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Most of us know the story of Adam and Eve. They lived in communion with God and for a time they experienced no fear, no pain, no evil, no sickness, no shame, and no uncertainty. Then the serpent deceived Eve and convinced her to eat the forbidden fruit. Up until this point, the relationship Adam and Eve had with God was sinless and intimate, exactly the way God intended. However, God gave man free will and man chose to sin. This choice was our tipping point. Sin entering the world changed everything for mankind. In order to understand that change, I want to point out a few things that God never intended for man, his most beloved creation.
1. Childbearing was never intended to be painful or difficult.
"To the woman he said, 'I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children’. . ." Genesis 3: 16a
Woman sinned first, and convinced man to follow. The pain and difficulty with which we endure childbearing is one result of that first sin. There is no way for us to know exactly how childbirth was originally intended to be, but we know from this verse that God never intended for women to suffer. Perhaps it would've been as simple as the creation of woman; where God would take the baby from its mother's body while she was sleeping, the way he took a rib from Adam and created Eve. Can you imagine a world where childbearing was not difficult or painful? What effect would that have on abortion rates? How would that change the rate of fetal illnesses, deformities, or other neonatal issues? The single most joyful and fulfilling moment in a mother’s life was never intended to also be the most difficult and painful.
2. Man was never intended to rule over woman. Man and woman were to work together to have dominion over all creation.
". . . Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you." Genesis 3:16b
Later in the bible (specifically the New Testament), God calls wives to submit to their husbands and he calls husbands to take care of their wives as the "weaker sex." (I'm sure God only meant physically; he knows how tough women are mentally and spiritually. After all, he made us.) Don’t confuse this point with an argument against biblical submission. These are two different beasts. The idea of submission does not negate the idea that, in God’s eyes, men are women are still equal. This verse in Genesis implies that man and woman were intended to be equal rulers of the earth. Our roles have always been different, yes, and times are changing, but for the last 2000 years or so men have been in charge. God intended for men and women to be partners in order to rule over his dominion equally. He never intended for man to make woman his servant or, as history has so vividly illustrated, treat woman as if she is man’s property.
3. Growing crops was never intended to be difficult
"Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return." Genesis 3:17-19
Have you noticed that you don't have to plant weeds? They grow without any help whatsoever. We have to work extra hard to keep weeds out of our gardens, landscaping, and fields. We have to find ways to keep the bugs that destroy our crops away from the food that sustains us. If the weather doesn't cooperate exactly the way we need it to, we still won't have the harvest that we need. There are so many factors that we cannot control, such as late snow storms, famine, and drought. Man was never intended to work so hard to produce the food that sustains us. Adam and Eve didn't have to pull weeds in the Garden of Eden. They didn't have to plant seeds or water the plants. Everything in the garden flourished without their help. This is what God intended; to feed man off of the land exclusively. The land was supposed to feed us without us having to toil over it or look for food sources elsewhere.
4. Man was never intended to die.
"And the Lord God said, 'The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever." Genesis 3:22
God intended for the Garden of Eden to be a heaven on earth and for man to live forever in communion with him. Death is a side effect of sin. In fact, if you've ever read any of the early books in the Old Testament you will read about a lot of people who lived to be over 600 years old. Later, in the 6th chapter of Genesis God says he will cut short the life of man to 120 years. This is interesting to me, because the lifespan of a human today is 120 years. Don’t confuse lifespan with life expectancy, those are two different things. 120 years is our possible lifespan barring any disease or outside influence. Death, all forms of death, is a result of the fact that sin has come into the world. So many people question God's existence because they can't figure out how a benevolent God could allow things like cancer, disease, natural disasters, etc. The truth of the matter is, God gives us free will, and free will allows us to sin, and sin has a plethora of devastating effects that we can't possibly comprehend. Evil is the result of sin. Death is the result of sin. Suffering is the result of sin. God created man to live forever, but sin disrupted that plan.
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5. Man was never intended to be separated from God.
"For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day." John 6:40
"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8
". . .for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose." Philippians 2:13
God created man to be in close communion with him. We were always meant to have a personal, intimate relationship with our Creator. That's why he made us; to love him and worship him. His love for us prevented him from forcing that love and devotion on us. He wants us to love him voluntarily. He wants us to choose to love him. So many people in the world today are trying to fill a void that only God can fill. We use sex, attention, drugs, music, money, material belongings, and anything else we can find to make us happy, when in reality all we need is the companionship of our Savior. We are always searching, always looking for the next thing, never content. We find our contentment in our relationship with the only one who can truly love us unconditionally.
So what? Why does this matter now?
God’s purpose for creating us was never malicious. God intended for us to have joyful lives without pain and anguish, but in defiance of God we allowed sin to enter the world. This defiance is what brought death, pain, struggling, and all those things that come simultaneously with sin. God had to create a way for man to gain immortality through atonement, which is why Jesus was sent to serve as the atonement for the sin of mankind. Jesus is the solution to the problem of mortality created by sin. God is sovereign, and nothing happens that is outside of his knowledge or control, but he will never take away our choice. The only way to “win” in this world is to choose Christ. We must step away from our defiance in order to be fulfilled. It doesn’t mean our lives will be perfect, but I believe this will lead to lives full of joy and purpose.
Rachel-Claire Cockrell is a wife, a writer, and a high school English teacher. She is passionate about her students and does her best to exemplify the love of Christ to those kids who may not experience it anywhere else. She and her husband live in Arkansas. Follow her blog at http://rachelclaireunworthy.blogspot.com/or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/rachelclaireunworthy/.