Random Thoughts

Original Sin: Revisiting a Biblical View

Is it according to the Bible that each person is conceived in sin just as each one carries the burden of the sin of the first man and woman? Wasn’t the taste of the forbidden fruit in Eden the awareness of physical attraction in man and woman? Wasn’t the Tree of knowledge actually the knowledge of the process of creation, of love, of sex?

I won't like to reflect on how sex knowledge degenerated into sin. But, I am convinced the Bible does not decry sex. Nor is sex something bad (or equated with sin): “The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage” (Luke 20:34) and “whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtained favour of the Lord” (Pro.18:22). Thus, marriage is not only physical union but also God-ordained, divine institution: husband and wife are conceived as one flesh (Mk.10:6-8; Eph. 5:28-31) and are expected to stay together, love each other as their own flesh (Eve is created out of Adam's flesh, his rib.)

Because God created human beings as male and female (Adam and Eve), He created sex and ordained the institution of marriage (or sexual union in any socially acceptable form) to bind man and woman together as husband and wife, not necessarily to procreate (there is plenty of procreation without marriage!) but to lead a family life through love and sex (Matthew 19:4-5).

It is God’s design that we enjoy life, be happy, be one flesh in coitus, and thus glorify Him in body. As I understand, reading through the Bible, sex is the source of happiness in equality, in oneness of man and woman.

To my mind, in Biblical Christianity, it is sin not to believe, not to have trust, not to have hope and love. Christianity stands on the basic tripod of Hope, Faith and Love. And, sin is essentially progressive, personally committed (not inherited), and both forgiven and unforgiven.

Maybe, one is right that the original sin relates to violation of the divine commandment, not trusting God but Serpent/Satan/ Lucifer, who was out to destroy sense of righteousness God had originally imbued Adam and Eve with and to pass on the same values to their children. They faltered and thus, sinned, and were consequently banished from Eden; they were the first man and woman who failed to keep their trust in the commandment of their creator and so, committed the archetypal sin (or original sin). They lost their freedom to live in the kingdom of God; they fell from Glory, lost their (good) image in the eyes of God. They broke the covenant and so, they were deprived of the good fruits of their labour or acts in Eden. (Various sects of Christianity tend to offer their own versions of the original sin, which may be contradictory to Biblical meaning.)

Now, to me all these have symbolic meanings, too.

Adam signifies the heavenly spirit of Adam, and Eve His human soul. The tree of good and evil (or knowledge) signifies the human world; for the spiritual and divine world is purely good and absolutely luminous, but in the human world is light and darkness, good and evil, exist as opposite conditions.

The meaning of the serpent is attachment to the human world. This attachment of the spirit to the human world led the soul and spirit of Adam from the world of freedom to the world of bondage and caused him to turn from the kingdom of God to the human world. When the soul and spirit of Adam entered the human world, he came out from the paradise of freedom and fell into the world of bondage. From the height of purity, glory and goodness, he entered into the world of good and evil; he descended from unity to differences, to sin. The story is a symbolic presentation of spirit's attachment to the physical bondage; attachment to the earthly world, in relation to attachment to the spiritual world, is considered as a sin.

It is sin to get away from the Essence of Oneness, from perfection of Eden to imperfections of the earthly existence, going farther from exaltation to humiliation.

Let's also remember Adam had no father or mother, he was created by God in His own image, with absolute perfection; he was a living soul; he came into existence from the Spirit of life.

Corinthians 15-22 states; “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” If I try to understand its meaning, it seems Adam is the physical nature while Christ is the spiritual nature; that is, the physical nature is born of Adam, but the spiritual nature is born from the bounty of the Holy Spirit. This spiritual nature of all perfections appears through the breath of the Holy Spirit, which is light, spirituality, exaltation, love, grace, glory and kindness to all; the essence of life. Christ is the central point of the Holy Spirit; He is born of the Holy Spirit (i.e His Reality does not descend from Adam). Adam is the cause of physical life of mankind; he is the father of human beings, but he cannot provide spiritual life. Christ is the cause of spiritual life of man; his is the spiritual fatherhood.

Perhaps, we can also say sin is the consequence of the power of the physical world (as exemplified by Lucifer, who was its captive, evincing anger, jealousy, hatred, pride, avarice, cruelty, ignorance etc.) and its demands, imperfections, sufferings and death. The Reality of Christ, the “quickening spirit”, is a promise of eternal life, happiness, heaven.

I doubt it is reasonable to believe that by eating the forbidden fruit, Adam became the cause of the death of humanity. If Adam was a sinner, what is the sin of Abraham? What is the fault of Isaac, or of Joseph?

In fact, through Christ, the believing souls attain absolute perfection.


More by :  Prof. Dr. Ram Krishna Singh

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Comment Adam in the story of Genesis is a mythical construct of the biblical authorship determined to give an account of the origin and destiny of a particular nation of people, but starts out as a universal myth of man’s origin. And there we have it, for even in today's usage of the term 'man' we have a single representative term for 'all men'. We say, for example, man is above all other animals, or man is the cause of the world’s woes, or man has conquered space. This is no particular man we refer to, yet in a sense it implies a collective individual. We simply replace the name Adam by the term 'man'. Adam in the myth of the garden of Eden stands for man as in all men, and Eve for all women. Thereby are they representative. The myth has significance for the whole of humanity. Christ, by contrast, is a historical individual, but as in Adam, Christ is ‘man’, the clue to this being his own self-endowed title of the ‘Son of Man’. It is said that all men sin in Adam and therefore as ‘man’ are redeemed by Christ whose humanity subsumes all mankind or ‘man’.

To think of Adam in the myth of the garden of Eden as an historical person in his own right, and Eve, for that matter, is premature, and confuses the all-inclusiveness of man in Adam in the myth with an historical individual in his own right subsequently. Indeed, the biblical authorship signifies the fall of Adam’s representation of man one with his being cast out of the garden, when indeed, he becomes de-mythologised and sets out on a new tack as the genealogical head of an elected people destined to be restored to favour in God’s sight. Clearly, in genealogical terms, all men are not descended from Adam, though being represented by Adam in the Garden of Eden. Fallen Adam’s narrow genealogical line of descent yet holds the seed of an event as extraordinary as the myth of the Adam in in the garden of Eden and as all-embracing in its representation of man in the historical Christ, who, genealogically descended from the mythical turned historical fallen Adam, resumes by his divinity the representation of ‘man’ as the new Adam in whom by divine grace we are raised to life eternal.

16-Oct-2015 21:32 PM

Comment By eating forbidden fruit, Adam created human beings. It started procreation and thus build up world of people Human beings are creation of God. On his wish and by his blessings human beings are created, Creation is not sin but His Wish. He creates both
bad and good. Also He Destroys bad and blesses good(Mahabharat). Chistianity, and Islamism,and Judaism are the ways of life ordained by God so is Hinduism. Sufferings and imperfection come and go. so is happiness and wealthiness. Mind we should live as true sons and daughters of God, the all mighty and benevolent.

pranlal sheth
15-Oct-2015 02:56 AM

Comment @ "I doubt it is reasonable to believe that by eating the forbidden fruit, Adam became the cause of the death of humanity."

The way it was explained to me is that Adam defied God's law; His word that do not eat from this tree. The fruit of the tree did not cause any permanent inheritable sin in man. It is like contempt of court that was the problem; God being the ultimate judge. If we accept Adam as the progenitor of humanity, the death/sin is inherited through him. It may also mean death of the divine spirit in man/woman and not necessarily physical death. It is the quickening spirit of Jesus that you are born again in spirit. These narratives or stories are like human algebraic equations and should not be cause of acrimonious debates. I do not know about Islam but Judaism, Christianity and Hinduism teach that a child is born with (original) sin.

Before I conclude, my compliments to the author for writing such a thoughtful discourse.

Prasad Rao
13-Oct-2015 19:07 PM

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