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"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander." ~ 1 Peter 3:15-16

The Ancient Adversary of Marriages

"And the LORD God commanded the man, 'You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.'” - Genesis 2:16-17

In Genesis 3, the serpent asked Eve if God really said that "You must not eat from any tree in the garden"? Eve replied that they may eat from the trees in the garden, except the one in the middle which they must not touch as well. If we compare Eve's reply to the command given by God to Adam in Genesis 2, we will notice that there are some differences between what God said in Genesis 2:16-17 and what Eve said in Genesis 3:2-3.

God to Adam: "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die."
Eve to Serpent: "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must touch it, or you will die.'"

A careful reading reveals that there are additional information in Eve's reply, as compared to what God commanded Adam in Genesis 2. The additional information in Genesis 3:2-3 are (1), the fruit of the prohibited tree and other trees are mentioned, (2) the prohibited tree is in the middle of the garden, and (3) it is also prohibited to touch it. Hence, a reasonable question would be whether Eve has correctly represented God’s command regarding that tree.

The issue became even more complicated when we realised that God’s command to Adam regarding that tree, took place before God took Eve out of Adam’s ribs (Genesis 2:21-22). While it is possible that God may have repeated and expanded the command to Eve between Genesis 2 and Genesis 3 (unrecorded), it is more probable that Eve heard the command from Adam. This is because God did not indicate that He has commanded Eve regarding that tree (when he could) in Genesis 3:17 when God rebuked Adam for listening to his wife and disregard the command given to him. Further, if Eve was also given the command directly, it makes little sense why Eve was considered as deceived and not also guilty of disobedience like Adam. And if we will to take a strict reading of Genesis 2:16-17, it would appear that the additional information came from Adam/Eve rather than God.

The additional information tells us about the importance of fruits. While Adam and Eve fell because of eating the wrong fruit, we are called to bear the right fruit that is of the Spirit. And while we cannot be dogmatic about the physical location of the prohibited tree in the garden, it certainly was in the dead center of Eve’s mind, despite God’s abundant provisions. The additional precaution not to touch the prohibited tree also appeared to single out the harshness or pettiness of God’s command, coupled with the fact that Eve did not emphasize that they were absoultely free to eat of any other trees. Otherwise, the rule of no contact could be a self-imposed discipline that did not turn out well. It is also interesting to note that Eve addressed God as simply God (Elohim) following the serpent’s leading question, as opposed to addressing God as LORD God (Yahweh Elohim) as used in the narratives of Genesis 2 and 3.

More importantly, if the serpent aimed to plant doubts in Eve who received information of God's command from Adam, the serpent was effectively asking Eve to doubt whether Adam had withheld something good from her intentionally (ie Adam hide the truth from her etc) or unintentionally (ie Adam misunderstood what God said etc). And we can see how doubts along these lines of thinking (ie doubting our spouses' intentions, being critical of our spouses' abilities etc) is still active in today’s marriages, which often leads to disagreements and misunderstandings, and ultimately separations. In other words, the serpent reveled in causing distrust and mistrust within the first God given marriage and subsequent marriages.

Whether this theory is indeed true, the outcome is the same as Adam had started to blame Eve (Gen 3:12). The devil is all out to destroy marriages since the beginning. Therefore, we will need to guard our marriages against the enemies who will tempt us and sow discords in all ways possible (eg parenting issues, financial difficulties, in-laws problems, extra-marital relationships etc), so as to destroy sacred marriages and the future generation. However, we can only guard our marriages by first growing closer to God who will change us and give us wisdom to cultivate and protect our marriages. The threat is real and imminent. So be prepared to guard.

1 comments:

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