Eve was framed.

So many denominations teach that women are evil. They teach that all sin came from Eve. They teach that she ate from the forbidden tree and dragged Adam down with her. They use this twisted version of the story to justify not allowing women to be ministers, as well as justifying husbands being abusive to their wives.

Read the story for yourself, and then walk along with me here. Eve was framed. If you don’t have a Bible nearby, you can follow along with the website biblegateway.com. That is where I’m copying all these verses from, and I’ll be using the New International Version, partly because it is the default translation on that page. Feel free to use other translations. You’ll see the same story.

In Genesis 2:9 we learn that there are two trees in the center of the Garden of Eden. “In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” There isn’t just one tree in the center, like we are often told when others do the explaining for us. Already we learn that something might be different here. Maybe we have been deceived.

The Lord God created Adam first, in Genesis 2:7, and in Genesis 2: 16-17 we read “16 And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

Then Eve is created. In Genesis 2: 18-22 we hear the story of how Eve was created from Adam’s rib. Please note that she wasn’t in existence when the rule to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We are left to presume that Adam told her that rule. The rule is not repeated to her in the text. But we will soon see that something went wrong in the transmission. Just like in the game of “telephone” when we are children, the story changes a bit when it is shared from person to person.

In Genesis 3:1-3 we read “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.’”

Wait. Let’s compare that with what God told Adam. Yes, He said to not eat of the tree of knowledge. He didn’t say anything about not touching it. There is our proof that something went wrong in the transmission, and that Eve wasn’t told this by God. Eve got this secondhand from Adam. Some might use this as an excuse that women should listen to what their husbands say as if it came from God. If that is true, then the husband needs to repeat what God said exactly and not start changing it.

And, let us remember that neither of them had yet eaten of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They were innocents. They had no way of knowing right from wrong. They didn’t have the capacity to understand their actions at that point.

Then it gets really interesting. In Genesis 3:6 we hear this – “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.”

Look at that last sentence. Adam was with her. He was standing right there the whole time that the serpent was tempting Eve. He didn’t speak up. He didn’t counter the serpent. He didn’t say anything. He let his wife do something that he knew to be wrong. He was fully aware of what was going on.

They eat the fruit together. Then the jig is up. They’ve become self-aware. They realize they are naked and they hide. God goes out to find them and asks what happened. Adam says to God in Genesis 3:12 “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” How passive can you get? He sounds like she forced it on him. He knew what tree the fruit came from. He had the direct knowledge from God that he shouldn’t eat from that tree. He was standing right there with her when the serpent was trying to deceive her, and said nothing. And then he blamed her and acted like she forced the fruit on him.

Eve was framed.

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Elevator

Today I’m going to meet Anne Lamott. She is signing her new book at the main branch of my library system. She is the author of “Traveling Mercies,” “Grace, Eventually,” and “Plan B.” All of these contain her thoughts on faith. She and Sara Miles are two of my favorite Christian authors. They both get into the trenches of faith and don’t pull any punches about how hard it is to live this life.

So many Christian authors talk about how wonderful their life got when they became Christian. They write that everything got better and easier. They live in really nice houses and drive really big cars. They write about the huge churches they started and how their congregation is growing every week.

This doesn’t synch up with what I’ve experienced.

I do not know what floor they got off on when they got on the elevator of Christianity. They must have gotten off on the floor that was marked “fancy stuff” and “easy street.” When I got on the elevator, I got off on the “broken people” floor. I got off on the “time for hard work” floor.

So many authors I’ve read have left me feeling like I didn’t do it right. That maybe I didn’t press the button hard enough. Maybe my prayers weren’t heard because I wasn’t trying correctly. Maybe my connection is faulty.

I feel like Anne Lamott and Sara Miles are my sisters in the trenches. They talk openly about how hard it is to be a Christian. Things break. New things don’t just start appearing. People are mean. Sometimes those people are the ones you go to church with. From reading Anne and Sara’s work, they’ve let me know I’m not alone in my experience. They’ve let me know it is OK for me to write about it too. They’ve affirmed me, and given me permission.

I feel that once you become a Christian, everything gets harder. You are aware of your responsibility. You realize how much you have not done well and it is time to make amends. It is like getting sober. In AA, part of the twelve steps is making amends to those people you wronged when you were drunk. Now you are aware of all the damage you’ve done, and now you have to try to fix it. There is no twelve step program in Christianity, or at least, not openly. But the same rules apply. “Love your neighbor as yourself” is the same thing. Part of showing love is making amends. You have to go rebuild that bridge if possible.

Anne and Sara both tell about how hard it is to go slogging into that muddy, raging river and digging up those stones to try to rebuild the bridge. They talk about how the person on the other side yells at you because they like the broken bridge just like it is, thank you very much. That person hasn’t been through the same experience you have, so he doesn’t want the bridge rebuilt.

But what about those who have decided to follow Jesus? Is it any easier to live and work with them? No. Not at all. You’d think we’d all be on the same team, working from the same playbook. You know, same Lord, same Bible. You’d be wrong, sadly. There are many times where I wonder what they are thinking when they say and do crazy things.

I just read about a lady who objects to the term “Deviled eggs” and they call them “Jesus eggs” in her house. It is this kind of stuff that I’m talking about. Then there are people who slaughter elephants to then take the ivory from their tusks and carve them into statues of Jesus. I can’t even begin to tell you how horrified I was when I read that story in National Geographic. It was a blog post from a local Rabbi that gave words to my feeling. Rabbi Rami Shapiro said “True religions teach you to see the Lord in the elephant, as the elephant, and not collude in the murder of the elephant to honor your Lord. Jesus died for your sins, not to excuse them.”

I’m not ready to throw the baby out with the bathwater. I think that Christianity has gotten a bad reputation, and it is often due to really whacked-out Christians. I feel the need to apologize for all of Christianity. We have sinned against God and our neighbors by not showing love. We have gotten sucked into the materialism. We have gotten greedy. We have gotten tripped up by the legalistic nature of religion. We’ve forgotten that Jesus came to fulfill the law – but by getting to the heart of it. Rather than fulfilling the letter of the law, he fulfilled the spirit of it. He worked on the Sabbath to heal a crippled man. So he broke one rule, but honored the real rule.

We humans often lack Jesus’ keen insight into what we are supposed to do. This is an understatement. The bad part is that there are a lot of sins that we Christians do, and we do them in the name of God. We are hostile to people who aren’t Christian. We are hostile to people who are Christian but aren’t members of our denomination. We are hostile to people who are in our denomination but don’t share our views. We argue over interpretations of the Bible – should we or shouldn’t we do this? We argue over whether we should have stained glass. We argue over whether women should be ministers. We argue over how old the Earth is. We argue over who can receive Communion.

We forget that everything that Jesus did was to teach us to love each other. To be servants.

Father, forgive us, for we know not what we do. Please send your Holy Spirit to us so that we can truly hear Your Word and be Your Body on this Earth. Give us the knowledge and strength to mend the divisions between us. Give us patient hearts to be loving and kind to everyone, seeing everyone as Your child. I ask this in the name of your Son, Jesus.