Three things are too wonderful for me; four I do not understand: the way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a serpent on a rock, the way of a ship on the high seas, and the way of a man with a virgin. -Proverbs 30:18-19
The pattern of Adam and Eve and the significance of that representation for the rest of humanity is a subject that Christian writers throughout history have endeavored to explain. The story is full of the nuances of male-female relationships and its pitfalls. But why did God use two different persons in relationship at all? God chose this, and as the first mover he set into motion the entire world using these two people with their different constitutions, proclivities, anatomies, etc.
After God appointed the man to work and keep the garden, he said “it is not good for the man to be alone.” God created man a distinctly social being, and as much as even some of the hardest individuals like to believe they prefer solitude, they were conceived by two people, grew up and were formed by countless influences, and drew strength and nourishment from countless people and institutions. Solitude can be powerful, but it is balanced by appropriate social forces which strengthen and correct.
Yet the man was not alone. He had God alongside him, who walked and talked with him in the cool of the day. So God meant something specific – he meant that the man needed peers – others who were like himself, others who, with their own unique qualities, made him feel like his work and his existence was larger than his perspective. And one of these relationships was the most paramount – that of the man and the woman.
The concept of the trinity is difficult to grasp if we are honest. However, it is a very consistent concept given biblical history. God never ceases his relationship; he chooses to make a portion of himself capable of relating directly to his creation as having its own qualities. No less, the man was placed in the garden and related somewhat to the animals he was charged to give names. Man is a creature in vertical relationship with his creator, horizontal relationship with his peers and fellow man, and in downward relationship with animals and physical materials he is charged to care for and respect. The Passover Lamb was to live with the family for which it was a sacrifice for 4 days – obviously the temptation to grow affectionate toward such a creature would exist. Man is given the picture of having to personally execute a fellow being as a picture of the sacrifice that God himself would once allow; the part of God relating directly with man, a lower being than himself, was allowed to be executed on behalf of the rest of that creation. Man is given pictures, images, and patterns from God.
Throughout history, the valor of the warrior culture at the peak of a civilization is the essence of its strengths. Reverence of self-sacrifice, leadership, and some form of humility and patience (but not necessarily tolerance) with the weak are hallmarks of those recognized to lead. Human nature is what it is, and most men cannot conceptually, or with mere abstract knowledge accept a premise when they do not respect the medium through which it is delivered, and every human being is a medium of what they say. We take advice from people from whom success or credibility is self-evident.
How amazing that a God who calls for perfection and self-sacrifice himself was the ultimate self-sacrifice, patriarch, and warrior. Yet Jesus himself did not come initially with a sword and a garment dipped in blood, as he will someday come. He came in humility, frankness, pleading, and self-sacrifice. Those who refuse his leadership are thus forced to oppress those who call him Lord to maintain their power. He eventually comes as a warrior to defend them. But he calls his followers to the same self-sacrifice as an act of leadership and courage to attempt to win the world to himself.
This was the sin of Adam. Instead of self-sacrifice and admitting his own fault, he refers to the material conditions of the fall, implicitly blaming God and the woman: “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” The very first sin of Adam was treason in eating of the forbidden tree. The second was abandoning his leadership role to assign fault to circumstances and someone assigned to help him who he was supposed to love as deeply as Christ loved the Church. The opportunity for self-sacrifice when Adam learned Eve had eaten of the tree was lost when Adam joined her, and a cascade of destruction and punishment upon their descendants was the result. Adam’s sin was worse than Eve’s, and not keeping frame of his obligations and station as a man was more of a cause of the fall than Eve being deceived.