Was Sex the Original Sin?

What was the original sin of Adam and Eve? According to many Jews and Christians, the answer is….sex. Was sex the original sin? And, if so, what does that say about sex today, even sex within marriage?

Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden

In the book of Genesis, God creates Adam and places him in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:8-15). Later, God creates Eve, and brings her to Adam in the Garden (Genesis 2:21-22). As an evangelical Christian, I believe in a literal Adam and Eve and a literal Garden of Eden. As a Christian apologist, I also find it interesting that, even within the mainstream scientific community, there is substantial support for the idea that every person on Earth can trace his or her lineage back to a single common female ancestor.  Some of my readers will challenge the notion that the Creation narrative in Genesis should at all be taken literally (even with the evidence for Mitochondrial Eve), and we can address that disagreement at a later time. For now, we’re going to address the topic of original sin according to how the book of Genesis presents the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. According to Genesis, was sex the original sin?

What was the Forbidden Fruit?

According to Genesis, God places one restriction on Adam (and later, by extension, Eve) with respect to the Garden of Eden. Said God to Adam: “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17).

The serpent enters the scene in the third chapter of Genesis and tempts Eve. We won’t go into the different avenues of temptation in this article. Suffice it to say that the serpent (who many scholars believe was Satan or Lucifer – and, for what it’s worth, I share that view) utilizes several approaches, appealing to different aspects of Eve’s nature and personality. Eve succumbs to temptation by eating the fruit, and then gives it to Adam. As soon as they eat, they realize they are naked, struggle to cover their nakedness, and then hide themselves from God.

Over the centuries, various scholars and theologians (from Jewish and Christian traditions) have speculated on the “forbidden fruit.” Some have argued for the apple. Others have said it was a fig. Others have preferred the grape. And still others consider the fruit to be metaphorical for sex. They say Eve wasn’t tempted to eat from a literal tree, but rather she was tempted to have sex with Adam – or, some say, with the serpent!

Was Sex the Original Sin?

Those who argue that sex is the original sin point to the fact that Adam and Eve experienced shameful awareness of their nakedness after their sin and tried to cover themselves (Genesis 3:7). If their sin was not sexual in nature, these folks ask, why would their nakedness at all be an issue? As we’re about to see, this is actually a very weak argument for the idea that sex was the original sin.

Allow me to give you four reasons why we can know that sex was NOT the original sin in the Garden of Eden:

  1. When God created Adam and Eve, there’s every reason to believe (and NO reason to doubt) that sexual and reproductive organs were included in that original creation (and NOT added later). Why would God give them sexuality (including both the biological capacity for sex as well as the emotional desire for it) if He didn’t want sex to be a part of their relationship?
  2. God tells them to have sex! When God brings Adam and Eve together, He tells them to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28). If sex is the original sin, then God is commanding Adam and Eve to sin! Clearly, God’s not doing that, and that means (and this is the really important point!), had Adam and Eve NOT had sex, THAT would have been the sin, because they would’ve been disobeying God!
  3. When God brings Eve to Adam, Adam lays out God’s standard for marriage and sexuality by saying: ”Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). The term “one flesh” has definite sexual meaning. This idea of one man and one woman being joined together in intimacy is God’s standard for marriage (and not simply Adam’s opinion), and it’s clearly reaffirmed in Jesus’ teaching on marriage in Matthew 19.
  4. Adam and Eve were naked before they sinned. Not only were they naked before the Fall, but it’s strongly implied in Genesis 1-2 (see the preceding three points) that they were having sex in the Garden before the Fall! If that’s true, then sex cannot possibly be the original sin, since God’s command for sex (as well as the first couple’s practice of it) precedes the Fall. Remember that, in Hebrews, marital sex is categorized as “pure.” It’s fornication (premarital sexual immorality) and adultery which God says He will judge (Hebrews 13:4).

Why then did Adam and Eve cover their nakedness after they sinned? The answer is simple. Remember that the entire Garden of Eden narrative, while literal, is an object lesson with profound lessons on purity, obedience, humility, pride, openness, and much more. Nakedness represents complete openness. Adam and Eve were shamelessly naked before the Fall, because they were completely open with each other and before God. Once they sinned, that openness became vulnerability and they sought to cover themselves accordingly.

To those readers of mine who question the above paragraph, I would simply say that, even if you dispute my understanding of Genesis 3:7-11, it still doesn’t overturn the four points above — four points which represent a powerful argument against the flawed idea that sex was the “forbidden fruit.”

The bottom line is that Adam and Eve weren’t prohibited by God from having sex. They were prohibited from eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

What’s the Big Deal about Eating Fruit off a Forbidden Tree?

If the original sin isn’t sex but really is about eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, some may wonder: “What’s the big deal?” The answer is simple. God designed the entire scenario of Adam, Eve, the Garden, and the talking serpent to be a test for Adam and Eve as well as an object lesson on sin and disobedience. When Adam and Eve obeyed God, they were humbling themselves before God and submitting to His authority. It’s not really about the fruit itself so much as it’s about obeying God.

When Adam and Eve ate the fruit, they disobeyed God. They listened to someone else other than God (namely the serpent) and they made a decision to act on that information (what the serpent told them) without even so much as asking God about it. This demonstrated a lack of trust or faith in God as well as a self-oriented desire for pleasure and greater enlightenment apart from the plan and parameters provided by God. One could argue then that the original sin was pride, namely elevating their interests, desires, and reasoning above the commands of God. It was pride, after all, that took down Lucifer and a third of the angels and it’s the sin of pride which God singles out repeatedly for serious condemnation in His Word.

The original sin then is pride and the resultant disobedience to God. The original sin of Adam and Eve was not sex. Marital sex is not a sin. It is God’s idea. It’s His gift to married couples and His way of joining husbands and wives together and in perpetuating the human race. Too many Christians have shackled themselves with unhealthy attitudes about sex within marriage. It’s time we remove those shackles by getting clear on God’s plan and intentions when it comes to marital intimacy.

Is Dinesh D’Souza Credible? What D’Souza’s Troubles Teach us About Hearing Messages From Flawed Messengers

To many people, Dinesh D’Souza is a criminal, adulterer, and hypocrite – and nothing he says or writes should be regarded as credible or worthy of our attention. D’Souza, a well-known author, pundit, and documentary filmmaker, is of course no stranger to controversy. But the nature of the current troubles and controversies surrounding D’Souza raise serious questions about how we as a society should assess the credibility of authors, public figures, and everyday people in general.

The Rise of Dinesh D’Souza

Born in India, D’Souza came to the United States as an exchange student in the late 1970s and went on to attend Dartmouth College, where he became a strong voice for conservative principles. After Dartmouth, D’Souza began a long and fruitful career as a conservative author and pundit, working over the years for several politically conservative organizations and publications (and briefly for the Reagan administration in 1988). D’Souza’s conservative writings drew regular praise from fellow conservatives and frequent scorn from the Left.

By the mid-2000s, D’Souza was well known as a conservative author and speaker, and he began to branch out into public and academic debates surrounding Christianity. His 2007 New York Times bestseller What’s So Great About Christianity? is an excellent resource for anyone studying Christian apologetics. D’Souza debated several atheists on college campuses around the country, including (the now late) Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, and Dan Barker. Before long, D’Souza was as popular in evangelical Christian circles as he was in conservative political circles. And, as D’Souza well knows, the two audiences quite often overlap. The high point of his evangelical popularity was being invited to assume the presidency of New York-based King’s College, a small (but growing) Christian college. It was a prestigious post, which he could maintain while filling speaking engagements around the country – in churches, political gatherings, and the like.

D’Souza’s popularity hit the proverbial stratosphere in 2012 when he released 2016: Obama’s America, a documentary film based on his 2010 book The Roots of Obama’s Rage. Like the book, 2016 argues that Barack Obama’s political philosophy and agenda derives from his late father’s anti-colonialism and from a psychological desire to fulfill his father’s dream of diminishing the power of Western imperial states. Many have heaped scorn on the film’s (and book’s) claims concerning President Obama, but (to be fair) D’Souza convincingly demonstrates that at least Obama’s father and many of Obama’s early (and, in some cases, lifelong) political allies most certainly harbor anti-western and anti-colonial attitudes and perspectives. Regardless, 2016 is the second highest-grossing documentary in U.S. history (Michael Moore’s Farenheit 9/11 takes the top spot) and the best-performing conservative political film of all time.

Though he had his share of critics, Dinesh D’Souza was riding high for most of 2012. He was well-respected in both conservative and evangelical Christian circles. He had a presence in academia, filmmaking, conservative policy-making, and evangelical Christianity. Even those who didn’t like him personally or agree with his views were compelled to regard him as a force to be reckoned with. And then the bubble burst.

The Fall of Dinesh D’Souza

In October 2012, news broke that D’Souza, a married man, was apparently having an affair with (even engaged to) another woman: Denise Joseph. As the controversy spread, D’Souza acknowledged that he and his wife, Dixie, were separated (something that was not widely known) and that he was now engaged to Ms. Joseph. D’Souza denied the relationship was sexual, but that fell largely on deaf ears. It was later revealed that Ms. Joseph was herself still married. These revelations resulted in his termination as president of Christian-based King’s College in New York. Before long, D’Souza suspended the engagement, while still moving ahead with a formal divorce from his wife. Now a divorced man, D’Souza’s reputation remains severely tarnished in Christian circles as well as undermined in mainstream society.

Unfortunately for D’Souza, his troubles did not end there. In January 2014, D’Souza was federally indicted on charges of using straw donors to make illegal contributions to a friend’s unsuccessful challenge to U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) in 2012. For many (including myself) it was very difficult not to see this indictment as politically motivated. Everyone knows that D’Souza’s 2016 documentary film did not sit well with President Obama and earned D’Souza a great deal of hatred from many of the President’s supporters, including many who are well-placed within the Obama administration. What’s more, the law that D’Souza has since admitted to violating is arguably a bad law. Nonetheless, the law is the law. And, while D’Souza says the violation was more inadvertent than intentional, it’s still breaking the law. And it could very well earn him prison time.

Is Dinesh D’Souza Credible?

There’s little debate that D’Souza’s marital troubles, apparent infidelity, and complete mishandling of his brief engagement to Ms. Joseph has seriously damaged his reputation. It’s also beyond dispute that his circumventing federal laws regarding political contributions also represents a serious ethical misstep. We must acknowledge that D’Souza has seriously compromised his integrity and testimony as a professing Christian.

However, it would be a mistake to dismiss the message because of the messenger. D’Souza may have been a bad husband, but that doesn’t necessarily make him inaccurate in his writings on politics or religion. Sadly, we live in a day and age where Saul Alinsky style politics predominate and too many Americans avoid engaging issues by attacking people.

I’m not saying that a person’s character is irrelevant. On the contrary, character is very important. But so are all the rest of a person’s actions as well as what he or she says and believes. Was Thomas Jefferson a man of flawed character? Definitely! But that doesn’t negate the beauty, importance, or authority of the Declaration of Independence. Was George Washington sinless? Of course not. He (like Jefferson) owned slaves and (at least for a time) was infatuated with his best friend’s wife – even, it would seem, into his own marriage. But these flaws do not negate or undermine the magnificent and indispensable contributions Washington made to the founding and establishment of our great nation. And let’s not even get started on the heroes of the Bible – many of whom were guilty of polygamy, adultery, dishonesty, and the list goes on! On a more personal note, one of my former pastors (the man who actually pastored me during my teenage years and early twenties) later fell into an adulteress affair. But this scandal does not take away all the good that he did for me and so many others. I still fondly remember many of his sermons, appreciate much of his wise counsel, and will remain forever grateful for how he helped my family through the sudden death of my father. His adultery doesn’t cancel all that out – nor should it!

Dinesh D’Souza is a sinner. There’s no disputing that, but he’s still right in at least some of what he says, writes, and does. And thus there are still some worthwhile contributions he is making to the issues and discussions of today.

One such contribution is the upcoming documentary film America, which explores the question of what the world would be like without the United States. It’s shaping up to be a well-reasoned and inspiring defense of America’s legacy in the world. Don’t let D’Souza’s personal failings cause you miss out on or completely dismiss what appears to be a legitimate and MUCH-needed defense of America’s honor in this age of western cynicism and self-loathing.

When it comes to assessing a person’s credibility, take everything into account — the good and the bad. Never throw out the baby with the bath water. And remember that you too are a sinner.

In What Year Was Jesus Crucified?

When was Christ tried and crucified?

When was Christ tried and crucified?

When was Jesus crucified? For this article, I’m not going to get into the day of the week or even the month. We’re just going to see if we can accurately peg the year of Jesus’ death (and resurrection). Answering that question is possible by looking at a few key clues from the New Testament, ancient historical records, and even geology! Let’s begin….

What About That Earthquake?

One of the coolest clues to dating Jesus’ crucifixion can be found in dirt! The Gospel of Matthew tells us that a significant earthquake took place upon the death of Jesus on the cross (Matthew 27:51). According to geologists, sediment depositions point to two major episodes of “seismic activity” near the Dead Sea close to or during the time of Christ. The first and largest quake dates to about B.C. (or B.C.E.) 31, which is interesting, but is of course much earlier than Jesus’ life. The second one fits perfectly. Geologists have determined that a significant earthquake occurred in the region sometime between A.D. (C.E.) 26 and 36, which (as we’re about to see) coincides perfectly with Jesus’ crucifixion. Many believe this earthquake, confirmed by geological studies, may indeed be the one Matthew describes in his Gospel. If so, we can date Jesus’ crucifixion between A.D. 26 and 36, which happens to be the same date range as our next clue…

The Reign of Pontius Pilate

The famed Roman historian Tacitus says that “Christus” (his way of saying Christ) was crucified “during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus.” Tacitus’ association of Jesus’ crucifixion with Pontius Pilate is consistent with all four canonical Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). Based on several ancient sources, historians date Pilate’s reign from A.D. 26 to 36. And this puts Jesus’ crucifixion somewhere within that 10-year range, but we can do better than that.

The Beginning of Jesus’ Ministry

The Gospel of Luke tells us that John the Baptist began preaching in the “fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, while Annas and Caiaphas were high priests…” (Luke 3:1-2). Since Jesus began his active ministry shortly after John began his, the beginning of Luke is a gold mine for historians! By looking at the known terms of office of the aforementioned individuals, we can safely conclude that Jesus began his ministry sometime between A.D. 26 and 29.

It does get a little confusing, though, when looking at Tiberius’ reign. In A.D. 11, Tiberius essentially became co-regent with the elderly Augustus and then, in A.D. 14, assumed full powers with Augustus’ passing. When Luke refers to the “fifteenth year” of Tiberius’ reign, does he mean 15 years from A.D. 11 or 15 years from A.D. 14? Depending on how you answer that question, Jesus begins his ministry in either A.D. 26/27 or A.D. 29 (and thus is crucified in likely A.D. 30 or 33).

When Was Jesus Born?

One of the main reasons some scholars prefer having Jesus begin his ministry in A.D. 26/27 is because Luke says Jesus was “about thirty years of age” when he began his ministry (Luke 3:23). In order for Jesus to be close to thirty years of age at the time he starts his ministry, the earlier date (26 or early 27 A.D.) works better than the later date (A.D. 29). The reason is because Jesus’ birth has been dated to between 6 and 4 B.C., based on the timetable of King Herod’s reign and the account in Matthew’s Gospel of Herod ordering the deaths of all babies in Bethlehem under two years of age. The more literal or specific you understand “about thirty years of age” to be in Luke 3, the closer you’ll lean toward A.D. 26/27 as the start of Jesus’ ministry.

Personally, I don’t think we need a literal reading of Luke 3:23. The author’s use of the word “about” is a pretty clear indication of his intentions. It would be like me looking at someone and saying he’s “about” 30 or 40 or 50. No scientific or biological or chronological precision is intended. I’d be providing a basic approximation. Nothing more. That appears to be Luke’s intent, and we should always interpret text based on author intent. Always. And, given Luke’s precision in Luke 3:1-2 and his generalization in Luke 3:23, we should put more weight on the former rather than the latter. Thus, I’m comfortable with dating the start of Jesus’ ministry to A.D. 29 (even though Jesus would likely be closer to mid-thirties in that year, rather than an even thirty).

How Many Passovers?

According to the Gospel of John, Jesus attended at least three annual Passover feasts (John 2:13; 6:4; 11:55) during his active ministry. (Some would say four). This requires a ministry spanning about 3 1/2 years. This renders the second most popular date (A.D. 30) almost impossible, raising A.D. 33 as the most likely contender, especially when you study Jewish Passover traditions and juxtapose those traditions against the possible dates during Pilate’s reign (A.D. 26-36).

When Was Jesus Crucified?

So….based on the above clues…in what year was Jesus crucified? There are certainly many scholars (much smarter than me) who date the crucifixion to A.D. 30. They make some good points, but I think the evidence heavily favors A.D. 33 as the year of Jesus’ death on the Roman cross (and most significantly, his resurrection).

This of course is not a salvation issue. And it’s not really a discipleship issue either. Good, decent, honorable Christians can hold to different dates of the crucifixion. The important thing is that He was crucified — and that he rose from the dead! On this Good Friday, let’s remember His sacrificial love as shown on the cross and the Good News of His resurrection.

 

 

Did Jesus Have a Wife? Michael Brown Says New Evidence is Not Evidence

You’ve probably seen headlines about an “authentic” document which indicates Jesus of Nazareth had a wife. Many are pointing to this document as proof of the premise behind Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. Not so fast, says Michael Brown. Read his excellent article on this new “evidence” at the link below…

“Is There New Evidence That Jesus Had a Wife?”

Blessings!