Sex, Gardening, and Science: Reflections on Humanity, Family, and Theology
by Ted Tschopp
A Theological Exploration of Sexuality, Science, Relationships, and the Nature of Evil in the Light of Genesis
I just finished Children of Men the book this weekend and it got me thinking about humanity, family, sexuality, science, and relationships, and the nature of evil. Here is where my thoughts led me.
One of the fun guidelines in theology is when something is established before the fall of man in the Garden of Eden you can use that information as a guideline in regards to both heaven and our calling now as humans. If we go back to the first 2 Chapters of Genesis we get a couple interesting things.
The first I would point out is that before the fall we were the first of creation to be mentioned as sexual. We know that animals are sexual, and that plants can be male or female. But part of being who we are today is that I am male and not female. Our sexual identity is part of our creation and part of our eternal natures. Church theologians have stated that our sexuality will be something that we carry into heaven with us.
God put Adam in the garden to work it and to take care of it. Today I think as a whole Christians tend to forget that we are called to tend the garden that is our planet. We should remember that this work that we are given is not something that is commanded of us after the fall. This was our calling before the fall. It’s also interesting that Adam can’t get it all done himself so God helps him in the task by creating woman. This is a task that ties into our human sexuality, and it is a task that ties into the first love story we see in the bible. There is something very basic, earthy, and primal about gardening.
Finally it is noted that God allows man to name all the animals. While this story is a part of the great love story between the first man and the first woman, the naming, classification, and understanding of nature is one of the chief ends of science. We see God showing off all his creation to Adam, and asking him to take part in knowing it and understanding it. The study of nature and science is something that is instituted by God himself with man in the garden before the fall. The gulf between science and religion that we see today is a false dichotomy. I believe that science and the study of knowledge will continue into eternity.
What is so weird about the above is that the serpent doesn’t attack any of the above when he tempts us. It isn’t science, or gardening, or our sexuality that he attempts to corrupt. He attacks our relationship with our creator. When God steps in and finally curses man, and all creation with him, he doesn’t take any of these gifts or commands away, they just become sources of pain and suffering. God says our relationships will be troublesome. Our sexuality will be strained. We will have problems in being fruitful and reproducing. We will no longer be able to tend the garden with full joy; there will be pain. And finally man is removed from Eden.
I can’t pass this up without saying that before God curses the earth and man, he alludes to the way out. His plan is that He will “… put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”
I believe that God’s answer to the problem of man’s rebellion and the curse upon nature was a Jewish man who walked this earth about 2000 years ago. He kept and completed the rules and laws that God put in place over time through the different covenants he made with man from Noah to Abram to Moses. He made these rules and covenants for several reasons. One reason was to show cursed man living in a cursed world what life was like before the curse. Another reason was to show a cursed man living in a cursed world how to interact with someone who isn’t cursed. Finally the rules were there to show cured man living in a cursed word what was required of him. When the Jewish man died he took my curse from the garden along with all the things I will ever do to make that curse worse to the grave to die there. He became my curse bearer. In exchange for all these curses he gave me the all the goodness that He had accumulated by keeping all the laws and rules.
Today I live in tension, waiting for the day when the curse will be lifted from the world around me and I will be finally free. I am a prisoner who is almost free. Someday I will again be a sexual being who is free from the curse. I will be a gardener who no longer suffers the futility of the earth today. I will be a scientist who seeks to know more about the creator and His creation without fault or error. I will finally be free.