Genesis 3:13b-15 And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate it.” The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you more than all cattle and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you will go and dust will you 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 you on the head and you shall bruise him on the heel.”
Like Adam, Eve does not simply admit her fault, but blames another. Shame is our deep fear of being despised and rejected, and we desparately scramble to escape this condemnation by making excuses. Sadly, denying our guilt dooms the relationship we are trying to save. God is not trying to make Eve feel bad, to shame her into changing, but he knows that deflecting responsibility falsifies relationships. The only way to recover from a broken relationship is to fully acknowledge the harm we have done, otherwise the relationship is built on a lie. Yet even in this God is gentle, showing understanding for the mitigating circumstances and dealing with the serpent before addressing Eve’s own failure.
Clearly there is a malevolent spirit behind the serpent so that God’s judgment of the serpent as an animal, like the rainbow in the sky after the flood, is only symbolic. It is a reminder to us humans of the destructiveness of selling out our better selves to our lower instincts. It cuts our legs out from under us. When we choose to disbelieve and contradict God’s wisdom and love, chasing after empty desires, we demean and harm ourselves, choosing to crawl around in the muck like snakes.
When we refuse the conductor’s score and play our own ditty, it jars the whole symphony, and so we see the immediate results of conflict between Adam and Eve and both of them with the natural world. Everything falls into disharmony, and the chaos of the earth’s beginning seeps back into the world, undoing the good of creation. We little know the wide ripples of harm that fan out from our self-serving acts, evil provoking more evil… though we will discover in a few short chapters the end to which it quickly leads the world. In love God not only warns us of our potential self-destruction, but also comes to restore us after we descend to our worst selves. His love is the one thing we cannot destroy.