Silence of the Man

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.  – Genesis 3:1-7

Pathway to the Sea | Galveston, Texas | February 2021

Do you know how to finish this Mark Twain quote: “It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and…”? Twain ends it, “…remove all doubt.” That may be true in social settings, in the throes of a conversation about a hotly debated issue, or if you are concerned only with the opinion of man. But it deserves scrutiny when it comes to the silence of Adam.

I don’t subscribe to the Lancelot mentality (from the musical Camelot) when he sings about his noble character:, “If I’d been in the garden with Eve, we’d be in Eden still!” There is no evidence of any opportunity to sidestep the devil’s deception here. In only a few words, any pretense of Adam’s greater character is set aside: She gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Ugh. It’s done. Adam offers no protest. He suggests no resistance to the serpent’s insinuations. He has no better idea, nor reminder of God’s proper place and goodness. Adam is silent. 

This is real for me. I’m guessing it’s also real for other men. Especially men. I don’t think it is sexist on my part to consider Adam’s silence as a separate and unique aspect to the fall of Adam and Eve into sin. I’m not suggesting that there is any moral superiority in Adam’s failure to speak up as opposed to Eve’s taking the fruit, offering to Adam, who apparently just gobbled it down. But I am suggesting this may be a valid consideration when it comes to the way men and women face temptation and sin. 

Am I right on this?

In Ephesians 5, St. Paul speaks of the marriage union and proper relationships between husband and wife. He says husbands should love their wives, and wives should respect their husbands. Research by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs offers a vital clue. His book, Love and Respect is insightful. He surveyed husbands and wives, asking whether they would choose to be loved or respected. He required that they make a choice between the two. The women predominately chose to be loved. The men chose to be respected. 

Might that be a reflection of our created order and character. Adam should have spoken up. Eve should have not listened. Adam should have listened for the voice of God and spoken up. Eve should not have offered a path different from obedience to God.

Is it fear of losing this precious helper whom God had created just for him? Was it intimidation in the face of the serpent’s presence and insinuations about God? Was it his innocence about sin’s consequence? Was it lack of knowing how to resist this kind of temptation? Whatever it was, Adam’s silence in this moment sets him squarely in the middle of this catastrophic fall. 

A good friend of mine recently died of the Covid-19 disease. He used to say, “Man up! Be a man. Don’t wimp out.” I’m not saying we have to be knuckle-dragging Neanderthals if we’re to be true men. But we do need to speak up – even in the face of potential ridicule, scorn, or anger – when we know something isn’t right. We’ll always need to do so from an attitude of humility toward others – our wives or our neighbors. But we must also be willing to claim the moral high ground before Satan and his ways. When we see him leading other’s astray, we can do as Jesus did. He answered Satan’s temptations with Scripture. He resisted the temptation and remained faithful to God. He was not silent. Nor should we be.

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