If He Didn’t Want Us to Eat From the Tree, Why’d He Put It in the Garden?

My dad says I asked this question at age five. And look, I’m still asking it. And just the other night, I had a friend ask it–or a version of it–in our church small group and I thought, “Yep, still wondering about that one.”

It’s a biggie. Like really huge. So huge that typically, we evangelical Christians raise it for a moment but shrink away in an even briefer moment. Heavy questions such as these are dangerous to let linger, even with your closest friends.

I thought I would tackle this question closer to half-way through this year of blogging about the hard questions. It was to be a climactic type of post, smack dab in the middle of month six. Until I happened to leaf through my copy of Mere Christianity this evening and came across an answer I had to share now instead of waiting for revelation to hit before June.

As you know, what this question is really asking is “Why would God give us the choice of choosing evil if it would lead to our downfall?”

And here is Lewis’ response that I like very much:

“Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having” (my edition of Mere Christianity, p. 48).

Evil existed before man. God did not think it fair to not let us know about its existence, so he gave us the tree as an act of honesty and love, in a way.

This does not completely satisfy my five-year-old curiosity, but it is a start. And a start is sometimes all we can ask for.

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11 thoughts on “If He Didn’t Want Us to Eat From the Tree, Why’d He Put It in the Garden?

  1. Andrea, I’ve been reading your blog for a few months now. You’ve really got me thinking… 🙂

    Like, for instance, on if there is a future husband in your future that you should pray for now. While I know it sounds mystical, I don’t think there’s any harm in it, either…. I told my husband things that happened before I knew him, and he was impressed because they were things he’d been praying for. Would they have happened anyway? Maybe, but it’s kind of God to allow my husband to have a contribution.

    Secondly, in regards to this post, if God hadn’t put the tree in the garden, then would we really be choosing to love Him? If we hadn’t had a choice, how would faith come in to play? I WISH there hadn’t been a tree, but I know that the result is that we see more of God’s character, and can love Him more. We love much because we’ve been forgiven much…

    Keep those thoughts coming. I love it!

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  2. Adam and Eve were created to be independent of God, with freedom of will which meant that when they walked with Him and spoke with Him, both He and they experienced true fellowship. If they had been compelled to obey, they would have been nothing more than robots, and fellowship wouldn’t have been possible. What parent would want children like that – unquestioning, mute servants, blind to all things except duty?

    The tree wasn’t evil, but the disobedience was. We could ask, “If He didn’t want us to covet wealth, why did He put gold and oil underground?” or, “If He didn’t want poachers to kill elephants, why did He give them ivory tusks?” Inordinate acquisition of wealth, belongings, power, etc… subverts Creation, because we are designed to glorify God and love others, not to glorify the self at others’ expense.

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  3. man. difficult questions are all around these days. I’ve been finding solace in a verse that says “he is the Lord; let him do what is good in his eyes” {or something like that.. uh… 1 sam … 3:18? maybe?}

    I think there are a lot of things we can’t understand. we can’t even begin to understand. but we need assurance of God’s goodness, because to us… how can you love someone and give them the opportunity to destroy themselves? they just… don’t go together for us. but we are limited in our thinking and understanding, and on my best days i can truly believe that God is good and that there are reasons behind things I don’t understand.

    that said. it is still good to dive into hard topics ourselves, to really feel out our faith and have the guts to say “God, this makes no sense!” or “how in the world could you do this?” and then let him comfort us, right?

    good question. good diving board for an answer.

    thanks for the hard stuff.

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  4. Andrea,

    I´m not a blogger reader… but I found myself reading and posting comments of two (yours) in only one week. BUT you`re another Lucado (daughter of a great writer, my favorite so far).

    I´ve had the same question for many years as a child and youth raised in a Christian Family, the answer came to me in my early twenties, let me share if this make sense for you.

    The reason of course is love, what is the Bible story about if it is not love (I think I learned that reading Mr Lucado). I found this amazing reading, it is Colossians 1:15-20. all things were created and for him (Jesus). The almighty and eternal God wanted to love, to give love and to give the opportunity of being loved to his unique and loved son. He prepared the whole beautiful and incredible creation for him (it includes the human being as the heart of the creation), and give it to him to love and to receive love from it.

    The unique, perfect and obedient son received the gift with all his heart, the greatest present in the eternity, and love it so much that he was able from the beginning to love and protect the present, even with his pure life.

    But… what is love if the other is made to love you, what is love if the contra-part does not have the right to chose love you?, so God decided to give us free will setting the tree in the garden because in that way he let Jesus know that as humans we can decide love him, and then is is going to be a both ways love, and off course the greatest story of love in the world was completed and has a happy end, He gave his life for us, and around the world every day is more people loving him, and that´s the real two way love.

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  5. One homily a few weeks ago discussed question along these lines; I think the priest did a great job with it. He was talking about a bigger question derived from this very passage, “If God is always good, then why does he allow evil?” He described a scene where a man from Sub-Saharan Africa would walk in to a modern open heart surgery. It seems to the man that what the doctors are doing is a sacrificial barbaric act, when the doctors really know that they are doing amazing good things, almost performing miracles. God’s like the doctors, and we are the man. It only seems evil or bad that we ate the forbidden fruit. God knows what he’s doing; he knows what is good ultimately. There is a reason for everything, look back on your life and the hard times…I hope you realize that they ultimately lead to good.
    Man was obnoxious in the eating of the forbidden fruit…he was guilty. God knows right from wrong but he is only good. God is always good; giving into evil is what separates us from God it’s what makes us different from God. It’s also what keeps us from God and any type of salvation.
    When Adam and Eve eat the fruit God says “Now you are like a God”, you know things…you know right from wrong. This is the formation of a conscience in man. Adam and Eve before they eat the fruit are ignorant of knowing right from wrong and live their lives in bliss. Man can’t be happy being ignorant, humans are inquisitive, and we are thinkers, discoverers we like to call ourselves “intelligent life”. Not being ignorant is so apart of us, it’s what separates us from the animals and makes us more like God.
    Remember everything God created was good. The fruit was good, the tree was good, and so were Adam and Eve. The Fall of Man was good…because it set the path up for the redemption of man. Think about the most central belief in Christianity…Jesus died on the cross, at the time it seemed it was the WORST thing that could have happened to him. But if he didn’t suffer and die…he could have never risen from the dead. You can’t have salvation without the fall from grace. God gave us his only son for our salvation, and he put the tree in the garden for our salvation. Falling from grace only seems bad until you realize how great salvation feels.
    Sorry for the book, but the only reason why I ever need to buy a new Bible is because the pages in Genesis fall out from overuse.

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