Objectivizing Adam and Eve’s Fruit

At the pinnacle of creation, God created our first parents:

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”

(Genesis 1:26-28)

God created us with complete dominion over ourselves and over all living things, including our bodies. God gave us one command, as Eve explains to the serpent:

“We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’”

(Genesis 3:2-3)

If “the fruit of the tree in the midst of the garden” was from a living plant, then they would have had complete dominion over it and it would not be sinful to eat. Then what was the fruit of the tree in the midst of the garden? Were not Adam and Eve the center of God’s creation, therefore in the center the garden? What fruit would should they not even touch lest they would die, lose that dominion over themselves and all living things?

But if this “fruit” was not a fruit of a plant, but of something else, such as the “fruit of your bodies” (Deuteronomy 7:13; 28:4,11,18; 30:9) or “fruit of the womb” (Genesis 30:2; Psalm 127:3) or “fruit of man’s words” (Proverbs 12:14; 13:2; 18:20), or “the fruit of the righteous [which] is a tree of life” (Proverbs 11:30; 14:14), or “fruit of steadfast love” (Hosea 10:12)… then the fruit of the tree in the midst of the garden would be interior to Adam and Eve and to their bodies.

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked.

(Genesis 3:6-7).

Eating—treating this “fruit” like ordinary food—objectivizing it ruptured the original unity between Adam and Eve, destroyed their innocence (“they knew that they were naked,” i.e. felt objectivized and shame), and ruptured the harmony of all creation. This is when we began to see our bodies as separate from our personal being, and we took God out of discussion: “It is my body, I can do anything I want with it… It’s not a baby, it’s just a clump of cells… That’s not my mother, just her body as she checked out months ago… I’m a man trapped in a woman’s body, so I should be able to get the hormones and surgeries to become however I like…”

As soon as we take God out of the picture—as did Eve and Adam—we begin to view our bodies as objects of creation, separate from our self, to be used for our own pleasure and utility: if it feels good, it is good (whether with self or another, same-sex or opposite sex, polyamorous or monogamous, temporary or permanent, exclusive or open, etc.) The body separate from personal self is the instrument of self-pleasure.

This means other persons’ bodies are also objects for our manipulation. This naturally leads to abortion (it’s not a person yet), birth-control (controlling the “fruit of the womb”), euthanasia, etc. Our self is what feels, knows, and has self-awareness; so if I can’t detect any self that feels or shows conscious awareness then I can treat it like any other object. 

We need to recover the unity of life that sees our bodies not as external objects of our self, but as inseparably united to the very self, inseparable to the meaning of who we are. We have been created from God as male and female, in his image and likeness, and called to live in harmony with that divine likeness by viewing our own bodies and the bodies of other human beings, as incarnate persons… as Christ himself.

Fr. John R. Waiss