White Paper #14: The Fall’s Effects on our Bodies and Fellowship

The Fall recorded in Genesis 3 certainly effected our souls. We are not, however, simply souls housed in human flesh. Our physicality is part of our design–it is a part of what the Lord came to redeem. Our bodies are certainly effected and we could summarize it in one word: expiring.

Back to Genesis 3. The first thing we learn is that we are physically exposed: we are not in the safety of Eden but in the dangers of the wilderness. The world and its forces was no threat to Adam and Eve in the Garden. Yet, when they were cast out (and we, in them) now all is a potential threat. Nature is periodically our enemy since it, also, is fallen and groaning under the weight of our sins.

We are exposed but we are also embattled: the curses placed on mankind because of the fall strike us right where it is most acute: work and family life. Work: Genesis 3

To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children.” 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.”

There are at least three potential impacts on our work.

First, work for all is monotonous, drudgery, fruitless or physically painful. We bemoan work when it is like this but we shouldn’t: this is part of its design now. The difficulties of our work are now purposeful; they remind us of the Fall.

Second, not only is legitimate work burdened, but we also have the rise of illegitimate or dangerous work: theft, prostitution, pornography, computer-hacking, etc.

Lastly, success in work is often hindered or impossible. Our hope that we can make a difference in our work is often dashed. I’ve told our congregation that commencement speakers give rise to false hope when they tell young adults they can “do anything” or “change the world.” Mostly likely not but perhaps.

Family life is also a battle-ground. Marriage-sin is often power contests rather than outdoing one another in love and honor.  To Eve the battle is first against her husband (and this battle is woven into every marriage since):

…Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.

The Bible now must teach wives to submit to their husbands rather than seek to rule over them (Ephesians 5:22; Colossians 3:18). Likewise, rather than passivity or domination, husbands are exhorted to love their wives as Christ loves the church (Ephesians 5:25; Colossians 3:19). Child-rearing (following the promise of pain in child birth) is hard creating strife and difficulty. Now, the Bible warns us that fathers can exasperate their children and children can shame their parents. While these are all relational issues, they are supported in our disordered emotions and our runaway physicality.

Our fellowship, as we’ve seen above can be summarized as: conflicted.

Think of it: the post-Fall foundation of our human fellowship is betrayal and blame—our natural inclination is to repeat these original sins. Husbands and wives struggle to model Christ and the church: husbands can be passive or violent; wives can be domineering or back-biting. Children are disobedient and defiant; parents are overbearing and exasperating. Employers exploit employees; employees cheat their employers. There is inherent suspicion in our relationships—all of them.  We naturally believe that others are using us; we naturally believe it is OK for us to use others.

  • Our souls are alienated from God.  Our bodies are suffering and expiring.  Our fellowship is conflicted.

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