(9 March 2014)
by Rev. Elder Darlene Garner
God placed the human in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.
And God commanded, “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 2:15 (NIV, Inclusified)
Many Christian churches follow the lectionary, which provides the scripture texts around which each weekly service of worship can be designed. The lectionary usually follows a three-year cycle. The theological focus for the First Sunday in Lent this year is “original sin.”
According to The Catholic Encyclopedia, original sin is a doctrine that can be taken to mean the sin that Adam committed and the consequences of this first sin — the hereditary stain with which we are born on account of our origin or descent from Adam. (https://www.newadvent.org/
The Baptist church of my youth taught me that because Adam sinned by eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, every human being born after him is also a “sinner” who is “bad from birth” and doomed to spend eternity in hell. The only way to avoid the consequence of original sin would be by exercising one’s “free will” and choosing to deny oneself the privilege of having an independent thought in order to live only by the strict “do’s and don’ts” of the church. Then, and only then, could one have any hope of being saved from eternal damnation.
Other things came into even clearer focus when I read the book Original Blessing: A Primer in Creation Spirituality by Matthew Fox (1983, published by Bear & Co., Inc.). It opened my eyes to see the vastly improved quality of life that is possible when one lives with a psychology that says, “The soul loves the body” (as in creation spirituality) rather than “The soul makes war with the body” (as in the fall/redemption theology of my youth). To this day, I choose love over war.
Then I heard this song:
Just for an hour, how sweet it would be
Not to be struggling, not to be striving,
But just sleep securely in our slavery.
My heart would say “Yes,” and my feet would say “Go!”
That somehow my sisters and I will be one day
The free people we were created to be.
(Words and Music by Carol Etzler (now Eagleheart), 1974 published by Sisters Unlimited, RR 1 Box 1420, Bridgeport, Vermont 05734 USA)
Sometimes I Wish is a folk song written 40 years ago. The lyrics are just as challenging today as they were when they were written. Carol was writing then about the specific awareness of her lesbian sisters, yet the lyrics also reveal a different meaning to the consequences of what happened when Adam ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. As I see it now, human naiveté and complacency died that day. Suddenly, Adam saw that his living was not to be about “me” but about “we.” As he chewed on that bitter fruit, he just knew that he would be accountable to God for the impact that his actions would have on others.
His (and our) eyes were opened to the truth that our attitudes and actions are almost always the sole cause of human pain, suffering, oppression, and exclusion. We have to accept responsibility for this; we have to care. We can no longer close our eyes to what we can now see. We can no longer close our hearts to one another nor deny that the so-called “other” is really just the other part of “we.”
Throughout the Lenten Season this year, let us see one another with eyes wide open and show that we care more about “we” than about “me.”