In my previous post, I partially answered the question, “Why did God create the tree in the first place?” This question is a big one for little minds to wrap themselves around. For a child, creating the tree in the first place sounds like God was just asking for trouble. For the hardened skeptic, it sounds like God tricked us into needing a Savior by creating the means for us to sin in the first place. I argued in my previous post that this objection does not hold true when you examine it in the context of a loving relationship. For both love and relationship to exist, there must be free-will. For free-will to exist, there must be legitimate means to choose otherwise. God made it as easy as possible for Adam and Eve to choose Him, and they still chose to disobey. (If you have not read the previous post, please do so now. It lays the foundation for why the choice was necessary.)
One objection I hear to this line of reasoning is that Adam and Eve were not ”fully informed.” Had they known what God meant by “And you shall surely die,” they never would have disobeyed. Thus, it is God’s fault that they sinned by not providing enough information.
So, if God wanted to remain in a loving relationship with Adam and Eve, why didn’t He tell them the full story?! The answer is simpler than you would think: Establishing a loving relationship was not possible with full disclosure. That is a bold claim to make, so let me explain what I mean.Was full disclosure possible without ruining the possibility for a loving relationship? Click To Tweet
1) What do I mean by “choice?”
I was illustrating this point to my nephew once, and asked him, “What is something you would never purposefully do to yourself because it would hurt?” He thought for a second, and then motioned like he was slamming his hand with a hammer. Most of us make the “choice” to not purposefully slam our hands with hammers. In fact, I’d wager that most of us make this “choice” every day! However, would you call that a choice? Not really. It has never entered my mind to do otherwise. Why? Because I’ve accidentally slammed my hand with hammer. It was not pleasant. Thus, I would never do it purposefully. I don’t consider it a “choice” to not purposefully slam my hand with a hammer. I just don’t do it. I don’t want to, and if someone wanted to use it as “proof” of my love or loyalty to them, it would prove nothing. Only if we completely redefine the word 'choice.' Click To Tweet
2) Full disclosure can lead to coercion.
As mentioned before, love requires free-will, which necessitates the ability for a person to choose otherwise. However, someone can theoretically “force” you to choose something that you would never choose on your own. Forcing a choice might philosophically sound like it maintains free-will, but it doesn’t. Not really, and especially not if your end goal is a loving relationship.
For example, if you were kidnapped, and the kidnapper said to you, “The door will remain unlocked, and you can chooooooooose to leave whenever you like. However, I’m putting this device on your leg. And FYI, if you leave this room, it will administer 500 volts of electricity to you. In case you don’t believe me, let me lead you out of the room for a second so you can get a taste of what a fraction of that voltage is. BZZZZZZZZZZZ. . . Okay, now that you are “fully informed” about the weight of your decisions, it is my desire that you choose to stay here with me.”
If the kidnapper were caught, could he use the excuse that he didn’t “force” you to stay? After all, you could have exercised your free-will at any point. You had the “choice” to leave!
That excuse wouldn’t hold up in court, and it doesn’t hold up here. You did not have actual free-will with the kidnapper. If you “chose” to stay, it was coerced, to say the least. And it for sure didn’t lead to a loving relationship! This excuse wouldn’t hold up in court, and it doesn’t hold up here. Click To Tweet
Could God have given Adam and Eve enough information to ensure that they would never disobey (i.e. always “chose” Him?) Sure. Could he have let them experience the full weight of their decisions beforehand? Absolutely. But their “choice” would no longer be a choice. As mentioned before, choosing to not slam my hand with a hammer fails to demonstrate my love or loyalty to anyone but myself. It’s an act of self-preservation. Similarly, full disclosure about the ramifications of sin would have robbed Adam and Eve of freely choosing God. It would have been coercion. It would have been an act of self-preservation, not an act of obedience or trust. If anything, it would probably have fueled as much resentment as we would have for our hypothetical kidnapper, because it would have been taunting them with the illusion of choice, without actually giving them a choice.
Bringing this back to our original question, “Why did God create the tree in the first place,” let me summarize: Because He is a loving father who wanted a loving relationship with His children. He did not want robots. He did not want to force Himself on us, and He didn’t want to coerce us into loving Him by providing “full disclosure” of the ramifications of rebelling against a Holy God. None of those things would result in the kind of relationship that he desired. What did He do? He gave Adam and Eve enough information to know that He could be trusted, gave them one door by which to leave, and they took it. He didn’t hide the ramifications. He gave them enough disclosure whereby they understood what obedience and rebellion looked like, but He didn’t give so much information that they felt compelled to act in self-preservation. Are we really free if our choice is coerced? Click To Tweet
We had lots of interesting conversations on Facebook when I posted the original article. Another question that people have brought up is, “Will we have free-will in heaven?” I’ll answer that in my next post!!
Hillary Morgan Ferrer is the founder of Mama Bear Apologetics. She is coauthor and editor of the Mama Bear Apologetics book, and has been married to her husband, Dr. John D. Ferrer, for over 12 years. She is working on her second master’s degree, and yet can’t seem to figure out the simplest cooking recipes.