Genesis 3, or A Failed Attempt at Deconstructing the Scriptures
After quitting my first job back since my return to Idaho, and getting fired from my second job, I landed another one that required me to be drug free. Since it was a regular job, I had to be sober, or at least relatively sober, to be able to do my job. This helped lower my alcohol intake, at least during the week, and forced me to reckon with reality. My atonement theory didn’t remove my guilt, it simply temporarily deceived me into thinking I had been absolved of my sins. When I thought about it, since I was also in a position to influence others, I was, or was going to be, someone’s scapegoat.
My only recourse, then, was to arbitrarily set myself over my accusers. I simply declared myself free from any guilt that had been or would be leveled against me. In truth, I knew I had many accusers, and this was, for the most part, what inspired my contemptuous, condescending self-righteousness. Whereas they were immoral individuals who had no right to identify me as immoral, I was justified in identifying them as immoral for the things they had done to me, thinking:
I wouldn’t have betrayed your trust if you would have not belittled me that one time.
I wouldn’t have faked affection for you, had you not failed to reciprocate true affection that one time.
I wouldn’t have abused your kindness, had you not once abused my kindness.
And so on and so on and so on and…
What I didn’t seem to grasp at that time was the trajectory my thinking had taken over the past year or so. I initially believed I had a rational system in place that would alleviate me of my guilt. By this time, however, I had abandoned the system, as I had seen its faults and wanted to nevertheless claim to be guiltless while condemning anyone and everyone whom I deemed unworthy of my praise.
The initial search for truth, apart from the Christian God, the only true God, revealed my true intentions: I wanted to create a metaphysics devoid of God, a logic devoid of his omniscience, a system devoid of knowledge that transcended my own experience and reasoning abilities, an atonement for my guilt that wasn’t the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Each of these endeavors ended in failure, and they could only end in failure. So I went back to the postmodernists for inspiration. Their advice? Play with texts. Pull them apart. Show how they are all inconsistent.
Being obsessed with the question of how to determine appropriate levels of guilt in a given ethical situation, I decided to play with Genesis 3, the Fall Narrative. My goal was to demonstrate that the one-to-one correspondence theory of guilt, i.e. the idea that an individual is solely responsible for his own transgressions was the simplistic fruit of primitive minds that couldn’t grasp the complexity of human interaction.
I sat down at my job, cracked open the Bible, and began reading the Fall Narrative of Genesis 3.
And I realized that God does not only condemn Adam, or even Adam and Eve, but Adam, Eve, and the Serpent. All three parties were held individually accountable for their sin. Was the woman deceived (i.e. influenced to sin) by the Serpent? Yes. But she was held accountable for what she actually did – she broke the law of God. Was Adam given the fruit by his wife? Yes. But he was held accountable for what he actually did – he broke the law of God. All three parties were held accountable for the role they played in the ethical event – yet they were still individually guilty before God.
This didn’t sit well with me.
It wasn’t just that the Scripture turned out to be more nuanced and clear in its ascription of guilt to the persons involved in the Fall Narrative, and that the persons received exactly what their deeds deserved, according to the law of God. What made me uncomfortable was that I was pleased with the perfect distribution of guilt and punishment given by God. There was no injustice with God. Rather, the unjust were those who broke God’s law and tried to impute their sins to one another. Adam tried to put the blame on God and Eve. Eve put the blame on the Serpent. I put the blame on people who had done wrong to me. I put the blame on people in general.
I put the blame on God, just as Adam did.
The cognitive dissonance returned again: I was in love with the justice God displayed, but hated it because it left me without excuse.