Sometimes What Is Left Out Is ... Interesting

In the second creation narrative Yahweh curses the serpent for his tempting of Eve. This happens after Yahweh chastises Adam for listening to Eve. In both of these cases, Yahweh addresses the serpent and Adam for an act they actually committed. Adam chose Eve over Yahweh and the serpent tempted Eve by lying about what Yahweh actually said.

So, here’s my question:

Why did Yahweh feel it necessary to remind Eve of the toil and pain of pregnancy? Shouldn’t He have chastised Eve for giving into the serpent?

A1: Was Eve pregnant?
A2: If Eve wasn’t pregnant, maybe she and Adam were having sex. And so Yahweh’s address to Eve could be seen as a warning to Eve about what would happen if she became pregnant.

In other words, what does pregnancy have to do with believing the serpent over Yahweh?

What do you all think?

There are a lot of things which suggest that “eating the fruit” represents sex.

  1. Afterwards, both were embarrassed by their nudity and were hiding their sexual parts.
  2. Having children follows right afterwards.
  3. The consequences in the “curse” to their relationship and pregnancy.
  4. The impact on their descendants.
  5. Prematurely having children without the needed wisdom is a central human problem.
  6. It is a typical false gateway into maturity and knowledge.
  7. Parenthood puts one in a god-like position over ones children to be the authority for what is good and evil.
  8. It could not be excluded from the garden because it was part of them.

But what then of Genesis 1:22? God certainly makes it clear that parenthood is part of the plan. But that doesn’t mean we encourage our children to procreate the first chance they get, does it? So I am not sure that is good argument for excluding such a meaning of the fruit they ate. The problem is one of timing, purpose, and preparation. Shouldn’t there at least be a love relationship between the parents? Can we say there was a mature love relationship between Adam and Eve when the first thing Adam does is turn on Eve to blame her for what happened?

But we can say that Genesis 1:22 excludes some odd versions of this idea that you can find in some corners and history of Christian theology, such as thinking of sex as something evil. And of course in the context of evolution, it certainly doesn’t mean there was no sex in the world any more than there was no death in the world.

Furthermore, even if this was the meaning of the fruit, this doesn’t mean that sex is somehow the origin or link to evil. The parental commandment is much like the one often given by parent’s today, “don’t play in the street or you will die.” This obviously doesn’t mean that streets are evil or even that playing in the street is evil… only that it is dangerous. What about sex? Is there something dangerous about sex? Clearly! It is powerful and formative, so the circumstances of the experience are important and worth some care, preparation, and consideration of timing. Most importantly, it is something which should come after maturity rather than being a shortcut to “maturity.”

Perhaps the story had to give punishment to both man and woman.

Man’s punishment was work in unpleasant circumstances.

Women had the option of surviving without work (outside of what is called the oldest profession), but that work also had the suffering of childbirth.

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The important thing to understand about the Fall story is that it is a cautionary tale against passing the buck.

  • God: “What have you done?”
  • Us: “It’s original sin.” Blame Adam and Eve.
  • Adam: “It was that wife that you gave me.” Blame the wife, and blame God.
  • Eve: “The serpent made me do it.” Blame the demon. “I need deliverance ministry.”
  • And the serpent didn’t have a leg to stand on…
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I quite agree. That is the sin. Not sex OR disobedience. The self-destructive habit was the denial of responsibility in blaming others for your own mistakes.

To go back to the comparison with parental commandment, “Do not play in the road or you will die.” Sex like the road is dangerous and so that could very well be what the fruit represents. But the car coming down the road bringing death is this self-destructive habit of blaming others. That is the pattern we see Cain following in the very next story, showing where such a bad habit can ultimately lead. Blame others for what goes wrong in your life, then removing them from your life to solve the problem is only one short step beyond that.

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A keen observation…so to my mind the sequence could be that…
A warning comes first, then…
We take precautions (or do not), then…
We fail to act responsibly, so…
We suffer a consequence and thus…
Pass the Buck.
But next may be the important part, when we look to remedy what we see (after passing the buck) as the cause, other than self and thus…
Blame others for everything that has gone wrong. And finally the most egregious step when we remove them (or something else equally as innocent) from our lives.

So would this truly be the original sin?

Which is different from “Original sin is what gives us the inclination toward sin, but we are still entirely responsible for our own sins.”

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I personally don’t think it has anything to do with sex since some of the commands was be fruitful and multiply. In think its a myth about humans wanting to choose their way over Yahweh. It’s about us seeing our way as good in our own eyes disregarding the wisdom of God. As others have pointed out before it may not be about labor pain, but pain knowing that you are now bringing kids into a broken world.

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So you would encourage your children to procreate the first chance they get? Or would you tell them that this is something that will be a part of life when they are ready for it? Parental commands like “Don’t go out in the road or you will die!” are never meant to hold for an eternity, so why would you expect that of the tree of knowledge of good and evil? In that case, why is the tree there at all?

If I felt any of that was actually relative to the story and not just red herring out of context examples I would counter and pose questions to dig out how you came to the conclusions you did from the story and my statement.

Yeah, I don’t think eating the fruit was the point of no return even if it does represent sex. All they had to do was repent and God could help them with what follows. But the refusal to acknowledge their error is a refusal to learn from their mistakes. That goes against the essence of life itself. That is the thing about self-destructive habits. They tear down your ability to become more and set you on the path to becoming less. It is a degenerative disease.

As a student and teacher I am quite familiar with a another self-destructive habit quite pervasive in the classroom: procrastination. It may be a small thing compared to blaming others for your mistakes. But it is still like shooting yourself in the foot and setting yourself up to fail. And it is as addictive as it is pointless. It is just as easy to get in the habit of starting on things right away and you can be amazed at how much better you do when you get your mind working on it even in your unconscious.

The irony, as I sit here wasting time online.

An interesting thread so far, but I’m not sure my original questions have been addressed explicitly, so let me try again.

Why did God choose to tell Eve about the difficulties posed by pregnancy?

A related question is why did the author quote God as saying “I will [greatly] increase your pain”? Increase relative to what? Had she previously experienced pregnancy?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Cheers,

I think those are all great questions that one would have to deal with if the text were understood as a historical literal narrative. I don’t, so I don’t have to deal with it. I think the fact that those sort of questions come up if taken as historical is one of the best arguments that they are not (historical.) Also, it is there that Adam names her Eve in verse 20 “Mother of all living.” Before that, she was just “the woman.” No wonder he didn’t have sex until then if that interpretation is correct.

You know, you’re the second person to advance that argument (Christy did so awhile ago on a different thread) and I’m afraid I did not understand the point then and I do not understand your point now. So, let me give you an example and you tell me what I’m missing.

Animal Farm is probably the greatest satirical allegory ever written. I’m aware of no one who thinks Animal Farm is a historical literal narrative. So, if I ask you how Mr. Jones’s alcoholism let to the mismanagement of his farm what would be your response? Would you say that you don’t have to deal with it because it’s just history? It never happened? Well, if you don’t deal with it, you don’t have an allegory and Animal Farm becomes nothing more than a delightful child’s fantasy about talking pigs.

Insofar as Eve is concerned, the expulsion (a metaphor for sin and separation from God) is directly due to the ability of Adam and Eve to procreate. If an exegete doesn’t deal with Eve’s presumed pregnancy, the metaphor of the expulsion as the fall doesn’t work.

Thanks for the critique.

My point was that the story is important (as it is in Animal Farm on a different level) but the historical authenticity is not. We don’t have to worry if there were ever a Mr. Johnson who was alcoholic, or if Eve were pregnant at the time of exile. The important thing is that they followed their own desires in conflict with God’s will for them, and it led to separation. Perhaps that involved sex, as it often does, or perhaps not. It does seem strange if God made them sexual creatures, but somehow did not want them to procreate or follow those urges. My understanding is that it illustrates how we all are tempted and follow our selfish urges.

Thanks, Phil, but I don’t see that you answered my question. If I read your original criticism, I understood you to imply that I thought Genesis II to be a historical, literal story AND THEREFORE readers do not have to deal with whether sex happened or not.

The problem I’m stuck on is how can you construct a metaphor (or allegory) without a rational understanding of the literal text. In so many words, one cannot have a metaphor or an allegory without a concrete basis in the text. So, I’m going to try again.

I’ll begin with an example from a video of a discussion between Tom Wright and your own Peter Enns. In discussing the relationship between the abstract and the concrete he gives the following example based on the familiar metaphor of a tin can meaning a car. When he says “I need to take 'the old tin can into the shop tomorrow” we know what he means. In other words, the metaphor works because we have a rationale understanding of the literal text (tin can) as symbolizing a car. After this discussion, Wright then illustrates how a literal understanding of Genesis I symbolizes a temple story about how God takes up residence on Earth.

As I see it, Genesis II is a story about how Adam and Eve become separated from God by the exercise of their free will. The literal story goes like this: Adam and Eve are two human persons who become procreative. However, since (1) they literally live in a literallybounded, enclosed environment and (2) are literally immortal as will be their children, the garden will soon become literally overpopulated and will have disastrous consequences for the garden.

The story then is a metaphor explaining how through the exercise of free will the primordial couple became separated from God. In the Bible, such separation is called sin. So, the story is, as St. Paul explains, a metaphor called the “fall of mankind”. All of mankind is fallen because God arranges things such that we and all subsequent generations can never get back into the garden by our own efforts (ever-turning swords and stuff).

Cheers,

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Something else that I thought was interesting was the view that Adam and Eve were intended to eat the fruit eventually, but they weren’t ready for it just yet. I think several Church Fathers have considered this; what do you think?

That is what I have been saying.

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Oh. I should probably get my eyes checked!

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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