The Garden of Eden or Love by Guillielmus Paludanus. 1567. Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels. (click image for a larger view)
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.