Have you ever cursed god

The auspicious curse of being a man

A contribution by

Dr. Fabian Vogt,

Protestant pastor in public relations, Darmstadt

Oh man! The very first conversation between God and man, described in the Bible, goes really wrong. No wonder! When God calls out: "Adam, where are you?", The then only man and his wife crawled fearfully out of a bush in which the two were hiding - allegedly because they were suddenly embarrassed to see them naked to become.

The first lie ...

And when God asks his prototypes in view of their surprising gain in knowledge whether they have broken his command and nibbled on an illegal, consciousness-expanding fruit, Adam and Eve also reject any guilt. Both declare with full conviction: "I? No, I am not responsible for it. "

Typical human: blame others

Well, what should God do there? He knows that the two are by no means innocent. You've bought something that wasn't meant for you. Typical human. And then they put the blame on others. Also typically human. Adam says: "It was Eve. It seduced me to eat the forbidden fruit. "Eva says:" It was the snake. She whispered to me. ”And God? He's getting mad. And properly! So mad that he starts to curse.

The curse of God

God says to the woman: “I'll make having children be a real ordeal for you. And you will be dependent on your husband in different ways. " On the other hand, he proclaims to the man: “I curse the field that you want to feed on. He shall bear thorns and thistles. In the sweat of your brow you shall eat your bread - until the end of your life. " Phew

"Beyond Eden" begins

With these harsh curses, humanity, which was still quite manageable at the time, begins its time "beyond Eden", which continues to this day. The time outside of paradise. That really cannot be described as a successful entry into a new phase of life.

Stereotypical gender roles in the "Fall of Man"

Now equality commissioners rightly point out that in this symbol-laden tradition of the so-called “fall into sin”, rather stereotypical gender roles are being spread: the woman as the “dependent bearer” ... and the man as the “sole breadwinner” - are we not now much further along? Yes we are Luckily.

The "curse of being a man"

But because today I would like to trace the "curse of being a man", I still dare to ask a little more gender-specifically. If only because the man in this story doesn't come off very well at first glance.

Music: Herbert Grönemeyer, When is a man a man

You shall eat your bread in the sweat of your brow. " With this curse God throws the man from paradise ... into the world. It's worth getting to the bottom of the ideals behind this story.

The image of men in advertising has nothing to do with "in the sweat of your brow"

Because at least one thing is immediately clear: "In the sweat of your brow" has nothing, absolutely nothing to do with the image of man that is so popular with us in the media and in advertising - and that we men usually find very attractive: the image of the irrepressible daredevil who has everything under control. We usually meet the cool guy who defeats the dragon, has the adventure and conquers the heart of the princess. In short: a hero, a noble knight, a whole fellow ... just a real man.

Not heroism, but dirty work ...

In this text: puff cake. None of that. "You shall eat your bread in the sweat of your brow. " That sounds like a lot of work ... hardship, trouble and dirt. And not for true heroism. If this text were in a job advertisement: No man would voluntarily apply for it. A sweaty workhorse that constantly has to fear for its existence - nobody wants to be like that. That's not a man, is it?

God makes it "cursed" difficult for men from the start

The fact is: God makes it really difficult for men right from the start, "damned" difficult to be precise. Because he imposes on those who would so much like to be the doers and the problem solvers, an existence in which they "With a snorting, panting face" stand there. That is what it is called in the Hebrew original. They will struggle desperately to survive. "Snorting and panting": That sounds pathetic. Only: What is meant by this picture? Let's take a closer look at that!

"In the sweat of your brow!" With this, God makes one thing clear above all on the threshold of paradise: “Life, you men, is no picnic. Nothing is given to you. At least not when it comes to basic social security. Your existence will be extremely stressful. Please make yourself aware of that. "

Quite a radical message

Quite a radical message. Because it throws up some beliefs that are often found in Christianity. At least I regularly meet women and men who are of the firm conviction: "If someone believes in God, it means that God gives this person a comfortable life." Consciously or unconsciously, many people carry the thought within themselves: "God has him." Order to make sure that I am fine. "

Believers are not promised an easy existence

The sentence "In the sweat of your brow" says no. He does not have. Nowhere in the Bible are believers promised an easier existence. Believers - just like everyone else - must face the elementary challenges of life. And anyone who proclaims a flowery message of prosperity in which faith quickly wipes away everything nasty has obviously overlooked this verse.

Announcement of a radical loss of control

"In the sweat of your brow" but also means: "Warning, man, you are not really in control of your life." Men in particular like to define themselves based on what they have achieved. What they "can do". Some are even convinced: “I will definitely bring my life to success on my own!” God's prophecy, on the other hand, is: "No, the field ... and with it life ... are and will remain full of thistles and thorns." This is the announcement of a radical loss of control.

The essential things in existence cannot be controlled. Again and again - figuratively speaking - thorns and thistles ensure that we do not harvest what we have sown. And because the field is also a symbol for quenching the “hunger for life”, God explains here: Anyone who thinks he can take care of his own happiness is lying in his pocket.

God's favor cannot be bought

That is why the reformer Martin Luther turned so vehemently against a church which in its time gave the impression that God's favor (or, in postmodern terms: happiness) could be earned, bought or even earned.

Man is only a guest on earth

"In the sweat of your brow you shall eat your bread - until the end of your life": The third part of the curse also shows the man his limits. And more fundamentally: God brings finiteness into play. Their mention of course also has to do with the fact that death is already a distinctive mark of existence outside of paradise. At the same time, however, the reference to death proclaims: “Man, please don't take yourself so seriously. You are only a guest on earth. A passerby. ”Literally, God says,“ You are dust! ”Not exactly a compliment.

The world isn't just about man

Adam is reminded on behalf of all men that the world does not revolve around him, that he is not indispensable, not irreplaceable and, above all, not immortal. The alleged “crown of creation” - the expression is not in the Bible, by the way - is in truth an extremely limited and endangered being who should not be too foolish about itself.

Music: Roger Cicero, take off your shoes

A basic existential conflict

"With the sweat of your brow you shall eat your bread!" At the beginning of his existence, the man in the Bible first gets a proper one between the horns. And the question is: Could it be that this pruning of the male ego is more than God's punishment for the destruction of the paradisiacal order of creation due to a "misstep"? In fact, much more: namely, showing a basic existential conflict ... which too often pressures men in particular.

"If you want to save your life, you will lose it."

For many men, one of the values ​​of real masculinity is still the ideal that they could take their fate into their own hands and save themselves. God, on the other hand, invites men again and again to overcome precisely this self-righteous attitude. Or as Jesus will put it later: "If you want to save your life, you will lose it."

Why does Jesus say such a thing? Quite simply: Because saving and quenching the hunger for life is God's job. According to the biblical understanding, God is the one whose love can give a person everything he needs to live.

A conflict between "I take care of me! "and"God takes care of me! "

In fact, it turns out that this conflict of "I take care of me! "and"God take care of me! ”pervades the entire Bible ... from Adam on. The best example: the controversy between Cain and Abel, told directly after the story of paradise. A classic “who gets more recognition for what they do?” Conflict that ultimately leads to murder and manslaughter: Cain kills his brother Abel. Why? Because a typical man wants his ego to be petted and to be celebrated for his successes.

The "heroes" of the Bible are almost all overestimating themselves

To be honest, almost all of the “heroes” in the Bible turn out to be quite overestimating themselves and failures. The so-called patriarch Jacob is a liar and a deceiver, Moses a murderer and King David an adulterer. The prophet Elijah takes refuge in the desert. And the prophet Jonah runs cowardly from his mission. Beautiful images of men ... Because of a role model.

This trace of failure reaches as far as Peter, who, as a self-confident disciple and great proverb-knocker, becomes a traitor - in a critical situation he denies having ever had anything to do with Jesus. Later, when Peter himself can no longer believe in himself, Jesus then asks him the question of trust: "Do you love me?" Jesus does not ask: "Hey, will you be able to do it in the future?" But rather: "Do you love me?" In other words: "Do you trust me - or just your own ego?"

The real challenge: looking for trust in God

If you look closely, you discover: The real challenge of all these biblical heroes ... these are not their adventures. The real challenge is that these men have to learn to seek their salvation not in their own ability, but in trust in God.

Music: Enrique Crespo (Arr.Klaus-Peter Schöpfer), Garden of Eden (German Brass)

Adam's rebuke an invitation?

"In the sweat of your brow you shall eat your bread." So in the Bible God curses Adam and casts him out of the Garden of Eden. I'm pretty sure that Adam's rebuke describes a typical male conflict - namely the one between the desire to be able to save himself and the biblical promise “God will save us”. But if that is true, then this curse also conceals an invitation. And it may even be extremely encouraging.

You don't have to play the hero

For example, with his supposedly unpleasant reference to man's limitations, God also says: "Man, relax! You don't even have to play the hero. " And exactly this realization can be incredibly liberating: “When you, man, understand that you don't have to play the hero to prove something to anyone, then that takes an infinite amount of pressure off you.

From God's perspective, the heart matters

Yes, if you accept that, from God's perspective, the essential things do not depend on your muscles, your successes and your deeds, but on your heart, then you will live much more relaxed. And then you will be able to make friends with your many shortcomings. ”Which is really good. The apostle Paul once put this liberating experience as follows: "When I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Corinthians 12:10)

No wonder: a man who can admit his weakness and his dependency is of course much stronger than one who seriously thinks of himself that he can and must produce his happiness on his own - and who will fail again and again.

New qualities of appreciation for the man

Admittedly, saying goodbye to the dream “I would really like to be a hero” is quite painful at first - but it shows again that what we call “faith”, i.e. trust in the presence of the divine power of life, anyway only begins beyond our own male or human possibilities. Where we don't try to develop a sense of self-worth, but let heaven promise us. Martin Luther once described this very clearly: "God doesn't love us because we are beautiful - because God loves us, that is why we are beautiful." Anyone who discovers this non-self-made beauty in themselves experiences a whole new quality of recognition.

Since the need for us men to cultivate the field on our own is obviously in our DNA, there will of course always be moments when it is difficult for us to believe, that is: that we do not have to earn love and recognition , but are already loved by God. But still worth it.

Music: Enrique Crespo (Arr.Klaus-Peter Schöpfer), Gate of Paradise (German Brass)

An invitation to see life realistically

The supposed curse "In the sweat of your brow you will, man, eat your bread" On closer inspection it turns out to be an invitation to see life realistically. And to perceive anew what a person can achieve for himself ... and what he can be given by God.

The following applies: If you don't always have the feeling that you have to work for happiness, you can really celebrate life. Because he trusts: God is close to me. And that ends the separation between God and man, which the Fall of Man story wants to tell in symbolic language.

"What makes a person really full, there is with God"

You could also put it this way: A man who feels safe with God will also find "In the sweat of his brow" Fulfillment. And he also entrusts his worries about daily nutrition to God. At least Jesus encourages us to do so. He once said: “Don't worry about your food. Your heavenly Father feeds you. " It sounds a bit as if Jesus were pulling out God's hidden invitation contained in this strange curse: “In the sweat of your brow you shall eat your bread”. More than that, Jesus says: "I am the bread of life." In other words: that which makes a person really full, there is with God.

The sentence "In the sweat of your brow" therefore describes the existential break between God and man - and at the same time invites you to reconnect to God ... hence the word "religion" ... from "re-ligere", "to reconnect again".

When I have to work in the sweat of my brow, I always try to do it cheerfully and calmly. Knowing: “Who I am and what satisfies my hunger for life does not depend on me. But there is someone who tells me that he loves me. "

Music: Joey Tempest (Arr.Erique Crespo, Klaus-Peter Schöpfer), The Final Countdown (German Brass)