Wednesday, 30 July 2014

The Forbidden Fruit and its 'High Life' Counterpart

Someone once told me, 'Rules! They're there to be broken!' - Obviously, it's out of context and not very good advice, but why do we all love a bit of rebellion? Why is the forbidden fruit so appealing? It is 'forbidden' for a reason right?

First of all, let us establish what the infamous 'forbidden fruit' is all about.
Most definitions I've browsed seem to refer to an 'indulgence or pleasure that is considered illegal or immoral'. I bet really dodgy things come to mind at the sound of that statement, but that is not all! Why is something illegal, because it is out of the bounds of what the law allows. Why is something immoral, because it does not conform to the standards of morality established. Basically, the 'forbidden fruit' is anything we wish to do or actually do that we are not supposed to do, because of boundaries established by an authority that governs us. Ultimately this authority is God, but we also have earthly masters like parents, teachers, government, bosses .etc. It's a phrase that can be traced as far back as Genesis 2 - in light of this, the internet definition Wikipedia offers is a bit limiting! It can be stretched to include anything from greed rooted in money, addictions of various kinds, lust and sexual immorality...boy the list could go on forever!

I'm as allured to the forbidden fruit as everyone else...note that I say 'fruit', I do not encourage insulting the apples that I dearly love! The most rebellious thing I've done? Well I'd rather not reveal that but I don't mind sharing the one I am least guilty about. A couple of years ago, I remember applauding myself for being an absolute gangster, just because I joined my friends in hiding on a terminated bus as it drove on to some random place...childish, I know!

So, why is it that we only yearn to do something when we're discouraged to do it? It almost seems as though the existence of rules is to be blamed for rebellion. Or so I am told, especially by those demanding we legalise various recreational drugs!
That is obviously wrong! Legalising something, only reduces illegal acquisition, it does not exterminate substance abuse, which is what these drugs are primarily used for. Besides, do you actually think people will stop black market sales? Of course not! Take cigarettes for example: the legal age for smoking and purchasing cigarettes in the UK is 18 (or 16 depending on where you reside), but I spot numerous kids having a puff because they 'know people' who are prepared to share a cigarette with them. The answer to such social issues is awareness and discipline.

'...if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, "You shall not covet."' - Romans 7:7

Rules are essential in order to guide a wayward conscience. Let's be honest, we tend to act on impulse more than on our conscience - but rules stop us, as impulsive actions most often lead to trouble. Rules appear to control us, but the lack of rules only results in chaos. Even nature functions by a set of laws, which when disrupted, results in some rather uncomfortable consequences. We're not necessarily crazy about rules because they restrict us.

The 'forbidden fruit' tempts the inner dictator in us all. Tell me, who doesn't enjoy control and power! The problem however, is that it makes false promises - much like politicians grappling for support. It promises temporary fulfilment but blinds our eyes to the consequences ahead. The control they appear to give, leads to pride and discontentment. Above all, it is a fallacy! You are not in control...ever! God is.
Let's analyse our great grandmother Eve! She fell for the lies of the 'forbidden fruit' because:
  1. She had a distorted view of God and His laws - Genesis 3 records the first sin, which was surprisingly not disobedience, but lying. Eve exaggerated God's laws, making Him out to be controlling and mean; a doorway to disaster! The moment we fail to see God as our loving Father and Saviour, we stop acknowledging His goodness and His genuine best interests in the laws He puts forth. Obviously, that then leads to rebellion as you see Him more as an oppressive dictator.
  2. She failed to appreciate what she already had - Genesis 2:9 mentions that Eden was filled with 'all kinds of trees...pleasing to the eye and good for food' When I read this, I often wonder about how stupid it was for Eve to leave all those fruits and run after the one thing, ONE THING, that she wasn't supposed to. You'd think she would've been content with the rest! Yup, I can talk, I would've probably done the same...and NOT because I am a woman, but because of greed, ingratitude and the inclination to rebel that all of us are born with, regardless of gender.
  3. She sought control - Eve was not interested in eating the fruit until the serpent slyly says she can be 'like God'. Ah what an appeal! A totally false one too! Eve just couldn't resist an opportunity to be in control, in charge of everything, that thirst for power - it's easy to see the reason behind her downfall. The forbidden fruit promises us so much, it seems too good to be true...that's because it is! When you actually take time to consider these lies, you realise that what they promise is actually far less magnificent in reality.
  4. She did not trust God - Let's face it, if Eve had trusted God when He said, 'you will surely die' she would not have given a second thought to the word of that serpent. Perhaps it was pride within her that brought forth the distrust - pride in her own judgements rather than God's. Can't we all relate to such guilt?
This 'forbidden fruit' concept is portrayed beautifully in Dominic Balli's song, American Dream: '...they sold me the American Dream for a small fee, the price of my life and my own dreams...I was never told that the high life would demand my soul such a high price...' Feel free to listen to it:
Yes the forbidden fruit, or in contemporary terms, 'the high life' seems glamorous, but that's far from the truth. It may promise some joy, peace, comfort or what not, but it can never last unless it is rooted in Christ. God alone adheres to His promises, a faithfulness evident throughout Scripture - He promises us 'peace that surpasses all understanding', 'joy unspeakable' and He asks us to 'cast all our cares on [Him]'. Tell me, what more could you need! Like Tim Howard would say, 'Everything else is a bonus.'

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