This is the story of the perfect couple. They had it made in every way. They had the Lord's blessing on their marriage. He had the best job anyone could possibly have. His wife was able and willing to help him. They had everything they wanted and more. That is, until one day when she went grocery shopping. One of her friends pointed something out that she didn't have. The more she listened to her friend, the more it became obvious that she needed this item. Her husband was close by, so she went and grabbed him to check it out.This guy knew his wife was about to get both of them into trouble. In fact, they both knew that if they did this it would not be pleasing to God and would ultimately hurt them and their marriage. However, this friend had a logical argument and was very convincing. After he finished the sales pitch, the couple struggled to see the harm in what they were about to do. They knew that they were breaking an agreement, but at the moment it didn't seem like that big of a deal.
After they had broken that agreement and enjoyed the item, they knew something was different but they didn't really understand what. That is, until they looked at each other and the shame then came. They knew this really was a big deal. They scurried around trying to cover up what they had done, but there was just no way. When they heard the footsteps, fear and panic came in and took over. They ran and tried to hide, but where could they go? This story is detailed in Genesis Chapter 3.
I have great interest in this passage because of how it relates to the field of pastoral counseling and the human condition. The net result of Adam and Eve's choice to disobey God was the infusion of a deadly disease called sin. Sin always separates, corrupts and destroys whatever it contaminates. The human race was no exception.
It is not unusual for me to hear questions like "why did things have to get this bad?" or "why did it have to go this far?" from people going through divorce, drug addiction, depression, or any other number of problems. These are hard questions to answer, because the person asking is normally trying to address a seemingly irresolvable problem that has caused enormous hurt in many lives. Some of these answers vary depending on the situation, but the majority have common threads that can be traced back to Genesis chapter three.
After they ate the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve's response was not the recognition that they had disobeyed God, but only self-awareness. Verse 7 states, "Then the eyes of both of them were opened and they knew that they were naked." Their new condition was really a focus change from God, His creation and His purpose for their lives to self, their problems and their solution.
As verse 7 continues, we see that self-awareness leads to self-reliance, "And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings." Along with self-awareness, self-reliance is one of the common threads that answer the questions as to why things get so bad before a person seeks help. It is also one of the most destructive forces in our lives. As a whole and as individuals, we try desperately to solve our own problems. The fig leaves that Adam and Eve sewed together are comparable to our many failed attempts to fix our problems our way. Proverbs 16:25 states, "There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death."
The third thing I will briefly mention is that both the self-awareness and self-reliance lead to fear. This fear is not a healthy fear of God, it is a very destructive fear that causes people to run from God. Is this any surprise? In verse 8 Adam and Eve heard God walking in the garden. Rather than running to Him, they hid themselves. God is holy and will judge sin. However, God is also loving and goes to extreme lengths to provide us the help that we need.
"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Christ died so that our relationship to our Creator could be restored. If that relationship is restored, then we have access to the greatest counselor - God. It would only stand to reason that if He created us, then He knows how to fix everything about us. I can hear the question already. "Dr. Terry, are you insinuating that there is no need for ministers and counselors?" No, not really. I am simply pointing out how reluctant we are to actually seek help. Usually it takes a crisis before we will step beyond the fear and self-reliance and ask for help. I am also attempting to point out that if God is not the center of the solution then the solution is lacking.
Dr. Terry Aaron, Ph.D.
President of Have Faith Ministries, Inc.
Director of Counseling and Education