people I would trust, if I still placed all that much trust in other mortals. I’m including myself here, as I have fallen flat myself, in truly embarrassing and avoidable ways.
I’ll give an example (of someone else falling flat, not myself). There is an expanding Catholic radio network, of an orthodox/conservative stripe, not traditionalist by any means. One of their “personalities” is a priest whom most people would regard as “very solid.” I myself have been impressed by some things he’s said, and I’m not all that easily impressed. But I have an anecdote that shows this reputable priest describing one of the most well-known events in the Old Testament in a way that I can’t imagine anyone describing it before Vatican II. I submit that his description reveals a pernicious, extraordinarily widespread, and revolutionary (=mistaken, subversive, and bad) understanding of the relation between the sexes.
The priest was on a radio show, and he was describing the creation of Eve. I hope most of you are familiar with the wording of the creation of Eve in Genesis. To paraphrase, God saw that it was not good for Adam to be alone. So He put Adam into a deep sleep and created Eve from his rib. Eve was to be Adam’s helpmate, bone of Adam’s bone and flesh of Adam’s flesh. I repeat: Adam needed company, and God gave him Eve as a helpmate.
The priest referenced this narrative, I forget in what context, and he said the following (this is close to his actual wording):
“God created Eve so Adam would have an equal, someone to serve.”
Do you see what’s wrong here? Nowhere in Genesis does it say that Eve was Adam’s equal, or that she was created for him to serve her. Eve was created so that *she* would be *his* helpmate, so he could cleave to her as belonging to one flesh as himself. If you think that’s just the barebones of the Genesis account, and the priest is fleshing it out (so to speak), then I refer you to the *New* Testament account of the creation of Eve in St. Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians 11:8-9:
“For the man is not of the woman, but the woman of the man. For the man was not created for the woman, but the woman for the man.”
In coming posts, I plan to explore similar New Testament passages that say the wife is to be subject to her husband and the husband is supposed to cherish his wife. For now, let me observe that none of these Scriptural passages refer to Adam as needing an equal, or finding that equal in Eve, or to Adam needing to serve somebody, or that person being Eve. If you think I’m mistaken, or that the priest’s interpretation above is the traditional Catholic understanding of these Scriptural passages, by all means do correct me. I also intend to trace the priest’s peculiar reading of Eve’s creation to Pope St. John Paul II and to his phenomenological philosophy. I propose that this reading (Eve as Adam’s equal, whom Adam serves) is *not* well rooted in either Scripture or Tradition. Lastly, I plan to show that this reading detracts from a proper understanding of the sexes and how man and woman can live together happily.