Having seen how God created the world and human beings as fundamentally good, we see today how sin enters into the world. This account of the fall explains the brokenness that we find throughout the world, and which has so marred God’s original creation. And central to this fallen condition is the sin of pride, which distorts our nature in subtle but very real ways. Saint Augustine writes,
It is most truly said … ‘Pride is the beginning of sin,’ for it was this sin that overthrew the devil, from whom arose the origin of sin and who, through subsequent envy, overturned the man who was standing in the righteousness from which he had fallen. For the serpent, seeking a way to enter, clearly sought the door of pride, when he declared, ‘You shall be as gods.’ That is why it is written, ‘Pride is the beginning of all sin,’ and ‘The beginning of the pride of man is to fall away from God.’
We see the flip side of this pride in the shame that Adam and Eve experienced. Not only did they become self-conscious in their nakedness, but they hid from God. They knew that something was wrong, but did not have the courage to be open about their problem and instead blamed others and made excuses.
Yet God has not abandoned human beings to their pride and all the sins that flow from it. Instead, He has provided a remedy to that pride, which is the way of humility. Saint Augustine continues,
Through Christ a pattern of life has been given to us, that is to say, a sure path by which we may come to God. For we who have fallen through pride could only return to God through humility … our Saviour has Himself condescended to exemplify in His own person that humility which is the path over which we have to travel on our return to God. For ‘He did not think it robbery to be equal to God but emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave.’ (Philippians 2:6-7) Hence, the Word through whom all things in the beginning were made was created man.
A Reading from the Book of Genesis 2:20-3:20:
The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper fit for him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh; and the rib which the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed.
Now the serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which 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 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, 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 aprons.
And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of thee in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent beguiled me, and I ate.” The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all cattle, and above all wild animals; upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” To the woman he said, “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth to you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.