3 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
It is not good for man to be alone
I’d like to revisit Genesis 3 as I believe I’ve missed a crucial component in the story of Adam and Eve, and that is how sin took place.
In my previous reflection, we spoke about the inclination we have towards curiosity and the twisted nature of curiosity. Eve was tempted through curiosity–more or less–or rather to experience the thing that was meant to be sacred, the thing that was set aside, not for humanity (not for humanity yet).
It should be stated here that these inclinations are not sin, though as we begin to entertain and give way to them we set ourselves into the scope of sin. We are all curious and will feel something stir us especially when it is a taboo or not meant for our senses, and like any passion these are things that must be managed as a part of who we are.
Where is god?
But curiosity alone isn’t always powerful enough to make us transgress, nor is any other inclination or passion. However, the circumstances were set right in the story for the serpent–the fiery snake, the seraph, Lucifer–to tempt Eve. We read in chapter 2 how Adam and Eve both walked with God in the garden, that they can even hear God and speak with Him. Though its difficult perhaps to say what this implies exactly, but what can be sure is that God is accessible to Adam and Eve.
However, at the same token, it also implies that God can–to some kind of degree–be away from Adam and Eve. This is paradoxal as we consider God “everywhere present and filling all things” and yet we’ve experienced times of being alone from God, and we’ve perhaps we’ve experienced times where like the Lord we feel forsaken by God.
This is all worth discussing because the accessibility of God that we read in this story is important to Eve’s temptation. Again, we have seen how can be spoken to and how His Presence can pass by Adam and Eve. And yet, when Eve is tempted, we don’t imagine God walking by, visible, audible, nearby. It’s just Eve and the serpent.
Which leads us to our next realization: where was Adam during this?
where is adam (Eve)?
Adam and Eve were separated in this temptation. Perhaps we can imagine a conversation in which the serpent could have tempted BOTH Adam and Eve, together. Groups of people can make unwise decisions together, though there is something to be said about the strength accountability has in kinship. Couples, friends, family members can encourage one another towards good habits, help each other reinforce boundaries. We tend to lose weight when we diet with someone else, or gain muscle when we work out with someone else. These pacts are made through close bonds, and marriage is perhaps the strongest pact we can fathom. There ought to be no secrets in marriage.
So, yes, perhaps the serpent would have just as easily had both Adam and Eve in one shot. But perhaps the two looking at one another, to read one another’s thoughts, would have at least pumped the breaks on the temptation…which is a helpful step when fighting any temptation.
I realize a counter argument to this would be “if Adam ate at all, he would have just as easily ate being tempted with his wife.” This point, I would still argue there is a sense of aloneness when Eve gets to Adam. Adam is alone in the state of “not transgressing”, and so there is a kind of “missing out” that wedges Adam and Eve from one another.
At this point, I think it important to clear the air of something: this is not a blame thing, lest we should fall into the temptation of “blaming” that Adam does. We could have switched the circumstances and sexes, but the element of aloneness would still play out.
managing a passion
Being alone does not necessarily create a temptation, though it does give more space for a passion to fester and billow. We all will have to wrestle with temptations and passions as part of our human condition. That being said, the “management” of the passion/temptation can help us from falling into such bad habits, falling into sin.
Let us consider the story of Eve being tempted. What would happen if Eve called out to Adam during this dialog? Or, even better, what would happen if Eve called out to God? Eve called out to neither, though raising her voice in this solitary conversation would have saved her. Any married couple knows that making a decision in secret typically creates festering issues for that couple. “There are no secrets in marriage” I heard a counselor recently tell me, because “the two shall be one.”
There is nothing unwise about conferring with someone else when we are presented with a difficult decision, with a powerful feeling inclining us towards some kind of action. All of us can easily be stirred up and made gullible to a charismatic salesman, to a compelling scammer. In the moment when we are pressed to do something, it behooves us to take a moment and consult someone, for we know, “it is not good for man to be alone.”
In every temptation, in every decision, we may not have the luxury of consulting a trusted family member or friend. That being said, we know from this story that we can call out to God, with our voices or our thoughts, to explain the situation to Him–even though He already knows it–and ask for clarity, for assistance, to put this big feeling at His feet.
Whatever temptation or passion you find yourself constantly butting up against, or whatever big decision you feel pressed to make, be sure to consult with God, raise your voice to Him, and ask for some clarity, for some help, for peace and wisdom to navigate these difficulties.
Today, consider the following:
- What temptations or passions do I find myself constantly battling against?
- Who is my support? Who are my five most trusted that I know I can reach out to when the going gets tough or when I find myself with a pressing decision?
- Do I have difficulty reaching out? If so, why? Where does that come from and how can I practice using my support?
- Do I call out to God in prayer? What thoughts or feelings do I have on prayer? What ways do I acknowledge his sovereignty and in what ways do I hold fast to my own?