Lent with St Edith Stein Day 8: The Fall and its Effects on Relationships

Lent with St Edith Stein Day 8: The Fall and its Effects on Relationships

“Thus there has been a change in the relationship of human beings to the earth, to their descendants and to one another. But all this is the result of a changed relation to God.”

St Edith Stein, The Separate Vocations of Man and Woman


                We don’t know a lot about the original intent of Adam and Eve. The Fall changed all of that. We can, however, see that they were intended to be partners. Original Sin caused a rift between mankind and God, and it affected all relationships. The Earth was no longer ready and willing to supply Adam and Eve with food. Adam would have to fight the Earth by the sweat of his brow to survive. And Eve is no longer a pure helpmate. She and subsequent women will be subjugated to man and we can tell by Adam’s attempt to blame Eve for their sin that he will not be a good master.

               Just as the Fall fundamentally changed the relationship between man and woman, the Redemption began the long, slow process of healing that relationship. Not only did our savior come into the world via Mary, a woman, but Jesus also brought women into His inner circle. He made them a part of His public ministry. Furthermore, he declared that the decree of divorce was no longer acceptable and was an accommodation for the hardness of their hearts. Man could no longer cast woman aside.

               St Edith suggests that as we know that God is three in one, man and woman are two in one. While the Trinity does not suffer imperfections, the strengths of woman make up for what is lacking in man and the strengths of man make up for what is lacking in woman. We are destined to live one life with each other as one joined being. This is the redemptive order. Redemption restores the union of man and woman to something of its original intent. Man and woman become one flesh in union with each other.

                There is a considerable amount of controversy when discussing the call for wives to submit themselves to their husbands. It’s terribly out of sync with our modern sensibilities, but at the same time, there have been headstrong women ever since, well, Eve. But a man is not without responsibilities in the post-redemptive relationship. A husband has the duty to imitate Christ and care for his wife with the sacrificial love that Christ has for the church. In a true marital partnership where a husband seeks to be the hands and feet of Christ, a woman can submit freely and lovingly without fear of abuse. And when we follow the example of Mary, we can see the dignity in becoming a handmaid at all times.

                   For me personally, marriage was a difficult transition. Before we were together I had lived on my own for years. I was responsible for working to bring in money, I paid the bills and managed my own finances, I cleaned the house, I repaired things when they were broken, anything and everything was my responsibility. But when my husband came along, it was difficult to let him help out and take the lead on things that were better suited to his strengths. I was headstrong and first but realized that I had to step back. It wasn’t so he could control me, but so he could take care of me in the areas that he was strong in. Then I could redirect my energy to taking care of him in the areas that I was strong in.

               Based on a true partnership, marriage isn’t 50/50, it’s 100/100. That’s the only way it works according to God’s plan. We have to both give ourselves entirely to the relationship. Rather, we have to both give ourselves to God entirely and understand that we are only stewards of each other. Marriage is a sacrament intended to bear fruit through children, but also intended to help us on our way to Heaven.

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