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Christians confuse themselves with the concept of a Fall. This term suggests that there was a time that humans were radically different than they are now, then something terrible happened and their nature became drastically altered. Well, no, this really isn’t what happened.
From the very beginning, humans have had the option to choose obedience or rebellion. From the very beginning, God has made rebellion seem like a tantalizing option. Take a closer look at that Genesis account in which Adam and Eve ate the fruit. Notice the lures that the serpent used to tempt Eve.
Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the wild animals that Yahweh God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You can’t eat from any tree in the garden’?”
The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit from the trees in the garden. But about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, God said, ‘You must not eat it or touch it, or you will die.’”
“No! You will not die,” the serpent said to the woman. “In fact, God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Then the woman saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to look at, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves. (Gen. 3:1-7)
This brief exchange reveals several disturbing insights into the relationship between these humans and God. First, there is a fundamental lack of trust. Eve has been warned by God that harm will come to her if she eats this particular fruit. When the serpent suggests that God is lying about this, notice how Eve immediately decides that the serpent is the more trustworthy one. Wow. Talk about not knowing God very well. Where is Eve’s confidence in God’s goodness and love for her? Where is her trust that God has her best in mind? It’s not there. Eve has no hesitancy in assuming that God is some shady Guy who is really trying to block her from gaining access to some great prize.
Notice how Snakey throws in that line about Eve getting to be more like God by acquiring greater knowledge. The irony of this exchange is that Snakey is offering Eve something she already has. Since Eve obviously understands the concepts of deception, power hoarding, and rebellion, she is clearly not an ignoramus on the subject of evil. Christians delude themselves about the nature of the first two humans by making the same mistake Eve does: trusting the snake. Snakey implies that Eve doesn’t already know about both good and evil, and from here we Christians leap to the absurd conclusion that the first two humans were pure minded innocents. Well, no, being quick to throw God under the bus as a conniving Liar is hardly the picture of innocence.
The strategy that Snakey employs here reveals further insights into the first two humans. While we love to blame Eve for the fall, the text clearly says that Adam was with her. So what we have here is Snakey talking to Eve while Adam is standing there flapping his ears and coming to the same conclusions Eve does. Eve doesn’t have to talk Adam into sampling the fruit because he’s already onboard with the idea.
Snakey lives in Eden along with the two humans, so he knows them a lot better than we do. Based on the knowledge he has gleaned about them, this is the strategy he uses to get Eve to taste the fruit: he slams the Character of Yahweh and dangles equality with Him as a coveted prize. Why does this work? Because clearly Adam and Eve want to be more equal with God. But why? Where is this jealousy of God’s superior abilities coming from if everything is so wonderful in Eden? Well, given the lack of trust in Yahweh and the total discounting of His goodness, these humans seem to be viewing God more as their Rival than their wonderful Protector, Ally, and Companion. They eat the fruit to try and balance the power between them and Yahweh. This is a goal which only sounds tantalizing when we’re already in a state of spiritual rebellion. When we’re living in alignment with God, we view His supremacy over us as a very good thing and we wouldn’t want His power even if He offered it to us. All of this means that something was seriously wrong between the humans and God before anyone started talking about fruit.
Adam and Eve show all of the signs of being in a prolonged state of hardened rebellion. It’s when we are entrenched in a pattern of willfully defying God that we end up viewing Him as an untrustworthy rival who is just trying to hog all of the good stuff for Himself. It is soul rebellion which causes us to become resentful towards God, and it is the practice of rebellion which makes us become hardened to His convictions. Notice how totally unrepentant the humans are when Yahweh confronts them with their sins:
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of Yahweh God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and they hid themselves from Yahweh God among the trees of the garden. So Yahweh God called out to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”
And he said, “I heard You in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.”
God asked Adam, “Who told you that you were naked? Did you eat from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”
Then the man replied, “The woman You gave to be with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate.”
So Yahweh God asked the woman, “What is this you have done?”
And the woman said, “It was the serpent. He deceived me, and I ate.” (Gen. 3:8-13)
Adam has the cheek to blame Yahweh for his fruit sampling. He refers to Eve as the woman that God gave him—clearly implying that God is the One at fault, not Adam. Eve then blames the serpent.
Notice how the humans run to hide in fear when they hear Yahweh coming after they sin. Why? This is yet another display of the negative tension between them and God. They are clearly afraid of being punished, which means they’ve been down this road with Yahweh before. They know that they did wrong and they know that He is not going to be pleased with their defiance. If these two were as innocent as we like to pretend, they’d be in a confused muddle, not having any understanding of what sin is. If their relationship with God has been all sweetness and joy until now, they’d have no reason to fear Him. But as it is, they duck for cover, and then they rush to try and get out of taking responsibility for what they did. Instead of owning up to their defiance and displaying true remorse, Adam blames Yahweh and Eve blames the snake. Notice how they both accuse a non-human source as the main culprit.
THE REAL FALL
Today no one talks about the real story of Eden. Instead, the Church teaches you that this was the first time Adam and Eve sinned. Then she produces artwork showing some remorseful Eve looking totally crushed over her sin. But no, this is all a bunch of baloney. Nowhere does it say that this was the first time Adam and Eve rebelled against Yahweh. Instead, their actions and their utter lack of repentance make it clear that they are two hardened little rebels. Knowing how incredibly merciful and patient Yahweh is, His harsh reaction to this infraction leaves no doubt that this was one more in a very long series of rebellious acts. It was most certainly not the first sin, but rather the last straw. God is done letting these humans dwell in a paradise situation while they do nothing but spit in His face—that is the real reason He finally drives them out. Yet today the Church would have you believe that Yahweh flipped out on two innocent bumblers for making one error in judgment. Today the Church wants to talk about how clever Snakey was, and she says that the serpent was Satan personified (which is an utterly absurd and unsupported theory). To hear her tell it, Yahweh sent a clever demon in to ensnare two very gullible humans, then He nailed them for making a mistake because that’s just the kind of unreasonable, merciless, short-tempered jerk He is. Like Adam, the Church makes Yahweh out to be the real problem in this scenario. Like the serpent and Eve, the Church is quick to assume the worst about Yahweh’s Character and give Him zero benefit of the doubt. You really don’t want to be like the Church.
The truth is that nothing “fell” here in Genesis 3. Things were already going very wrong long before this famous fruit sampling because the first two humans chose to go the route of willful defiance instead of choosing reverential submission. Did Adam and Eve ever wise up and repent? The text does not give us any reason for hope on this point. Instead, we are left to consider if perhaps this whole cursing business was really an act of mercy on Yahweh’s part. Given what rebellious little snarkers His humans had become living in a perfect paradise, perhaps the best thing that could have happened to them was to have their lives filled with hardships. Since they obviously had no appreciation for God when life was easy, perhaps they learned to appreciate Him when their lives became more difficult. Isn’t it true that even today we find it easiest to remember God in the middle of sorrow, strife, and pain? Isn’t it true that we are quick to forget about Him when life is going perfectly?
Christians refer to this sequence of events in Genesis 3 as the Fall, and yet this label is really quite unjustified. Adam and Eve had turned away from God long before this point. God is not shoving them down here, but instead He is filling their lives with hardship in order to motivate them to return to Him. And once He finishes His speech announcing what new hardships they will have to endure, He makes them their first set of clothes. How is this the action of a short-tempered God who is shoving humans away from Him in angry disgust? No, in spite of how much flack these humans have given Him, and in the face of their total lack of repentance, Yahweh is demonstrating incredible mercy, kindness, and compassion.
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