Once the discussion begins on the Fall, there is no dearth of questions and imaginative answers. Fantasy knows no bounds when it comes to explain the sin of Adam and Eve. The staunch supporters of Eve believe that she had a noble reason than that of Adam to eat the fruit of the forbidden tree. They contend that while Eve ate the fruit out of aesthetic and intellectual reasons, Adam ate the fruit out of his sheer gluttony, just to have the taste of the fruit. (It is gossiped that the fair sex was so shocked and frustrated at the consequences of Eve’s attempt to get knowledge that most of them never attempted for it ever since!). Once Eve ate the fruit she must have felt intellectually superior to Adam. But, then why did she give the fruit to Adam also, if she wanted to remain the boss of her mate? Fans of Adam suggest that the fear of death engulfed Eve, and she thought that if she died God would create another woman for Adam, and Eve could never ever tolerate such an idea. So she hastened to give Adam the fruit she ate. They also propose that it was not because of his lust for the fruit that Adam ate it but because of his love for his wife. He knew that Eve would soon die and he did not want to live alone without Eve, and so he too ate it. Thus, it seems that Adam’s act was the first romantic self-sacrifice. But God did not spare Adam from the punishment of his sin because, a sin out of romance is no “better sin”!
Understood literally, the myth of the Fall gives way to weird conjectures. The appearance of a talking serpent should not lead us to think that before the Fall serpents could speak human languages, but that we should take the story for its symbolic value. The story has a lot of things to teach us about the overall origin, nature and consequences of temptations and sin. The story begins with the serpent which was intelligent. Since it made the wrong use of its intellect to seduce others, it is qualified in the bible not as intelligent but as “crafty.” The story ends with an utterly defeated and humiliated serpent proving what Job says, “God catches the wise in their craftiness and the schemes of the cunning are quickly thwarted” (Job 5:13). The crafty turned out to be the accursed. The story warns us that our talents, positives, merits and strengths can also be our weaknesses, and their misuse can lead us and others astray.
The encounter between the woman and the serpent seems to take place near the tree of the forbidden fruit. Serpent does not seem to take Eve to the tree. Supposedly he was waiting there for Eve to come closer to the tree. When she voluntarily came beneath the tree the serpent tried to seduce her. And it was not long before she fell. The one who carelessly handle occasions of temptations and lingers in sinful situations is sure to fall.
Chatting with Satan – that was how it all started. The Virgin Eve is chatting with a stranger, in the absence of her partner, at a dangerous place. Serpent looks very innocent, intelligent and greatly concerned about her welfare. It frames the question in such a way to make a confusion in the mind of Eve, “Did God really say…” A great deal of sin is committed because many doubt whether God “really said” anywhere that this act or that is wrong. Many are confused about whether certain practices are morally acceptable or not. They do not doubt the existence of God, but they do doubt whether all the moral norms the church or the society propose are really intended by God. Lack of conviction damages the moral fabric of one’s behaviour.
God, in His love and bounty permitted Adam and Eve to enjoy the fruits of all the trees except one. The serpent, however, in his shrewdness poses a question which would cast God in a negative light – as someone who forbids certain things. The reality of a generous God is distorted and He is portrayed as a jealous and callous figure. One easy way to make others fall in sin is to take away their love for God by presenting God as the God of don’ts. What picture does the new generation get about God from our families and the church?