There is a bit of irony in writing about the ideal Christian man using examples of flawed Christian men. It is even more ironic coming from the finger tips of a flawed Christian man. The fact of the matter is, we’re all flawed. So, does that mean that we cannot read and draw conclusions from what Jesus wrote about men? No. If we could not argue a point because we aren’t included in the point being argued, then why would we analyze scripture? Why wouldn’t we take everything Jesus says at face value? Well, Jesus wrote of flawed men to relate to each of us. This brings the argument down to our level and allows us to argue points of other men of the Bible using what Jesus has chosen to say of them. I think a fitting place to begin is with the first man with whom we become familiar at the beginning of both time and scripture, Adam. Adam is unique in that he was created free of sin, and came into sin later in his life. We know this because he knew no difference between good and evil. Because he knew no difference between good and evil, the logic follows that there was also no sin, as sin is evil. This is supported by Genesis 1:31 where God refers to his creation as ‘very good’.
Now that Adam has been created, God makes from Adam a ‘suitable helper’ which is the woman. Woman came from man and Adam was to assume responsibility for her. It’s his manly duty to do so. Adam is an example of a growing trend in today’s Christian men. Adam was passive. Passivity may seem like a minor flaw at first, but it’s when we take a closer look at Adam’s situation that we see the repercussions of passivity. Adam’s passivity caused the downfall of man. A ‘sin of omission’ if you will, lead to sin entering the world. That is to say, because Adam DIDN’T do something, he caused man and God to be separated. It’s not something he did, it’s something he didn’t do. There is an interesting phenomenon in a moment of panic and emergency called the Bystander Effect. This phenomenon occurs when bystanders refuse to help a victim in need. The reasons listed for this phenomenon are ambiguity, cohesiveness, and diffusion of responsibility. Cohesiveness requires a group, and Adam and Eve were the only two present, so we can throw that one out the window. Ambiguity is unrealistic, as God said to Adam that he was not to eat fruit from that tree, so Adam knew what he was to do and not to do. That leaves diffusion of responsibility. Before I explain why diffusion of responsibility played a role here, I will explain another common critique. Some like to place the blame on Eve in this scenario. Eve is the one that was speaking to the serpent, ate the fruit first, handed the fruit to Adam, and knew that she was not to eat of that tree, as she was aware of the rules (Gen 3:2-3). People like to blame the woman, but it’s the man who is at fault. Why is man responsible for the actions of the woman? Because he let it happen. Adam wasn’t on the other side of the garden when all of this was going on. Genesis 3:6b says, “…she also gave some to her husband, WHO WAS WITH HER, and she ate it.” He was right beside her. Not out of earshot. Not around the corner. He was right beside her letting all of this occur. What the heck, Adam?
I hope this drives home a point. Adam committed the first sin here. The sin of omission. He allowed Eve to succumb to the serpent’s words. That means Adam is the one who really is to blame. It’s easy to look at the bad side of this situation. Sure Adam screwed up (and Eve, too) but what did God do? Did he forsake them? Did he kill them off? No. It says in Genesis 3:21 that God made garments for Adam and Eve. See, God, being of his supreme, all-powerful nature, could have done any number of things in this situation, but he chose to clothe them rather than kill them. Nurture rather than rebuke. Forgive rather than destroy. Although Adam sinned, God still loved him and let him continue, albeit with many new restrictions. The take home point is that although Adam turned against the only thing that God had requested of him, God still chose to care for him. We may slip up sometimes, but we can sleep easy knowing that it doesn’t end with our mistakes. It begins with God’s forgiveness.
What else should we take from this? I mean, we have a pretty clear example of how passivity is bad. So, should we just, like, not be passive? That’s a step in the right direction, but it’s not all that is intended for us. Let’s be proactive against passivity. Men are made to be leaders. The opposite of leading is passivity. Rather than let people hand us bad fruits, let’s be proactive against these fruits. If Adam had stood up for what he believed in, we could live in a world free of sin. Being a proactive leader means standing up for what we know and believe to be true based on God’s word. It’s not going to be popular, but it’s what is right. It’s what glorifies Christ, and that’s a fruit that I wish to feast upon until I get to meet the gardener himself.