Sometimes I view the serpent in the narrative of Genesis 3 as a really good drug dealer. This is just a metaphor from me so take it for what it’s worth. Adam and Eve are the kids, and God is obviously the Father. God really loves His kids and sets up a blissful perfect existence for them- a taste of utopian innocence in eternity with Him. He just tells them one thing- “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat.” (Gen. 2:16-17a) God doesn’t give a reason, just a general fact that there’s a boundary line. It reminds me of when my Dad in all his well intentioned humanness used to tell me, “Don’t do dope, or it will ultimately kill you!”
And what’s the angle the serpent uses? He’s smarmy and says, “C’mon man, did your pops really say ‘You can’t eat from any tree in the garden’”? It’s a misquote of God because God gives Adam & Eve freedom for any tree except one. The serpent piques their curiosity.
So Eve responds with the facts that she’s aware of. It’s not that she’s misheard her Dad, she’s heard him loud and clear.
Now this is where the drug dealer metaphor comes in. It’s like the serpent is selling a good buzz and defying the Father. He makes it seem like the knowledge from the tree will make things better for Eve- more spiritual, and more enlightened.
So Eve gives in, and dill-worth Adam stands by just going with the flow. Aren’t we all similar in our tendency to give into pressure? So they get their little adrenaline buzz by going against the Father’s wishes, and then they realize they’re naked and make little fig leaf tighty-whiteys.
This is only stunning when we compare it with Genesis 2:25, the verse right before this story begins:
25 Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.
Wow- what would it be like to have no guilt ever enter into our frame of consciousness? This is what it felt like to be a kid- not aware of one’s own self image. It’s even wilder that it’s the last image portrayed in Genesis 2 as a description of the perfection of Eden. Maybe this is also a glimpse into what the Kingdom of heaven will be like when Jesus returns, where there will be no guilt, shame or pain.
So in the garden there was this freedom without guilt and shame. It’s the kind of thing we’re really trying to recapture our entire lives as they move on into the drudgery of reality and adulthood. It’s not a polemic to say that children have no original intention towards sin, but a view into perfection that’s beyond our realm of existence.
But let’s look at what God says after He gives directions to Adam & Eve in Genesis 2:17:
“For in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
Whoah! Hold up a minute! Did God already know that Adam and Eve were going to blow this one? This is why many folks look at this story and view God as some sort of sadist. Did he just create these kids in order to watch them fail and derive some sort of pleasure from their failure?
This is where the difference between God’s ‘moral’ and ‘actual’ will is important to understand. For He truly does wish that all people would come into true relationship with Him and reject their own self-destruction in the guise of satisfaction. Yet He is also outside of time, and knows everything that will happen. Yet He still loves us and wants what’s best for us. Later on in Genesis Adam and Eve have to bear the consequences of their choice, but God still kept a relationship with them and loved them through it. It’s like that for all of us too- we only feel separation from God because we desire that separation ourselves, and He grants it so as not to force us into blind obedience. But His love and offer of a better life lived for the Kingdom through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ are always and ever ready available for us to take in.