What was wrong with Adam’s argument? Remember, God had told them not to eat of that tree. Adam ate. How was Adam trying to defend himself? Sure, God had told him not to eat. But God had also made it quite plain that he divided Adam physically into male and female and brought the two back to oneness in the marriage/sexual union for the purpose of establishing an abiding love relationship. So, if Adam didn’t eat, he would be, in effect (in Adam’s argument), disobeying God’s intention for him to maintain that relationship. As we try to think along with Adam here, we may start to believe this makes some sense. So why didn’t God seem to think so? Why did God reject his argument?
Here is the focus of Kinship Theology. Theologies are ways of thinking about God. And fundamentally, Kinship Theology differs from Reformed Theology in its foundational principles of how God operates. The Reformed mindset establishes the God-to-human relationship as one of master to servant, highlighting sovereignty as the overriding attribute of God that is on display. Reformed Theology doesn’t disregard the love of God; it just does not elevate the concept to focused and motivational pinnacle. Kinship Theology, while understanding the sovereignty of God, sees love not only as God’s paramount attribute in operation but understands that attribute as God’s point in relating to humans and his desire for how humans are to relate to each other.
Now, you may think that the sides to the debate Adam was creating regarding his actions would align the Reformed against Adam’s proposal because of the simple master-to-slave relationship in which Adam should have obeyed the clear command. You may also think that Kinship Theology aligns with Adam’s proposed conundrum in which he finds an implied command of relationship as the more important. But if you should think that way, you would have it exactly backwards. Here’s why.
If we take the Reformed route and face the choice thinking we weigh in the balance only simple obedience, Adam does appear to be facing two commands. Clearly, God said don’t eat of the tree. But clearly also did God intend for Adam to maintain love relationship with Eve. Both commands could not be followed. So in the Reformed model, without call to think beyond mere obedience, Adam would indeed seem to face breaking one of the two commands. And if he is placed in this predicament in which he must choose between two commands of God, God would also seem to be unjust to punish Adam when it was impossible for Adam to avoid disobedience.
But now consider the Kinship approach. In what we have seen in Genesis 2, we see God already teaching about love relationship. God was providing truth, goodness, and beauty—through the Garden itself and in the establishing of the marriage/sexual union between the two humans—not merely in practice but in teaching revelation to the minds of Adam and Eve. And that teaching rested on the fact that it was God himself who was the sole source of this relational life. It is God’s essence of truth, goodness, and beauty that forms the very basis for love relationship. Therefore, Adam’s choice was not a choice between two commands. Adam could not thinkingly justify his choice for maintaining relationship with Eve by rejection of relationship with God when maintaining relationship with God was necessary in order to have love relationship with anyone. Without God and his TGB, there can be no love relationship. So Adam was presenting a false dilemma. There was only one choice toward maintaining true love relationship, and that was not to eat.
Additionally, Adam’s presentation seems a bit disingenuous. If he had truly been faced with a legitimate quandary between two commands, his first option should not have been just to pick one to follow. It should have been to go to God and ask. But Adam didn’t do that because he didn’t want to do that. He wanted Eve, and his desire for Eve led him to his choice, not his reasoning of how, while sitting in the middle of opposing commands, he could best follow God.
When Adam proposed this line of reasoning to God, God, before answering, turned to the woman to ask for her reasoning. He asked of her in verse 13, “What is this you have done?” Eve immediately answered that she was deceived and ate. Her answer, again I believe, was not so much an attempt to assign blame to the serpent as it was to say she didn’t ever want to lose relationship with God. She had been deceived and thought her action in eating would not really harm her status with God. But I think God’s concern in this matter (something we don’t really understand until he later describes the consequences of her sin) is not so much that she ate (being deceived) but that she (with more complete knowledge after her sin) influenced Adam to eat.
And notice that it was really about that action that God was asking. Adam had said that the woman gave him the fruit. Adam didn’t accuse Eve of eating first. So the action at the forefront is Eve giving Adam the fruit. God asked in verse 13 what she had done—with this idea at the forefront of her giving the fruit to Adam. In other words, it appears God was asking, “Why did you give him the fruit to eat? Why were you influencing him in this way against my command?” Eve, however, ignored that question (maybe because she knew in that case she had done something definitely wrong) and answered rather about what made her eat to start the whole unfortunate series of actions in the first place: the serpent deceived her. While she was sincerely honest and correct in saying the serpent deceived her, the deception didn’t change the fact that after eating and realizing the wrong (most likely through conversation with Adam), Eve still offered the apple to Adam, probably in fear of being outcast alone. Therefore, already through sin, she made a choice for herself in disregard of benefit for Adam—the exact opposite of what love relationship intends.
But again, as he did with Adam, God didn’t immediately address the fault in the woman’s defense. Rather, he turned to the serpent. First of all, we should notice that unlike God’s interaction with both Adam and Eve, God didn’t begin asking any questions of the serpent. God didn’t address the serpent as he did his image bearers with whom he had love relationship. Here we see a master-servant relationship where God wasn’t interested in the serpent’s motivation but rather simply in addressing his failure.
And it is actually Satan whom God addresses, not a mere serpent. We can see that with his first statement: “You are cursed more than any livestock [domestic animal] and more than any wild animal” (3:14). He did not say you are most cursed of the animals or more so than any other animal, but rather he said you are more cursed than the animals. The animals would have a curse based on Adam’s caused curse in moving creation away from God. But Satan is cursed more so than creation because his sin came from his own disobedience. In fact, I believe this sin is what we should understand to be the fall of Lucifer from angelic glory to the personification of evil in opposing God amid his creation. The message from God that “you will move on your belly and eat dust all the days of your life” was not, as some suggest, a sudden transformation of a serpent creature that used to have arms and legs into the slithering snakes we know today. Again, God here addresses Satan, not some animal of the wild. And so God here condemned Satan to loss of his position of majesty, symbolically referenced in the crawling and dust-eating position of the serpent whose form he took.
Although Satan had hoped in pride to maintain his lofty position as the most favored by destroying the relationship God had with these image bearers, God proclaimed that it would be between Satan and the woman and between Satan’s seed and the woman’s seed that hostility would continue to exist. Satan was the deceiver, the one who tore down the human race. The woman was the nurturer, who would continue to nurture through the continuation of the human race while God worked his restoration plan. Therefore, the antagonism between the harming and the nurturing of humanity was evident at the start and would continue with Satan’s seed (Evil) and the woman’s seed (humankind)—the scene depicted in Revelation 12.
And just like in Revelation 12, the woman’s seed—humanity centered specifically in Christ—would eventually defeat and destroy Evil (striking its head) although the Evil had plagued humankind for all these years (bruising the heel).