The creation of males and females: why?
Posted 24 July 2002 - 04:07 AM
Posted 24 July 2002 - 01:24 PM
This is going to be cryptic as I've just got home from working at my part-time job. Some of the points that will be raised have been addressed on other threads.
(1). The most basic point is quite obvious; that is, it is stated in Holy Scripture that God created woman to be a help-meet for man. The Genesis record reads that after naming all the animals, there was none found that was compatable with Adam. And so, we have the first afternoon nap.
(2). Multiply and subdue/rule over the earth. This necessitates difference in the sexes (a can of worms there).
(3). One of the lessons from the book of Job, is that the spiritual world governs the physical (stay with me here). In the sacrament of marriage(SIDEBAR- from the Apostle Paul the truth is learned that we are stewards of the mysteries of God. It's the stewards responsibility to properly manage the affairs/property of his Lord and Master. Ecclesiasties tells us "..rejoice in the wife of your youth, whom you have by divine covenant from God".) The witness of both the Old and New Testaments is that "the two shall become one". There will be no more individuals, but one single identity, which as Paul said there's much to hinder. Therefore when someone gets close, what a witness to the world!
(4). If the husband and wife become one here on earth, where the spiritual world governs, and there's not two but one; then, in heaven the true reality of which this is but a foretaste as we walk in obedience to the Master, there is neither male or female. The truth is realized, we're here for one thing, to worship and praise God, we are the bride of Christ, sharing in His divine nature (the two have really become one)in a glorified body.
Have I sufficiently muddied the mental waters for you; if so, please forgive me.
Whether or not this sounds like warmed over Protestant theology, someone please tell me.
The unworthy servant
Posted 25 July 2002 - 06:23 AM
Thank you for your post and question, which I found interesting. But I wonder if you truly believe that God never does things here on earth that He would not (or does not, or will not) do in heaven? One seems to see, on the contrary, that the Trinity acts in many ways within the human economy that are directly based upon the freedom of the human will and, at many times, the sin in which that will is engaged. Such actions are designed to direct humanity to the Kingdom, rather than simply to impose the Kingdom upon humanity.
With respect to the distinction between males and females in the human creation, the reflections of the Fathers are indicative of the human inability to 'know' the divine will, which Owen mentioned in his above post. Some of the Fathers speculate that Adam and Eve were originally indistinct (i.e. that there were no phyical/physiological differences between male and female), and that sexual distinction and sexuality came about only as a result of the fall into sin. Other Fathers speculate that the perfect 'indistinction' of the angels, which will be the lot of all those in the eternal Kingdom of God (including human beings), was not meant to be a part of the earthly economy, and thus sexual differentiation was 'built in' to the created state of the first humans. Still others indicate that the sexual differentation of male and female was purposed as an iconic revelation of the relationship of Christ to the Church (for how could Christ be iconic of marriage, and marriage of the Kingdom, if such things were not part of creation?).
But ultimately, the Fathers recognise that there are some aspects of the divine economy which are beyond the revelation given to man. This is one.
Posted 28 July 2002 - 04:36 AM
But I wonder if you truly believe that God never does things here on earth that He would not (or does not, or will not) do in heaven? One seems to see, on the contrary, that the Trinity acts in many ways within the human economy that are directly based upon the freedom of the human will and, at many times, the sin in which that will is engaged. Such actions are designed to direct humanity to the Kingdom, rather than simply to impose the Kingdom upon humanity.
I am sorry but I do not understand what you are saying here. Could you please clarify this for me.
Posted 29 July 2002 - 01:29 AM
Matthew I would like to thank you for attempting to answer this question..however I do not buy those three theories you put forth especially the first one. I simply cannot understand that..it seems that reading Genesis would contradict this.
Such would be the reason, as I mentioned, that the three patristic speculations I mentioned in my previous post were never put forth as dogma by any of the Fathers -- even those who speculated upon them. They were simply reflections on the 'how' of a situation that is beyond human knowledge and God's direct revelation.
You also wrote:
Re: "But I wonder if you truly believe that God never does things here on earth that He would not (or does not, or will not) do in heaven? One seems to see, on the contrary, that the Trinity acts in many ways within the human economy that are directly based upon the freedom of the human will and, at many times, the sin in which that will is engaged. Such actions are designed to direct humanity to the Kingdom, rather than simply to impose the Kingdom upon humanity."
I am sorry but I do not understand what you are saying here. Could you please clarify this for me.
My comment here was made in response to a question you had posed in your original post: 'why would God do one thing here on earth and another thing in Heaven?' The essence of my response, above, was that the Holy Trinity often acts in ways that are a response to the choices made by free humans. By giving man free will, God has brought Himself into the economy -- has agreed to be 'bound' by the freedom He has granted to man. God does not act in such a way that man's freedom is impinged, even if that means that God 'must' act in a way that He might otherwise not act, were humans not sinful in their freedom.
Of course, we must be careful in such discussions not to assign any necessity to God: God's 'requirement' to act in response to human freedom is in actuality His own choice, the outpouring of His love in concrete form in the human economy.
With regard to the specific issue of the creation of two sexes, this is largely a tangental comment: whether or not God's creation of humanity in two sexes was a foreseen response to future human sin is an issue that is not dogmatised by the Fathers.
Posted 29 March 2003 - 07:32 PM
I guess I do not quite understand this quote. According to Chrysostom, he seems to be stating that marriage is not necessary and something that can about as a result of the fall.
"Observe when this [ie. Gen. 4:1] took place--after the act of disobedience, after the fall from paradise; that is when he began to cohabit with Eve. For before the act of disobedience they imitated the angelic life and there was no question of sexual union." John Chrysostom, On Genesis, 18, 4
"But we, made confident by God the Word that was made flesh of the Virgin, answer that virginity was implanted in man’s nature from above and in the beginning. For man was formed of virgin soil. From Adam alone was Eve created. In Paradise virginity held sway. Indeed, Divine Scripture tells that both Adam and Eve were naked and were not ashamed...But they will perhaps ask, what then is the meaning of 'male and female,' and 'Be fruitful and multiply?' In answer we shall say that 'Be fruitful and multiply' does not altogether refer to the multiplying by the marriage connection... The precept of the law, therefore, is to be taken in a more spiritual sense. For there is spiritual seed which is conceived through the love and fear of God in the spiritual womb, travailing and bringing forth the spirit of salvation. " - John of Damascus, Exact exposition of the Orthodox faith, 4, 24
These two quotes seem to be saying that God never intended sexual union between a man and a woman. My question is, why create male and female? If procreation was never intended by God, then why did he create male/female? What is the purpose of Adam having a helpmate? To help tend chores or grow spiritually? The thing is, if that was the reason why then not create another Adam from the soul and not his rib? Why would God, even with our fall, do something he never intended to do?
Posted 29 March 2003 - 08:28 PM
"When Adam was created, he remained in Paradise and there was no question of marriage." From what I understand, before the Fall God had intended that man would multiply in a manner other than by sexual relations. However, we are told that the period that Adam and Eve spent in Paradise was one week before they disobeyed. While we might ask, how could mankind procreate without a physical union?, we will never know. God had given Adam governance over Paradise, a place of great beauty. When he was cast out, God told him that he would have to labour, suffer and die. Had he been obedient to God, his life, and hopefull ours, would have been different. We experience great sorrow when a loved one dies, because to die in such a manner is not what God intended, it is a result of ther Fall. The Virgin Birth of Our Saviour, while being a special act of God, also indicates that it would be possible for a woman to bear a Child without having known a man. As we read in the verses for the Feast of the Annunciation, as the Angel Gabriel was coming from Heaven to announce to the Mother of God that she would bear the Saviour of Mankind, he thought to himself, "Who is this woman, who will hold in her womb He Who holds the universe in His Hands?" And then, he saw Her... As in your quote from St. John of Damascus, virginity was the true nature of man in Paradise. Of course, this is hard for us to understand, since we have no notion of life in Paradise, but live in the world that Adam and Eve inherited after the Fall. As in any case of an event that took place, not only long before we lived, but which is in a spiritual realm that we cannot comprehend, we now must live the life that man has been Given By God. Years ago, when I lived with a bishop as his secretary, a seminarian who was visiting us kept pressing the point of your question and another concerning Evolution. After patiently listening, and having given many very good answers, His Grace finally said, "I'll tell you what, George - struggle very hard and attain salvation, and when you get to eeaven, you can ask Adam yourself, I am going to say my prayers and retire for the night!" How man might have procreated is a mystery, the knowledge of which God Himself knows. I know that this is not a deep theological answer. but in many cases, we can be be comforted and put at peace if our approach is simple. So much of what we read in the Holy Scriptures is difficult to understand, for the words are not just words, the Bible is not just a history, but the history of the mystery of Salvation. We read about how, in the lives of the Desert Fathers, a monk who had been living in the desert in seclusion for forty years, came upon some verses he could not comprehend. Running out from his dwelling, he looked to the heavens and shouted, "For forty years I have fasted, suffered from the heat, the cold, severe fasting, fierce winds, and wild animals for Your sake, and Y will not let me understand this passage!" He stormed back into his little hut, and after a few minutes, he heard someone moving outide. He stepped out ot see who it was, and there stood a Angel of God, who said to him, "Now, what is it you want to know?" You and I have not reached that spiritual level in which God will send us an angel to understand something we have read. If you thnk of it, there is so much of our Orthodox Christianity that we don't understand, and that is where our faith comes in - the willingness to believe God's Word and the word of those whom the Holy Spirit has inspired to understand and interpret for us. Don't let such thoughts and questions disturb you. Marriage and physical union is what God has given mankind, and look, it produced you - in the Image and Likeness
Posted 29 March 2003 - 09:22 PM
Posted 31 March 2003 - 07:59 AM
Posted 31 March 2003 - 11:02 AM
I have never heard an Orthodox priest say that sexual relationships are evil and nowhere in my extensive reading of Orthodox texts have I ever been given this impression. A sexual relationship within marriage is one of the blessings of being married. Nothing that God created is evil – men make natural things evil. Surely everything else on this subject is theoretical - we are human and part of nature
and until it is time for us to die and leave our human bodies we need to appreciate the fact that we are alive and that we have been created the way we are.
Sex is evil when it is used as a method of humiliation, dominance, etc.
As I understand it, celibacy is advocated as a means of conquering the body (passions) when a person feels the need for a closer relationship with God.
Posted 31 March 2003 - 04:14 PM
I'm new on here...and I happened to read a great article concerning this topic by an orthodox priest. I think it's one of the best answers I've every come across ever.
To begin with we need to look at what sin is. God has created us in His image. We are to acquire His likeness: i.e. become like Him. This is done by our working together with the grace He always gives us to think, speak and act perfectly. We are *all* sinners in that we fail to greater or lesser degrees in this calling. He forgives us as we come to Him asking for His pardon and help and gives us the chance to start all over and learn by our mistakes. This process is something similar to the way we learned to walk as babies: we fell many, many times, but we kept at it until we got it right. Our parents were there to help us up at times, to encourage us, to applaud us, and to console us when we hurt ourselves in our falls. God is like that only much more so, for the energy to rise up again also comes from Him. *We* however must make the decisions to rise up and not stay down.
Now as for sex. God has made us male and female. We complete each other by being in union with each other. This was the case with Adam and Eve. This Bible story shows us that this sort of union is to be between a single couple - two people, a male and a female. A very profound part of that union is the sexual act by which these partners "know" (Biblical word) each other most intimately. Body, soul and spirit enter into this act. God has made it so that there is a particular ecstacy in the accomplishment of it. This may be seen both as a reward and the encouragement to keep on surmounting the various obstacles one meets in uniting with another person - who is the same yet also not the same as you are.
It is probably getting clear to you where this is going. If you are thinking this means one partner in a totally committed relationship for life, you are absolutely right. That in fact *is* the ideal. That is the way it should be. It is often not the case. People die and people get divorced. Marriage is one of the Holy Sacraments or (prefered term) Mysteries. Out of compassion for humans and in order for them to keep on fulfilling their destiny of growth in union, re-marriages are permitted as a concession and are still Holy Mysteries. (There is also the way of monasticism where people fulfil their vocation by being dedicated to God directly instead of through/with a partner as in marriage).
People also have sex before marriage and outside of marriage. From the above you will have noted that, since this is *not* the perfect/proper condition for the sexual act - such actions are sin. Sin can be repented of and we can learn from our falls. But it is important that we view sin as sin - you can not repent of that which you do not consider to be sinful (although in the Orthodox Church we *do* ask for forgiveness of sins we have committed "knowingly and unknowingly"). And it is a mistake to do something wrong just because we know we can repent of it and learn from the sin. We should not take God and His forgiveness for granted, just as we should not take our friends and family for granted and be uncaring towards them just because we know they will forgive us. We should always try to be, to do our very best!
Popular culture: movies, television, pop songs, advertising, etc. often tells us something else. It seems to say that *all* sex, if it is entered into by mutual consent and gives pleasure is okay. A person who wants to abstain, to wait for true love and commitment - sealed in a Church Mystery - may be viewed as uncool. Because popular culture is so influential we may even view *ourselves* as being uncool or *old-fashioned*. Also we have our hormones and our drives - our need to be held, touched, consoled, to have pleasure - pushing at us, particularly when the word "love" is used. No, it is not an easy thing to hold out for the perfect, right way.
But it *is* heroic! And that is what we are called to be: HEROES! Jesus said we should be as perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect. And that means that we *can* be! We should aim for the very highest: hitch our wagon to a star so to speak. If we fail - as we so often do - we can still keep on striving to get there. We repent, get up and keep on going.
By the way, pop culture also tells us how painful and hard the way of love can be. A great deal of this pain is a result of the heartbreak that comes from people being easy-going with the their use of the word "love" and hurrying to do things which give pleasure without the commitment and the maturity to follow-up with the lasting, sweeter pleasure of a life-long, caring, respectful, self-giving relationship. They offer their bodies but not their hearts, not their selves. How much pain could be avoided by heroic waiting!
I hope this has been helpful. Our merciful and loving God Who created us to grow to be His friends forever will help you in your search to know and become what you must become. He inspires such questions and searches for answers and gives us the strength to keep on searching and trying to follow the path He has given us to walk upon. Be patient. Be strong. True love waits.
Very Rev. Ihor Kutash
Posted 31 March 2003 - 04:44 PM
The Fathers did not say that sexual relations were wrong, just less than optimal in devotion to God. And yes, the teaching is very similar to the Roman Catholic one, though I think that lowering sexual relation to an "evil" would follow more from Augustine than the Eastern Fathers.
Hellenism, hence Hellenistic Christianity has always had problems with "the flesh."
Posted 01 April 2003 - 08:12 AM
Thank you for reenforcing what I have always been taught as an Orthodox Christian. I guess what I was trying to point out in my post was how dogmatic some of the earlier posts were sounding without realizing what some of the conclusions to those beliefs would be. I am always suspect of any dogmatic belief that states that sex was not a part of the creation from the beginning.
Posted 01 April 2003 - 08:13 AM
I enjoyed reading your message Vicki and it was helpful. I often feel fed-up with the life-style that is presented as the norm in most films. It seems that no matter how many sexual partners a woman has it’s OK. She meets her “prince charming” and he not only accepts the fact that he’s not her first lover but actually seems to feel that there would be something wrong with her if she were a virgin. This Prince Charming story was unrealistic when brides were supposed to be pure –it’s even more so now that they have kept the Prince Charming part (which was never life-like anyway) and merely updated the woman’s part. How about a realistic script where two mature adults get together, fall in love, accept each other’s virtues and faults and decide to get married knowing just what marriage entails. This probably isn't romantic enough for most writers.
Everyone has the right to decide how to live his or her life but children are influenced by what they see and hear. The last 30 years have proven that the children who grew up in the sixties and who are now the parents and even perhaps grandparents of today’s children have an abnormally high rate of divorce and that the family unit in countries like the US etc. appears to be disappearing fast – in fact, it seems to be disappearing all over the world.
Posted 01 April 2003 - 04:25 PM
I'm so glad you brought up the film industry and its influence on popular culture.
Notice that it comes from, and appeals to the realm of imagination. Also, being a largely visual medium it titilates through the eye,to which the male is particularly susceptible in the areas of arousal.
Thus, by comparison with what various of the desert fathers have said with regard to struggle against the passions, we come to see that the film industry behaves at times like the very demons which beset those fathers.
I'm also glad that you referred to the "double standard" and the wrong way the media tries to defeat it, by lowering the standards of women to the bestial rather than raising those of the men to the human.
Not that there isn't an audience for all this. It wasn't until the (no doubt male) invention of scientific profilactic for women that women gained the "freedom" from their own bodies, (i.e., potential for pregnancy)that women could be lured into male profligacy on such a grand scale. And then, as you say everyone wants someone who is "experienced" that can only have come from learing on someone else. Gone is the scriptural teaching that one is one flesh with ones sexual partner as long as that partners flesh lives this side of the veil.
It is sad. We must teach our children the joy of tenderness in learning our one and only partner as we grow together in true love.
And one last thing. I think talking critically about what has gone on in any particular movie production after watching it together is a good way to bring evil to light, remembering that while there is intended good in human passion, giving in to temptation wily nilly is a devestating evil becasuse it leads away from God, and therefor from our own true humanity.
Posted 03 April 2003 - 12:44 AM
great to have you back posting. i agree with you wholeheartedly. media, movies, pop songs are injuring the minds of many youth, as indeed they did mine. although i always felt an inner disturbance about what was being expressed as popular, but i did little to resist as i got caught up in the tide of the times. i had a conversation with a close freind the other day, where i stated that i struggle these days to find something in life which is even remotely normal, let alone a little normal. the images, the role models(politicians, religious leaders) , hollywood actors blatantly push and promote very unwholesome lifestyles and are the spreaders of falsehood. the truth is squashed to oblivion because it just doesn't sell as well. shows like "sex in the city" strike like a sword at the foundations of family and religious life.
the internet although an amazing medium for communication, has at the same time allowed for access to every kind of pervesion with an ease and speed never before available. although technology should be there to serve mankind, it appears for many it has enslaved mankind whilst also taking prisoner people's souls. maybe we just aren't equipped spiritually do deal with the many temptations technology brings.
Posted 03 April 2003 - 03:43 PM
Whenever I have a query about our faith all I now need to do is look up the relevant information on the Internet, download it and study it. I have also downloaded a terrific Menologion that gives me a lot of information including the Saint’s Day, the daily Kontakion and Troparion, the daily reading and the time of year e.g. Saturday the 5th of April 2003 - 4th Saturday of Great Lent,Tone 7 - Oil and Wine allowed. This Menologion is a wonderful help to me because I was completely lost before.
As soon as I connect to the Internet in the morning the first thing I do is go to AudioBible http://www.audio-bib...ible/bible.html and pick a bible chapter that I listen to while I’m on-line. I’m up to Chapter 15 of St.John – just listening to the words of the New Testament while I’m working is relaxing.
What I wanted to say with all the above is that we, as adults, are able to pick and choose. Technology is neither good nor bad – how we use it determines what it is. Unfortunately children can’t pick and choose so they need to be protected until such time as they are able to do so.
Change of subject :
Isn’t Easter wonderful, Antoni? I love this time of the year. At the moment the women are going crazy cleaning their houses all day and then going to church in the evening. Being able to read about why everything is done the way it is has really helped me as I’ve already mentioned. Lent is a period of cleansing and reflection. And it culminates in the wonderful Easter resurrection when we once again enter into the glory of the Kingdom of God. Lent is the pathway to that entrance. Easter is such a wonderful experience here so if you decide to come to Greece again, Antoni, come at Easter. One of my ambitions is to be able one day to visit Jerusalem at Easter. God willing it will come about.
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