" ... when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate."
Genesis 3:6 (NRSV)
It wasn't long after I stopped blaming Eve for the introduction of sin into the world that, realizing were I in her place, I probably would have done the same thing (alright, alright -- hold the "probably"), that I shifted more toward empathy for her. Don't get me wrong, I knew she made the wrong decision, the consequences of which were utterly catastrophic -- but I started to wonder if she weren't getting even more of a bad rap than she deserved.
Reading Genesis this time around, I felt like I understood her a little better.
Staying away from the one thing God said to stay away from should have been easy enough, at least in theory. But then (with the help of the serpent) she gets another look at what God had forbidden. Look at this tree, she says. It's so beautiful! The fruit looks delicious: soft, plump, and perfectly ripe. So fragrant! It would be a shame for it to go uneaten. And why wouldn't God want me to gain wisdom? Wisdom is a good thing, right? I am hungry after all, and haven't tried this particular variety of fruit before. I could have misunderstood what He meant.
Maybe she reached out a hand and stroked the skin of the fruit, and put her nose against it to breathe in the scent that made her mouth water, taste buds tingling in anticipation. Aside from having an appetite for it, she was able to use observation and her own reasoning abilities to see it was good for food. How could she go wrong? "Good for food"? A "delight to the eyes"?
It seems perfectly reasonable not only that she should want to eat it, but that she should actually do it.
Except that everything went wrong after that -- and we're all living with the weight of that choice. Welcome sin, welcome pain. Welcome strife, welcome evil and enmity. Welcome, shame. Welcome curse, welcome punishment. Welcome, the cascade of events that led to the cross.
That's the crazy thing about evil in the world, I suppose. While it might very well look like an obviously dark and sinister thing, more often than not I suppose it could look much like those apricots up there: pleasing to the eye, good for food, ripe and fragrant and utterly delicious, sparkling on the tongue. Utterly innocent. Good, even. We look at it and we think, Yes, I not only can pluck this fruit and take it in, but I should.
From what we can see, why on earth would anyone warn us against it?
But I have to admit that that like Eve, I can be deceived. Even when applying my intelligence. Even when I possess the best of intentions. Even when avoiding the fruit I find so pleasing to the eye seems like the wrong thing. Even when taking it seems to be the sophisticated, compassionate, and socially acceptable thing to do.
Look at those apricots. It's hard to believe that a taste of something that looks as wonderful and appetizing as that could invite the tumult and disaster that it did. But still, looking at them, I wonder: How could I go wrong?