Monday, November 26, 2007

Why Did The Sexual Interpretation Gone Out Of Vogue?
The interpretation that Adam and Eve somehow misused sex has fallen upon hard times. It's went completely out of vogue in mainstream Christianity. And the idea that our first parents engaged in an orgy with the devil and his demons is often ridiculed as simply a heresy perpetuated by the Moonies. Nevertheless, the interpretation that Adam and Eve somehow misused sex was held by the vast majority of the Church Fathers prior to Luther. And the interpretation that Adam and Eve engaged in an orgy with the devil and his demons was, according to Professor F. R. Tennant of Cambridge University, "widespread and ancient among the Jews" (F.R. Tennant, The Sources of the Doctrines of the Fall and Original Sin, Schocken, NY 1968, page 156).

Yet it's easy to understand why the Protestant reformers abandoned the notion that a sexual transgression was the cause of humanity's fall. By the time of Luther, Christianity had become very negative about sex and marriage. And much of this sexual negativity was a direct result of interpreting the sin in the garden as a sexual transgression. This led many Church Fathers to believe that sex itself was sinful, even within the context of marriage. So in many ways, the Protestant reformation was a reactionary response to a widespread epidemic of sexual negativity rampant at that time. It's no wonder then that the reformers, under the direction of Martin Luther, John Calvin, and others, rejected the various sexual interpretations almost entirely.In my judgment, such a knee-jerk response is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Certainly, I do not believe the Bible teaches that sex per se is inherently sinful. Yet I also think it's important to understand and appreciate the reasoning that caused the Church Fathers to arrive at those conclusions.

Yes, many of the Church Fathers were extremely negative about sex. And yes, their sexual negativity has caused thousands, probably millions, of sincere Christians to succumb to unnecessary sexual guilt, even within marriage. In this respect, the Church Fathers were surely off target. Nevertheless, their misguided teachings were, to a great extent, motivated by a belief that the sin of our original parents was, in some way or another, a sexual transgression. And there are plenty of good reasons to believe that indeed, Adam and Eve did sin sexually.