This is the 10th blog in this introductory series to the Orthodox Faith. The First blog is Orthodoxy in the World & Light to the World. This blog continues the section on basic teachings of Orthodoxy which began with Orthodoxy in the World: Teachings (A).
3) Humans were created by God to occupy a certain position in the created world. Humans were to be the mediators between God and the rest of creation, and each human is also understood as microcosm of the universe – in each human is contained the relationship of God to all of creation. But according to the Orthodox understanding of Genesis 3, humans were not satisfied with being human. They aspired to be God and to place themselves on equal footing with God. Though humans were created to be in union with God, they wanted not union but equality with God, and in their effort to throw off the Lordship of God, they not only did not become God but they lost even their unique position as microcosm and mediator. The sin of humanity as reported in Genesis 3 leaves a fallen humanity and destroys the relationship between God and humans, humans with each other, humans with the rest of the created order, and even within each human being separates the soul from the body in death. Thus the world we now experience is not as God intended it to be but rather is a fallen world, in which all relationships are broken, resulting in death on many levels – spiritual, physical, and relational.
4) The sin of humans was one of wanting a relationship with God and the world different from the one ordained by God. It was one of willful disobedience – using free will not to love, but to practice self love. For in Orthodoxy, the opposite of love is not anger but is self love. Love is always other oriented. Self love is focused on the self. According to the Genesis story, Eve, the mother of all humans looked at the fruit of the tree which they had been forbidden by God to eat, and when she “saw that the tree was good for food, pleasing to the eyes and desirable for gaining wisdom”, she took and ate it. She saw the fruit as “good for me” but did not ask what impact eating the fruit would have on her relationship to God or to her husband. She was guilty of self love, doing only what seemed good to her and for her. This is the basic sin of humanity – self love, self centeredness, extreme individualism.
5) What became introduced into humanity as a result of self will and disobedience to God was separation from God which is seen in the death of humanity. In Orthodoxy it is death which is the final enemy of humanity. It is death, even more than sin, which is the sign of our separation from God. And, it is death, not the guilt of original sin, which has spread to all of humanity (Romans 5:12). What humans inherit from their primal ancestors is mortality not the guilt of original sin.