If you are married, imagine for a moment that you are single. Imagine you have the ability to create the perfect spouse, tailored to your specificity. You make them tall with curly hair, green eyes and straight teeth. They are funny, street smart, able to cut a rug and love to do everything you love to do. They only have eyes for you. Life is blissful.
Now, imagine spending your days shopping, laughing and strolling with them often in a gorgeous park. You two pick ripened fruits, wash them with your Evian water, sit under your maple tree and feed each other in the cool of the day. But one day you begin to wonder whether they would still love you, even like you, if they were given the choice of another. You desire true love, after all and are not sure if you have it.
So, you create another person for them to choose. Beforehand, you talk to them about faithfulness, hint around at monogamy. Well, the next morning you wake up only to find the other two in the park, kissing under your favorite maple, the ground littered with strawberry stems and apple cores. The results of your experiment are staring you straight in the face as you come to realize the depravity of your creations. But simultaneously you see that the fruit of the wisdom of free choice is ever-ripe. You walk home feeling like you just ate breakfast.
Without another option, your partner’s love for you was only superficial. Unbeknownst to them, they were like children: Happy eating veggie casserole every night because they do not know that they can eat anything else. Without creating another choice, a temptation, you would never know if they harbored true love for you (or desired chicken cordon bleu).
Christians and non-Christians alike have struggled with the undeniable fact that God created an alluring but forbidden temptation smack in the middle of the Garden of Eden. Like your partner in the blissful days, Adam and Eve had never been faced with a temptation that would allow them to be unfaithful to God. Suddenly it was a bite away for them—compliments of God! Many finish reading Genesis chapter two and think, “Why the heck did He do that? Everything was fine. God is strange.”
Yes, Adam and Eve could have remained just shootin’ the breeze with the Almighty, happy, unashamed and free. But that’s just it: They were not free. Before the knowledge of the Tree of Good and Evil, they had never been given the choice to take any other path than the straight and narrow. They never had to decide to disobey their Creator, never been faced with choices more difficult than “Grapefruit or apricots for breakfast?” God uprooted their paradise with that tree for everyone’s sake—Adam and Eve needed to know what true love was and God wanted it if they found it.
We all would have done what Adam and Eve did. We’re fools for temptation, but we have a chance to correct our mess-ups and only love God. That’s the beauty of choice and the fruit of what Jesus did when He was here.
God did not want puppets or He would have made Pinnochios. He wants real boys and girls who can lie if they choose to, love if they choose to. If we decide to obey, not only will our noses remain well-proportioned, but we will come to know God profoundly. It’s possible, though we may need to cut the puppet strings of worldly things or empty religion. Temptations to re-attach those strings will still come along, and again we will have to make a choice to remain unattached. Hopefully we will realize that we have lived long enough in a gangster’s paradise and decide to let the Tree of Life take root instead.