Unsettled Christianity

Gloria Dei homo vivens – St Irenaeus
March 6th, 2015 by Joel Watts

Kelly Gissendaner and the Consequences of Adam and Eve

Figures 003 Eve gives the fruit of the Tree of...

Figures 003 Eve gives the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of which she had eat to her Husband (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Paradise. A garden to care for and to be cared for by, but in this garden was something terrible. In the center was forbidden fruit. God had given all of creation to two people, Adam and Eve, but forbade only one thing: to eat of that fruit. Enter the serpent, that ole crafty crook. There, he tricked the woman into eating that fruit. She then enticed the man into eating the fruit as well. A verdict of guilt was handed down — with the woman at fault, but the man suffering the consequence.

The immediate consequence was pain in childbearing for her and hard, unappreciated work, for him. The extended consequence was that the human race was now separated from God and thus dying. Sin had entered into the world.

All thanks to Eve who ate the fruit and then forced/led/seduced/enticed Adam to do the same.

Kelly Gissendaner is on death row, with several attempts by the State of Georgia to lay waste to her body via the justice system. Thus far, they have been prevented due to the conditions of the drugs to be used in lethal injection. If you are unfamiliar with the story, Kelly killed her husband and is now facing the death penalty for her actions in holding the knife and driving it into her husband’s body 8 times.

Except she didn’t. Rather, in 1997 she forced/enticed/seduced Gregory Owen (her man on the sly) to kill her husband Douglas Gissendaner. Douglas was granted a life sentence, with the possibility of parole in 25 years (from conviction). To be fair, Kelly was offered the same plea deal but refused because she maintained that she did not actually kill her husband. She wanted only what the actual killer got. The prosecution, as we know, won with the defense that Gregory was simply Kelly Gissendaner’s weapon (homicidal maniacs don’t kill people, the girlfriends do):

“Yes, Greg Owen took a knife and stabbed Doug Gissendaner to death, but Kelly Gissendaner is more responsible,” lead prosecutor Phil Wiley said. “She got him to do it. Why? Greed. Pure and simple greed…Greg was Kelly’s weapon in this case, her instrument.”

Kelly Gissendaner has admitted to conspiring with Gregory Owen — as Owen himself has admitted. This much is known and accepted. However, the sentence remains what it is — the prosecution argued that in the end, the wild seductress that she is, she deserves to be put to death rather than the man who savagely (and yes, while murders are brutal, some are more savage than others) murdered another man.

Our legal system places more blame on the woman than it does the man. Is that because Kelly Gissendaner forced Gregory Owen to kill Douglas Gissendaner? No. According to records and testimony, Gissendaner and Owen conspired together and worked the plan together, although only one stabbed the husband 8 times. But, the prosecution suggested it was more of the wife’s responsibility than the boyfriend.

We know from experience that this is not the only time this happens. In many instances, when a woman is raped, people blame her.  In cases of abuse, even abuse caught on camera, women are to blame — even if they are the ones who end up in the hospital. And yes, women are sometimes blamed when their husbands are brutish oafs, and the marriage ends in divorce (note this pdf from the last 1800’s/early 1900’s). Women are blamed for the end of marriage, the lack of quality dates, and even the end of men. And yes, there is even now a “War on Men” from the same people who have brought you the “War on Christmas.”

The Georgia prosecutors knew exactly what to do and how to present the murder. Kelly Gissendaner is the one who is the ultimate sinner — because she is the actual murderer because she seduced her boyfriend with sex in order to kill her husband. Thus, boyfriends don’t kill husbands — wives do.

At no point should you think I think either one is innocent. Both are guilty. If one dies so should the other one. While I believe that our prison system should be about rehabilitation, I do not believe her rehabilitation should drive her clemency.

We must stop repeating this story and stop repeating the story badly.

If you ask most people, the fault lies with Eve. After all, she was the first one to take the fruit and then to give the fruit to her husband who had no choice but to eat it.  Only a few people will read closely enough to note that Adam was alongside Eve during the discussion with the serpent. Further, only a few people will notice that Adam’s defense for eating the Fruit is an accusation against God: “The woman YOU gave me…” The man did not blame the woman, but blamed God.

Women don’t entice men to eat fruit, the God who gave the woman to the man does.

Perhaps our world would be different if we took responsibility for and control over our own actions. Finally, stop reading Genesis 3 as a reason to blame women for the evils in the world or for the actions of depraved men.

Joel Watts
Watts holds a MA in Theological Studies from United Theological Seminary. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians, as well as seeking an MA in Clinical Mental Health at Adams State University. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

Comments

14 Responses to “Kelly Gissendaner and the Consequences of Adam and Eve”
  1. Know More Than I Should says

    Merely blaming Bronze Age Hebrew mythology for Gissendaner’s plight is too simplistic.

    Much of American legal system is based on English law as established by the conquering Normans. The Normans were originally Vikings. After establishing themselves in Europe, the subverted Christianity to suit their purposes.

    Because the Normans were better churchmen than they were Christians, their theological legacy was a curious mix of barbarian Christianity.

    After conquering England, William the Bastard — known more politely as William the Conqueror — and, later, Henry II created a legal system insuring their grip on power.

    This is why, even today, the American legal system is more about power than it is about justice.

    • I think you missed the point. Our justice system is deeply flawed, but the point of this was is that we have no issue blaming the woman and giving her harsher “justice” because she “deserves it” — with something of that stretched back to the Adam and Eve story and how we are instructed to view women.

      • Hmm i never felt instructed to feel that way towards women. If god is all knowing and all seeing I am sure he saw that coming . It was intended to happen one might think .

  2. Know More Than I Should says

    Think iceberg or elephant. While you’re preoccupied with the tip to tail, I’m pointing out that there’s something bigger attached.

    Nor have I previously ignored your point. More than likely, somewhere in my past replies to various posts, I’ve said something to the effect one of the primary purposes of organized monotheistic religions is to keep women in subjection for breeding and sexual purposes.

    If I’ve failed to do so, let me make that point now by pointing out that organized monotheistic religions screw women both literally and figuratively!

    However, Gissendaner’s legal problems may be less a product of inherited Hebrew mythology than a legal system in which the justice dispensed of often determined by the ability of a defended to hire a competent defense team.

    Beyond that, jury selection is often a crap-shoot. In Gissendaner’s case her real crimes may have been not being born with good looks and then hatching a murder-for-hire scheme in a death penalty-happy state.

  3. bthomas says

    Mrs. Gissendaner acted with calculation and premeditation in the first degree murder of her husband. She initiated, planned and participated in the murder. She was rightfully convicted of that crime. She deserves the death penalty for that crime. It is a failure of justice that her boyfriend will only do time in prison for his part in that murder. Had he not been able to work a plea bargain giving evidence in exchange for a lesser sentence, he would rightfully face the same death penalty. Had Mrs. Gissendaner made the same deal, she would be facing prison time rather than the death penalty. Her situation is unusual. Historically very few women ever face the death penalty regardless of the nature of their crime. Her real crime in this case is that she murdered her husband. Her appearance, etc., are irrelevant.

    • Know More Than I Should says

      What people deserve and what they get are often two different things.

      Since the 1960s, it has been demonstrated in both criminal justice and civil litigation that the relative attractiveness of the defendant correlates to jury decisions. In other words, as in other areas of life, appearances count in the courtroom.

      As the Bible points out, man looks on the outward appearances of a person. Those gifted with physical good looks are often presumed to have more positive qualities than are less attractive appearances.

      About 1/3 of states do not have the death penalty. Hence, had Gissendaner be found guilty in one of those 18 states that have abolished the death penalty, she would not have been sentenced to death.

      Statistical demographics suggest that virtually all death row inmates were unable to afford legal counsel. Gissendaner had two court-appointed attorneys.

      Not everyone thinks Gissendaner deserves the death penalty. In addition to death penalty foes, Catholic theologian Tobias Winright wrote an open letter appealing to Georgia’s governor to not execute Gissendaner.

  4. In this particular case, the sentence is well deserved. Hopefully impediments to capital punishment will be removed in those states were activists have substituted other less appropriate measures. In a case such as this, anything less than the death sentence is raw injustice to the victim and rank disservice to society which must bear the cost of providing for such criminals.

  5. Know More Than I Should says

    Lots of luck! States have been banning capital punishment since BEFORE the War Between the States. The trend follows an exponential curve modeling the Number-of-States-With-Total-Or-Partial-Death-Penalty-Ban = 1.4012e0.0148 Times-The-Calendar-Year.

    In many ways, abolishment on capital punishment mirrors the prohibition on paddling in public schools. Only, in the case of corporal punishment, 19 states still permit padding. All are in the South. Likewise, 8 out 10 state-sanctioned executions occur in the South.

    Much like discredited early 20th century forced sterilizations of presumed undesirables, capital punishment is little more than an ancient purification ritual based on the rotten apple theory. As a deterrent, it has proved to be tits on a bull useless.

    As practiced in the United States, capital punishment is applied both arbitrarily and discriminatorily. Statistically, those on death row tend to be poor, black, and defended by court-appointed attorneys. Often, these defendants were convicted using junk science. As a result, even the innocent can be executed.

    In addition, the five methods of execution are flawed. Those favoring the death penalty usually have never killed anyone face to face. Whether in war or capital punishment, these armchair executioners typically want the dirty work done by someone else. They have no idea how many things can go wrong with these things. That’s the real reason why executions are carried out behind prison walls.

  6. bthomas says

    So… the decline of standards in public school mirrors the permissiveness of the left-wing liberal political agenda? Got it.

    To equate eugenic experimentation with capital punishment is without any basis of support. It would be more appropriate to equate the extreme practices of eugenics with the liberals who pressed it as a way to reconfigure society. This is currently closely reflected in the support by liberals of the practice of industrial process abortion which typically impacts disproportionately minority groups.

    The judicial process in this nation is beyond error. As long as human beings are involved, there will always be the possibility of error. If there is legitimate reason to suspect a error, the case should obviously be reviewed. In the overwhelming vast majority of cases, there is no legitimate doubt. There is no excuse to allow the criminal to avoid being punished for their crime. That is true for those who rob a bank. That is true for those who murder their husband. In this case, the sentence fits the crime. There is no legitimate reason to reconsider the case.

    The most common method of execution is lethal injection. There are no problems with the procedure that cannot be completely addressed by simple common sense and training. Those carrying out the procedure should certainly be appropriately trained. Then, when a death sentence must be carried out, they can do their job without any unnecessary problems. That will be best for them. That will be best for the victims.

    • Know More Than I Should says

      Before extolling the virtues of public education past, it might be worth exploring its origins. The term American public education is a misnomer. It’s actually Prussian.

      The problem conservatives have with the current version of public education is that it strayed from its intended purpose — turning out a cheap, obedient, patriotic, and mindless workforce.

      The great fear of elites is that the masses will question the system. Thus, so the thinking goes, the vast majority must not be allowed a meaningful education beyond 8th grade proficiencies.

      Three decades ago, conservatives thought if they could just get rid of the National Education Association, it might be possible to salvage public education. Failing that, they decided to gut it with No Child Left Behind.

      More recently, as revealed by a bill introduced in the Oklahoma legislature, their solution is privatization. The Oklahoma privatization initiative is a win-win for corporations. Not only to they get to churn out mindless minions, the get to profit therefrom.

      Putting blind faith in the American criminal justice system suggests a failure to understand its origins. Once again, the it’s not American. Rather, it is Norman. It’s purpose is to consolidate power rather than promote justice.

      Problems for death penalty states using lethal injections began in 2005 when the European Union EU restricted exports chemicals that could be used for either capital punishment or torture. Since then, the market has dictated restrictions. European chemical companies don’t want to go out of business just to keep American merchants of death happy.

      Until 2010, the American manufacturer Hospira Inc. produced sodium thiopental for executions. Since then, Hikma Pharmaceuticals and its American subsidiary West-Ward Pharmaceuticals are among European corporations that are restricting export of chemicals components necessary for lethal injections. These includes Denmark’d Lundbeck Inc., a supplier of pentobarbital and Germany’s Fresenius Kabi, maker of propofol.

      The European export restrictions led death-penalty states to experiment with various chemical concoctions — essentially using death row inmates as guinea pigs similar to those conducted in Nazi death camps. In turn, this violates the Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishments.

      Examples include the 2014 botched executions of Dennis McGuire in Ohio and inmate Michael Lee Wilson in Oklahoma. It took McGuire 26 minutes in apparent agony. Wilson’s searing last words were: “I feel my whole body burning!”

      As carried out in the United States, the death penalty is eugenics. Those mostly likely to be on death row are poor, black, and represented by court appointed attorneys. Oddly enough, with the exception of attorneys, this was the same demographic most likely to be sterilized in the early 20th century.

      As Dorothy Roberts pointed out, “America has always viewed unregulated Black reproduction as dangerous.” In fact, the origins of Planned Parenthood can be traced back to early 20th century eugenics!

  7. No educational process is entirely and completely free of any actual or perceived bias. Every process has a desired outcome. A general liberal education does not well suit a increasingly technically oriented world. The public school system is a effective system by which to educate the vast majority of children. Much of the current problems with that system and the graduates it produces stem from broken homes and families. The children who attend public schools in many cases lack basic home support necessary for them to be successful. That is a problem which no legislation can resolve. That is a problem that must be dealt with by the parents.

    Justice is not blind. Neither is anyone who looks at the legal system. It is not a justice system. It is a system of law. That is all. About all one can expect is an occasional modicum of justice from the legal system. It doesn’t matter if the origin of that system is rooted in Roman, English or Napoleonic thought.

    Discounting the now predictable hysterical hyperbole, the process of lethal injection is not difficult. There are sufficient combinations of drugs available. The market will supply demand for those drugs. It is a simple matter of the market functioning. If artificial restraint is imposed, demand will be met from other sources. As reviewed by the courts, the death penalty is not cruel or unusual punishment, partisan bias not withstanding.

    Eugenics as practiced in the United States is best seen in industrialized abortion. Its impact on minority communities is direct and disproportionate, the consequences are long term. Those unborn children who are killed are not guilty of any crime. They are simply inconvenient, judged unworthy of life simply because they get in the way of society. This is very much in contrast to the death penalty which is applied to those who are judged guilty of capital crime. It is that simple. They are criminals sentenced under the law as the consequence of their own actions. They are not condemned to death for being alive. They are condemned to death as punishment for their crime.

    • Know More Than I Should says

      In the name of informed consent, the purposes of any compulsory education system should be made clear to those forced to endure it. Much like its churches, modern American public schools exist to instill blind obedience and little else.

      Beyond a basic functional 8th grade level, the majority of Americans are only permitted a technical education. This denies them access to the broad spectrum of knowledge necessary to question the system. This paradigm was enshrined in the 50-25-25 Rule after passage of the Smith-Hughes Act of 1917.

      As further proof, it is suggested that, by 2035, half the American workforce will be replaced by robots. Given the proliferation of early 21st century hacking, the mid-21st century should make for interesting technological times.

      Meanwhile, one of the curious things about technology is that, as it evolves, operating it requires LESS education rather than more. A century ago, those wishing to drive automobiles had to possess some mechanical skills. That is no longer the case. Half a century ago, operating a computer necessitated programming acumen. These days, preschools play with computers.

      The problem of broken homes is being resolved by parents. They’ve stopped having children. According to a recent Census, the birth rate in the United States is the lowest since 1920.

      Once the people cannot distinguish between the evils enacted by lawgivers and the deeds committed by the lawbreakers, a civilization is doomed. Those in power would do well to read Isaiah 10 and carefully consider its implications.

      Lethal injections become infinitely more difficult if chemical manufacturers stop supplying lethal drugs. While the death penalty may be neither cruel nor unusual, experimentation in death is barbaric by any reasonable ethical standards.

      At its core, early 20th century eugenics revolved around who should or should not have children. Those decisions were mostly in the hands of conservative white men before Adolph Hitler put eugenics on steroids — giving the notion of white Northern European supremacy a bad name.

      After World War II, advances in technology and access to education gained from their contribution to winning the war gave women the ability to decide for themselves whether they wanted to have children. As a result, conservative white men are now pitching a hissy-fit because of their inability to control THEIR women!

      The notion of fetuses as children is a product of the same legal fiction that granted corporations the right to personhood. Such folly in high places has not been seen on this earth since the Roman Emperor Caligula officially elevated his horse to the position of priest!

  8. Know More Than I Should says

    Since black slaves were freed following the War Between the States, white America has been preoccupied with maintaining an illusion of white superiority.

    Legal segregation as enshrined in Plessy v. Ferguson was just part of the story. So were intelligence (IQ) measurements and forced sterilizations. Even the birth control movement that eventually became Planned Parenthood owes it origins to an attempt to curb the black birth rate!

    White America has likewise used the nation’s massive criminal justice system to both vilify and incarcerate a sizeable chunk of the black male population. Then, it openly wonders why blacks don’t trust police and riot when white police shoot unarmed black teenagers!

    Now, although it has nothing to do with blacks per se, the focus has shifted to gay marriage. That’s why, according to South Carolina state Republican senator Larry Grooms, “[Outlawing homosexual marriage] has to do with the propagation of our species.”

    Who does Grooms think he’s kidding?

    As of the 2010 Census, South Carolina had 4,625,364 people. The same Census recorded the United States as having a population of 308,745,538. Never mind the rest of the world — estimated in 2010 to be 6.9 billion — less than 1 1/2 percent of the United States population lives in South Carolina according to the 2010 Census!

    The “species” Grooms really wants to save is his precious white race — which, over the course of the past half century, has been declining as a PERCENTAGE of the American population! Put another way, white women stopped being baby mills.

    This preoccupation with maintaining white superiority also serves to explain the Republican war on abortion and birth control — known among liberals as the War on Women. If they could, Republicans would not only nullify Roe v. Wade (legalizing abortion), they’d negate Griswold v. Connecticut (making birth control a private matter) and restore an enhanced version of the Comstock Act (labeling birth control information as pornography).

    The way Republicans have it figured, if they can just get rid of abortion and birth control, white women will go back to being married, pregnant, and in the kitchen. Why, this time around, they’ll even let ’em wear shoes!

    For more on the Grooms story go to:

    http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20150311/PC1603/150319874/1177/-x2018-convention-of-states-x2019-bills-to-change-us-constitution-move-forward-in-sc-senate

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