“Pollyanna!,” she spat with sisterly disdain.

But I took it as a compliment.  Every single time she said it.  Because I liked seeing the good in people, in situations and in life.  It beat the heck out of being miserable her.

“You’re not funky enough,”  he said matter-of-factly.

Funky is highly overrated. But I already told you that story.

“It’s easy to embrace heaven and goodness in a safe protected privileged bubble,”  he jabbed.

I found it ironic.   Because not too long ago he told me about a time when he almost drowned.  He was under water in a protected bubble for quite some time.  And he liked it there.  He didn’t want to leave.  But a voice told him to swim toward the light so he did.

So why insist that I leave my protected bubble? Is it just a matter of misery loving company?  “Join the f*ing human race,” he wrote.  Why on earth?

God placed Adam and Eve in a protected bubble.  It was called the Garden of Eden.  To be accurate, the garden was not the bubble – there was danger lurking there – the bubble was the protective warning God gave them.  The one thing He did not want us to have was a knowledge of good and evil.  But Adam and Eve insisted upon it and look what it got them.  Look what it got us.

Immediately after gaining carnal knowledge, Scripture says they were afraid.  An emotion I am guessing they had never experienced before.

Jabber cursed that I am not and never will be an effective counselor because I will not climb down into the pit and embrace the dark side.  I have three things to say about that:

#1  I am not a counselor or therapist.  I’m a wife, mom, and speaker.  And I invite people on retreats now and then to listen to their stories.  Even if I were a professional counselor, I don’t believe climbing into a dark pit would help anyone.  Which leads me to

#2  When I used to lead women (and sometimes men) through post-abortion Bible studies, from time to time someone would ask, “How can you lead these studies since you’ve never had an abortion?”  Usually it was asked in an angry manner by a participant who was going through a rough patch on the road to recovery.  Here’s what I would tell her:  Jesus hasn’t had an abortion either and He’s the One who heals you.

#3  We’ve all heard that FBI agents (or whoever deals in counterfeit $) don’t study counterfeit bills in order to catch counterfeits.  They study the real thing.  Because when you know the real thing inside and out, you can easily spot what is not.

I received a lot of praise and attention from teachers for being smart, for quickly understanding things.  Being smart became a big part of my identity.  Back then, if someone would have insinuated that my understanding and effectiveness were deficient because I hadn’t descended into some dark pit, I might have been tempted to go there just to prove something.  But I have nothing to prove.  My identity isn’t wrapped up in being smart anymore, and I know that going deep does not mean going down into a pit.  It means looking up to heaven, seeing what healthy looks like and aiming myself and others in that direction.

If having a knowledge of good and evil were so stinking important, then God would not have warned against it.

So to that sister who tried to shame me into the pit by saying that I was not as savvy and sophisticated as she was, I say “scram.”  And to the boyfriend who invited me into the pit by implying I’d be more interesting, I say “beat it.  I’ve seen it for what it is.”  And to those wolves in sheep’s clothing playing their sick game, I say “get behind me satan.  Luring me into the pit by insisting I’d be more spiritually complete, further along in my walk with the Lord and more like God may have worked with A & E but it didn’t work with me.”

Call me Pollyanna, call me not funky enough, call me not spiritual enough.  Just don’t call me late for dinner.

Surely goodness and lovingkindness
shall follow me all the days of my life.
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
forever and ever and ever.

© 2015, The Reluctant Baptist

 In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Weaving the Threads.”

Light, war on women

Winning the War on Women

The Expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise

“The Expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise” c 1791 by American Benjamin West.  From the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.

I recently read an article that tackled five modesty myths.  Myth #4 blamed lust on Eve.  This was the section heading:

Manipulating a man’s attention for the purpose of affirmation is how women are tempted to lust. Case in point: Eve.”

I am so, so tired of Christian women blaming Eve for everything.  And since the adage is true that if I am not part of the solution, I am part of the problem, it is way past time I set the record straight.  I will no longer allow my silence to perpetuate the lie.

How It All Went Down.

To be fair to myself, I haven’t been completely silent.  I wrote a Bible study a few years ago laying out the whole Garden fiasco. As I studied, I discovered that what the church teaches is not exactly how it all went down. Even the title of Benjamin West’s painting does not have it quite right.  For the last four years I have been sharing what I discovered with local audiences. Now it is time to share it with you in hopes of putting some very old and pervasive mis-teachings to rest.

The Problem Isn’t Exactly Paul.

Paul’s letters fuel the mis-teachings. In 1 Timothy 2 he wrote:

“A woman should learn in quietness and full submission.  I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.”

Paul was correct when he wrote that Eve is the one who was deceived, but consider this: When the LORD tucked Moses securely into the cleft of a rock and passed before him, He proclaimed this,

“The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”

Of all the things God could have said about Himself, He said that.  Why do I bring it up?  Because I was taught that sin is sin; that murder is no different from lying, etc.  But right here, God made a distinction.  Wickedness, rebellion and sin are not the all the same.  They all separate us from God, but they do not all have the same consequences.  (See Luke 12:47-48 if you don’t believe me.)  Sin is anything that falls short of God’s standards.  We can sin and not even know it. Rebellion is knowing something is a sin and doing it anyway.  Wickedness is knowingly causing someone else to sin. Eve was deceived and she sinned.  She admitted it.  If Adam was not deceived, then that means he was aware that what he was doing was wrong and he did it anyway.  That is rebellion, which carries a more severe consequence.  (Luke 12:48)  Yet Paul did not mention that.  I have a theory as to why, but it will have to wait. Eve sinned, Adam rebelled, and yet Eve gets the blame.  Oh how I wish I had the time and you had the attention span for me to tell it all to you now.

The Problem Is The Devil.

If you are familiar with Genesis 3, then you know that Eve blamed the serpent and Adam blamed God.  And because Eve called out the devil, and Adam protected him, there is – to this day – enmity between the devil and the woman.  The Septuagint uses “hatred” rather than “enmity”.  And given the current sex slave industry and the long history of abuses, I’d say that hatred is accurate.  The enemy hates women. He is holding an insidiously long and bitter grudge against us. And because Eve confessed her sin and Adam did not, God did something that often gets overlooked:  He booted Adam from the garden, but He did not boot Eve.

“The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. And the Lord God said, “The man [singular] has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He [singular] must not be allowed to reach out his [singular] hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” So the Lord God banished him [singular] from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken.  After he drove the man [singular] out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.”

Did you hear me?  Adam was booted, Eve was not. So let’s recap:  Eve confessed, Adam did not.  Eve blamed the serpent, Adam blamed God.  Adam was booted, Eve left voluntarily. Did you know all that?  If not, then take a fresh look at the Scriptures and do some fact checking.  Pastors, Sunday school teachers, church leaders, older-women-teaching-younger-women it is time to stop parroting the same old misinformation.  It is time to stop blaming Eve.  We have a responsibility to be accurate; to set our minds to real understanding. Now go, take a good look at the Good Book and let me know what you find.

© The Reluctant Baptist, 2014