What if I told you that there was one fundamental aspect of the Christian faith that you’ve had wrong your entire life? What if I told you that one of the very first things you were ever taught in Sunday school was in fact a misconception, something you have gone on believing without questioning its validity?
I can’t speak for you, per say, but I imagine that the answer would go something like this: “You’re just an over-zealous, college-aged know-it-all who has no right to make such a claim.”
And the truth is, you may be right.
…but this is my blog, so I get to do what I want.
Now that I’ve [hopefully] gotten your attention, let me tone down my brutality a few notches. I am in no way denying church doctrine or fundamentally changing any beliefs here, but rather providing a new perspective on the story that served as the catalyst for all of human history.
(On second thought, perhaps I’m not the best at toning things down.)
I’m talking about the Fall of Man, of course. Everyone knows the story: God makes man, man needs a companion, God makes Eve, Adam meets Eve, Eve meets snake, and after a string of back-and-forth deceptive folly, humanity meets sin. Just a few pages into the Bible and the plot is rolling full-force, building up to one heck of a climax that won’t take place for another few thousand years. You’ve heard that basic story countless times regardless of your religious background, and it’s a fun one to entertain even if you don’t consider yourself a Christian.
But if I was to ask you what man’s first sin was, what would you say?
If you were like 99% of the versed population, your answer would be short and simple, spoken with little-to-no question: “Easy,” you’d say. “Man’s first sin was eating the forbidden fruit.”
Ahh, there’s the rub. Here is where I grant you the freedom to call me delusional, because I’m going to make a slightly controversial claim: you’re wrong. Man’s first sin was NOT eating the forbidden fruit.
Of course, it would be silly for me to make such a claim without providing a logical source for my thesis, so let’s open up the Bible and take a look at the moment in question:
“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.”
Let me make one thing clear: I’m not arguing that what Eve did wasn’t bad. The Bible tells us in 1 Timothy 2:14 that “the woman was deceived and became a transgressor,” so the Lord rebuke me if I ever attempted to make such a claim. Instead I argue that Eve was not the first sinner. It was Adam.
Go back to that verse in 1 Timothy. Notice what the full verse says: “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.”
You see, the root of all sin is not our deception, but our idleness.
When hearing the story for the first time, it’s easy to imagine that Adam was off going about God’s work naming animals and whatnot while Eve talked with the snake, but make no mistake: the Bible makes it clear that this is not the case. He was with her the entire time she conversed with the crafty serpent, standing idly by as his wife openly did the one thing he was called to ensure neither she nor he did. And then he went along and did the same thing, without even being deceived at the implications of what he was doing! The woman was deceived, but Adam was not; he knew exactly what he was doing when he ate that fruit, no delusion in his mind. Eve transgressed in a moment of weakness, but Adam’s casual passivity was an act of open rebellion.
I want to pose some questions here, and I think they are questions that we can apply to our own lives:
First off, why were Adam and Eve even near the forbidden tree in the first place? God gave them permission to eat from and find satisfaction in literally every other tree within the garden, so why were the both of them hanging around the one tree they weren’t allowed to eat from? Isn’t that just asking for trouble? If sin is interpreted as simply “missing the mark,” then just being near the tree in the first place could serve as Historical Sin #1, because you are definitely missing the mark if you are spending time around the one thing that could lead you to stumble. Rather than enjoying the beauties of that which God had given them, Adam and Eve hung around the one thing it just wasn’t wise to be near.
But for a moment let’s attribute this to ignorance. Even then, another question arises:
Why did Adam stand idly by when his wife started talking to the snake? I don’t know about you, but if a snake starts speaking to you or if you see a snake verbally speaking to a loved one, that should serve as an immediate red flag: something is off! It’s not exactly normal for a reptile to speak in a human tongue (unless Eve just spoke Parseltongue, but that’s some fanfiction for another time). Especially when the snake starts trying to convince Eve to do the one thing God told her not to do, Adam should have stepped in and said, “Beloved, let’s get away from here. No good can come from this.” But instead he was passive, most definitely missing the mark. The moment God’s will was changed from an exclamation mark into a question mark, Adam should have spoken up, but instead he embraced idleness.
I think it’s extremely telling that we don’t even realize what man’s first sin was until the second sin already happened. We don’t realize Adam’s passivity until Eve already ate the fruit, because we don’t even realize he was there until she’s already committed the act! That’s how passive he was – we don’t even know of his presence until his wife has already fallen into the same nature as himself. If the Bible told us Adam was with her from the beginning, that would be one thing, but instead it waits until after Eve ate the fruit to mention, “Oh yeah, and Adam was with her the entire time,” making us be like, “Wait, hold up. Adam, what are you doing? Aren’t you supposed to be the leader here, the one who makes sure things like this don’t happen? Why did you just stand there and not do anything?”
And all of a sudden it makes so much more sense why Adam is quick to blame his wife and God Himself whenever God approaches them in the garden a few moments later. Given the way the primordial man is characterized here, blaming someone else for his own folly is exactly what you would expect from him: he realizes he has no excuse for what he did, so he decides to act like it’s all his wife’s fault, or perhaps God’s for even providing the wife. Yet we’ve already seen that Eve had no part in causing Adam to eat the fruit; sure, she handed it to him, but he was not deceived in the same way she was. He was just passive.
NOW LET’S BE HONEST…sin is not just doing bad things. It is also the failure to do good things. Any human act that is committed outside the boundaries of faith could technically be classified as a sin (once again, “missing the mark”), which makes us realize how sinful we truly are. (And that’s the beautiful thing: the bigger your view of sin, the bigger your view of the Gospel and God’s grace. But that’s another subject for another time.) The Bible shows us that this sin of inactivity is especially predominant amongst the male sex, telling us that while Adam definitely did eat the apple eventually (a bad act, even worse than Eve’s), the first thing he did was stand by and let his loved one commit the bad act first (failure to do a good thing). This is a stark contrast to the leadership role God has assigned to us, because as the male, we are responsible for seeing stuff like that and taking action!
Jump to 2 Samuel 11 for a moment. In there we read the story of King David, but it’s definitely one that feels out of place. Up until this moment David has been the most solid of men in the history of all solid-people (hence why the Bible will call him a man after God’s own heart), but this story is a strange one because David uncharacteristically sleeps with another man’s wife, kills that man to hide his own sin, and doesn’t repent until a prophet of God calls him out on it. The godliest king Israel ever had, yet he was in open rebellion to God, turning into a scheming, adulterous murderer. What the heck happened?
The answer is in the first verse of the chapter: “In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab…”
While David was supposed to be at war, he decided to stay home instead. “He’s a busy guy!” You could argue. “Maybe he needed a break!” And in all honesty, I’m sure that’s the argument David tried to use to reassure himself, but it’s a horrible excuse. In staying home, David was abandoning his God-given responsibilities, passively going for a stroll atop his palace when he should have been out there risking his life for the furtherment of God’s nation.
And where idleness abounds, sin is lurking right around the corner.
So if you’re reading this, I want to encourage you to not be idle. Male or female – but especially male, since we are typically the one’s prideful enough to think we are entitled to such slothful acts – you need to make a conscious decision to be active in your life, not wasting away the life God gave you. You only have one earthly life, so why would you waste it on things that literally have no purpose? I can (and probably will) write an entire blog about what you can and should do to avoid this inactivity in a healthy and life-giving way (for there are certainly ways to do it unhealthily), but for now let me just start with a few:
Being silent in a moment when words are needed. I actually get this point from Beau Hughes of the Village Church in Dallas, but isn’t this the form of passivity we see with Adam in the garden? He should’ve spoken up and encouraged his wife to get away from that tree, but instead he just stood there. He could have and should have prevented her from stumbling, but he willingly transgressed and allowed her to transgress without providing the voice of reason. If you see your brother or sister of mother or father or friend or spouse stumbling, it is your job to not be silent. Choose your words wisely but proclaim them loudly, letting your voice be like the first drop of music to a silent world, the first tint of color in a realm of black and white. If you see someone on the brink of sin, speak up. If you see someone who needs advice, speak up. If you see the opportunity to share the Gospel, speak up.
Then comes staying busy. Now this can definitely have an adverse effect – for, believe it or not, there are ways to busy yourself that are in fact passive because you are busying yourself with things that will save you from having to do other things – but as long as you establish your goals and determine to persist until you achieve them, then you’re good. Determine what it is you want to do with your life, and persistently pursue it! This has been something I have been trying to apply to my own life lately – hence why I rarely have free time anymore – and I’ve never been happier to be busy! Balancing schoolwork with deepened relationships and trying to pursue God’s work…each of those require time commitment, but it’s my job as a Christian to do the most I can with this life God gave me. (For instance, the blog your reading right now was written in 20-minute gaps in between classes and I had to wake up a bit earlier to type it all up.) Leave no time to be wasted; become a master of time management and efficiency and make the most of your life. Find your goals and then apply them. Busy yourself to the point that you don’t have any extra time to fit sin into your schedule!
Finally, love one another. Lack of love for others is, I would argue, the root of passivity, primarily because your willing inactiveness shows that you don’t value the other person enough to try and change their lives for the better. So as weird as it sounds, you are actually loving others more when you organize your life, stop procrastinating, stop hiding sin, stop staying busy for the wrong reasons, stop being lazy, and stop giving your work to other people. Show ambition towards the things that are important to God, and that will result in loving other people in a way that speaks far louder than simply saying “I love you.” Actions do speak louder than words, after all, so let your active role in both your life and others’ lives be like providing comfort to a grieving soul.
I know this is getting lengthy, so I’ll end with a little food for thought, this once again coming from Pastor Hughes at the Village: Underneath all our passivity is a lust for something more, a lust for something beyond what God has provided for us. My challenge to you today is to abolish that lust and transform it into love; stop being passive and start going about God’s work! Don’t be ashamed and don’t be afraid, but boldly proclaim the Good News of Christ to all the nations, even if the forbidden fruit looks really good to the taste.