The root and divine pattern of the damsel in distress


Adam’s adamance

According to the temple account, when Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, prior to the fall, Satan first came tempting Adam to partake of the forbidden fruit.

LUCIFER APPROACHES ADAM

[Lucifer enters.]

LUCIFER: Well, Adam, you have a new world here.

ADAM: A new world?

LUCIFER: Yes, a new world, patterned after the old one where we used to live.

ADAM: I know nothing about any other world.

LUCIFER: Oh, I see–your eyes are not yet opened. You have forgotten everything. You must eat some of the fruit of this tree.

[Lucifer pantomimes picking two pieces of fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. He offers the fruit to Adam.]

LUCIFER: Adam, here is some of the fruit of that tree. It will make you wise.

ADAM: I will not partake of that fruit. Father told me that in the day I should partake of it, I should surely die.

LUCIFER: You shall not surely die, but shall be as the Gods, knowing good and evil.

ADAM: I will not partake of it.

LUCIFER: Oh, you will not? Well, we shall see.

[Adam withdraws from view.]

Satan failed to directly tempt him because Adam was adamant about not breaking God’s commandment. How do you get someone to yield whose very nature is not to budge an inch? Was there no way around Adam’s adamancy? Yes, there was, and Satan, that cunning one, knew that Adam had a weakness which he had planned to exploit. And so off the devil went to tempt Eve.

Eve’s acquiescence

Satan used on Eve the very same approach that he used on Adam, directly tempting her with the wisdom and knowledge that the fruit offered as benefits. Instead of Eve acting like the unyielding Adam, though, she acquiesced and partook of the fruit.

Why did Adam refuse? Because it was his nature to stick to the decision he had made to obey God and not to yield to temptations.

Why did Eve partake? Because it was her nature to yield to persuasive arguments. It was her nature to vacillate.

Why did Satan wait for Eve to be alone? Because if Adam had been around, he would have offered counter arguments to Satan’s temptations and Eve might have drawn strength from Adam’s unyielding nature and resisted the temptation.

Here is how it went down.

EVE PARTAKES OF THE FRUIT

[Eve returns.]

LUCIFER: Eve, here is some of the fruit of that tree. It will make you wise. It is delicious to the taste and very desirable.

EVE: Who are you?

LUCIFER: I am your brother.

EVE: You, my brother, and come here to persuade me to disobey Father?

LUCIFER: I have said nothing about Father. I want you to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil that your eyes may be opened, for that is the way Father gained his knowledge. You must eat of this fruit so as to comprehend that everything has its opposite: good and evil, virtue and vice, light and darkness, health and sickness, pleasure and pain. Thus your eyes will be opened, and you will have knowledge.

EVE: Is there no other way?

LUCIFER: There is no other way.

EVE: Then I will partake.

[Eve pantomimes taking one of the pieces of fruit from Lucifer’s hand and eating it.]

LUCIFER: There. Now go and get Adam to partake.

[Lucifer pantomimes placing the second piece of fruit in her hand. He withdraws from view.]

Indirectly tempting the adamant Adam

Having received instructions from the devil to tempt Adam to partake, Eve went to find her husband.

ADAM PARTAKES OF THE FRUIT

[Adam returns.]

EVE: Adam, here is some of the fruit of that tree. It is delicious to the taste and very desirable.

ADAM: Eve, do you know what fruit that is?

EVE: Yes. It is the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

ADAM: I cannot partake of it. Do you not know that Father commanded us not to partake of the fruit of that tree?

EVE: Do you intend to obey all of Father’s commandments?

ADAM: Yes, all of them.

We see from this that the devil’s plan to indirectly tempt Adam failed, for Adam was still every bit as adamant about obeying all of Father’s commandments as he ever was. The man simply refused to budge and break any commandments. Neither direct nor indirect temptation worked on Adam, for it was against his nature to budge on his decisions. But notice what happened next.

Why did Adam partake of the forbidden fruit?

EVE: Do you not recollect that Father commanded us to multiply and replenish the earth? I have partaken of this fruit and by so doing shall be cast out, and you will be left a lone man in the garden of Eden.

ADAM: Eve, I see that this must be so. I will partake that man may be.

[Adam pantomimes eating the fruit.]

There were three reasons that Eve gave Adam to get him to partake of the fruit. The first was

“It is delicious to the taste and very desirable.”

But that wasn’t enough to get Adam to budge on Father’s commandments. So Eve tried a strategy which appealed to Adam’s desire to obey the commandments. Her reasoning was that since “God commanded them to multiply and replenish the earth,” that required that they remain together, but since now Eve had “partaken of this fruit and by so doing [would] be cast out,” Adam would “be left a lone man in the garden of Eden.”

That got Adam to partake and the standard interpretation is that Adam chose to obey one commandment over another, that he was placed in a situation in which the two commandments conflicted and he chose to obey “the greater commandment” of staying together and having children over “the lesser commandment” of partaking of the fruit. We often take the view that obeying God’s commandment to have children was Adam’s prime motivator.

This is an understandable interpretation, given that the text has Adam saying, “I will partake that man may be.” To everyone who hears that (including me), Adam was obviously talking about having children.

Three commandments

However, that may not be the whole picture. There were three commandments that God gave to Adam.

  • Don’t partake of the forbidden fruit.

  • Remain together.

  • Multiply and replenish the earth.

After Adam partook of the forbidden fruit, God asked him, “Hast thou eaten of the tree whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat, if so thou shouldst surely die?” And Adam replied,

“The woman thou gavest me,

and commandest that she should remain with me,

she gave me of the fruit of the tree and I did eat. ”

We see from this response that Adam himself explained the reason why he partook of the forbidden fruit. It was to comply with the commandment that the woman remain with him. This commandment was given to him because God had said that “it was not good that the man should be alone.” But let’s backtrack a bit, for we need to understand what “man” is.

What “man” is

There are four things that “man” is.

  • Man is Adam, not Eve (woman/help meet).

  • Man is Adam + Eve. (“One flesh.”)

  • Man is children and posterity.

  • Man is Eve. (Mankind.)

We can do some substitution to try to determine what Adam meant by “man” when he said, “Eve, I see that this must be so. I will partake that man may be.” The exercise might pull some additional information out of the text that is not readily apparent in a cursory first reading.

“I will partake that [children/posterity] may be.”

I think it is safe to say that most people think this is what he was referring to, but neither Adam nor Eve had any concept of what children were, for they were still innocent themselves. So, let’s try another substitute.

“I will partake that [Adam, not Eve] may be.”

Eve had partaken and broken the commandment, whereas Adam had not, therefore, Eve was already spiritually dead (and would later suffer a temporal death). So, we can look upon Eve as spiritually dead when she tempted the spiritually alive Adam. This substitution, then, doesn’t make sense because the words “may be” indicate bringing something into existence, or making something alive. The fall had brought death upon Eve, not life. By partaking of the fruit, then, Adam would also bring death upon himself. Therefore, since he was already spiritually and physically alive, it makes no sense that he needed to partake of death in order to become (spiritually or physically) alive.

“I will partake that [Eve] may be.”

Eve was already spiritually dead, therefore, Adam partaking of the same forbidden fruit does not bring her back to life, it only makes him just as dead as she is. So, this interpretation doesn’t work, either. Let’s try the last substitution.

“I will partake that [Adam + Eve] may be.”

If Adam viewed Eve as part of himself, as literally “the other half” of him, then when he saw (“Eve, I see that this must be so”) that a change had come over her and that she had become fallen, what he saw was that man (Adam + Eve) had already ceased to exist. Half of him was fallen and half of him had not fallen, causing a separation, or death, between the two halves. In truth, Adam never saw Eve as a separate individual, separate from himself. For example, there’s this:

This was bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; now she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of man; (Abr. 5:17)

and also this:

This I know now is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of man. (Moses 3:23)

In one view, it is said that Eve was his bone and flesh (prior to her being taken out of him), and in another view it is said that Eve is his bone and flesh (after being taken out of him). In either case, she is him. Then we get these scriptures, which reinforce the same idea that Adam + Eve is man:

So the Gods went down to organize man in their own image, in the image of the Gods to form they him, male and female to form they them. (Abr. 4:27)

And I, God, created man in mine own image, in the image of mine Only Begotten created I him; male and female created I them. (Moses 2:27)

Adam, then, was like unto the left-brain-mind of man and Eve was like unto the right-brain-heart of man. The one is firm, fixed and adamant (unyielding), the other vacillating. They were the personification of our two brain hemispheres. Just as we need both halves of our brain for existence, so they needed to remain with each other to be complete and alive. If you leave the left-brain-mind of man alone to itself, without any interaction with the right-brain-heart, it goes insane, just like all those crazy chess players.  The reverse is also true. A right-brain-heart cannot remain separate from its corresponding left-brain-mind.

What Adam was thinking

Remember those three commandments Adam had received from God?

  • Don’t partake of the forbidden fruit.

  • Remain together.

  • Multiply and replenish the earth.

Well, in Adam’s mind, half of himself (Adam + Eve) had already broken the first one, making it impossible to comply with the second and third commandments. Because only half of himself (Adam + Eve) had partaken of the fruit, man (Adam + Eve) had ceased to exist. In order to save or rescue man (Adam + Eve) and bring man (Adam + Eve) back again into existence, the other half of himself (Adam + Eve) had to also partake of the forbidden fruit. This would allow the now fallen, yet still existing man (Adam + Eve) to comply with the second and third commandments.

Adam’s chief motivation, then, was to rescue man (Adam + Eve), for without Eve, man (Adam + Eve) could not exist. Adam would perform the rescue through condescension (“voluntary descent from one’s rank or dignity in relations with an inferior”), by voluntarily allowing himself to fall. Now Adam and Eve would again be on an equal (fallen) footing and Adam, and through his faith, repentance and unyielding obedience (for this was his nature), could perchance bring both himself and Eve, his other half, back into the presence of God.

This view of Eve as himself did not allow him to merely cut his losses and walk away from her. To lose Eve was to lose himself. This wasn’t some fallen, romantic love affair in which two separate people come together, this was orders of magnitude more intense, because Eve was literally taken out of Adam. They weren’t just made for each other, they were each other! So, the possibility of losing Eve was not an option to Adam. Eve needed to be rescued.

Eve, the prototypical damsel in distress

Adam partook of the forbidden fruit because Eve was in distress and he desired to rescue her. By her transgression, she had lost the promises and would be cut off, both physically and spiritually. She had already shown that she was unable to resist the direct temptations of the devil in her paradisaical state while separated from Adam, so, what kind of a chance did Eve have to resist the devil’s temptations in a fallen state and being alone in a fallen world, with no Adam to rely upon and help rescue her? Not a chance in hell.

(Before I continue, it needs to be understood and emphasized that both the temple and scriptural accounts of this event are most likely just a part, or an abridgment, of the actual conversation that took place between Eve and Adam. Nevertheless, we can see from the few words of Eve which have been given to us by revelation, that she was in dire need of some comfort, for she makes it a point to say to Adam, and this, I believe, is the main point that resonated with Adam, “I…shall be cast out.”)

Now, everyone who has dealt with a woman in distress knows just how very nervous and agitated they can become. It is likely that Eve unloaded a barrage of words on Adam to get him to partake of that fruit, crying to him with tears of sorrow, as a weeping woman pleading for rescue. Adam likely had never seen tears before, so the sight of a hysterical woman must have been a shock to him. As this was a life and death situation—for Eve was now slated to die (spiritually and physically), alone, in the dreary world outside of the garden—it is highly unlikely that the conversation we have recorded in the temple and in the scriptures is the full account.

So, she likely used every argument she could think of to persuade Adam to partake of the fruit and to be kicked out and die with her. Obviously something she said actually worked to get him to partake, whereas the direct temptations of the devil had failed. Was it the appeal to keep the replenish commandment? Probably not. For in order to stay together, Adam would still need to break a commandment, and the end result would be the same. So why did he partake? It can only be because she was a damsel in distress and he thought to save or rescue her.

How to bring down an adamant Adam

Now this was the devious plan of the adversary, by which he would get around the adamant nature of Adam. The strategy was to use Eve to destroy Adam by putting Eve in peril (through her fall), which would cause Adam to voluntarily put himself in peril (through his own fall) in order to save her. It worked because it was based upon the nature of Adam, which was patterned after God Himself. In other words, although it was Adam’s nature to be totally obedient, it was also his nature to save his loved ones, even if it meant the voluntary sacrifice of his own life. Sound familiar?

Damsel in distress and rescue as gospel principles

As a result of these events, God patterned the entire gospel on that interaction between Adam and Eve, which resulted in the fall. How so?

By partaking of the fruit, Eve became the prototypical damsel in distress and all her daughters would follow this pattern, becoming themselves, in the gospel plan, damsels in distress.

Adam became the prototypical knight in shining armor that puts himself in jeopardy in order to rescue the maiden from the danger she is in, and all his sons would follow this same pattern, becoming saviors (or rescuers) on mount Zion.

The cries of Eve to Adam to save her from her dilemma is the prototypical prayer, by which all prayers to God, in which we plead to Him for mercy and salvation, is patterned after. Just as she wept to Adam, so are we to weep to God. When we perform a proper prayer, after this order of Eve, we take upon us the role of the damsel in distress, and God hears and answers our prayers.

Adam’s response to Eve, in which he condescended to save her from her distress, is the prototype after which the atonement of Jesus Christ is patterned. The condescension of God, then, is patterned after the condescension of Adam.

The male priesthood orders, which administer the ordinances of salvation, are based on the “rescuer,” while all female priesthood orders are based upon the “damsel in distress.”

When Jesus faces God, He pleads with Him in our behalf as a Damsel in Distress. When He faces us, He stands as our Rescuer. When a man faces Christ, he pleads with Him as a damsel in distress. When he faces his wife and children, it is as a rescuer. When a woman faces her husband or Christ, it is as a damsel in distress. When she faces her children, it is as a rescuer. Children all have the role of damsels in distress until they are of age.

The root and pattern of the damsel in distress can be traced to Eve, from the time of her fall, and the rescuer principle can be traced to Adam, from the time of his fall. The gospel given to Adam and Eve after their fall, and given to all of their children, retains the same pattern.

The ancient church, as written in our scriptural canon, was almost entirely based upon assigning men the role of rescuer and women the role of damsels in distress, with but few exceptions. The men fought the wars, not the women, and thus they became the protectors of the women. The men were expected to be the providers for their families (rescuing them from hunger, etc.), not the women. The women and children had claim on their husbands, not the other way around. And when it came to leadership, the leader was typically male. In the modern church, we now use the word preside, which is also an expected role of the men, as stated in the Proclamation on the Family.

Some Book of Mormon instances of damsel in distress

Captain Moroni’s title of liberty was “in defense of our wives.” That is damsel in distress. The kidnapped Lamanite women created a damsel in distress situation which brought out the vast Lamanite army to search for 24 women. Jacob’s rebuke of Nephite husbands because of their desire for additional wives and how they were making their wives feel bad was a damsel in distress theme, the rescue provided by the Lord who sent His prophet to call the husbands to repentance. The Nephites were commanded to defend their wives and children against Lamanite aggression even unto bloodshed. Why didn’t the Lord just authorize the Nephites to wipe out the Lamanite threat? Well, one reason might have been so that Nephite wives would have a continual source of potential distress, in the form of the Lamanites. This would allow them to more fully cleave unto their rescuing husbands.

Damsel in distress found in non-gospel cultures

Because the damsel in distress theme has gospel origins from the time of our first parents, it is to be expected that we would find it played out in many different non-gospel cultures and stories of all ages, and that is, in fact, what we see.

Fascinating Womanhood was based on damsel in distress

The book, Fascinating Womanhood, which was written by a Mormon woman, attempted to teach women what “true” femininity was. As might be expected, it had (and still has) a polarizing effect upon both men and women, some swearing by it, others wanting to burn it. It stood out like a sore thumb among many other self-help books because it claimed to be based on biblical principles, on the very laws of God. It relied heavily upon the damsel in distress theme, where women were taught to use their weakness to activate a man’s strength, or, to put it another way, they were taught to more fully assume the role of the damsel in distress, to which, it was claimed, men naturally responded (like Adam did) by seeking to rescue them. These teachings completely contradicted modern ideas, which seek to make strong, empowered women that do not need to rely upon men. (Another book was written by the author’s husband, called Man of Steel and Velvet, which was written for men and based upon the rescuer role of men.)

Modern movements against the damsel in distress stereotype

Go back a hundred years and virtually all dramas in plays, movies, radio or print (and later in television) were based on the damsel in distress theme. Times, however, have changed. Now there is a concerted effort in media of all forms to remove it and replace it with either equal roles for the sexes or a dude in distress theme. The strong female who can mop up the floor of any guy or group of guys is now found everywhere. The weak female needing male attention and help is virtually non-existent in current media. The heroine who rescues the dude in distress is becoming more and more prevalent. For example, take Disney, which used to base their fairy tales on damsel in distress and now have the fair maiden saving the man from the fire breathing dragon.   In many of the kiss and sex scenes nowadays in movies and television, it is the woman who initiates (and often dominates) and the man is on the receiving (submissive) end.

The blurring, elimination and/or reversal of the damsel in distress/rescuer theme in media is manifestly intentional. It is done according to a plan. Damsel in distress is painted as a antiquated cultural artifact that needs to be eliminated from society. And much of society has bought into that view. Even Mormon society. For example, ordaining women to the male priesthood orders would confound the damsel in distress and rescuer roles found within the church, yet there are many in the church who feel that this should happen because they do not see damsel in distress as a divinely appointed principle.

Damsel in distress in prophecy

In a previous post, I explained that at some point in the future, the women of the church shall be ordained to the male priesthood orders, and that they would fulfill the prophecy of the wicked, ruling daughters of Zion found in Isaiah 3:12-23. My next post on the orders of the priesthood was an extension of the daughters in Zion post. This post may also be viewed as an extension of the same topic, but in this post I would like to unfold that Isaiah prophecy some more and also tell what will happen afterward.

The return of the order of the Nehors

Given that there are forces at work to subvert the damsel in distress doctrine, both within and without the church, it might be asked, what would be the result of total subversion, meaning these forces completely unfolded? The answer to that question is this: when there are no more damsels in distress, there is no more need for rescue or a rescuer. In other words, there will be no more need for salvation and for a Savior, for all are saved and no one is in distress and all can rejoice. In other words, complete subversion of damsel in distress leads to Nehor’s doctrine.

And it came to pass that in the first year of the reign of Alma in the judgment-seat, there was a man brought before him to be judged, a man who was large, and was noted for his much strength.

And he had gone about among the people, preaching to them that which he termed to be the word of God, bearing down against the church; declaring unto the people that every priest and teacher ought to become popular; and they ought not to labor with their hands, but that they ought to be supported by the people.

And he also testified unto the people that all mankind should be saved at the last day, and that they need not fear nor tremble, but that they might lift up their heads and rejoice; for the Lord had created all men, and had also redeemed all men; and, in the end, all men should have eternal life.

And it came to pass that he did teach these things so much that many did believe on his words, even so many that they began to support him and give him money.

And he began to be lifted up in the pride of his heart, and to wear very costly apparel, yea, and even began to establish a church after the manner of his preaching. (Alma 1:2-6)

Notice, in particular, that Mormon describes Nehor as being “lifted up in the pride of his heart” and he said that he began “to wear very costly apparel,” which is a similar description to how Isaiah described the wicked, ruling daughters of Zion in Isaiah 3:12-23. The daughters of Zion, then, spoken of by Isaiah in those verses, will be Nehors.

A change in conditions

Subversion of damsel in distress and the rescuer principles can only happen during times of economic prosperity and peace, for when women have money and can provide for their own, and have no need for protection, or can purchase it with their money, they do not need to be rescued by any man. Therefore, the Lord will deal with His wicked daughters by changing the conditions among men, taking away the prosperity and peace, so that Isaiah 3: 24-26 and Isaiah 4:1 will be the next thing that happens, ushering in an immediate re-installment of the damsel in distress and rescuer doctrine, for all women left alive will be in distress and will look to any man left alive to rescue them. Thus, all those who remain alive will be humbled to the dust.

And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle a rent; and instead of well set hair baldness; and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth; and burning instead of beauty.

Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war.

And her gates shall lament and mourn; and she being desolate shall sit upon the ground.

And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach. (Isaiah 3: 24-26;4:1)

Now, the Lord’s plan is to use the same instrument to distress the wicked, ruling daughters of Zion as He did the ancient Nephite women, namely, Lamanite aggression. All those souls that survive shall repent of their sins and cleave unto their husbands, and the husbands unto their wives.

What of the righteous?

These prophecies speak of men and women who will, in their wickedness, confound the gospel doctrines of damsel in distress and rescue, but one might ask, will the righteous, meaning those who promote and support these divine principles, be among the people of the Lord when the prophesied destruction takes place? The answer is, “No.” The Lord will remove all of His people who obey His laws to places of safety prior to the Lamanites being sent in, but know this: prior to that time, all those who refuse to support any philosophy of (wo)men that subverts the Lord’s damsel in distress principle, will be tested with persecution. So, plan accordingly.

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