Another look at Genesis 3
The deeper question for me and, I believe, the key to answering the questions posed in yesterday’s post is not why the tree was put in the garden but rather, why the Serpent had access to the couple?
Remember that the tree by itself posed no moral threat. By that I am suggesting that without the serpent, the tree was impotent with regard to inciting disobedience. For disobedience to occur, the instrument of disobedience, the Serpent, had to be present as the catalyst. The problem therefore lies with the serpent and not the tree.
Let us consider God’s instruction about the tree as a prohibitive law- a law intended to restrict a particular action. Let us not forget, however, that God gave other commands. In Chapter 1 verse 28, He told Adam and Eve to multiply and fill the earth and to subdue it. Let’s call these laws prescriptive laws because, in contrast to prohibitive laws which instructed Adam and Eve about what not to do, these laws emphasized what they were to do.
Seen this way, one immediately begins to realize that the tree is immaterial to this particular argument because as I stated above, the true source of sin in the Garden of Eden was not the commands, whether prohibitive or prescriptive, but instead, the whispers of the agent of disobedience. In that case, it is not inconceivable to imagine that the Serpent, in the absence of the tree, would have found other ways to tempt Adam and Eve to disobey God’s commands. This would have been so whether God’s instructions were of exclusively prescriptive or prohibitive bend. Incidentally, since the fall, our own flesh has joined Satan in inciting us to disobedience. The laws of God are good; unfortunately, we have internal and external enemies that constantly draw us to break these good laws. In the book of James, he writes we sin because of our own intrinsic propensity to sin following the fall. The parallel situation before the fall is that Adam and Eve sinned because Satan incited them to do so. The Law was not the problem; Satan was.
To ask why did God put the tree in the garden then is to ask the deeper question, is the God of order as Paul calls Him in Corinthians, entitled to make laws? To drive this home, let me consider a different scenario. If rather than the story we have recorded in Genesis, we were told that Adam and Eve fell from grace because, tempted by the Serpent, they refused to multiply, to fill the earth and to subdue it, would we then say God had baited them to acts of disobedience by giving them these particular laws?
All the above brings me to what I consider to be the more important question, why was the Serpent given access to the Garden of Eden? I believe this is best understood in terms of the cosmic struggle between God and Satan that preceded the creation. I have already rambled on quite a bit, so I will stop here. I will, in my next post, reflect on and attempt to answer this question. I will also attempt to expand on what I have shared so far. Stopping here also allows you to comment, to expand or disagree. I welcome your comments. - Gaius Columbus