The Apostolate of the Laity

Waxing philosophical in communion with one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.

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Location: Portland, Oregon, United States

I am just a sinner who holds fast to the notion that every human being on the planet is the result of a thought of God.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Surviving the Fall

In the study of Adam and Eve, so often one has the tendency to focus on the negative that was their experience. They had such a great start and it ended so terribly bad for them. First, a review of the good they were given by The Lord.

In one account God breathes life into man at his creation.

Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.
Genesis 2:7

The Creator did not just deposit a spirit within a biological organism; rather He created the incarnate soul. A being unique to His creation. This was new. Unlike the angels, archangels, cherubum, and seraphim, this created being was physical and spiritual in nature. So powerful was this act that scripture reveals that The Lord does not breathe on humanity again until His own incarnate nature, Christ, breaths on the Apostles to impart the Holy Spirit upon them and gives them, His Church, the authority to forgive and retain sins. The physical Church imbued with its spiritual character. No other church or religion on Earth was given such a gift.

And God provided for man all that he needed. In such a perfect state of grace, the concept of want must have been foreign to him; yet in his solitude he knew he was not complete. In His mercy The Lord created from the center of man, his rib, woman to be his compliment and he to be hers. There exists no physical description of Eve; however, free from sin and in a state of perfect grace she must have been extraordinarily beautiful, though Adam would not have been stirred by concupiscence. His exclamation that she was "bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh" was the highest superlative. And seeing the good within each other, they were married by God first, and then they made love.

Too often the phrase "both were naked and not ashamed" gets assigned a Western thought. The idea that Adam and Eve were able to look at each other's naked bodies and think nothing of it. In Hebrew, the language in which Genesis is written, being naked in the context used here is a euphemism for the sexual act. The fact that they had intercourse with no shame indicates that it was righteous act. Notice, too, that the purpose of sex as a strictly pro creative exercise never gets inferred here. Adam and Eve made love because it was in their very ontology to freely give themselves to each other. Humanity's fallen nature tainted by lust likely prevents one from truly visualizing how beautiful this union must have been.

Further evidence of this use of the word naked in the context of a sexual act can be found in the Leviticus. Chapter 18 serves a laundry list of various people The Lord commands one not to engage in sexual relations.

Married in the light of paradise, they had the world at their feet and the fate of humanity in their hands. Enter Satan and Adam's gravest action which was not the partaking of the fruit, but rather the failure to protect his wife. Scripture reveals that Adam was with Eve when she was tempted by the serpent. Did he try to stop her? He knew the consequences revealed by God for even touching the Tree of Knowledge, but nowhere in scripture do we read the words of Adam,

"No, Eve! Don't!"

Did all the other beings in Heaven gasp? Was there an eerie silence as all of God's creation witnessed the fall of these most beautiful creatures who were made in the very image and likeness of The Most High? Did the choir of angels who continuously sing their praise to God miss a beat? One can only speculate.

What is known is that suddenly the second context of the Hebrew word for naked gets introduced. This one, again goes far beyond the Western context of modesty, for it was reserved for describing the hopelessness of the slave, the criminal, the condemned. This was a loss of honor and dignity. In Middle Eastern thought, to claim one's dignity, one dressed in the finest most extravagant clothes. The longer the train the better. Notice the Pharisees with their lengthened fringes or the jealousy inspired by Joseph's coat in the latter chapters of Genesis. Adam and Eve sewed fig leaves in an attempt reclaim the dignity they lost.

And yet despite the tragedy that befell our first parents, one amazing thing survived. They lost paradise. They lost their dignity. They gained pain, and toil, and death. But the one thing that even falling from grace could not take away...was their marriage. Adam and Eve saw the epitome of for better and for worse, and the marriage that God authored survived even their own fall from grace.

"For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder."
Mark 10:7-9

This is why marriage has been elevated to the dignity of a sacrament in the Catholic Church. And this is why divorce is not an option for those whose marriage is sacramental. Marriage is not just a contract between two people. Marriage is not just a social construct to be redefined to meet the whims of the culture. Marriage is not a pawn to be played by the gay community in their vision of equal rights. It is a sacrament so beautiful and powerful that it can take a direct hit brought on by the fall of man and survive. Why? Because its author is God.


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