We have all heard the story…the big bad serpent came along and deceived Eve, and she ate of the forbidden fruit. As if that weren’t bad enough, she then gave the fruit to Adam, who also ate. As a result, they were both banished from the garden of Eden, and the entire human race after them was plunged into the black pit of imperfection. Sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? But there is a catch: the Biblical story tells us that Eve was deceived. She was tricked, manipulated if you will, into an act of disobedience. Adam then came along and ate also, but without the element of deception. Eve did not have to deceive him as the serpent did to her, she simply handed him the fruit and he ate it seemingly without protest. The question that begs to be asked is clear: “Why did Adam choose to do such a destructive thing?” He could have walked away…he could have told Eve to stay away from him as he did not want to join her in her folly…he could have just high-tailed it the other direction and let God deal with Eve with no input from his side….but he didn’t. He ate. In so doing, he joined her on the path to death.
I believe there are many reasons for Adam’s actions, but they all boil down to one basic theme. He loved her. Completely and without limits, no holds barred. He loved her with every fiber of his being and his actions portray a greater lesson of devotion than had ever been witnessed. Many people say they love someone…but do they? When the chips are down and the buffalo is standing there in the field empty, is that person who professes such love really still there through thick and thin, through every storm, through every sickness…through death itself, if need be? Rarely. It seems to be the pattern of humans to nurture an invisible line within their hearts that they will indeed refuse to cross, even for the one they profess to so deeply cherish. Adam had no such line. When the time came for him to lay it all down in order to stand with his woman through the mysterious darkness of death, he stepped up to the plate, took the bat…and swung.
Sin is a destructive force. It is an archery term that simply means “missing the mark”. It doesn’t matter how far off from the bull’s eye an arrow may land…any variance is imperfection, termed a “sin”. Before such imperfection’s entry into the world, the garden was a beautiful place free of pain, death, hatred, fear, all the common negatives now associated with life on planet earth. Existence was idyllic, peaceful, pure and lovely. There was no sin scarring the face of the garden, the animals, the towering trees or dainty flower blooms…or Adam’s beautiful bride. Eve was pure in her heart, and likely beautiful of form…there is no reason to suspect God would have made her flawed. Knowing this, let’s imagine the scene when Adam sees the effect on Eve of her disobedience. Was there an immediate change? A visible shift, however mild, in her appearance or her demeanor? Did fear flutter through her eyes as she realized what she had done? Did her physical body weaken in any apparent way, or did shame become evident on her face? Probably all of these things occurred, and more. The woman God fashioned from Adam’s own rib stood before him marred for the first time in human existence…no longer perfect, no longer pure, knowing pain for the first time. What did Adam see?
I believe that what Adam saw was his lovely bride fading before his very eyes. However slight the changes were, he noticed the effects of sin insidiously weaving darkness through her being. It was no mystery, he knew what God’s command had been and he knew what the result would be of Eve’s disobedience. He had never experienced death, but I am sure that God would have been clear as to the horrific nature of it in order to impress upon Adam the importance of obedience. Adam knew it was too late to undo Eve’s actions…her future was clear. Death would come to her. In that moment, he made a choice. He chose to stand with her no matter what, to be her protector, to never leave her to suffer alone. He ate the fruit, sealing his own fate as well. He chose his own death rather than allowing his bride to suffer alone.
“Now, wait just a minute”, you might say. “We don’t know what really went through Adam’s mind, it may be that he simply used poor judgment or was brazenly disobedient just because the fruit seemed appealing”, you could argue, and you might be right. But that would mean that Adam was either willfully rebellious all of a sudden, or that he was an absolute idiot who didn’t know how to think. Neither seems very likely, as he had resided in peace in the garden and would have had no reason to act as he did were it not for Eve’s actions preceding his own. My belief is that Adam was neither rebellious, nor inept. Rather, he was enmeshed in the definition of true unity with his bride. She was indeed flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone. They were one. He could no more allow her to die alone apart from him than transform himself into an orange elephant. In his eyes he would have had only one choice: to remain at her side, bound to love her through whatever would now come.
Spartan warriors would have readily understood such a concept. They were raised from their mother’s knee to become men of battle, men who could face an adversary and focus on the goal of victory for the entire army, holding his own personal safety in a secondary position. Spartans were known for their valor and their unshakable dedication to protecting their land and their families…and their fellow soldiers. Their training included an exercise wherein two men were tied together back to back and then defended each other from outside attackers. There were several points to this exercise. One was to develop trust in their fellow soldiers even if they could not see them. A Spartan warrior knew that his brothers in arms would defend him to the death, would watch his vulnerable areas and “cover his back” as it were. Another point was to develop the idea that the battle was never within ranks. Soldiers did not fight each other; they stood united against whatever enemy approached. A warrior’s weapons were meant for slaying the enemy; they were never intended to be turned against a fellow soldier. The third point of such training was a very simple concept: No retreat. A Spartan soldier’s life embraced certain unchangeable elements: Train for battle. Engage and defeat the enemy when attacked. Never run. Never abandon the defense of your land, your people, and your fellow soldiers. Never leave those who are depending on you unprotected. These were non-negotiable standards that governed the life of a Spartan warrior.
So, back to Adam. Definitely no Spartan…or was he? In many respects, he bore the weight of Eve’s sin even more heavily because it was not his own. He was supposed to have protected her…he should have “had her back” when the serpent began its stealthy attack of deception. Instead, Eve somehow had time and space to engage the enemy on her own without the safety of a fellow soldier guarding her back…and she blew it. Adam no doubt felt some level of responsibility for having not been quicker on the draw, but nonetheless the damage was already done. So now what? Adam couldn’t save Eve from her folly, he could only watch as she handed the fruit out to him. Was there a plea in her eyes in that simple act? Did she too know that she would soon be torn from her beloved’s side to endure the horrible thing called “death”? Was there a moment of imploring Adam to help her somehow? We can’t know for sure, but one thing the story does tell us is that Adam ate. I imagine the tears rolling from her eyes as she watched him take that fateful bite…perhaps knowing that her man was by that very act destroying himself alongside her and joining her on the path to whatever their doom would entail. Together. She stumbled unwisely onto a sword that forever changed her course…he chose death by the same sword still bathed in her blood, simply because her own wound was mortal…he knew she could never recover.
He simply would not leave her to suffer alone.
On another note, perhaps it was not only Eve’s suffering alone that Adam was worried about. Perhaps he preferred death with her to remaining in the garden without her. Sometimes the thought of the person we love leaving us is more than we can bear, even when circumstances are dire. So while Adam may very well have been acting with steadfast devotion, he may also have had just a shred of personal agenda at work. He may have looked around the garden and thought, “This just won’t be Paradise without her here”, and that thought alone may have held more pain than his human heart could handle.
Of course, all we can really know for sure is what the story says…and it leaves much to conjecture. There are many possibilities of what may have occurred, the thoughts that may have run through Adam’s mind, the confusion or rebellion in Eve’s heart. We may never know the whole truth. But of one thing I am certain: we too, like Adam, have choices. I choose to believe that the human heart really can possess a spirit so devoted to another that even death is not enough to sever their bond. I choose to believe that the heart of a Spartan warrior truly does beat within the chest of a man. I choose to believe in the good, and in the existence of a love as powerful as Adam’s.