Why Eve's Rebellion Is To Be Admired
I learned the story of Adam and Eve at such a young age that it precedes my own memory. It is a classic tale illustrated in children's books and retold in Sunday School rooms all over the country. Young and eager ears perk when they hear of the slithering serpent in the garden who tricked the rebellious woman into tasting forbidden fruit. This one intentional act would condemn all of humanity forever. Adam would work all the days of his life until he would inevitably return to dust. Eve would meet the same fate but also bear the excruciating pain of childbirth. They would permanently lose access to the Tree of Life.
Every Christian church warns about the dangers of falling into sin, and often they use the example of the serpent in the garden to convince congregant minds of how crafty and cunning the devil can be. They warn us not to be like Eve, so easily deceived and rebellious. Eve is not to be admired but is used as an example of a woman's natural gullibility. Adam was simply too weak in the sight of a beautiful woman to maintain any sense of loyalty to god. They were both failures, incapable of resisting temptation in exchange for eternal life. Or so that's what my Pastor told me.
But I see things a bit differently these days. And if you're willing to remove the religious filters that have covered this story for so long and read it from a fresh perspective, you might start to see it differently, too.
Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." Genesis 2:15-17
Let's begin with the forbidden fruit. Although there are debates about exactly what type of fruit it was, or if it was even fruit at all, the fruit itself is irrelevant. What we should be looking at is what the tree represents. The Tree Of Knowledge Of Good And Evil was designed to do precisely what you'd think; give you knowledge of good and evil. Which begs the question; why would god forbid his creation from having knowledge in the first place?
Now on to human creation, when god formed man from dust. I wonder what intelligence level this newly formed human was supposed to have. Did god implant a fully developed brain into his skull? Or was Adam more like a toddler in his understanding? He was not given the knowledge of good and evil, after all. So how deep could his natural ability to understand have gone?
And the Lord God said, "It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him." Genesis 2:18
Then there was Eve. Most people do not realize that god never directly commanded Eve not to eat from the tree. The command was given only to Adam before Eve was magically created from his rib. This is an important part of the story because Eve did not technically disobey god. She disobeyed Adam. Yet before the fall, Eve was his equal. She had no reason to think she should obey his rules.
Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, "Has God indeed said, 'You shall not eat of every tree of the garden'?"
And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.'"
Then the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die. For god knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like god, knowing good and evil." Genesis 3:1-5
As the story continues, you learn that a serpent (which most Christian Americans believe to be Satan) roams the garden freely. God created him to be the craftiest and most cunning animal in all the land. You have to wonder why an all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving god would intentionally place a known manipulator into the garden with his newly formed creation. Then again, he set a forbidden tree in their midst as well. He does work in mysterious ways... doesn't he?
The serpent quizzes Eve on why she hasn't been given permission to eat from the tree. He tells her,
"Surely you will not die when you eat this fruit. God just knows that if you do, you'll become like him, knowing good from evil. Your eyes will be open."
I'm taking a wild guess and assuming the serpent was not referring to physical sight. He knew something Eve did not. Since he was so convincing, and Eve did see that the fruit was good for gaining wisdom, she decided to take the risk. She never received the command directly from god, after all. And, without her knowledge of good and evil, how was she to know if it was Adam or the serpent telling her the truth? She was not tricked. She trusted her intuition.
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. Genesis 3:6-7
What Eve did next was not immoral or evil. She brought the fruit to Adam and offered him a snack. He could have easily turned it down. He could have explained to her the dangers and refused to take a bite. But Adam did not even hesitate. Was it a lapse in judgment in the presence of a beautiful woman? Or was it a deeper trust for his god-given partner?
Then the Lord God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever" Genesis 3:22
The most fascinating and eye-opening part of the story is when the omniscient god realizes that the duo has eaten from the tree. He says that because man has eaten from the tree, man has become like him. God is admitting that man became like god. I feel this is often overlooked in church retellings.
The more I read the story, the more I admire the character of Eve. She was a newly formed creation with limited awareness. She did not trust god, Adam, or the serpent. She relied on her own intuition when she saw that the tree was, in fact, good for eating and gaining wisdom. And when she ate it, her third eye opened, and she received divine knowledge and insight. The serpent did not lie to Eve when he told her that the fruit would not kill her. Adam and Eve lived exceptionally long lives. Eve was the only one willing to trust herself rather than falling into the trap of blind obedience to perceived authority. And everything the serpent said came to fruition. Her eyes did become open, she did become like god, and she did gain not only knowledge -but also wisdom.
Although I believe this is nothing more than ancient mythology, I do think there is an important lesson to be found. Although Eve may have been rebellious, I find that same quality within her so admirable. Her act of rebellion is what gave her freedom from unconscious servitude. She was no longer living in a false, blissful ignorance. She gained knowledge, and this knowledge gave her power. Those who want to control you do not want you to have power. So be like Eve and free your mind, question authority, and always trust your own intuition.
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"The Surprising Truth About Same-Sex Relations In The Bible