This discussion is on Chapter 3 of Genesis. Students sometimes have a hard time with this scripture, trying to understand if the serpent is actually speaking or if the serpent is the devil, etc. Once again, remind students about Fact vs Truth. And the over-arcing themes we can take away from this story. When I lead this lesson, I will begin with having students do a “readers theater” because you can almost act it out. Point out the import aspects: it NEVER says the serpent is the devil, notice the serpent goes to Eve, not Adam, God comes looking for them, Adam almost blames God by saying look at what this person you gave to me did, etc.
Student Learning Outcomes:
- Understand Fact vs Truth as it pertains to this story
- Knowing that even when we feel separated from God, He is right beside us
- No matter what we do, or what we think, God love us, and we were created in His image
- You can not be defined by your sins or mistakes
- Having knowledge isn’t always a positive thing
Begin by asking each student to share a vice. (Give them a personal example: Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, a T.V. show, etc.) It is helpful to start each lesson with a simple/personal question to “break the ice” for shy students.
This story can easily be read through “readers theater”. Ask volunteers to play the parts of Eve, Adam, the serpent, and God. Then have someone read and narrate the rest of the story.
Challenging elements of this story:
- The text doesn’t say the serpent is the devil
- It is clear that God created the serpent with all the other creatures on earth which also suggests that he created humans, rules and the pitfall that will trip them up
- It appears that what God said wasn’t entirely true. The serpent tells the unvarnished truth since humans DO NOT actually die upon eating the fruit.
- God doesn’t seem entirely omnipotent at every moment in this story. God seems not to know exactly what is going on and has to ask questions to better ascertain what has happened.
- One of the punishments of woman is for man to rule over her. So, God’s original design was for man and woman to be EQUAL.
IF we take this story from a non-literal perspective, we avoid some of the obvious pitfalls of a literal interpretation and have the opportunity to, instead, think about some of the deeper truths about our own humanity that run through the narrative.
- In what ways has this story been used to cause or justify harm to others? Or to ourselves?
- What, really, is the “sin” that trips up humanity? Is it insecurity? A failure to recognize that we have already been made in God’s image and have everything we need?
- How is knowledge and understanding different? When is knowledge bad?
- Is there anything surprising or encouraging about this story?