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.

The snake at Mary’s feet.

I was in a contemplative prayer part of the retreat last weekend. I don’t quite get it. I feel like it is Old-Age meditation, rather than New Age. There isn’t a structure. I got a little distracted.

I started looking around. We were in a tiny chapel. There’s this nice sculpture of Mary to the left of the altar.
8

I studied it for a while. Then I looked down. Why is there a snake hanging out under Mary’s feet? Why are her feet bare?
9

7

This hardly seems fair. Are we harking back to Eve here? How long are women going to have to pay for that mistake? See my “Eve Was Framed” post for further musings on that.

Perhaps it is like the Hindu sculptures of Shiva. Sometimes he is depicted with a dwarf under his feet. It represents ignorance. By standing on it, he is supposed to be showing that he has defeated it.

Perhaps they are saying symbolically that Mary has cancelled out the error of Eve. She didn’t go against God, she submitted fully to God’s will. She didn’t say No to God. She said Yes.

There’s a problem with this imagery though. If you stand on something unstable, you yourself will become unstable. Standing on ignorance is to make your base ignorance itself. Plus, to refer to ignorance or sin, even in the negative, is still to give it energy.

Two creation stories – Human, and Living people

Have you ever noticed there are two different stories of God making people in the Bible? Adam and Eve weren’t the first humans. They were the first humans who were truly alive. There is a difference.

On the sixth day, God created humankind. This is in Genesis 1:26-27 (all translations are from the NIV)

26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground. 27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

On the seventh day, God rested. The first chapter of Genesis ends with this. It is in chapter two that God makes Adam, which means, of the earth. According to the Bible Gateway website, “The Hebrew for man (adam) sounds like and may be related to the Hebrew for ground (adamah); it is also the name Adam.”

Now, it reads as if God is creating the world all over again. In Genesis 2:5, we read that there was no vegetation yet. We learned in Genesis 1:11-12 that God created vegetation on the third day. If this story is sequential, then we are going backwards. Or God is creating the world all over again. This is a bit confusing. I think the most interesting part is that it appears that God created humans twice.

7 Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. (Genesis 2:7)

This is important that the man is created separately, and is described as a living being. In the first creation story, men and women are created at the same time, and they are not described as “living beings”. They are alive, certainly, but not truly living in any real sense. They are like animals. Adam is different. Adam has a soul.

God had created a garden, Eden, and he put Adam there to tend it. The garden has food to feed him.

15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. (Genesis 2:15)

God thinks that Adam needs a helper. God creates animals, but they won’t do the trick.

On the fifth day, God created the water animals and the birds, in Genesis 1:20-21. On the sixth day, God creates land animals, in Genesis 1:24-25. But in Genesis 2:19-20, God creates the land animals and all the birds, right after creating Adam.

18 The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” (Genesis 2:18)

God had to do something else.
“…But for Adam[f] no suitable helper was found. 21 So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs[g] and then closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib[h] he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. (Genesis 2:20-22)

Interestingly, God creates Eve from Adam, rather than from the ground like God created everything else.

Adam had named all the animals that God created in Genesis 2, so he got to name Eve.
20 Adam[c] named his wife Eve,[d] because she would become the mother of all the living. (Genesis 3:20)

I think this is significant. Not just humans, but the living.

Remember the Jewish exclamation “L’chaim”? It means “To life”. What if it refers to the fact that the Jews are the only living people?

Then we get to Genesis 4:16-17 Cain has killed Abel, and is banished from Eden.
16 So Cain went out from the LORD’s presence and lived in the land of Nod,[f] east of Eden. 17 Cain made love to his wife, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Enoch.

Who is this wife? Where did she come from?

I propose that she is one of the humans that were created. She wasn’t one of the “living” – she was a human, but not special.

Then Adam and Eve went on to have another child, named Seth.
25 Adam made love to his wife again, and she gave birth to a son and named him Seth,[h] saying, “God has granted me another child in place of Abel, since Cain killed him.” 26 Seth also had a son, and he named him Enosh. (Genesis 4:25-26)

Then who did Seth marry, in order to have Enosh? I propose it was yet another human, again, not “living” that God made in Genesis 1.

I propose that “living” means called by God. Adam was made differently from all the other people. From him and Eve, all living people came. Otherwise, people are just animals in human shape.

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.