Added Feb. 5- Download Gods Plan for Sexual Intimacy Manuscript.
I’m preaching on sexual intimacy this weekend at Stonybrook, and I’m using the account of Adam and Eve as one of my texts.
I don’t view the creation accounts (there appear to be two of them) in Genesis 1 and 2 as science texts, but they do tell us how our spiritual ancestors viewed “the beginning”, and they have had a massive shaping influence on the Christian faith.
All of us read the Bible, and everything else, through a particular set of lenses. These lenses are our preconceived notions about the text. Before we ever read it, we have a mental framework in place, and as we read, we understand the text within that framework. Of course, some Christians falsely believe that their preconceived framework is the ONLY way, or God’s way, of understanding a text.
Christians in North America are used to reading the creation accounts in Genesis 1 and 2 as a paradise lost account known as “The Fall”. A grown man and woman are placed in Eden. They eat literal fruit from a literal tree that is placed in the garden to test them. By eating the fruit, they fail the test, and are expelled from the garden.
It makes sense that this is the lens through which Christians often read the creation accounts because it removes all of the sexually charged material from the text. Every sermon I have ever heard on this text glosses right over words and descriptions that would normally be considered sexual in any other context.
Two people are naked in a luxurious park resort. They feel no shame. They are commanded to reproduce at some point in the future. They’re “eating fruit” from a “tree”. The fruit is forbidden (this reminds me of the Desperate Housewives TV show logo). They eat it anyway. There is talk of a woman’s pain in childbirth. Then they give birth to a son.
It would be surprising to some to know that Irenaeus and some other influential leaders throughout Christian history view “The Fall”, not as a simple tree/fruit test that the first two adults failed but as a humanity-coming-of-age story. They suggest that Adam and Eve were created as preadolescents and that their decision to “eat the fruit” was the decision to grow up too fast. John Walton’s Genesis commentary in the NIV Application series describes this well.
The only direct before and after statement made in Genesis is before eating the fruit “they were naked and felt no shame”, and after eating it, they realized they were naked and were ashamed. Interestingly, the Hebrew word for the serpent’s “craftiness” is very similar to the word used to describe Adam and Eve’s “nakedness”. Perhaps, it just means they were naive, or young, in contrast to the serpent’s cunning.
It has also been suggested that Adam and Eve had sex too early and that this is what eating the fruit suggests. It’s an hilarious thought that Eve had to be convinced to eat it, but Adam just ate it! He needed no convincing! Adam then blames God and Eve!
Here is a thought that I haven’t come across anywhere else, but I think is worth considering. It appears that in the Ancient Near East, marriages were arranged, and at least in some areas in the Ancient world, the man was often 10 years or so older than the woman/girl.
Perhaps, in Genesis, God is portrayed as arranging a marriage between Adam and Eve, but the original author assumed we would know that Adam is, say, 21, and Eve is 11 (women were often pledged to be married by their fathers that young or younger in the ancient world). Perhaps, Eve is not yet considered mature enough to have sex and reproduce, but Adam is.
The serpent has to convince Eve that she is missing out on something, but Adam needs no convincing. The two rush into sexual activity, “eat the fruit”, and they feel shame at their nakedness. Then later, they have sex again (Genesis 4v1) and produce a son together.
An argument against this is that Genesis 2v25 states that neither Adam nor Eve were ashamed of their nakedness. This could be used to argue that Adam and Eve were the same age and both preadolescents. Think about it, however. What man do you know, of any age, who is ashamed to walk around the house naked?!