Here’s the question. When you imagine Adam and Eve in the garden, do you see them as naïve? Not me. Innocent? Absolutely! Naïve, certainly not. In chapter 2, verse 25, we read that they were both naked, yet felt no shame. But their lack of shame was not because they did not equate nakedness with sexuality, rather because there was no cause of guilt. Their nakedness and their sexual relationship were precious to them, gifts from their Father, gifts to enjoy, in a place named “Pleasure.”
If we perceive sexuality and the pleasure we are humanly capable of experiencing as a base, temporal ecstasy, we neglect one of the primary contexts of Biblical interpretation, chronological. Adam and Eve had a sexual relationship before the “apple incident.” Sexuality was part of God’s perfect plan for humanity living in a perfect place.
Have you ever considered the purposefulness in God asking Adam to name the animals? In verses 19 and 20 of chapter 2 we are told the purpose, beyond the practical benefit of the names; God wanted Adam to have an epiphany, “I’m not supposed to be alone here.” Do you think that Adam did not yet have hormones? Do you think that Adam’s body was not already demonstrating the unique ability for a sexual encounter? Do you think that Adam had not already observed within the animal kingdom the beauty of pro-creation? He was innocent, not guilty of any wrong doing, of any kind, without shame, but not naïve, not childish. He was a man, a man longing for who he would soon join with as one flesh (verse 24), Eve. I am not suggesting their sexuality was the only celebrated aspect of their monogamous, devoted, passion for one another. As we will discuss in a later article of this series, there are many essential components to intimacy, sexual being just one. Our focus on sexuality is because I am passionate about the concepts of sexuality and sacredness not being viewed as mutually exclusive. Pleasure is sacred to God and so should be to us.
Back to Adam and Eve…after their disobedience, they clothed themselves, not because they were ashamed of their sexuality but because their nakedness was also symbolic of their spiritual condition, they had nothing to hide. Now, after having disobeyed God, they were ashamed, hiding in the garden in their first haberdashery. We must not confuse the concept of being self-conscious and self-aware. They were now self-conscious, in the sense that they were embarrassed for having committed their first sin against God, who had only and always loved them and provided for them an idyllic existence. They had however always been self-aware, aware of their sexuality, aware of the bliss of sexual pleasure, aware that God had given them the gift of ecstasy of which they had never been ashamed…and neither should we!
May our shame be associated with all that deserves sorrow and remorse, all that we do that we should not and all that we do not that we should…but within the bounds of holy matrimony, Eden is ours, pleasure is still our Father’s gift, a gift that enables us to return to Genesis in the midst of our fallen world.