I have been married only about 20 months and marriage, mystery though it may be, is still a topic I ponder often. As I teach and study Salvation History I think about that first marriage, the marriage of Adam and Eve and I wonder what it has to teach me and what warning signs it gives us as my husband and I journey that path.
Strictly speaking their marriage was not sacramental and ours, of course, has that benefit. But just as obviously their marriage had something that ours profoundly lacks. Their marriage pre-dates original sin. The unity that they experienced is almost beyond my imagining; knowing one another without the filter of shame or fear, without actual or original sin. What must that have been like – and why, with all of that, were they willing to risk it all?
Most probably, because of their innocence, they did not understand what could be lost. In contrast we are painfully aware of how vulnerable marriage, specific and universal, is today.
God lists the punishments He metes out for the sins in the Garden; sickness, death, pain in childbirth, physical labor, darkening of the intellect, weakened will and most profoundly, the loss of our intimacy with God. But I’ve never heard anyone talk in depth about the damage to their marriage. Right away we see the damage; they clothe themselves and thus create new barriers. Adam attacks Eve in the face of God’s questioning when they should have stood shoulder to shoulder in humble regret. As Adam and Eve face one another, accusing and wounded, they are no longer facing God. The focus of their world, and thus our world, is fundamentally changed.
I am so aware of the barriers between myself and God; the intimacy that I long for, that I was created for, just beyond my reach. I am taught that marriage is one of God’s tools for overcoming that distance but I cannot forget the damage of the first marriage. Can we truly close the triangle and be one with God again? Are my husband and I faced, as we should be, toward God? Or do the trivialities and tasks of the day turn our faces away too often?
Cain and Able are the first fruit of this marriage. Are Cain’s actions in someway a reflection of his parent’s disobedience? Does generational sin begin here in the first family? Was this Satan’s hope and plan?
All I have are questions. To some of these questions I have the “right” answers. But have I the will and strength to implement them and become what God desires of me?