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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
On Marriage and Concupiscence.: Chapter 6

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 6 [V.]—The Censuring of Lust is Not a Condemnation of Marriage; Whence Comes Shame in the Human Body. Adam and Eve Were Not Created Blind; Meaning of Their “Eyes Being Opened.”

Now, this being the real state of the question, they undoubtedly err who suppose that, when fleshly lust is censured, marriage is condemned; as if the malady of concupiscence was the outcome of marriage and not of sin. Were not those first spouses, whose nuptials God blessed with the words, “Be fruitful and multiply,” 2073 naked, and yet not ashamed? Why, then, did shame arise out of their members after sin, except because an indecent motion arose from them, which, if men had not sinned, would certainly never have existed in marriage? Or was it, forsooth, as some hold (who give little heed to what they read), that human beings were, like dogs, at first created blind; and—absurder still—obtained sight, not as dogs do, by growing, but by sinning? Far be it from us to entertain such an opinion. But they gather that opinion of theirs from reading: “She took of the fruit thereof, and did eat; and gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat: and the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked.” 2074 This accounts for the opinion of unintelligent persons, that the eyes of the first man and woman were previously closed, because Holy Scripture testifies that they were p. 266 then opened. Well, then, were Hagar’s eyes, the handmaid of Sarah, previously shut, when, with her thirsty and sobbing child, she opened her eyes 2075 and saw the well? Or did those two disciples, after the Lord’s resurrection, walk in the way with Him with their eyes shut, since the evangelist says of them that “in the breaking of bread their eyes were opened, and they knew Him”? 2076 What, therefore, is written concerning the first man and woman, that “the eyes of them both were opened,” 2077 we ought to understand as that they gave attention to perceiving and recognising the new state which had befallen their body. Now that their eyes were opened, their body appeared to them naked, and they knew it. If this were not the meaning, how, when the beast of the field and the fowls of the air were brought unto him, 2078 could Adam have given them names if his eyes were shut? He could not have done this without distinguishing them; and he could not distinguish them without seeing them. How, too, could the woman herself have been beheld so clearly by him when he said, “This is now bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh”? 2079 If, indeed, any one shall be so determined on cavilling as to insist that Adam might have acquired a discernment of these objects, not by sight but by touch, what explanation will he have to give of the passage wherein we are told how the woman “saw that the tree,” from which she was about to pluck the forbidden fruit, “was pleasant for the eyes to behold”? 2080 No; “they were both naked, and were not ashamed,” 2081 not because they had no eyesight, but because they perceived no reason to be ashamed in their members, which had all along been seen by them. For it is not said: They were both naked, and knew it not; but “they were not ashamed.” Because, indeed, nothing had previously happened which was not lawful, so nothing had ensued which could cause them shame.



Gen. i. 28.


Gen. 3:6, 7.


Gen. xxi. 17-19.


Luke xxiv. 31.


Gen. iii. 7.


Gen. ii. 19.


Gen. ii. 23.


Gen. iii. 6.


Gen. ii. 25.

Next: Chapter 7

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