I’m with God on this one. Damn you Adam...what were you thinking?
Context: gardening, set against the original Garden of Eden. I understand gardening is a curse because the Bible tells me so. Before the Fall of Man the garden was beautiful and did not need any help. After sin entered the world, God told Adam: “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat...by the sweat of your brow.” (Genesis 3 17-19) It’s all Adam’s fault. In theological terms, we call it “original sin”.
My wife thinks gardening is couples’ time. Me, I hate gardening. There is not a green bone in my body. I also resent nature’s pernicious streak, which makes me wonder why trees are protected in this town. Every time someone renovates, colourful plastic barriers will surround where cutting is forbidden. Still, in both of our homes, trees have been the problem and I am always fighting the undergrowth. Nature does not need any help from bureaucrats; it is doing fine all on its own.
My wife was away for three months. I consigned my yard activities to cutting grass. My wife is the garden enthusiast and she is quite specific; hence it’s a yes ma’am, no ma’am kind of deal. My typical offence has been pulling up weeds that turned out to be flowers.
We had some work to do because in three months, nature had taken over. Most grievous, a kind of plant that makes its way in from the field. It sneaks into our yard via a hidden network beneath the grass that pops up according to stealth. Worse, these particular weeds have their own vicious defence. When you go after them, they go after you. The thorns can penetrate even through gloves. It does not escape me that Jesus wore a crown of thorns during his passion, in case you thought nature was good.
The story of Adam and Eve is often used to show how dumb it is to think of the Bible as literal. Some treat the stories as merely archetypal. There can (for example) be serious debates over whether the world was really made in seven days. You can get lost in the fine points.
All of this is immaterial to the fact of weeds. They are there no matter what people argue about an apple behind it all. If we pull on that thread, we find that Adam’s sin affected us all. Those of us from the seed of Adam, suffer from a common disease called “sin”. The Bible has only one prescribed cure.
Theology points out, that if the world was brought to its knees via one man, it also would also be saved via one man. Paul calls Jesus, the “last Adam”. He means that the portal to Hell gets rerouted and we all get a shot at Heaven because of Jesus’ death on the cross. “For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” (Romans 5:19) And further, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:22)
I am not here to prosecute that argument, only to note it, just like the weeds. There is plenty of mention in the Bible about weeds, mainly because Jesus’ first audience was farmers who knew about weeds close up. There is that story about the “tares” (ancient and charming word for weeds). That parable is found in Matthew chapter 13. It follows on the heels of the parable of the sower, where the challenges to the Kingdom of God mimic the ills that plague one planting crops; dry soil, predatory birds, and bad weather. The parable of the tares adds another challenge to the list: the Enemy. When the field workers note the weeds growing with the wheat, the Lord of the estate says, “An enemy has done this”.
Digging about, I do not doubt this. There is no kindness in the growth of weeds. They spring up among the good plants and you have to fight them. It will be an uphill battle all the way. Being out in the garden makes theology pretty easy. I don’t have to look up clever arguments, I just have to open my eyes.
When I go inside to rest and read the news, it makes plain what the Fall of Man story claims; almost every headline follows the seed of Adam’s curse. We all seem to be infected, waiting for some cosmic cure to set things right again. If the Bible informs us about good and evil and the place mankind has in that story, you only have to spend a day in the garden to understand that it is all true.