The creation of males and females: why?
Posted 10 April 2003 - 10:45 AM
Returning back to the discussion on the creation of males and females and the nature of sexual union: this is one topic on which a reader of the Fathers must be careful to read the Fathers widely. It is all to easy to receive a one-sided impression from a selective sampling.
Quotations from John Chrysostom have been given to show his understanding of sexual reproduction as a consequence of the sin of primal humanity; but no mention has been made of Irenaeus, who very explicitly understands sexual procreation as intended and intentional from the first moments of the human economy (though Adam and Eve had to develop to a state wherein they would be 'ready' to engage in such an act). It is true that there is a preponderance of support for the view of sexuality as a result of the 'fall' (someone here has already mentioned that the concern over the 'flesh' has always been strong); but there also exist other views that have an important place in the patristic witness.
The issues are well compared in Fr John Behr's monograph, Asceticism and Anthropology in Irenaeus and Clement (Oxford: 2000), which treats the views of each of these Fathers -- addressing in particular their differing conceptions of the role of sexual procreation in the economy.
Posted 09 September 2007 - 04:06 AM
"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
Wow! This is beautiful.
0 user(s) are reading this topic
0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users