The first sin.

We must not hate the snake, in the same way we must not hate Judas. Both were created by God and both performed exactly the way God wanted them to. They represent choice, a fork in the road, a divergence point. The snake did not force Adam and Eve to eat. Judas did not act alone. He sold Jesus to the Pharisees, who were looking for a way to silence Jesus, to catch him in violation of Mosaic Law. Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Pol Pot – none acted alone. They were the head of a vicious body, but a body that they did not create. They merely saw and shaped the sentiment of the times.

Eleanor Roosevelt said “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”. Likewise, no one can make you do an evil act without your consent. Succumbing to temptation, eating that extra piece of pie, cheating on taxes or your spouse, gossip, lying – nobody made you do it. You did it.

Perhaps the first true sin wasn’t eating the fruit. Perhaps the first true sin is blaming someone else for your actions. Adam blamed Eve. Eve blamed the snake. Eve didn’t make Adam eat it – he chose to. The snake didn’t make Eve eat it – she chose to.

Imagine how things would have been if they had just said “Yes, I did it.” I suspect they wouldn’t have been kicked out of the Garden. We can return when we take responsibility for our own actions.

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The apple and the snake.

snake apple

What came first, the apple or the snake?

Let’s look at the story in Genesis.

On the third day, God created trees that have seed-bearing fruit (including apples).

Genesis 1:11-12
11 Then God said, “Let the earth produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and fruit trees on the earth bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds.” And it was so. 12 The earth produced vegetation: seed-bearing plants according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

It was three days later – the sixth day, that God created land animals.

Genesis 1:24-25
24 Then God said, “Let the earth produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that crawl, and the wildlife of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. 25 So God made the wildlife of the earth according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and creatures that crawl on the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

Interestingly, immediately after land animals are created – including creatures that crawl on the ground (including snakes) God creates humans.

Genesis 1:26
26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.”

So there was the apple, then the snake, then humans.

The temptation and the tempter existed before us. We were babies in comparison. We didn’t have a chance.

We often forget that God made all things – the apple, the snake, and us. There is no “good” or “bad” when you think of it this way. God provided temptation and tempter because resisting them requires strength, intelligence, power, ability to learn. Not resisting is the mark of a lesser being – an animal. God wanted to see if we were better than animals.

We failed the test.
Adam and Eve didn’t fail for us.
They are us.
We are them.

We fail every time
we eat that extra piece of cake,
slack off from going to the gym
for a week
or a year
or a decade,
we share gossip at work,
we cut somebody off in our cars,
we cheat on our taxes
or our spouse.

We are Adam and Eve, and the world is our snake and our apple at the same time.

But note Adam and Eve weren’t destroyed. They were just given another chance to try again. They were sent out into that big world to learn, to get stronger. So are we. We get a lot of chances.

A life without temptation is not a virtuous life. You haven’t proven you are strong enough to resist the magnetic, hypnotic pull of temptation if you’ve never been exposed to it. Only if you are in it and yet above it are you truly righteous.