What is original sin and inherited sin?
The word sin actually means turning away from God. The original sin is Man and Woman misusing God’s love by not respecting His wishes with that which was His, the garden and its trees.
I read somewhere in a commentary that Woman was practical because in her innocence she saw that the fruit “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” (Gen 3:6). Man was on the other hand, in his innocence, quite lazy and didn’t consider what the woman God had given him (Gen 3:12) was bringing home, he just ate that which was set before him on the table.
“Then the eyes of both were opened…” (Gen 3:7)
As the light begins to fade in the evening God comes walking in the garden looking for His human friends. But they hide from His sight because they feel their nakedness, they have nothing to say for themselves. No excuse seems good enough, but they try.
“The woman you gave me, gave it to me” (Gen 3:12). Man is the first to be questioned. He is the man, he was created first, he answers to God. But instead of facing his quilt, his sin, he throws the blame on the ones nearest him. Since God made both Man and Woman He must be the one responsible. But not daring to blame God directly, Man blames his woman. But the woman was created through Man (Gen 2:23), he is in charge of her, he is supposed to know better. So the guilt circles around the woman and turns on Man again. He has to live with his guilt.
“The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat” (Gen 3:13). Woman doesn’t feel quilt but shame, for she has been tricked, abused, assaulted and dishonoured. Thus she has brought shame on her family. Her guilt is turned on the serpent, not by herself, but by her innocence and her vulnerability. Alone she stands, with the shame of being used for another’s purpose, of being tricked, of not having understood the serpents bad intentions.
Not having respected the boundaries set forth by the Owner of the garden, having misused the friendship of their Friend, not having begged forgiveness but rather trying to blame someone else, Man and Woman cannot stay. God doesn’t punish His friends, but lets them know what will happen to them now that they have exploited His friendship and thus turned their back on Him.
“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree about which I commanded you, ’You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (Gen 3:17-19) Man can no longer be lazy, no more picking a fruit whenever he feels for it. Working in the field with his back towards God’s light he will cast his shadow on the ground and thus prevent it from giving him bounty. Now he will have to work to fulfil the desires of his family who will turn to him for food and guidance. He will be their god now, but being dust he will die by the burden.
To the woman God says: “I will greatly increase your pangs in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you” (Gen 3:16). Because of her shame of having been used and tricked and thus brought hardships to Man, Woman will always desire him, desire to give him comfort, attempting to relieve her shame. She will let him rule over her because she is not worthy of independence and freedom. Her shame drives her to Man, she is hoping he will love her despite the precarious situation her susceptibility has put them in and purify her of her shame, of the abuse. Instead she remains a victim, the man while trying to hide his guilt can’t help but to exploit her by his rule.
Man and Woman having left God’s presence are alone in the world and they turn to each other to fill the emptiness left where God used to be in their life (Gen 4). Thus she suffers the pain of childbirth and he has more mouths to feed, more minds to guard. And the story continues. By inheritance women continue to be drawn to men, letting them rule over them, expecting to feel whole but often abused. And the shame continues. By inheritance men try to maintain their families and be responsible but often fail. And the guilt continues. Because of the shame and the guilt we are unable to meet as humans, we will always look at each other as Man and Woman. Man will blame Woman to relieve his guilt but thus increase it instead. Woman will let herself be hurt to try to hide her shame but thus increase it instead. The sin remains our disassociation with God, our attempts to find wholeness by owning another, grasping around us for something, anything other than God to catch hold of.
Not realizing that a simple word of regret, a small prayer for forgiveness was enough to stop our suffering we lived on outside Paradise thinking that life was all there ever will be. Not expecting much, for after all we knew that we were ourselves guilty of and shamed by our own predicament.
But God knew better.
God knew that we couldn’t run away from ourselves, our guilt and our shame. So He made up a plan to show us how to get rid of it, to take it away Himself in fact. He did all the work, He asked Himself to forgive us because we didn’t ask Him, and He granted that forgiveness to prove to us that we were never judged but judged ourselves, we were never unloved but didn’t love, we were never forgotten but forgot. So now Woman does not need to desire Man and give birth to unwanted children to hide her shame, nor does Man need to prove his worth to overcome his guilt.
Because now we can hear God calling us: ”Leave it all behind and come home!”