January 5, 2012

It's Not All About Eve

I'm tired of taking the rap for Eve. Heck, her husband - who was up to his neck in her deed - wasn't willing to take the rap for her. When God confronted Adam and Eve after they had eaten the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, Adam's response was, "The woman you put here with me -- she gave me some fruit from the tree and I ate it." Don't get me started on Adam.

Not that I think for a minute that I would have done any better than either one of them. I know better than that. It's the insinuation by some that the Fall of Man was more Eve's fault than Adam's, when I think the Bible teaches that it was the result of the predilection we all have for rebellion against God. It's the implication by too many that Adam would not have been so easily persuaded by the serpent that offends me. Even if not directly by the serpent, wasn't Adam just as easy to persuade to rebel against God as Eve was?

It's one of those things for which I intend to have a chat with Paul when we all get to heaven. Just what did he mean in I Timothy 2:14* when he wrote,  "And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner"? So what is he saying? Surely he's not implying that Adam didn't become a sinner because that wouldn't be right. Excuse me, but we don't call it the "Fall of Woman".

We each have a certain amount of cultural conditioning to overcome in our walk with Christ, and Paul surely had a boatload, what with having been a Pharisee and all. Maybe he was guilty of what we Baptists call backsliding when he wrote that verse because it doesn't seem to line up with Genesis 3. More likely, I think that he was well aware that he was writing to people who were new Christians, and who, like Paul, came from a religious background that placed emphasis on following Mosaic law. They didn't have the experience of decades of following Christ in their own spiritual walk. They didn't have the example multiple generations before them who modeled Christlike behavior. They didn't have the benefit of 2,000 years of faithful Christians who had studied the New Testament scriptures and written books and hymns about God's unfathomable grace. For that matter, beyond whatever letters each church had received and/or shared, they didn't even have a New Testament. Many of those early Christians had legalistic baggage they had not yet learned to let go of and more importantly, they lived in a culture that was immersed in that same legalistic baggage. Paul knew his audience in the early churches, and he knew the minds of those who had not yet come to Christ. I think Paul didn't want his words to become a stumbling block to a culture that had enough trouble grasping that God's grace was extended to Gentiles as well as to Jews; never mind trying to explain that God's grace covered women as well as men.

Even so, I always took the words of I Timothy 2 blaming Eve for the Fall of Man for granted because after all, Eve did take that first bite. There's no getting around that. But then I had an "aha" moment earlier this year when I was reading Genesis. I'm visual, and whenever I think of the Fall, I always picture an image of Eve talking to the serpent that came from the teacher's packet in my first grade Sunday school class. It looked something like this:

Source: Google Images
Naturally, Eve is prominent in the illustration, as is the serpent, and there's that smoking gun fruit in her hand. You'll also notice that Adam is nowhere to be found. That's why I had always pictured Adam coming home from a hard day's work tending the garden to find Eve wiping fruit juice from her lips. But in reading Genesis again this past summer, something jumped out at me that in all of my previous readings had never fully registered. Adam was with Eve when she took the bite out of the fruit. How had I missed that? Following the conversation with the serpent, Genesis 3:6-7 says,

Source: Microsoft Clip Art
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. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. 

Now it's not clear if Adam was around for the serpent's spiel, but it is clear from Genesis 2 that before Eve was formed, God directly told Adam not to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Genesis 2:16-17 says,

And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 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.”

So I have to wonder, what was Adam thinking when he saw Eve reach for the fruit? Was he curious, too? Had he been tempted to eat the fruit himself?  Did he fully comprehend the meaning of death? Did he think it was something from which you could recover? In that split second, did he decide to use Eve as his food taster just to see what would happen? 

If Eve's sin was the first sin of commission, Adam's was the first sin of omission. They occurred simultaneously. And if those who believe that a gender hierarchy was in place from the very beginning of Creation are correct, then it could be argued that Eve's sin was not the first -- that it was Adam's failure to stop Eve from eating the fruit that was actually the first sin.

The death that Adam and Eve experienced did not come in a physical way the day they sinned. Theirs was a slow death, one that began with expulsion from the Garden. We live in a fallen world today not just because of the failure of Adam and Eve to obey God, but because of all the ways each of us continues to rebel against Him. The Fall of Man isn't about Eve's sin. The Fall of Man(kind) is about OUR sins -- the sins of men and women, alike.

There are lots of things about scripture I don't understand but this I know: despite the fallen world in which we live, the God who forgives me my sins is not still holding Eve's sins against me. That's because my Savior paid for Eve's sins the same day He paid for mine. That's the power of Christ's sacrifice. That's the power of God's grace.

Until next time,

This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. ~ Romans 3:22-24

*Revised when I reread this after posting and realized that on a roll, I had inexplicably typed I Peter (not once, but twice) instead of I Timothy. As the governor of my native state would say, "Oops." 


  1. Wow! Great post Margaret!

    When you wrote, "If Eve's sin was the first sin of commission, Adam's was the first sin of omission. They occurred simultaneously. And if those who believe that a gender hierarchy was in place from the very beginning of Creation are correct, then it could be argued that Eve's sin was not the first -- that it was Adam's failure to stop Eve from eating the fruit that was actually the first sin."

    It's astounding to see how this belief system has been embraced and translated over the centuries.

  2. Wonderful discussion of Adam and Eve. I am in agreement with you. Having just come from a year of reading daily devotions with Martin Luther (who needed a bran muffin on many mornings) believe me, I get where you're coming from with Paul there. =)
    We all have so much to learn beginning with the first step...Christianity is not a self-improvement project. Thank you, Margaret!

  3. How I love this! Thank you Margaret! :-)

  4. Ladies, thanks for your comments. You don't know how much your encouragement means.

    Paula - It amazes me to think how well we think we know the Bible and yet there are always things that we miss, new things to learn.

    Vee - I love that, "Christianity is not a self-improvement project." There's always so more to learn to grow more like Christ!

    Wender - Thank YOU!

  5. Good observations and question! Eve is not blamed alone for the fall, see Romans 5:12 0nwards, it say sin entered the world through Adam.

    I've never seen complementarians reconcile Romans 5 and 1 Timothy 2 on it, but egalitarians say that Eve fell into sin by being decieved - what 2:14 literally say, and what she said in Genesis 3 when God asked about her sin.

    Adam, on the other hand, sinned knowing it is wrong.

  6. Thanks, Retha. It seems to me the fact that Adam knew it was wrong made it worse, but apparently there are those who disagree with that.

  7. Wonderful post. Its always important to read every thing for yourself.

    Though, I've never taken the stories of the garden literally. Sin, doubt in God, is the guilt of all humanity. We all fall.

  8. Thought provoking! A good probe into truth. One day, all of our many questions will be answered in fullness.

    Thanks for stopping by the blog and for your encouragement. You are always welcome there. Blessings to you for a beautiful week ahead.


  9. my favorite was 'the smoking gun!' it made me smile,
    and smiling is still difficult.

    paul must be looking forward to some long conversations
    with you some day . . . not soon, i hope.

  10. Eve does get a bad rap ... especially because Adam was right there!

  11. your mom wears stilletos???? stilettos? stealtoes??