The price of knowing good and evil

In Genesis 2:17 God tells Adam not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Then in Genesis 3:5 the serpent deceived Eve into desiring the fruit of that tree, so she ate from it. Verse 7 states that the eyes of Adam and Eve were immediately opened to know that they were naked. Presumably this realisation of their nakedness is a result of knowing good and evil, so it was an instant impartation of the knowledge.

However, in thinking about this recently I started to wonder if perhaps the sin and evil which resulted from this event are the expected effect: Adam and Eve were already experiencing ‘good’ even if they were unaware of any other state of being. To understand the knowledge of good and evil they would also have to experience evil.

One of the fundamental questions people have regarding belief in God is, “How can a good God allow evil?” The explanation must surely be that evil was demanded by the first humans reaching out to take the knowledge of good and evil. We cannot have such knowledge without knowing both what good is and what evil is.

I assume that theologians have discussed this at great length and explained it far better than my stumbling thoughts, but this is a new idea to me.

April in review

I have recently begun reading Emily Freeman’s blog Chatting at the Sky. Emily has a practice of looking back at the end of each month to review what she has learned before plunging into the next month. I like this idea so am trying it myself. As an insatiable learner it may help consolidate what I’ve learned and give some insight as to where I should focus in the upcoming month.

1) Bible reading

I read an average of 4.3 chapters of the Bible per day in April. This is a little below my target of 5 per day but close. Some days I did not read the Bible at all and this is something I’d like to improve on because reminding myself of the full story of redemption and the encouragements, commands and prohibitions in Scripture is important to build up my faith.

2) Blogging

I joined the Clumsy Bloggers workshop for NZ$2 at the beginning of April using a 99% off coupon. So far the course has covered: Design & Layout; Consistency & Content; Titles, Formatting & Comments; Images; and Social Media. Mostly it is revision for me but good reminders to put work into some of the basic building blocks of my blog.

3) Evil abounds in this world.

At the very beginning of April Al-Shabab attacked a Kenyan university, killing 148 people. Later in the month ISIS released a gruesome video of the killing of 30 Ethiopian Christians. There are many horrifying reports of the slavery, rape and torture of women and children by ISIS fighters. Other news reports featured Burmese men being used as slaves on fishing boats in Indonesia. Slavery is also rampant in the clothing industry. I would like to do more than wring my hands in despair.

4) ANZAC Day

In commemorating ANZAC day, our family learned more of what our grandfathers experienced in the second world war and also some details of the Gallipoli campaign that caused me to question some of the stories we have been fed about the history of our nation.

Books I’ve read

Found: A Story of Questions, Grace & Everyday Prayer by Micha Boyett (Kindle edition)

A chronicle of learning what prayer means when life is a bit chaotic and has squeezed out the ability to have standard issues ‘quiet times’ with God. Micha discusses Benedictine spirituality in an inviting way and at one point describes prayer as like the soothing rhythm of fly fishing, which I particularly liked! Not a ‘how to’ manual but an encouraging read.

Social media posts

A scan of what I have posted on social media channels gives an indication of what caught my interest in the last month:

Looking forward

I noted that I want to do more than feel bad about the evil happening in the world. As Christians we are called to be a light to the world and a preserving factor in society. I’m not going to suddenly turn into a world changer in the month of May, but I can consider how God could be wanting to use me within the sphere of influence He has placed me.

God in a brothel

In this book Daniel Walker describes how sex abuse of children sucks their souls out leaving an empty body – like J.K. Rowling’s Dementors but even more terrifying because it is not make believe. Every man who has battled lust should read this book and fight that demon sin with renewed vigour as a result. Sex trafficking is a many-headed monster but we must fight it on all fronts.

There are some books that I don’t especially want to read but know I need to read them. God in a Brothel by Daniel Walker is such a book. My reason for reading it was that if I am to understand the situation for the Shan people of Burma then it is important to comprehend how sex trafficking occurs in South East Asia.
This book is well written and the words are easy to read. However, what the words are saying is not at all easy to stomach.

Daniel Walker is a Kiwi police officer who worked undercover as an investigator of human trafficking in the global sex industry. It is a sickening trade in the bodies and souls of women and children.

I would recommend all men to read this book – it shows the degrading horror of what lust does when indulged without thought to its effect upon others. The darkness of sex trafficking is everywhere, because lust is everywhere and internet porn is feeding its voracious appetite. Daniel Walker describes its effect upon the victims:

I noticed that many of the older girls, twelve and thirteen years old, had lost all life in their eyes. They appeared to be in a trance or under some dark magician’s spell. They moved with a slow resignation; no amount of smiling, warmth or kindness on my part could draw them out. The systematic and prolonged sexual abuse of children and young people is perhaps the very worst crime against humanity because, as I saw day after day, it strips them of their heart and soul. It murders the person but leaves their bodies alive.

…These empty bodies existed in the netherworld of prostitution and in the vacuum of an indifferent world. I met them in every room of every brothel, and they all had the same look in their dark, empty eyes.
God in a Brothel, p89 (emphasis mine)

This man has an integrity, moral strength and toughness way beyond what I have. To face the temptations he did and the suffering he saw without falling down or falling apart is astonishing. He does discuss the issues of what support is ideal for people doing such work in order to maintain their personal wellbeing longterm and is candid about his own failing on one occasion.

He also admits to struggling on an emotional level with wanting to summarily execute some of the “predatory sex tourists, sadistic pedophiles cunning traffickers and greedy pimps” he encountered. He opens that chapter with the following:

It is easy to hate men. Men create the demand for sex trafficking, which the criminals involved in human trafficking are only too eager to supply. Without these men and their personal pursuit of pleasure, the simple fact is there would be no forced prostitution.  God in a Brothel, p79.

Remember this guys – lust is not an innocent desire. Left unchecked it is a selfish, destructive force. When the lust of multitudes of men rampages through a society it is a demonically ruthless force of evil. You cannot stop sex slavery, but you are responsible for killing your own lust.

Slavery can happen here too:

The Malaysian sex worker, who was in New Zealand on a visitor’s permit but has since returned home, told another prostitute there she had been paid $5600 to come to Auckland, and had been made to work 16-hour shifts with few breaks on most days.

Another Malaysian sex worker said she had been lured here with a $4500 cash offer, plus airfares, but was later told that it was a loan she had to repay.

Her passport was also taken from her soon after she arrived.
(NZ’s sex-slave cases ‘slip under radar’)

A case of forced labour in Auckland: Slave labour probe in central Auckland

Relevant Links

The real, real world

the-real-real-world

That time again: 5 minute Friday. This week’s word is real.
The task: Write for 5 minutes, no fixing and fiddling, just write.

Learning to be real and realistic:

Real: actual, genuine.
Realistic: seeing or accepting things as they really are, practical.

The first eighteen years of my life were based on these ideas. I liked to stick with the facts, to look for truth, be practical; and my parents drummed into me that it is foolhardy to be anything other than realistic – one must accept things as they are.

What is the real world?

But there is more to life than what folks like to call the real world, what we can see and touch. There is One who John and the other apostles saw and touched, who cannot be seen or touched right now but is no less real for it (1 John 1:1-2).

The real real world is much bigger than what we can see and touch here and now. It includes wars, refugees, children and old people hiding in jungles from soldiers who should protect them. The real, real world contains ideas bigger and cleverer and stupider than any I encountered in small town Central Otago, NZ. It includes God – and evil – chariots of fire and legions of angels (see 2 Kings 6:17, Matthew 26:53).

Intangible but really dangerous

In the real, real world there are demons in my head that will do real damage if let loose. There is selfishness in my heart that would destroy my marriage if given free reign. There is frustration and anger in my soul that will destroy my children if released. These things cannot be touched, but they touch me and those I love.

In this world I need the Jesus I cannot see or touch.

Stop

Confession: I did do a little editing after my 5 minutes. The bold and italics, headings and scripture references were all added later.

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.
(1 John 1:1-4 ESV)


Image of enraged man: iStock