There's a mouse in my basement, and as much as that doesn't sound like a great theological insight, it actually has been.
You see, humans have developed all kinds of products to get rid of mice. And not just mice, but all kinds of pests - insects, wildlife, etc. We have humane traps, where bait is set up inside of a cage and the offending animal wanders in but can't walk out. We have humane-for-the-human mouse traps, where bait is placed inside and the mouse is spun around and whiplashed, but the human doesn't have to actually look at the thing.
And we have lots and lots of poison. Poison for everything! Poison that you can just...set out...and the mouse, insect, wildlife, whatever will come right up and eat it of its own volition, not knowing it will die later. In fact, it's even illegal to accidentally leave human products like antifreeze sitting around outside or spilled on the ground because even domestic animals (like cats) will come right up and drink it, thus killing themselves and leaving you on the hook for animal cruelty.
Again, what does all of this have to do with theology? More than you'd think.
Because most of us read the Genesis account, and we think what fools Adam and Eve were. They had everything! They had it all going for them! They walked with God in the cool of the day, for crying out loud. All they had to do was obey one little rule - don't eat from this tree. That's it. One tree in all of creation that they couldn't eat from, and in the very next breath, what do we see them doing? Eating from that very tree! What morons!
Actually, what creatures.
You could probably say the same thing about the mouse or the insect or the wildlife or even the cat. There's a whole smorgasbord of edibles out there, stuff they could eat and nourish themselves on. If they want to live, all they have to do is not eat the poison. Yet, every time, the animal will eat the poison if it's available and unknowingly kill itself. It can't help it. It seems it's hardwired to do so, not because it has a death with but because it is indiscriminate in its instinct.
And that is our problem, too. It's not really that we have a death wish. It's not that we want to sin and separate ourselves from God. It's not that we look at something and say, oh, yummy! Sin! Not at all. And yet, there's something in us that just isn't as discriminating as it needs to be, something that looks at what's available right there in front of us and decides, you know, that looks pretty delicious. That looks good to me. And look! It's right there, easy for the taking.
Munch, munch, munch.
It just amazes me how easy it is to kill a mouse, if that's what you so desire to do with it. It's as simple as setting out the poison and the dumb thing will come up and eat of its own volition. I have the same thoughts about the mouse that are so easy to have about Adam and Eve - doesn't it know better? Seems simple enough. If you want to live, don't eat the poison. But the mouse eats the poison every time.
And so do we. If the world sets out the poison, most of us will come right up and eat it. Invite us to sin, and we will. We've shown that over and over and over again. It's something about our creaturely instinct, something that's insatiably hungry and indiscriminating. Don't we know better? We should. It seems simple enough. It is.
If you want to live, don't eat the poison.