Revisiting The Garden

Based on Carol Hoenig’s … A Closer Look at that Garden -

To begin, I truly believe that Carol Hoenig did a respectable job in positioning her piece against Dick Brooks’.  While I obviously side with Brooks, I must commend Hoenig for being honest, real and unoffensive in her rebuttal.

It all started in the garden of Eden. It doesn't matter whether we consider the Genesis story to be fact or allegory. The denouement is the same. Adam and Eve were given everything they needed to live an idyllic life. There was just one little catch. They were prohibited from eating the fruit of just one particular tree in the garden. A test of obedience. We all know how this scenario played out. They blew it big time. -Dick Brooks

He’s right; Adam and Eve made some serious missteps.

Now, let’s see where Hoenig stands:

“Here is the problem I have with this biblical story: How is it that Adam and Eve, who were ostensibly the first man and woman to walk the earth and with God, would also be the first to “disobey?” It is astounding to me that these first humans were willing to question the laws of their creator with whom they were so close.” – Carol Hoenig

While this seems valid on the surface, one must recognize (at least from the Christian perspective) that it is believed that human beings — including Adam and Eve — were born with free will, meaning that we all have the ability to make conscious decisions.  This is what was at work concerning the story of Adam and Eve.

It’s not uncommon for a child to disobey a parent, even when that parent says, “No!” numerous times  before that child acts out.  It’s human nature to test boundaries, which can lead one — even the first man or woman — to rebel out of shear curiosity.

For those who believe that this story is factual, there is a lot to consider. Number one: there wasn’t “just one little catch,” as Dick says. There was much more to it. Not only was that tree—AKA entrapment—put in the Garden, but so was that snake that proffered doubt. Did the Supreme Being have his back turned in that moment to let nature run its course? – Carol Hoenig

While I see where Hoenig is going with this, it’s not that simple.  A cautionary note to those who do not believe: Remember, everything that I’m writing is from a Christian perspective; thus, you may not agree, but you should still be able to place yourselves in the shoes of an individual who does.

At any rate, of course God wasn’t turning His back.  That snake — Satan — is also a creature of free will.  It’s nonsensical to assume that God would create humanity (or angels for that matter) to be robotic creatures that are incapable of making decisions themselves.  What was going on in the garden — even on behalf of Satan (the snake) was free will.  As far as the tree goes (i.e. entrapment), it was a test.  As humans, we face them every day.  Whether it’s drugs, alcohol, an unhealth obsession with fantasy football, pornography — the list goes on — we are consistently tested as we make conscious choices to either build our character or plot its deterioration.  This is precicely why I do not find the tree so offsetting.  Not eating from it is much like avoiding the temtations we face on a daily basis.

The thing is, so long ago when Adam and Eve were the first, having been breathed life into by God, they were not satisfied. Yet today, oh so much later in the grand scheme of things and so far removed from that Garden, there is the thinking of believers that God satisfies every need, even though God didn’t satisfy every need of the first man and woman. – Carol Hoenig

But isn’t this more complicated than simply saying, “Believers think God will satisfy it all?”  Clearly, God doesn’t satisfy selfish needs nor those urges that are rooted in sin and degradation.  He does, however, provide on the spiritual level, which transcends anything that we experience in the physical.

In addition, because the Bible teaches that God is “our father” it makes me wonder what kind of parent brings life into the world knowing the children are going to fail. (Yes, this is where Jesus comes into the story, I know.) – Carol Hoenig

Right, but Jesus coming into the equation deserves much more than an “I know.”  With this said, Carol does go on to explain her ideologies:

But banishing them from the Garden after one error certainly doesn’t set an example of turning the other cheek, and then sending them to hell because doubt outweighs faith is another. – Carol Hoenig

No, but it does provide an idyllic picture of parental love through the correction of human transgression.

How many parents banish their children from the dinner table or send them to their rooms when they act out?  Adam and Eve committed a major violation.  Do wives leave their husbands and husbands their wives when infidelity strikes?  Absolutely.  And with good reason.  There are consequences to all we do.  If mothers and fathers “turned the other cheek” to every offense, we’d have some pretty unruly children on our hands (not that we don’t already).

Also, it’s interesting to note that when considering Christ’s resurrection, one can see that God now invites the world to eat from the Tree of Life (Jesus Christ), which is a paradigm shift from what we see in Genesis and ironically many people consciously choose not to take him up on the offer.  Not accepting Christ is between each individual heart and the Lord. 

Either way, there’s much to consider.  Whether you believe it a reality or an allegorical illustration, the story is definitely worth exploring.