White Paper #12: Our Framework: the Fall

With this paper, we jump into the second major part of our framework for considering sex and gender: the Fall. For those who aren’t familiar, an overarching way to view the story of redemption in Christ is “Creation, Fall, Redemption and Glorification.” This white paper begins our look at the Fall.

First, a review. We start with the six (6) facts of Creation:

  • We are all made in God’s image
  • Each person is either male or female
  • God blessed us in our maleness and femaleness
  • To be male and female is necessary for the work the Lord has for us
  • Male and female highlights the relationship between Christ and the church
  • There is no interchangeability between the sexes

Then, from there we recognize “Biology is apology”: It tells us our sex and it tells us our roles. Next, we consider how these things speak to us about “identity” and “identifiers.”

  • Identity is what we have in common with every other man, woman and child: male or female, in God’s image, subject to the Fall, worshipper.  
  • Identifiers are person-specific and can be good and godly or bad and sinful.  

Pronouns matter—but not that much.  And, in this mission, we accept people with an agenda.

Why is all this necessary?  Man’s original disobedience.

The impact of the fall cannot be underestimated. Now, thorough-going fallenness is everywhere.  We have only short glimpses of holiness and wholeness, but they are quickly eclipsed by pain, uncertainty, sinful thoughts or persecution. In the Reformed faith, we categorize the impact of the fall as “total.”  Every human born is born with the indelible imprint of the fall upon his or her soul.  David recognized this in Psalm 51:5

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.

His mother didn’t conceive him sinfully—from fornication—but having been conceived, he was already infected by sin. Every part of us has been infected with sin and, while we are not as bad as we could be, every part of us has been tainted. How did this happen?  This is probably the most important interpretative key to our day-to-day experiences: Genesis 3:1-12.   Let’s look at the progression from sinlessness to sinfulness in these verses.

#1: The challenge to God’s honesty and provision: 3:1

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”

This is a fundamental charge against God that is inherent in sin: He is not telling us everything, we deserve to know more, He is depriving us, He is not good—sin speaks all of this all of the time. We have to take matters in our own hands because we know better

#2: Eve’s repetition of God’s words + an interpretation: 3:2-3

And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ”

We don’t know why Eve added the prohibition of touching the tree; perhaps she and Adam agreed that’s what God’s command required. Do we know better than God such that we can add to His word?

#3: Serpent’s challenge: 3:4-5

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

What is interesting about the serpent’s challenge is that it is so close to the truth that it seems compelling. If they ate, they would know good and evil, but if they ate, they wouldn’t know it sinlessly because the process of knowing it was sin.

#4: Eve’s deception and disobedient action: 3:6

So 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.

Eve was deceived into thinking, (a) the tree was actually good vs. deadly, (b) it was beautiful as a tree planted by God so it couldn’t be all bad, (c) it should be taken so that she could be wise like God—why wouldn’t God want that? Her deceit led to her sinful thoughts which led to her sinful actions—including giving some of the fruit that she knew was forbidden to her husband. In this action, she prioritized her flesh over her soul; as did Adam.  The physical / mental took priority over the spiritual—sound familiar?

  • This is sin’s pattern: the flesh over the soul, what I want over what God says I need. 

She sinned against God and then against her husband.  He followed suit by sinning against God and his wife.  

#5: The result: the serpent was right 3:7

Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

Isn’t it interesting that their recognizing their nakedness made them want to cover it?  Previously, they were naked and without shame. Their bodies were now a problem, “Simply put, spiritual sin has physical effects.”[1]. They each covered the one thing that was central to how God made them and what He made them to do: be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth. The Fall creates inherent opposition to how we are made and what we are made to do.  Each of us is inclined—naturally—to oppose how we are made and what we are made to do.

#6: They hid themselves from God: 3:8

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

Them hiding from God is odd since they ate of the Tree believing it would make them like God. They knew they weren’t like God but were guilty before Him—so they hid in order to act like God wasn’t there. The apostle Paul picks up on this in Romans 1:18.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.

#7: God forces Adam to take responsibility for what had happened: 3:9-11

But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”

He should’ve guarded the Garden including Eve: he did not. He disobeyed God and His command and, as the leader, he would stand before God and admit it.

#8: God calls them both to account and no one took responsibility! 3:12-13

The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

God called the man to accept responsibility: he blamed the woman. God called the woman to accept responsibility: she blamed the serpent. No one took responsibility for what they did. The Fall makes us inclined to blame someone else for our actions, to defend ourselves as right and not take responsibility: “admit nothing, deny everything and always make counter-accusations.”

Key takeaways

  • Sin is always speaking a challenge to God’s ordered world: its nature is to twist what God has made and said and bend it to its opposite.  All sins are lies.
  • When we add to God’s word, we subtract from the freedom we have in Him.
  • Our enemy will work hard to soften the edges of his allurements: he will work to convince us what he proposes is just a version of what God does.
  • We are at risk of being deceived by him if we depart from God’s word and forget God’s character.
  • Sin will cause us shame that we will work to hide.
  • Sin will lead us to blame others.

[1] Owen Strachan and Gavin Peacock, What does the Bible teach about Transgenderism? (Christian Focus; 2020), 43.

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