In Against Heresies (book 3, chapter 22) Irenaeus attempts to draw a comparison between Eve and Mary similar to the comparison Paul draws between Adam and Christ. He says that Mary obeyed in a state of virginity

But Eve was disobedient; for she did not obey when as yet she was a virgin.

And that Eve, having been disobedient, was made the cause of death to the entire human race and Mary, obeying in the same state of virginity, became the cause of salvation for the entire human race.

Hosts of questions come to mind but this specific question is: Is there biblical ground to claim that Genesis 2:25 "And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed." means that they had not yet had moral and lawful intercourse as man and wife (as Irenaeus asserts) even though the command to have intercourse came before the fall?

3 Answers 3


Adam and Eve did not have intercourse before the Fall (although they could have) because Genesis 4:1, which is after the Fall, is the first reported instance that "Adam knew Eve his wife: who conceived".

St. Thomas Aquinas, in Summa Theologica I q. 98 a. 2 ("Whether in the state of innocence there would have been generation by coition?") ad 2, summarizes St. Augustine's argument:

As Augustine says (Gen. ad lit. ix, 4), our first parents did not come together in paradise, because on account of sin they were ejected from paradise shortly after the creation of the woman; or because, having received the general Divine command relative to generation, they awaited the special command relative to time.

Genesis 2:25 doesn't prove Eve was a virgin before the Fall. As St. Augustine writes in City of God bk. 14 ch. 17, Adam and Eve knew of their nakedness before the Fall, but it did not cause concupiscence and shame in them:

"They were naked and were not ashamed," Genesis 2:25 — not that their nakedness was unknown to them, but because nakedness was not yet shameful, because not yet did lust move those members without the will's consent

  • So Adam and Eve may well have had marital sex prior to the fall but the sexual desire was not yet ruined by sin along with everything else? Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 1:10
  • 2
    The command to multiply and fill the earth comes before the fall: Genesis 1:28. This seems to nullify the pre-fall celibacy notion. Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 1:13
  • St. Augustine (Gen. ad lit. ix, 4) thinks the Fall occurred "mox" (soon or immediately) after the creation of Eve, so Eve wasn't a virgin very long. (Also, I think you mean "pre-fall virginity/continence notion"; celibacy means unmarried, but Adam and Eve were married.)
    – Geremia
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 2:55
  • you are correct regarding my misuse of celibacy. Thanks. Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 12:36
  • 2
    It looks like Augustine thought the fall occurred soon OR they were waiting for a special command regarding timing. It seems like he's holding the idea that they hadn't yet consummated and offering various reasons why this might be so. Feels like eisegesis. Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 12:40

God commanded two things of humanity in Eden.

Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth and subdue it and have dominion ... [Genesis 1:28 KJV]

Of every tree of the garden eating thou dost eat ; and of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou dost not eat of it, [Genesis 3:16,17 Young's Literal Translation]

There were two matters to consider ; procreation and how to live. That is, how to Live. For Adam and Eve were already living, breathing human beings, but there was the matter of Life - the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge.

How is Life to be realised and how is Life to be sustained ?

Came the Serpent to influence Eve. This was the crucial and pressing matter. The other matter, procreation, took second place.

Serpent, woman and man acted in accordance to settle the matter of how humanity was to realise and sustain Life. And after they had done so, there was only death, through sin and disobedience.

Banished from Eden, the first humanity was found 'not fit for purpose' and was consigned to dust and death.

Their subsequent procreation was questionable. Eve proclaimed it positively :

I have gotten a man from the Lord [Genesis 4:1 KJV]

Adam was silent.

And Cain slew Abel.

Edit from comment :

Immediately they sinned, the voice of God walked in the 'cool' of the day'. Or the 'spirit' of the day. The Spirit moved. The Voice of God walked. And God settled the cherubim at the furthest extremity of Eden, the east, to await the rising of the sun on another day, the eighth day, the day of resurrection. It was all over very quickly.

I am quoting from the text of scripture. It is all there.

God's 'Voice' and God's 'Spirit' were already in motion. The seventh day was ending. God's rest was disturbed by the activity of the sentient creation - serpent, woman and man.

And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day ('cool' is from the Hebrew ruach - wind or spirit) [Genesis 3:8 KJV]

Another humanity is now awaited. The promise was already given - the seed of the woman (but not of the man). And Adam received it. He named his wife accordingly. Adam believed God. And Adam was silent upon Cain's birth.

And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. [Genesis 3:15 KJV]

Adam waited, in faith, for a new creation.

Though he had participated in the conspiracy of creation against its Creator, now, by experience, by repentance, by hearing the word of God and believing, he trusted - and waited.

  • I don't think this really makes much of a case. Sure, at the time of Satan's temptation of Eve and Adam the tree was the pressing matter not sex. But there's no suggestion that they were waiting for Satan to tempt them and unable to do anything else. At the very least they had the seventh day to live in sinless obedience to God.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 11:04
  • @curiousdannii Immediately they sinned, the voice of God walked in the 'cool' of the day'. Or the 'spirit' of the day. The Spirit moved. The Voice of God walked. And God settled the cherubim at the furthest extremity of Eden, the east, to await the rising of the sun on another day, the eighth day, the day of resurrection. It was all over very quickly.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 11:07
  • You're going to have to justify that from the text because I can't see anything to suggest it.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 11:13

Biblical basis for claiming Eve was a virgin prior to the Fall

In other words did Adam and Eve have sex with each other in the Garden of Eden?

Sure, it is possible, since the Scriptures do not say clearly one way or another. However according to tradition, the Church Fathers do not think so. If Adam and Eve did have intimacy of a sexual nature before the fall, there would have been, to what degree I do not know, a chance that Eve could have conceived a child and that child would have been born without original sin! This fact alone must be weighed in on the minds of all the Church Fathers in this issue. Even St. Paul elaborated that sin entered the world through one man. Why would God allow the act of sexual intercourse while in the Garden to alter the outcome of Original Sin.

From reading Scriptures alone it is impossible to say one way or another, if Eve could have known Adam intimately.

The Bible does not say whether or not Adam and Eve had sexual relations in the Garden of Eden. Therefore, we cannot say they did or did not. Still, let's take a look at the issue a little more deeply.

"Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. 27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth," (Genesis 1:26-25).

God commanded them to multiply and fill the earth. But, we do not know if they had begun to fulfill that command by having relations in the Garden. Furthermore, we do not know how long they were in the Garden before they fell.

In Genesis 2 there is a more detailed account of the creation order that Genesis 1:26-25 goes over.

  • Man is formed. "Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being," (Genesis 2:7).

  • Not good for man to be alone. "Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him," (Genesis 2:18). God made Eve. "So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place, 22 the LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man." (Genesis 2:21-22).

So, there is no way to know for sure whether or not Adam and Eve actually had sexual relations before they were expelled from the Garden of Eden. - Did Adam and Eve have sex with each other in the Garden of Eden?

Thus we are forced to take a look at one more sacred text before moving on.

When God put Adam and Eve out of the Garden, He told Eve the following:

I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. - Genesis 3:16

This last text tends to imply that both Adam and Eve did not have sexual relations while in the Garden, for now they knew that such relationship could result in a painful delivery of a child for all women. God had foreseen this moment to reveal this punishment for sinning in the Garden.

Again tradition holds that both Adam and Eve were virgins in the Garden. St. Justin Martyr, writing about 155 A.D. in his work 100 Dialogue with Trypho, and St. Irenaeus, writing about 189 A.D. in his work 3, 22 Against Heresies, both say Eve was still a virgin at the time she and Adam committed the first sin.

Immediately after eating the forbidden fruit, both Adam and Eve knew they were naked. This particular text begs the question of whether they simply knew they were naked or whether they may have been previously dressed by God while in conformity with his will.

6So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. 7Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. - Genesis 3: 6-7

Several early interpreters speak of Adam and Even being stripped of their clothing. For example, Ephraem (4th century Syrian theologian) says:

It is because of the glory with which they were clothed that they were not ashamed. When it was taken away from them after they had violated the commandment.They were indeed ashamed, because they were now naked (Commentary on Genesis, 2:14). - Genesis, Creation, and Ancient Interpreters: In the Garden

St. John Chrysostom as well seems to support this idea:

[W]hile sin and disobedience had not yet come on the scene, they were clad in that glory from above which caused them no shame. But after the breaking of the law, then entered the scene both shame and awareness of their nakedness. (Louth, Conti and Oden, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: Old Testament I, Genesis 1-11 2001, 72)

One thus asks the question that if Eve and Adam were actually clothed in light would they have been intimate with one another while at the same time being so intimately united to their creator and clothed in God’s light of glory.

According to Scriptures, it is only after they sinned that Adam knew his wife. There is no reason not to accept that that Genesis is not chronological accurate.

4 And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord. - Genesis 4:1

The tradition that both Adam and Eve were clothed in light is followed in some Jewish thoughts (Clothing of Light) and is revealed in the revelations of Blessed Catherine Emmerich.

Even if one does not believe that Eve was a virgin in the Garden, tradition and the Church Fathers hold that she was virgin as well as Adam.

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