Virginity: Return to Eden


I have been doing a research paper on Virginity and have discovered that the Fathers of the Church are unanimous in saying that Adam and Eve were virgins and would have remained as such if not for sin. They have different ways of explaining how procreation might have come about, but their affirmations are consistent and copious in this regard. I understand that when the Fathers are unanimous, that no one is permitted to interpret contrary to their interpretation (Trent Sess IV, April 8, 1546; vatican council, Sess III Dogmatic Constitution Concerning the Catholic Faith April 24, 1870). Their unanimous consent lead me to think that this is something of the Deposit of the Faith, for their would be no other way to account for such a widespread and uniform position.

What do you guys think about this? I am not interested in arguments full of emotion. I would like to have some substantive responses.

Below are a sample of the numerous examples. I will limit them so as not to tire the reader, but there are many more.

Thank You and God Bless.

St Ambrose
Institutione Virginis caput 17.104 (PL 16.345)

“…in holy virgins we see on earth the life of angels that we let slip away in paradise.”

St Jerome
Adversus Jovinianum Liber Primus 16 (PL 23: 235A)

“And as regards Adam and Eve we must maintain that before the fall they were virgins in Paradise: but after they sinned, and were cast out of Paradise, they were immediately married.”

St Augustine
De Genesi contra Manicheaos Liber Unus caput 19.30 (PL 34: 187)

  1. “Increase and multiply”: It is permitted us to interpret these words spiritually in such a way that it is credible that they were converted into carnal fecundity after man’s fall.

St. Athanasius
*Expositiones in psalmos * 50.5 (PG 27 240 C-D)
“it was not the original plan of God to beget us through marriage and corruption – it was the disobedience of the commandment that brought about the need for marriage, on account of the iniquity of Adam”

St. Gregory Nyssa
*De Hominis Opificio * caput 17 (PG 44 187-192)

“if there had not come upon us as the result of sin a change for the worse, and removal from equality with the angels, neither should we have needed marriage that we might multiply; but whatever the mode of increase in the angelic nature is (unspeakable and inconceivable by human conjectures, except that it assuredly exists), it would have operated also in the case of men”

St John Chrysostom
De Virginitate 17 (PG 48:546)

“Virginity existed in the beginning, before marriage; marriage became necessary and began later; but it would not have been necessary if Adam had remained obedient. How, then, would so many thousands of human beings have come into existence? If this question troubles you, I pose an answering one: Whence did Adam and Eve derive their existence without the intervention of marriage? What, then, you respond: Are all men to be born in this manner? In this or some other manner, I reply; I cannot say more. Only this is certain; that God did not need marriage in order to multiply men on earth.”

St John Damascene
De Fide Orthodoxa Liber Quattour, caput 24 (PG 94: 1205-1208 A-B)

"virginity was implanted in man’s nature from above and in the beginning. For man was formed of virgin soil. From Adam alone was Eve created. In Paradise virginity held sway. Indeed, Divine Scripture tells that both Adam and Eve were naked and were not ashamed… after the transgression … then Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bare seed. So, to prevent the wearing out and destruction of the race by death, marriage was devised that the race of men may be preserved through the procreation of children.

But they will perhaps ask, what then is the meaning of “male and female” and “Be fruitful and multiply?” In answer we shall say that “Be fruitful and multiply” does not altogether refer to the multiplying by the marriage connection, for God had power to multiply the race also in different ways, if they kept the precept unbroken to the end. But God, Who knows all things before they have existence, knowing in His foreknowledge that they would fall into transgression in the future and be condemned to death, anticipated this and made “male and female,” and bade them “be fruitful and multiply."
St Maximus Confessor **
Quaestiones et Dubia Interr. 3 (PG 90 787 A-B)

“In fact, it was the original Will of God that we should not be born out of fleeting pleasure of bodily union; it was the transgression of the law that caused marriage to be introduced.”

I believe the Church Fathers are correct. If Adam and Eve had not sinned, then they would not have passed on their fallen nature. I look at it similar to the angels. They were not procreated, rather they just were created. Yet they all had to pass a “test” to prove their love to God. If Adam and Eve had not sinned, I think we would all still have been created individually by God, but not through the natural means of man and woman. And we still would be tested either way.

Even after entering heaven, man and woman are no longer married or given in marriage. There is no procreation in heaven. So if Adam and Eve had passed the test, they would have entered into heaven and there would not be any procreation between the two of them. That’s my opinion.

I don’t have anything to contribute except to say I hadn’t heard of this before and found it interesting! :slight_smile:

I believe God created sex as the pathway for life. To listen to some you would think it is part of the failure of man. God doesn’t make junk. IMHO of course:rolleyes:

And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.


The first thing that came to my mind was the fact that God created Adam out of the soil, and then Eve from one of Adam’s ribs. God was their creator and thus any further creation would be like that of Adam and Eve. Their sin ruined that option, and so they were then destined to carnal relations.

Anyway, that is my thought. We just need to remember that God created all things from nothing. Refer to Genesis and remember that the Word of God was before all other things.

So before the Fall, Adam and Eve had another mechanism to fulfill God’s command to “be fruitful and multiply?” Male and female genitals came about due to sin?

Interesting. :popcorn:

Now that response is silly. No one is suggesting that male and female genitals resulted due to sin. My only point was that God created Adam from the dirt, and then Eve from Adams rib. This speaks to the all powerful nature of God.

God can create anything or anyone as He so wishes and desires. I would personally, expect our Parents to have had normal relations, with or without the event of Original Sin. Sexual intercourse is not sinful outside of marriage, and I would say since God told them to “go forth and multiply” he intended for this union.

Their experience of shame came from knowledge they did not have prior to their sin, which is rooted in pride and the desire to be like God. Their banishment from the Garden is punishment for that sin and I think demonstrates their separation from Him.

Good response. Right there with you.

I think this is just another example of God doing something and/or commanding something that He knows will be necessary even if the reason isn’t clear initially.

Another example of this is when he tells the Israelites to consecrate every firstborn from the womb to Him. We know from the old testament that generally speaking the firstborn rarely acted according to God’s will, but He was laying the foundation for the coming of Christ.

This is a really an interesting question to me and I keep thinking about it. I don’t believe this is part of the deposit of faith. It is more of a theoretical opinion that they agree upon. We really have no way of knowing what would have happened, we only know what did happen. As such I see no reason to hold anyone that they have to agree with this theoretical interpretation based on what “could” have happened.

Actually,a prior poster suggested exactly that: “If Adam and Eve had not sinned, I think we would all still have been created individually by God, but not through the natural means of man and woman.” It was to that statement that I responded.

With further research, I have found more support in the mystical tradition for what the Fathers affirm. Our Lord reveals to St. Bridget how procreation would have come about. Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich also seems to support this notion:

St. Bridget of Sweden
The Prophecies and Revelation of St. Bridget of Sweden Bk 1, Ch 26.

But now, my bride, for whose sake all these things are being said and shown, you might ask, how children would have been born by them if they had not sinned? I shall answer you: In truth, by the love of God and the mutual devotion and union of the flesh wherein they both would have been set on fire internally, love’s blood would have sown its seed in the woman’s body without any shameful lust, and so the woman would have become fertile. Once the child was conceived without sin and lustful desire, I would have sent a soul into the child from my divinity, and the woman would have carried the child and given birth to it without pain. When the child was born, it would have been perfect like Adam when he was first created. But this honor was despised by man when he obeyed the devil and coveted a greater honor than I had given to him. After the disobedience was enacted, my angel came over them and they were ashamed over their nakedness, and they immediately experienced the lust and desire of the flesh and suffered hunger and thirst. Then they also lost me, for when they had me, they did not feel any hunger or sinful fleshly lust or shame, but I alone was all their good and pleasure and perfect delight.

But when the devil rejoiced over their perdition and fall, I was moved with compassion for them and did not abandon them but showed them a threefold mercy: I clothed them when they were naked and gave them bread from the earth. And for the sensuality the devil had aroused in them after their disobedience, I gave and created souls in their seed through my Divinity. And all the evil the devil tempted them with, I turned to good for them entirely."

Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich
The Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ 3

"The glittering beams on Adam’s head denoted his abundant fruitfulness, his connections with other radiations. And all this shining beauty is restored to glorified souls and bodies. Our hair is the ruined, the extinct glory; and as is this hair of ours is to rays of light, so is our present flesh to that of Adam before the Fall.

The sunbeams around Adam’s mouth bore reference to a holy posterity from God, which had it not been for the Fall, would have been effectuated by the spoken word."


Contra to Jovinius (yep I caught that), the virginal state is what we will be like in Heaven.

Virginity in this world more closely approximates what we will be like in Heaven, RIGHT NOW.

MATTHEW 22:30 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.

One caveat about Matthew 22:30. This does NOT mean we will BECOME angels in Heaven.

We will still be people and at the end of time we get our bodies back.

Now you are thinking, what replaces sexual relations in Heaven? I don’t know. What ever our earthly desires are, they will be more than multiply fulfilled in ways we cannot imagine in Heaven.

Concerning consecrated virginity (where people freely CHOOSE to lay down their sexuality in this life on account of pursuit of the Heavenly life NOW on earth) the Church has also taught . . . .

You might add CCC 1618 to your paper too.

CCC 1618 Christ is the center of all Christian life. The bond with him takes precedence over all other bonds, familial or social.113 From the very beginning of the Church there have been men and women who have renounced the great good of marriage to follow the Lamb wherever he goes, to be intent on the things of the Lord, to seek to please him, and to go out to meet the Bridegroom who is coming.114 Christ himself has invited certain persons to follow him in this way of life, of which he remains the model:

[INDENT]"For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to receive this, let him receive it."115

A couple of other things you may want to add.

The point that makes Consecrated Virginity so special is that it is such a high calling. The married life is a high calling too, but with Virginity you are already entering into a heavenly existence in a sense.

St. Thomas Aquinas states the following . . . .

ST. THOMAS AQUINAS (Summa Theologica; Section 2 Part 2, question 152)

Reply to Objection 1. Virgins are “the more honored portion of Christ’s flock,” and “their glory more sublime” in comparison with widows and married women.

Reply to Objection 2. The hundredfold fruit is ascribed to virginity, according to Jerome [Ep. cxxiii ad Ageruch.], on account of its superiority to widowhood, to which the sixtyfold fruit is ascribed, and to marriage, to which is ascribed the thirtyfold fruit. But according to Augustine (De QQ. Evang. i, 9), “the hundredfold fruit is given to martyrs, the sixtyfold to virgins, and the thirtyfold to married persons.” Wherefore it does not follow that virginity is simply the greatest of virtues, but only in comparison with other degrees of chastity.

Reply to Objection 3. Virgins “follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth,” because they imitate Christ, by integrity not only of the mind but also of the flesh, as Augustine says (De Virgin. xxvii). Wherefore they follow the Lamb in more ways, but this does not imply that they follow more closely, because other virtues make us cleave to God more closely by imitation of the mind. The “new hymn” which virgins alone sing, is their joy at having preserved integrity of the flesh.

The Council of Trent also addresses this issue of extolling virgins.

SESSION 24 COUNCIL OF TRENT CANON X - If any one saith, that the marriage state is to be placed above the state of virginity, or of celibacy, and that it is not better and more blessed to remain in virginity, or in celibacy, than to be united in matrimony; let him be anathema.

Jesus also says:

MATTHEW 19:12 12 For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to receive this, let him receive it."

Women sometimes did this (took a vow of virginity) in Old Testament times too.

NUMBERS 30:13 13 Any vow and any binding oath to afflict herself, her husband may establish, or her husband may make void.

Many nuns and Priests do the same even today (take a vow of virginity).

St. Cyprian who died in 258 A.D. in his letter The Dress of Virgins describes very matter-of-factly some of the elements of this virginal consecration or Holy Dedication.

SAINT CYPRIAN Now our discourse is directed to virgins . . . . They are the flower of the tree that is the Church, the beauty and adornment of spiritual grace, the image of God reflecting the holiness of the Lord, the more illustrious part of Christ’s flock . . . Nor is this an empty precaution and a vain fear which takes thought of the way of salvation, which guards the life-giving precepts of the Lord, so that those who have consecrated their lives to Christ, and, renouncing the concupiscence of the flesh, have dedicated themselves to God in body as well as in spirit, and may not be solicitous to adorn themselves nor to please anyone except their Lord, from whom in truth they await the reward of virginity . . . and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven (Mt. 19) . . . the gift of continence (self-denial) is made clear, virginity is extolled . . . continence follows Christ, and virginity is destined for the kingdom of God . . .
[INDENT]— St. Cyprian. On The Dress of Virgins. Sections 3 and 4.

If interested I have more.

The Blessed Virgin Mary is the human epitome of all of this (outside of Jesus who is True God AND True man).

Thanks Cathoholic.

That the last state of man is a virginal life is quite commonly known; but what is not commonly known is that the first state of man was a virginal life. If you have any information on the first state of man, or how things changed after the fall (in regard to marriage and virginity), that would be appreciated.

Thanks and God Bless

BTW, thanks for the dogma from Trent. For some unknown reason, the new Catechism does not mention this dogma, nor does it clearly show that the virginal/celibate life is superior to matrimony.

I don’t think so.
Some of the Fathers did (Manicheanism was a constant temptation in the Easrly Church) but I believe mainstream thought finally went against this tendency.

As Per Genesis:

God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28God 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.”

God clearly intended Adam and Eve to reproduce before Sin reared its ugly head :eek:.
We were created with genitals (male and female he made them) for a reason.

I believe the reason is because it doesn’t make a lot of sense to talk about things in the abstract.

If one is not suited for the single life then the most perfect state for you is the married life.
And vice-versa.

Thanks for the above quote ContraJovinius. It seems to me to be the most probable explanation.

I used to wonder why God had sexual concupisence be one of the consequences of original sin - tainting one of the most important gifts He granted to men (specifically, the gift of being able to cooperate in the bringing into existence a new human beings). My conclusion has been that without that lustful drive, due to selfishness etc., we would probably not have fulfilled the command to be fruitful and multiply. We would have valued seeking our own comfort, wealth, etc. far more than thinking of the wonder of new life and giving of ourselves to nurture and raise up families.

This has me stumped. I actually called the Jimmy Akin Catholic Answers Hotline. Hopefully, he’ll answer. :smiley:

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