The Biblical creation story has a lot to teach us about the human condition in the 21st century.
My namesake and his soul-mate were living happily in the idyllic surroundings of Eden. The world was theirs, there was no danger, no hunger, no sickness, no tears, and they had been created in the image of God. The only rule that applied to them was, ‘Do not eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil’.
The significance of that rule was immense, there was neither good nor evil in their world, no right or wrong, there was no need for law since God was their sole moral guide. We are not told how long they lived in that happy state, but in time along came the tempter who knew the secret of their bliss.
‘Eat of the fruit of that tree and you will be like God,’ they were told, but it was a great deception, for they were already like God for they had been created in his image.
With God as their moral compass they knew neither guilt nor shame, they had nothing to hide, nothing to strive for and nothing to prove. It was a relationship of mutual love founded on absolute trust, and they walked together through the gardens in the cool of the day.
That’s how it was, how it should be and if we can grasp what went wrong way back then, it can be like that again; days of heaven on earth. How? We trust God alone to be our moral guide, but like Adam and Eve we have decided that this arrangement is not good enough, we know better, and we adopt one of two choices.
Like our ancient forefather we refuse to trust our God to guide us and instead we order our lives and seek to order the lives of those around us according to an external code when God would have us guided by an internal principle. Thus we become legalistic, critical, self righteous, divisive, angry and competitive. We become overly introspective and fearful that we might displease God if we fail to observe laws that were rendered obsolete when Jesus said, ‘A new commandment I give you...love one another.’
Alternatively, we tend to consider ourselves to be cool, trendy liberals by convincing ourselves that our society is so advanced that we really do not need anyone else as our moral guide. Nothing is intrinsically right or wrong, the individual conscience is sovereign. If a man wants to marry a man what right has anyone to ‘interfere’, and no one asks the question, what long term effect might this have on society? Or if a woman wants an abortion for no reason other than convenience, what’s the problem? It’s her body, she has the right to decide and it’s nobody’s business but hers, and the shout; ‘I am entitled!’ is so loud that it drowns out issues of responsibility and consequences.
There’s a priceless gem buried in the Psalms that can show us the way: ‘Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.’ That does not mean that if you delight in him he will give you whatever you want. No, it’s a promise that as we learn to trust him as our moral guide his desires will be our desires, and when that is the case, who needs stiff, cold and loveless laws to keep us on track?
Adam welcomes comments on his column. You can write to him c/o Larne Times, 8 Dunluce Street, Larne, BT40 1JG or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org