As we continue our journey into Salvation History through the Bible, we enter Genesis 3 which is the chapter that shapes the rest of the Bible. In fact, if we misunderstand the first three chapters of Genesis, we miss the full beauty of God’s plan of love for the human race. God created all creation good. He created the universe outside of Himself as a place for us to reside, and form our relationship with God. He created men and women in His own image and likeness as stewards of His creation, and invited them into His creative work, worship, and rest. By the end of Genesis 2, the first man and first woman walked with God, He provided for them in abundance in the Garden of Eden (they ate from the Tree of Life and did not suffer death), and they were given free will to follow God’s command or reject it. 

As we enter Genesis 3, we know the story is about to change. We are introduced to Satan in the form of a serpent (or dragon/leviathan as some scholars have suggested), and Adam and Eve will succumb to the temptation of eating of the fruit of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  When teaching this story, it is the temptation of the priest/teacher/catechist to get bogged down into the details. Too much debate revolves around the actions and faults of the man and the woman eating the fruit (and what type of fruit it was), rather than looking at the deeper meaning of how sin and temptation act in our own lives. 

Genesis 3 is written in the genre of Hebrew poetry so we are looking to understand the “why,” of The Fall of Adam and Eve (and consequently the human race). We should not get lost in trying to figure out how many details of the story are true. While I personally like to believe in the literal interpretation of the story, if details varied like what type of fruit Adam and Eve ate, or even God gave them a different command that they broke, it would not change the Truth that is being expressed in the passage.

The story opens in Eve’s temptation. She is conversing with Satan in the form of a serpent who never outright lies, but bends the truth to fit his scheme. He begins by placing doubt of God in her mind. 

Satan asks Eve: Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden?’ 

Eve is quick to correct Satan. God, in fact, said nearly the exact opposite. They could eat of all trees, except one. Yet, we can see what Satan is doing. He is asking a leading question to psychologically lead Eve down the path of mistrust in God; to believe that He who created all things and gave her life, is holding out on her. However, Eve does add a detail that Satan is quick to exploit.

Eve: God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.’  

Satan: “You will not die; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 

Satan again told twisted truths. Spoiler alert: Adam and Eve will eat the fruit, but will not die…immediately. The death that God was primarily warning them from was a spiritual death and then an eventual physical death. In addition, when they eat the fruit their eyes do open, and they experience a knowledge they had never encountered before: Evil. Even though Satan framed it like God was holding out on His children, it was actually God protecting His children from something for which they were not created. 

So Eve took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, WHO WAS WITH HER, and he ate. 

It is often a misconception that Eve endured her temptation alone. Often, we have imagined a scenario where Eve is talking one-on-one with Satan, eats the fruit, then goes to find Adam and somehow dupes him into sinning with her. However, the text is clear. Adam was present for the entire temptation and raised no objection. He watched idly as His wife risked death by disobeying God’s command, and then participated when it seemed good to eat. In the original sin, Adam’s is one of omission. This is when we fail to take action against sin. Eve’s sin is one of commission. This is when we sin through actively participating in an evil. They then switch roles when Adam eats the fruit (Adam has commission and Eve has omission). Both are types of sin that we all are susceptible today. 

Then Adam and Eve experience evil as the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves. 

Immediately, the complete trust, love, and respect (that we call Original Justice) between Adam, Eve, and creation is lost. Adam and Eve experienced fear and vulnerability in their nakedness and immediately covered up. Why? Because they could know longer fully trust that they would not be hurt or used by the other person. More importantly, they could not trust themselves not to be the one who was doing the hurting or the using. 

Thus sin entered the world. Regardless of the accuracy of the details of the story itself the Truth of the story can be simply expressed: Adam and Eve were given life by God, who revealed Himself to them. He provided for them in abundance in the Garden of Eden, and they were given free will to show God love by following His one command. Adam and Eve were tempted by Satan who used twisted truths to convince them that God was holding out on them and thus not trustworthy; a tactic that Satan and his demons still rely on heavily today. Adam and Eve each demonstrate sins of omission and commission as they grasp after their sin and consequently can no longer fully trust one another. This original sin and fallen nature (concupiscence) is what they pass down to the rest of human history.
In nearly every instance, this is how sin works: we fear that God’s will for us is not enough, and we grasp after something may be pleasurable, but ultimately harmful to us. Once we feel the effects of sin, we fearfully self-preserve, covering and hiding our vulnerabilities from others. We were not created to live in fear. We were created to be free to live in God’s love. Despite this Adam and Eve found themselves in the state of sin, so they were afraid, covered themselves and hid from their Father. God’s reaction to His children’s disobedience would set into motion the events of salvation history. As He enters the Garden in the breezy part of the day, God  brings His justice, but He will also bring hope and a future promise of mercy.