A gay altarpiece showing two flirty Adams and two flirty Eves has been removed from a church alter after stirring controversy in a Swedish diocese - but not for the reason one might think.
Perched in a tree in the photo illustration, which stood in Saint Paul Church in Malmo, is a transsexual woman dressed as a serpent and dangling a snake from her hand.
The diocese said it feared the painting could be interpreted as showing a transperson as evil or the devil, as a snake traditionally symbolises evil in Christianity.
Created by Elisabeth Ohlson Wallin, the 1.3 by 1.9 metre illustration called 'Paradise' was offered to St. Paul's Church, the third largest city in the country.
It was placed to the right of the main altarpiece on the first Sunday of Advent, December 1.
The diocese decided to remove it from the alter on Wednesday, but not because the Lutheran Church of Sweden had an issue with the gay couples depicted.
'The fact that there are two homosexual couples in the artwork is completely uncontroversial,' the diocese wrote in a statement.
'But the fact that there is a snake, which traditionally symbolises evil, and that it turns into a transperson could lead to the interpretation that a transperson is evil or the devil.'
'The Swedish Church can absolutely not stand for that.'
Artist Elisabeth Ohlson Wallin, 58, said she was disappointed the mural had been removed from the church.
She aims to create Christian artwork that LGBTQ people can identify with.
Ms Wallin made headlines 20 years ago for her depiction of a stiletto-wearing Jesus surrounded by 12 transvestite apostles.
The pastor of Saint Paul, Sofia Tunebro, also regretted the decision.
'We've been marrying gay couples for 10 years, and with this artwork, it was a bit like hanging up a wedding photo in the church,' she said. 'Elisabeth Ohlson Wallin has done so much for the integration and representation of [LGBTQ people] in the Christian world.'
This article has been adapted from its original source.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.