In nature there are neither rewards nor punishments – there are only consequences (Robert Ingersoll)
Adam and Eve, having eaten of the forbidden fruit, are questioned by God (Genesis 3:8-19), “Where are you?” and “What is this you have done?” A common response is that it is their disobedience that leads to them being driven from Eden. But … is God angry?
“Where are you?” is more than a question of physical whereabouts, it is a deeper query of being, it is “Where are you now that you have made this choice; how has it affected you; how are you changed?” Adam’s response, “I was afraid because I was naked” speaks of self-awareness, of God-awareness, of being naked in every way before God, and of no longer being confident in this state of emotional and moral nakedness in God’s presence. Adam’s wisdom, gained through disobedience, distorts his relationship with God, makes him uncomfortable before God.
“What is this you have done?” is God giving Adam, giving Eve, the opportunity to take responsibility for their choice and subsequent action. Both miss this opportunity, neither accept responsibility: “My wife …”; “The serpent …”. Both give excuse, attempt to pass the responsibility elsewhere for the choice they have made.
It is tempting to assign the consequential curse and humanity’s exclusion from Eden to Adam and Eve’s disobedience in seeking wisdom (a gift God did not yet believe them ready to receive). However, having gained wisdom, they are cursed and excluded for failing to accept responsibility for their choice and subsequent action. Rather than a punishment dictated by God, this is a consequence brought about by humanity’s unwillingness to accept responsibility.
Much of humanity’s suffering is due not to wrong choice, but to our failure to accept responsibility for those choices ... there are neither rewards or punishments, only consequenses!
15 October 2006