Summer 1965

Page 91


Chicago Studie•

lished by man's genius at some time in the perhaps distant future_ This state in which man knew peace with man and with nature must have been the work of God, not man, for it followed no long, arduous process of evolution, at least on man's part_ The reason for this idyllic Eden was simply man's participation in the life of God- We must conclude, therefore, that there is some intimate and mysterious relationship between peace and man's life with God. If the first two chapters of Genesis present us with an idyllic scene, in which the accent is placed on life in profuse and even superfluous abundance, the third chapter introduces us into quite a different phase of man's "development." We now find man experiencing sexual conflict within himself (Gen 3:7); we now find him in conflict with his world (Gen 3:17-19). What is the root cause of this sudden transformation (or rather deformation)? Clearly it is sin. But what is the theological meaning of sin? It is autonomy, not simply human life lived without God but in positive rejection of God; it is the desire to be a law unto oneself hut in open defiance of the very laws of being itself. Life with God means peace; life without God means conflict. MAN AT ODDS WITH HIMSELF

This conflict is first evident, as Genesis makes clear, in man himself and takes the form of sexual conflict or more generally a conflict (concupiscence) destroying the integrity of man's psychophysical unity (the consequence of original justice), setting man at odds with himself. This process of disintegration reveals itself throughout man's life in suffering and ultimately in death, which completes the dissolution of man's ontological unity. The conflict extends beyond .the frontiers of the individual to embrace man's relationship with the world as well. A curse is put on the soil and man must struggle to earn his daily bread; childhearing becomes a burden and the source of anxiety and pain for woman. However, it is particularly in the area of interpersonal relationships that the dissolution of man becomes most manifest and reveals its full tragedy- This final effect of sin's work is illus-