Few biblical events have such far-reaching consequences as those recorded in Genesis 3. These events have shaped, and continue to shape, the life of every single human being; and it is impossible to understand the Bible, human history, or our own lives apart from the events recorded in Genesis 3.
The temptation of the first couple, Adam and Eve, recorded in this chapter, is a historical fact. But it is not just their story; it is ours as well. Not only are we caught up in the consequences of their choices, but Satan has also employed the same strategy of temptation in every succeeding generation. So we can profitably read Genesis 3 to gain insight into the tactics of the Tempter and the nature of the seductions that come our way every day. That, however, is not our main purpose in this booklet. Here we are looking at this passage specifically for what we learn about the effects of sin on our sexuality.
Genesis 3 is a theologically dense chapter, with the entrance of sin, the penetration of death into the human experience, the first glimmerings of God’s redemptive promise, and the encounter of humanity with the consequences of their own sin and life in a fallen world. However, it is important to note the complete absence of any suggestion that this first human sin was sexual in nature or involved sexual misconduct. Sexual intercourse is not the original sin, as some have falsely suggested. But it is true that Adam and Eve’s sin caused God’s intent for marriage and our sexuality to be marred and scarred.
At the conclusion of the creation account we are told, “the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed” (genesis 2:25). The recognition and celebration of human sexuality in the context of the first marriage is positioned as the crowning glory of God’s creation. Over this unclad twosome God himself pronounced the judgment, “It [is] very good” (genesis 1:31).
This depiction of the original couple, bearers of the divine image, has obvious erotic connotations as they experience pure pleasure in their encounter with one another, body and soul, within the framework of a God-originated marriage. Their uncontaminated sexuality is a magnetic call to deeper intimacy as each delights in the other. They stand before each other in the garden God had prepared for them. There is no shame or fear that their partner will find them to be in some way unworthy or inadequate. The woman stands before her man in her God-given femininity; the man stands before his woman in his God-designed masculinity. The two move together in dignity, harmony, and holy physicality, marvelously completing and complementing one another.
Sadly, that is not the way the story ends, and Genesis 3 traces the tragic path from the way it was to the way it is now.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”
And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
The Lord God said to the serpent,
“Because you have done this,
cursed are you above all livestock
and above all beasts of the field;
on your belly you shall go,
and dust you shall eat
all the days of your life.
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.”
To the woman he said,
“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing
in pain you shall bring forth children.
Your desire shall be for your husband,
and he shall rule over you.”
And to Adam he said,
“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
and have eaten of the tree
of which I commanded you,
‘You shall not eat of it,’
cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken; for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.”
The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.
Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life. (genesis 3)