“At first, Adam and Eve lived in a condition that is described as ‘paradise’ or the ‘Garden of Eden.’ They were ‘naked’ but ‘not ashamed’ (Gen 2:25), because they knew nothing of the experience of evil, sin, or corruption.”[1] I was taught that original sin had to do with sex in some way, but I don’t think that is supported in the Bible. I believe Adam and Eve enjoyed this god-given union with great pleasure, not corrupted in any way by sin and rebellion. I know it’s not until chapter four that we read that “Adam knew his wife and she conceived…” but that’s referring to conception of a child and not necessarily the act of sex itself. Radmacher rightly says, “Because the man and the woman knew only good, they were not ashamed even though they were both naked. They were comfortable in their physical bodies, in their sexuality, in their relationship, and in their work—with no wrongdoing. The wording of vv. 24, 25 suggests the couple experienced sexual relations in the garden as a part of their God-intended experience.”[2]

Chapter 3 of Genesis will inform us of how innocence was lost through rebellion against God’s command to not eat from the knowledge of the tree of good and evil. Since that time, we’ve all had guilt and shame and long to be back into the relationship with God once experienced in the age of innocence in the Garden of Eden. Joni Mitchell wrote the song “Woodstock” to celebrate that immoral event where drugs and sex were the means of the day to get back to Eden. She even added a line in her song. “We are stardust, we are golden, and we’ve got to get back to the garden.” What garden do you think she was talking about! There is a way back into the Garden, but it’s not through sex or drugs. Jesus said the only way back to the oneness with the father is through personal faith in the Son. It is through faith that we may hear as the thief on the cross heard, “today you will be with me in paradise.” I like what Johnson says, “As we become more deeply convinced that God is God—altogether of another order of being than us and absolutely righteous, even in his anger—and our shame and guilt get resolved in the cross, our intellectual opposition will increasingly acquiesce in grateful reverence.”[3]

Paradise is ours through faith in Christ. The hymnist wrote, “There is a fountain filled with blood Drawn from Immanuel’s veins And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains.” Our shame is gone. That’s why baptisms in the early church were sometimes done in the nude. Chrysostom wrote, “After stripping you of your robe, the priest himself leads you down into the flowing waters. But why naked? He reminds you of your former nakedness, when you were in paradise, and you were not ashamed. For Holy Writ says, “Adam and Eve were naked and were not ashamed,” until they took up the garment of sin, a garment heavy with abundant shame.”[4]

[1] Bray, Gerald. 2018. “Humanity’s Fall into Sin.” In Lexham Survey of Theology, edited by Mark Ward, Jessica Parks, Brannon Ellis, and Todd Hains. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[2] Radmacher, Earl D., Ronald Barclay Allen, and H. Wayne House. 1997. The Nelson Study Bible: New King James Version. Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[3] Johnson, Eric L. 2017. God & Soul Care: The Therapeutic Resources of the Christian Faith. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic.

[4] Louth, Andrew, and Marco Conti, eds. 2001. Genesis 1–11. Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.