Summary: Don't play the blame game; own it by name and avoid the shame.
Avoiding the Blame Game
Rev. Brian Bill
Drama: “The Jerry Stringer Show”
Do you know what the most popular game is in the entire world? Could it be Facebook’s Farmville with 82 million active users? Halo? Super Mario Brothers 3? Monopoly, which is sold in 80 different countries? Risk? Scrabble? Battleship? Fantasy baseball with the Cubs winning the World Series? Oh, that is fantasy, isn’t it? Actually, it’s none of those. The most popular game in the world has been played by every human being ever born – it’s called the Blame Game, and most of us are experts at it.
The Blame Game is in our family tree and part of our spiritual DNA. Turn in your Bible to Genesis 2. The scene is Paradise, located just outside of Madison, Wisconsin. Sorry about that. Verse 15 tells us that God made Adam out of the dust of the ground and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. He was given free reign but is told to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Seeing that it was not good for Adam to be alone, God then created woman. Adam was very cool with this and in the original exclaimed, “Woah, man!” Chapter 2 ends with harmony in their home: “The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.”
Things change in chapter 3 when we’re introduced to the Serpent who caused Eve to question what God had said. After dialoging with the Devil, which is always dangerous to do, verse 6 tells us that “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.”
After eating the forbidden fruit, Adam looks at his wife and realizes for the first time that she doesn’t have any clothes on and then notices that he’s naked as well. Sin’s first consequence is shame and they immediately try to cover it up by sewing some fig leaves together. Immediately after this, they hear the Lord God walking in the garden and they run for cover. Sin brings shame which leads to trying to hide from God’s holiness. No one told them to hide but now their consciences are condemning them. Just a short time earlier they enjoyed intimate fellowship with God but now the fruit of disobedience has brought distance between them and God.
In verse 9 God calls out to Adam, “Where are you?” I love how God is always searching for people who have gone astray. Adam tells the Almighty that he was afraid so he went into hiding. He knew he couldn’t face God uncovered. God then asks him two very direct questions in verse 11: “Who told you that you were naked?” “Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”
Instead of naming what he did, Adam went straight to blaming in verse 12: “The woman you put here with me – she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” The first person he blames is Eve; actually he calls her “the woman,” probably as a way to distance himself from her. He then tries to put his sin squarely on her: “she gave me some fruit…” And then at the very end he says, “…and I ate it.” It’s almost like he didn’t have a choice. If it weren’t for her and the fact that she gave it to him, the implication is that he would never have munched on the mango, or whatever it was (by the way, the Bible never says it was an apple).
Just as it’s common to place blame on those who are close to us, Adam does something even more nefarious, and perhaps equally popular. Let me read the verse again and this time I’m going to emphasize another word: “The woman YOU put here with me…” Adam is now playing the blame game with God. God, if you wouldn’t have given me this woman, I never would have done it. God, if you would have just done things differently, I would be fine.
The story isn’t over and the blaming keeps going in verse 13 when Eve answers God’s question: “What is this you have done?” Instead of naming it, she starts blaming: “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” She tries to attribute her infraction to the Evil One. It’s the classic, “The Devil made me do it” defense and the devil didn’t have a leg to stand on.
I like how Ray Pritchard puts it: “Technically, Adam and Eve both told the truth. Adam told the truth when he said Eve gave him the fruit. Eve told the truth when she said the serpent deceived her. But both of them were making excuses as a means of avoiding personal responsibility. As long as Adam could blame Eve, he didn’t look so bad. And as long as Eve could blame the serpent, she looks like an innocent victim.