In reading about the Fall of Adam and Eve, we can identify how temptation leads us to lose our trust in God. Satan uses twisted truths to coax us into losing our faith in God’s abundant generosity as our Father. Even though they had everything provided for them, and they were given the opportunity to love God through free will, Adam and Eve were still seduced to grasp after things that were not meant for them. While the story of Adam and Eve’s sin can be demoralizing for someone who is striving not to sin, God’s response to Adam and Eve should give us great hope.  

In many Catholic school classrooms, CCD classrooms, and Bible Studies the temptation is to look at God’s response to Adam and Eve’s sin as vengeful God, handing out punishments. Or even a disappointed God who needs to teach His kids a lesson by sending them out of their paradise. However, if we examine Genesis 3, we can possibly draw a slightly different narrative that can reveal to us a Father who is concerned with bringing His children back to Him.  Yes, God’s justice is present in the story, but His justice is setting the stage for His Divine Mercy. 

After they had eaten the fruit, the man and his wife hid themselves from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

Sin turns us away from God. Because we were created for perfection, we are aware when we are not perfect. Faced with God’s perfect presence, Adam and Eve immediately hide themselves; something that they had never done before. 

The Lord God then called to the man and asked him: Where are you? 

God knows what happened. He is aware that His children have sinned and are hiding themselves, yet He comes in with patience. Like a father who comes into his children’s room to find them hiding in the closet or under the bed after he sees the broken lamp on the floor, God comes and asks kindly: Where are you?

[Adam] answered, “I heard you in the garden; but I was afraid, because I was naked, so I hid.” 

Adam, sensing God’s kindness, answers with honesty, however does not reveal the full truth. Yet God wants to reveal the sin to begin the healing process. Like a good father, He asks another question to draw out the full story. 

Then God asked: Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat? 

At this moment God is allowing Adam to come forward with the full truth, by asking a direct question. Adam, who can no longer evade the question, changes tactics. Rather than own up to his sin and ask for forgiveness which His Father desires to give, Adam plays the blame game. 

[Adam] replied, “The woman whom you put here with me—she gave me fruit from the tree, so I ate it.”

In one sentence, we see the loss of original holiness (perfect relationship with God) and original justice (perfect relationship with creation and fellow human beings) has been fractured. Not only does Adam place the blame on his wife who was “bone of [his] bone, flesh of [his] flesh..,” but he also points some of the blame to His creator: “The woman whom YOU put here…” The effects of sin truly are damaging. Adam went from steward of all creation to a cornered child not being able to own up to his sin and placing blame on those closest to him. God, in His never failing patience, turns to Eve, giving her the chance to ask for forgiveness. Yet, she falls in the same trap. 

The Lord God then asked the woman: What is this you have done? The woman answered, “The snake tricked me, so I ate it.”

Eve blames Satan, and she is correct. Yet, throughout the interrogation neither Adam or Eve have the humility to ask for forgiveness for their part in disobeying God. So next, God explains His divine justice.

Again, we may be tempted to think that God is bringing out punishments to get revenge on His children for their disobedience. Rather, God turns to prophecy. He reveals the consequences of their sin. Man will have to leave the perfection of the garden, because he is no longer perfect. Without the garden, man will have to toil for his food. His sinful nature will cause him to want to dominate his wife, and both man and woman will have the tendency to lust after one another. God created the moral order. When that order gets broken, suffering, persecution, lust, and inequality is the result. It is not the way God intended for creation to be, but that is what sin does. 

At this point in the story, God could have left Adam and Eve and their descendants alone. He could have allowed us to physically die and spiritually die to eternity in Hell. However, this is not what God desired for His children. He desired for us to be with Him forever. So in His justice to Satan, He reveals a promise of salvation that would ultimately grant us mercy. 

I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel. 

God tells Satan that the human race will come to hate their sinfulness, and thus hate Satan and the slavery he holds over us due to our sinful natures. In addition, in this prophecy that we call the Protoevangelium (First Gospel). God tells of the offspring (Jesus) of the woman (Mary) who will always conquer Satan. While Satan has tricked God’s children into sinfulness, God will not abandon them. Rather, in their sinfulness, His grace will abound all the more. God will use the rejection from His children as an opportunity to show us a love of even greater depths; one that we never could have imagined. And He will do this through the offspring of the woman, His Son. Even in one of its darkest moments, the human race has hope. In His justice, God will grant us mercy.