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Sin Gets Its Start

What God says and does, 5

by Everett Wilson
March 22, 2012

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Sin Gets Its Start

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise,[b]she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.--Genesis 3:6

 In his wonderful discourse on creation, The Third Peacock. Robert Farrar Capon says we need to get rid of the idea that only man is free.

 I am not enough of a scholar to know where the notion that only man is free came from, except that it is not from the Bible. The serpent was subtle, says  Genesis; subtleness  requires the freedom to   create ambiguity and misdirection. You must be able pretend that things are not always what they appear to be.  

This pretension  is a necessary component of free creatures at play. It enlivens  their conversation whenever one says, "But what if?" That question is  a mark of freedom, and others beside God and man are free to ask it. Since freedom is not  limited  to God and man, freedom is not the exhaustive definition  of the image of God.The serpent also was free, but  not more than free  as God is and  the woman was.  

The serpent did not begin his conversation with the woman by lying, but with a question that assumed the possibility of more than one answer.  He asked  if God had forbidden her and her husband to eat any of the fruit in the garden, and she  assured him otherwise.  The woman—we'll call her Eve, which was the name her husband later gave her—answers his question forthrightly.We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden,3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'"      

The second sentence from the serpent's mouth included a lie  that slandered God, but half of it was more or less true; and by that time he had drawn Eve into a dialogue—a temptation disguised as a Teaching Moment.  Half-truths make for  lousy lessons, though. 

  . . the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die.5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."            

You will not surely die is the only blatant lie, for they  would be doomed to die.  But he got it in there unchallenged.     Their eyes would be opened, but it would be no blessing because they would learn the difference between good and evil from dreadful experience, not enlightened conversation.    And they would become less like God than they had been because they were not confused before Eve forsook the command of God and believed the serpent's suggestions.     

            Talk is not sin.  Disobeying God as the consequence of untruthful talk is sin.  When Eve and Adam ate the fruit of the forbidden tree, the world  God had made did not cease to be good, but it ceased to be a garden.  It became instead  an arena where death will hold  dominion until the end of time, when   there will be finally a new heaven and earth in which righteousness dwells. 

            What does Eve's story have to do with you and me? According to the Bible, just about everything. 

Wilt Thou forgive that sin where I begun,
    Which was my sin, though it were done before?
Wilt Thou forgive that sin, through which I run,
    And do run still, though still I do deplore?
        When Thou hast done, Thou hast not done,
                    For I have more. --John Donne, A Hymn to God the Father




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elm from 98801 writes:
March 24, 2012
The 'tempter' manifesting in form of a talking snake is proof the story is a symbolic myth. In world of reality, snakes can't talk and eating fruit from a bearing tree is not a sin nor act punishable by death.

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