Just a couple days ago I came across a sculpture that caught my attention. Although unsigned and undated, it is widely believed that it was created by the Flemish sculptor and medallist Guillielmus Paludanus in 1567 as part of a chimney mantelpiece at his home in Antwerp, Belgium. It is described as espousing the virtue of love:
In the centre of the elongated relief stands God the Father, dressed in a long robe, between Adam and Eve. He is blessing the naked human pair and placing their hands together. The scene takes place in the garden of Eden. . . This scene is a prefiguration of the sacrament of marriage. Not only the hieratic gesture of the God the Father, and Adam and Eve’s joined hands [known in antiquity as the dexiosis or dextrarum iunctio], but also the depiction of the paradise animals, two by two, refer to the God-willed lifelong community between husband and wife. (Web Gallery of Art)
I think this is a beautiful depiction of the first marriage, between Adam and Eve, as solemnized by God the Father. It recalls the moment in the Garden when it was said, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Gen. 2:24; see also Gen. 3:12).
As it was in the beginning, so it continues today, that marriage is between a man and a woman. It was divinely ordained so by God, for “neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord” (1 Cor. 11:11). It cannot be defined otherwise without serious repercussions on our society as a whole, and on our families and religious freedoms. For that reason, I am in support of traditional marriage, particularly Proposition 8 in California (see my sidebar). Watch apostles Elder Ballard and Elder Cook discuss the issue, or apostle Elder Bednar answer questions on the Proposition. Hear people discuss their reasoning of support for the initiative. Or check out the Church’s new website in support of Proposition 8 – PreservingMarriage.org. Read the Church’s explanation for why this is important, and the First Presidency’s letter asking members to support this amendment in California.
Now is the time to make a difference by supporting marriage only between a man and a woman. Vote yes on Proposition 8! Visit ProtectMarriage.com for more information on how you can support this cause.
Just a quick note to say thank you for your wonderful blog. Also, thanks for bringing up the Prop 8 issue in California.
I’ve often thought what it would take to get members excited about following specific counsel from latter day prophets. They have been pretty clear about Prop 8; it doesn’t get any more “clear-cut” than this. Yet I have definitely seen this issue become a wedge among some of us. I recall President Benson said back in the mid-80s that there would be a “sifting” among the membership of the church. Perhaps we are seeing a partial fulfillment of his prophecy in this political “re-definition” of marriage. I also remember that President Lee said that the actions of the church might contradict your political beliefs. If so, then Prop 8 is an opportunity for people to find out where they really stand: with the prophets of God or not.
Thanks for the plug on Prop 8. We need it. The fight is on out here in California.
In our quest for greater light and knowledge we sometimes forget the first law of heaven is obedience and sacrifice. When a prophet of God asks us to support we simply must learn to sacrifice our pride and will to that of the will of the Lord, spoken through his humble service and be obedient to his call. Such is the case with Prop 8. The division in the church over the issue makes me mindful of what the war in Heaven must have been like.
Thank you for your support and post on this important issue.
I think that it is interesting that the all the animals are facing God between the two main trees but the lions and the oxen. They seem to stand between the inner sanctuary (between the trees) and the other animals. Perhaps a reflection of the roles of the tribes of Judah and Ephraim?
There is another 16th century art piece that is an engraving by Jean Duvet that deals with a very similar scene and topic. See it here.