The Haunted House: “…I was afraid…”

As we have seen, when Adam the priest sinned, the cosmic temple was immediately affected, for there is a necessary link between humanity and creation. In the Bible, there is always a symbiosis between human morality and environment. The once glorious temple now becomes a haunted house. Adam’s first reaction is fear, fear of God and fear of his nakedness, his vulnerability. Though all the original glory of creation has not disappeared, and it is still God’s temple, death and terror has entered its precincts. Adam is everyman; fear is everywhere! We travel our roads, we pass cemeteries, grisly road kill, terrible accidents. We struggle to keep alive, to keep our relationships and homes together; chaos threatens everything. Yes, we know fear! We live in a haunted house.

At the heart of this haunting is struggle and strife, effects of the curse on the earth. Things do not work as creation was originally intended. First, there is the great internal struggle; Adam’s “house” of spirit, soul and body, his own temple, is in chaos. Humanity was made to live from the inside out. Adam’s spirit is the most internal part of him; the place deep within where God is made to commune, Holy Spirit touching spirit, the most mysterious and unknown part of our humanity. Spirit then directs the soul, the place of will, memory, imagination, reason, and emotion, and all psychological functions. The soul, led by the will, then controls the body with its senses. With the fall, this is reversed. The tendency now is for the body and its senses to rule the soul with its internal powers. When the soul is ruled by the senses, the spirit is in turmoil. Adam now becomes a stranger to himself, living in internal strife.

Adam finds himself in a struggle with God. Created in the imago dei, he is made to exist like God in miniature, to live from the inside out, not by his senses like an animal. To commune with God Adam must master himself, but without grace he will not and cannot, and therefore is at enmity with God. Moreover, the penalty for sin is death, which as we said, does not mean cessation of being, but diminished being, lost original glory. Our fallen humanity in all of its humiliation is disgusting to God, something only God’s love can overcome as we see in the incarnation.

Adam finds himself in a struggle with Eve. First, he blames her before God when in fact it was his responsibility to protect her from evil. Eve, of course, blames the serpent. Neither is repentant, neither can own up to their part of the blame. Humiliated by loss of original glory, their making of crude leaf clothing is as much a matter of hiding from one another as hiding from God. All sorts of suspicion now swim in their heads. Does he really love me or lusts? Does she respect me? Do they really accept one another for who they are in their imperfections? Moreover, Eve’s punishment in childbirth sets the stage for the struggle between the sexes. Her desire, whether we understand this as sexual desire or desire to dominate (Heb. tešûqâ “desire” the same word as in 4:7 where sin, personified as a wild animal, crouches to devour Cain), results in the pain of childbirth and being ruled (3:16).

Adam finds himself in a struggle with the earth. The curse on the earth creates a struggle to plant and survive, struggling by the sweat of his brow. In the end, the earth wins the struggle, for Adam is dust, and to dust he must now return. Created to live in harmony as a caretaker of animals, now there is enmity between humanity and beasts. It is chaotic to be devoured or dominated by an animal, a reversal of the created order, or for places once settled by humans to become a “haunt of jackals” (Isa. 13:21f., cf. Ex. 23:29, Deut. 32:24). Finally, humanity struggles against humanity resulting in murder (Cain and Abel) and warfare (increasing violence in Cain’s line culminating with Lamech and the violence before the flood).

We are locked in a struggle with chaos on every level, and we are chaos itself. We live in a haunted house, and we are haunted ─ afraid of ourselves, of those close to us, those far from us, the earth and its beasts. We have fallen far from the blessedness of the seventh day, and we know it.

2 Responses to “The Haunted House: “…I was afraid…””

  1. Your treatise has an air of despondency and defeatism in it and does not address the person who is joyful and unafraid because he has received the Blessings and Grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

    In Friendship,

  2. Dear Joe, thanks for your reply. Yes, I too felt that this was my darkest post. However, I wanted to depict fallen humanity in all of its muck so that we understand two things: 1) that we were not originally made in this condition which we all have experienced, but were made for glory, and 2) that we understand what God has done for us in Jesus Christ to reverse these effects of the fall, a point which you have made well. To appreciate Christ, we need to appreciate our great need of Hm and His redemption.

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