Life outside Eden (or: On sexuality and gender)

Fig tree overhanging garden wall with white gate that has graffiti on it

There’s a story in the Bible about two people called Adam and Eve who lived in a perfect Garden called Eden. (It’s right near the beginning in the book of Genesis, though there’s some debate about whether or not the story should be taken as fact.) The story goes that God created them ‘male and female’ human beings and they had absolutely zero body issues. Then they ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil when they knew they weren’t supposed to and as a result bad stuff happened.

They weren’t allowed to live in the garden any more but God promised that one day he’d step in and set everything right again. Meanwhile, Adam and Eve died but lived long enough to have kids, who had more kids, and so on and so on, etc. Which is where we come in.

We don’t live inside Eden.

This means that some of the things that were simple for Adam and Eve, may not be simple for us. The meaning of gender itself becomes burdened with layers of cultural habits and expectations about the rights and roles of people belonging to each gender. Not only that, but our sexual expression can be muddled by our history, our body-confidence, and our choice (or lack of choice) over who we are and who we believe we were born to be.

But underneath all of these complications, we are human beings and it’s not good for us to be alone. That means we need to figure out where we belong within the collective identities around us and how our own distinctive individual identities relate to that.

Posts relevant to this topic broadly fall into the following four categories:

Perspective on purity – About gender, bodies, belonging, shame and division

Towards equality – About gender based violence, patriarchy, and other structured divisions

Sex worth celebrating – About sex, consent, play and therapy

Fifty Shades compared with Beauty & the Beast – About the real meaning of redemption, literary tropes (and how they perpetrate purity culture and inequality), and everything that is wrong with 50 Shades