A New Adam


Anyone who has seen the film or the play Seven Brides for Seven Brothers knows that it is about seven wild backwoods men who become civilized through the process of learning to interact with women. But what makes it fascinating, and very biblical, is that it isnʼt just about seven brothers marrying seven women.

A guest post by Steven Opp

In Seven Brides, the story is about one brother, the “head”, or the Adam (which just happens to be the characterʼs name) getting married, and then his “body” of brothers following his example. This is the pluralization or spiritualization of man. It moves from a physical one-man to a sevenfold spiritual man.

I like to say theology is as easy as 1-2-3 because the Trinity is found everywhere, and it is the unseen reason why this musical works so well: it is tuned in at a very deep level to the shape of humanity and the ways in which we image God. Whenever you see three related concepts, you can probably bet they are Trinitarian. With the aid of what I hope is a familiar plot, let’s take a look at how the three persons of Trinity are expressed in four earthly domains. This will allow us to make some correspondences between the domains so we can hear how each of these realms “speaks” to the others. This probably sounds complicated and technical, but give it a go and you will see it is quite straightforward and intuitive.

Trinity Triune Office Creation Family
Father Priest Physical (Genesis 1) Husband
Son King Social (Genesis 2) Wife
Spirit Prophet Ethical (Genesis 3) Child

Line 1:


The first part of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is the “Father” section because it is a song of creation. The Father is the one who speaks the creation into being. Any story that starts with a man joyfully singing about what he is creating is a story that starts by showing a Father. And what is Adam creating here? “Pretty and trim”, “Heavenly eyes”—he basically sings his bride into existence and by the end of the song he has found exactly what he is singing about!


Among all the rude men Millie has encountered as a waitress, Adam is set apart/holy. He is covered in animal skins as one who is ready to sacrifice for her: “Iʼd swap my gun and Iʼd swap my mule… Ifʼn you would say ʻI doʼ”.


As mentioned, Adam is in animal skins. He is singing about Millieʼs physical beauty:

“Bless Your Beautiful Hide!” Like the first man, he looks around until he sees a mate suitable to him. The attraction between them is almost purely biological, love at first sight, as she doesnʼt know him from, well, Adam. Natural as natural can be!


The focus in this section is on Adam, as he is the one singing the opening number. This is in contrast to the following sections of the film.

Line 2:


The heart of the film is the most “incarnational” part of the narrative. Millie, who really is the “savior” of the story, has left the heavenly town and is now living with “sinners,” the ruffian brothers. She wins their allegiance through serving them and disciples them in the ways of courtship. She teaches them to pray and to turn the other cheek.


While Millie rules the house in regards to social matters, Adam leads the brothers to war both in the barn-raising fight and is their Roman Emperor in their campaign to steal the “Sobbinʼ Women”.


While the early scenes in the film focused on physical attraction and beautiful landscapes, the middle of the story is about the social interactions, mostly between the brothers and the women: dancing, kidnapping, fighting, reconciling, etc.


Besides the Sobbinʼ Women song, most of the screen time in this section is about Millie. She is the main character, and the center of the entire story is her rebuking of Adam for leading the charge to steal the girls. This is when the Pentecostal/bridal fire falls, as happens at the center of every good narrative.

An interesting side note about this fire falling: It divides the social construction of the brothers, separating head from body, as we see in the Ascension offering in Leviticus one, pictured in the ascension of Moses on Sinai, and fulfilled in the ascension of Christ. She has in effect circumcised the family. Adam decides to go up the mountain to the hunting cabin for the winter, while the brothers are banished to sleep in the barn.

Line 3:

Holy Spirit

Seven is a spiritual number. The seven married brothers at the end of the film represent the spiritual man, as opposed to the one physical father-man at the beginning. The spiritualizing of a man is the pluralization of a man. The Bible begins with a physical Adam and ends with the spiritual Adam who has seven spirits (Rev. 3:1, 4:5). His fruit, his multiplication, his “seed” is not merely physical or social but also ethical, a new animus, a new heart for a people.

Also, the Person of the Spirit is the relationship between the Father and the Son. The final section concerns reunification, the reunion of the women with their fathers, the town with the backwoods family, and Adam and Millie.


As the Spirit is the bond between Father and Son, so the prophet is the link between priest and king. Prophets counsel kings about the things of God. Prophets also have insight into the future, and can move armies with words. Adam is a prophet when he tells the brothers that if they donʼt return the girls to their families that they will be in constant conflict with them for years to come. The brothers heed the words of the prophet.


As the Spirit is the bond between the Father and Son, the ethical is the unity between physical and social. It is voluntarily synthesizing your nature and nurture for the greater good, and usually involves some kind of “giving back.” The brothers put their natural strength to use in an ethical quest to chase down the women who are running from their families in order to return them. This results in peace and finally in marriage, which is an expression of the ethical heart of any culture, combining the physical (sex) and social (covenant) to open the future (succession).


This Spirit section is about connections. The connection between husband and wife is the children. It is the news that Adam has had a child which causes him to return and reconcile with Millie. Also, having his own child is what internally motivated Adam to tell his brothers not to use violence to defend their women since he now understands how the girlsʼ fathers felt when their daughters were taken. He now has the same spirit as the men of the city. He is no longer just a natural man, a man of the woods. He is now a civilized man, a man of the people.

(Note from Mike Bull: Steven wrote this post as a development of his insightful comments on a rant by Tim Bayly criticising a post by Rich Bledsoe, where Tim sadly fails to understand Rich before ridiculing him.)

See also A Titanic Reality.

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