‘The State of Eve’
female ontogeny and the politics of marriage
The reconstruction of Paradisal sexuality could lead either to a world-renouncing spiritual libertinism or to a new sense of holiness in the everyday business of matrimony. It brings out a paradoxical commitment to praxis in Christianity, which forces the Platonic doctrine of Eros, formulated in a spiritual and homosexual milieu, into the contested ideological arena of the sexes. For Luther, the mutual-egalitarian interpretation was always a possibility in Protestant exegesis and Renaissance humanism, as this chapter shows. The application of Genesis to marriage, and to the status of woman, was by no means univocally patriarchal. But it would be utopian to deny the overwhelming weight of the subordinationist reading. The punishment of subordination in 3:16 is translated into a universal or ‘natural’ condition that continues unchanged even after other Old Testament impositions, like circumcision and burnt-offerings, had been abolished by Christianity.
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