For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil (Genesis 3:5).
In the midst of the Garden of Eden there were two trees. One, the pro-life tree, was called the tree of life. Adam and Eve were permitted, even encouraged, to eat freely from it. The tree of life reflected the goodness of God’s gifts to them. Made in His image, Adam and Eve were like God. They enjoyed a beautiful garden with all its abundant provision, a meaningful purpose for their lives, a relationship with one another in which they were naked and unashamed, and fellowship with their Creator. In other words, they had everything they needed and desired from God’s good hand. It was a world of life, and abundant life at that. The tree of life stood as a promise.
The other was the pro-choice tree. It was called the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, of which God forbade Adam and Eve to eat. The serpent came along and described the promise of this tree to them—life without restrictions, life where one could determine what was good and evil for himself or herself, without reference to others. It was a tree that promised freedom, the serpent said, for they could be like God, and therefore have the right to define their own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and the mystery of human life. No longer would they need to be subject to God and His ways, but could choose their own. So understood, this tree also stood as a promise.
The problem that Adam and Eve faced was simple. Both trees could not serve their well-being. Both promises could not be true. And so, the question: Which vision would they embrace? Would Adam and Eve believe God, that “in the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die”? Would they trust His character as the One who had shown Himself willing and able to do them good, and taught them His ways (including not to eat of the tree) to ensure that they remained in this place of blessing? Would they believe that the Lord’s commands were good, even if they didn’t understand them? Or would they believe the serpent and his suggestion that God really didn’t have their best interests at heart, but was holding back from them the opportunity for real life? That being their own masters, determining right and wrong for themselves, would bring them satisfaction and peace? The decision of whether or not to eat from the forbidden tree depended upon whom they believed. Did they trust God? Or not?
Just as there was in Eden, we here are presented with a choice. We can decide that, like God, we have the wisdom to determine our own course and choose for ourselves what is good and evil—that, in the words of our Supreme Court, “at the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and the mystery of human life” (Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 1992). Or we can trust God, believing His commands are good, even if at times we don’t understand them. That God made the world in such a way that some choices lead to life and others lead to death, regardless of what we might think, like, or understand. In either case, we will live with the consequences. For all choices lead somewhere. They did for Adam and Eve. And they do for us.