The temptation in the garden was not merely about eating forbidden fruit; it was about defying the one who had forbidden it. At the heart of the temptation to “know good and evil” was the lure that humans could decide for themselves what was good and evil. God could be bypassed. Humans could choose their own good. They could usurp the place of God.
God had given humans very great authority but it was authority in and under God. The temptation here was to step out from under God’s authority, to become one’s own authority, to put God to one side and place themselves at the center. What happened in the garden was not simply wrong, it was rebellion. A rebellion that has been repeated in all Adam’s children, including you and me.
What Eve did not know was that the moment she and Adam stepped out of the stream of God’s authority, their own authority over creation would be lost. Man was the duly-constituted authority over the earth, but that authority was forfeited, to the great hurt of both man and creation.
Our parents decided to abandon God’s way – it was too constrictive – and go off in their own direction. It was a disastrous choice. If a train leaves the track, it may be free to go in any direction, but it won’t go far. The track may seem constrictive to a train, but as soon as it leaves the track, it ceases to operate as a train. When humans chose to leave God’s way, they remained human – just as the derailed train remains a train – but they ceased to function as they were designed.