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.

Advertisements

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.

The Test is Rigged.

The test is rigged.

There is no way you can win with the idea of original sin. If you say that humans are faulty from the very beginning, broken and sinful down to our very core, then there is a problem.

This mindset causes dependency. It creates in people a feeling of never being good enough. That they never will measure up.

Let’s go with the Adam and Eve story. They ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil before they even had the knowledge of good and evil. Thus they had no way of knowing that what they were doing was wrong. So it wasn’t fair to punish them.

Nothing that is from God is bad. So we were made with free will and curiosity. We are finite where God is infinite. We are mortal. We break. Things aren’t effortless for us. We need a little help. We can’t understand and follow all the rules.

So then Jesus comes along and tells us to love. He breaks down all the rules into two – love God, and love your neighbor. Seems simple enough. Then he pays our tab for us – our debt of sin is paid. Some people need to hear that. But perhaps what he really was doing was just saying that we are fine the way we are. We aren’t perfect and we never will be. We can’t ever win, because the game is fixed. He’s letting us know that we are ok. We aren’t to blame for our nature, because it is just the way we are.

Now would be the time that somebody will quote from Paul or point out that “whoever is without sin” gets to cast the first stone. Nobody gets to throw stones. Because throwing stones isn’t showing love. Thinking you are better than somebody else isn’t being loving.

Rather than load people up with guilt about their sin by making them say the confession every week, why not turn it around and teach people different ways they can be more loving and compassionate?

Every week, every day, every minute, we aren’t going to measure up to the idea of being perfect. We never will be perfect. We can’t be. That isn’t human nature. Focusing on our sin keeps us pointed in the wrong direction. We need to learn how to be better at what we can do, rather than on what we can’t do.

We say that Jesus paid for all our sins. So why do we keep pulling them out and focusing on them? This seems pathological.

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.