How would you answer, "Why are we being punished for what Adam & Eve did?" to a seven year old?

(David Cieszynski) #1

Hi everybody hope your all well,

Children do sometimes know how to ask a question :grinning: my seven year old daughter who doesn’t normally ask questions about the Bible, asked on the way to school “why are we being punished for what Adam & Eve did?” I’ve never really had to explain the fall and how sin entered humanity, so if anyone could give me any easy analogies which I can supplement my answer with would be helpful.

(Dave Kenny) #2

Whoa! Talk about where the rubber hits the road eh?!

I can hardly wait to see what others bring up. I have a mitt full of kids myself, half are under 7 and half are over 7… so far my approach has been to teach as straightforwardly as possible. I try to capture analogies in real life and real time as I catch them…

“see what just happened there dear? Well… thats a lot like…”

That sort of thing. I know this isn’t the answer you’re looking for, so we will need the wisdom of the rest of the Connect family to come up with some good ones

When I think about Narnia… Lewis makes it clear that only the arrival of Aslan can break the “forever winter but never Christmas” spell that Jadis puts on Narnia. I also think of the fact that the very breath of Aslan is what can thaw the frozen statues, each narnian touched by the power of Jadis (sin and death)… so there might be something to work with there.

Personally, I have preferred to go straight into the theological concepts of life/death, sin/separation, holiness

So, I focus on the two trees in Eden and juxtapose it with the two trees of Revelation. Those images are easy enough for children to understand. They make for great bible reading too… nothing like showing the beginning and the end to a child…

So, strictly speaking, I would teach that God doesn’t punish us for the sins of Adam and Eve, but rather the sin of Adam and Eve has separated us from the tree of life and God wants desperately to ‘re-attach’ us to the only source of life… himself (speaking of Narnia… this might be the perfect time to read ‘the magicians nephew’ with your daughter). So, humanity became unattached from the perpetual source of life… which means we eventually all die… both in the flesh and the spirit… this isn’t punishment… we are the ones that decided to stay up until midnight even though our bedtime is 8… wondering the next day why mom and dad are being so strict to me (meanwhile, its my fatigue that has thrown my objectivity… they aren’t being more strict… I’m being more sour!)

One thing is for certain, the greater we can emphasize the seriousness of sin and falleness, the greater her concept and appreciation of salvation will be… so I say that whatever you decide to share with her, do not shield her from the true reality of sin… its awful, its terrible, its despair, its hopeless (from within the system… something must come from outside the system to provide hope). Nothing helps prop up grace higher than an understanding of its opposite…

What a special time in your parenting life! Good luck!


(SeanO) #3

@David_Cieszynski It’s encouraging she is asking questions.

I don’t have kids, but I have taught youth. I think one potential approach is to help your daughter understand the story of the Bible - the big story - using The Bible Project.

Watch these very entertaining, well produced videos about Genesis and discuss how God had a plan for the world. But when Adam / Eve chose to define good / evil for themselves, God already had a plan of redemption in which he would crush the serpent and restore our hearts.

So we are part of a great story. Adam / Eve are our forefathers / mothers - are great great great great great great grandparents. So we are tied to them in a way. But Jesus is the new Adam - the snake slayer.

You could also explain how God “makes it to rain on the good and the evil” (Matthew 5:45) and that even though the world is broken God’s grace is still evident in so many wonderful things - beauty of nature, friendship, tasty food, etc.

(Jimmy Sellers) #4

@Sean_Oesch, Thank you I will be sure to use this with my grand daughter.

(David Cieszynski) #5

Thanks everyone, just to clarify I meant to say I’ve never had to explain the fall and sin in humanity to a 7 year old, it’s easier when talking to adults.

(Tim Ramey) #6

@David_Cieszynski It sure was a great question that you raised. I have 7 children, all grown up now and that would have left me stuttering! But it does make me appreciate how we expect to know everything about God. He’s so far above us that it’d be easier for us to explain physics to a 3 month old child and expect them to understand than it would be for us to understand everything about God.

(David Cieszynski) #7

Hi Dave,

It’s a good point to remind ourselves we are not being punished for Adam &
Eve, but we are all sinners.


David Cieszynski

(Phillip Walter Coetzee) #8

This really is a tough one. One would expect an easy explanation but giving the information in a way that is understandable to a seven-year old is tough…
I see the question is that why we are being punished for what Adam and Eve did. I think a good starting point would be to “reunite God with humanity” in making your child understand that the crucifixion was God taking the punishment for what Adam and Eve did, in the name of love and by His grace. He did this so that we may have life eternal (know Him).
Oftentimes people view God as being there somewhere, and that leaves a gap of questions in the here and now.
Yet God is very interested in our lives as His creation. The punishment we go through is people deciding to suppress the moral law for the sake of wickedness, like this the wrath of God is kindled. The greater the wickedness the greater the wrath. I think it is important to keep these two sides (wrath and redemption) as equally important (for without the one, the other loses a bit of weight) when explaining the fall of mankind.
Hope this helps!

(David Cieszynski) #9

Thanks Phillip, explaining wrath can be taboo for some :kissing_closed_eyes: as today people only want to hear about a loving God and forget he judges us for our actions.

(Sandy) #10

Hello David, I see that I’m only a few months late on your discussion. :slight_smile: Last night as I was quickly scrolling through, I read your question not even sure how I ended up there. This evening while listening to a sermon and seeing Jesus, no thought or remembrance of your question, this popped into my mind about your young daughter’s question you posted on Feb 2. Yes, we were all born into sin, but the question would still remain…why? I’d never dwelt on this detail or ever heard it taught before. Here’s what I received: In Adam and Eve, were all of humanity, therefore the curse fell on all! God, who does not see as man sees, saw all of us in Adam and Eve. I see the law of seed, time, harvest in play here. So in our original parents, we were. This bears witness with me lining up with the Word. I’ve been deeply studying of late on “The Word” itself for a class I lead and from the parables we know God’s Word is Seed! So…in saying all that I want to wholly acknowledge Holy Spirit and Praise God for this! I know I didn’t think it up on my own and wanted to share and thank you for bringing it up. Wish I could better articulate it. But, please, let me know what you think. Thanks!

(Arthur Tepichin) #11

I have a little one on the way. My wife is due in July. Such a great topic to raise. I don’t have much specific advice other than recalling my own experience. I remember back when I was around 7 and how my loving mother would read Christian bedtime stories and say our nightly prayers. I still remember the specific night as a child of me wanting to be saved and to ask Jesus into my heart. My parents created a wonderful environment. All this being said I would say A helpful step in explaining the fall is laying a great foundation which helps explaining those big questions/concepts.

(Jennifer Judson) #12

Just happened to be thinking along these lines over the long drive this weekend. Have no idea if it will work for kids. Though I’ve been childish enough it ought to count, I don’t actually have any kids. So this should be hilarious. Here goes.

We’ve talked about the difference between right and wrong. That’s kind of the same as good and bad. Another way of saying that is good and evil. Do you understand those opposite things?

When God made the garden for Adam and Eve it had all kinds of trees with all kinds of wonderful fruit. But he put a special tree in the middle that had fruit they were NOT supposed to eat. He did that to see if they would do as they were told–without having to know why. If they ate the fruit on that tree they would understand the difference between good and evil. So Adam and Eve were just like you when you were a small baby–you had no idea what good and evil were, did you? They call that being innocent–you have no knowledge of what is good or bad.

Since you’ve heard the story before, you know that they did eat the fruit. Because they ate the fruit their eyes were opened and they learned about good and evil. They had disobeyed. As a consequence everything changed. They felt different, they felt shameful and bad about what they had done, it caused them to even hide from God. To stay in God’s presence you have to be holy. That’s being 100% good, all the time. Because they disobeyed they were not innocent anymore and not 100% good so they had to leave the garden. God even put angels to guard the entrance so they could not return. But God still took care of them, he even made them clothes.

Do you understand what a consequence is? When one thing happens it causes another thing to happen. Like when you touch a hot stove it causes your finger to get burned. That’s a consequence.

So Adam and Eve were the only two people ever created who did not have any knowledge of good and evil. Every person born since knows about right/wrong and good/bad. Because we have that knowledge we also have to live out the consequences of Adam and Eve eating the fruit from that one tree.

You would think that having knowledge of good and evil would help us behave better because it could help us avoid doing bad things. But somehow it doesn’t. Sometimes we are so tempted to just try that thing we know is bad for us we just do it. So you see the knowledge of good and evil was really bad for us humans. It means we have to spend our lives striving to do the right thing, to overcome our thoughts to do bad things. That’s why we can’t be in the garden.

But God really wants us in the garden, so he made a way. You know that’s with Jesus. One day, when Jesus comes again, everyone who has given their heart to Jesus will be in a new garden. We’ll get to be there everyday with Jesus.

I know it sounds like we’re being punished for what Adam and Eve did. But really it’s all about God getting us back into the garden with him forever.

(Amanda Pinckney) #13

Thank you for sharing this!

(David Cieszynski) #14

Hi everyone, sorry for not responding sooner but I’m in the final few weeks of my first year reader training so a bit hectic with the last few assignments (one more deadline to go :grinning:). I will respond hopefully over the weekend.

(David Cieszynski) #15

Evening Sandy,

Finally got my last assignment out of the way for this year, I understand where your coming from in that sin entered humanity through Adam and Eve. It just took me a number of minutes trying to explain it to a seven year old who in her eyes we are all being punished because of Adam and Eve, failing to realise she does naughty actions to :slight_smile:

Would you mind elaborating on the phrase ‘seed’ as I’ve not seen this in relation to law, Word.

(David Cieszynski) #16

Hi Jennifer,

Could it be said then that the knowledge of good and bad and mankind’s inner moral law were already part of humanity but in a doormant state? Think of this scenario Creation is in full swing Adam and Eve have plenty of children and grandchildren then both Adam and Eve fall for the Serpent’s lies. Would everyone else automatically know what good and evil is and be condemned?

(Jennifer Judson) #17

You pose an interesting question. Don’t think I have an answer, but let me see where I end up as I try to reason through it.
Gen 2:15-17–The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

Note that in Genesis 2 God gives Adam this direction prior to Eve’s creation from his rib. Another note I would make is that “you shall surely die” did not end up meaning immediate death, but mortality. I presume for Adam to have truly understood the consequences of disobedience he was able to understand the meaning of death, but not yet have a knowledge of good and evil.

Gen 3:1-13–Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

Though Eve was not created when the initial command is given to Adam, she repeats it back to the serpent so we know she is fully aware of the consequences. After the serpent tempts her with the potential gain of knowledge the fruit becomes more enticing: it is delicious, it is lovely, it gives wisdom. Previously it had not been a temptation. What about it being pointed out made it more tempting?

I’m not sure from what scripture says that we can glean that is was already an inner moral law that was dormant? But I wouldn’t say it contradicts it either. But it certainly indicates good and evil existed, but Adam and Eve were ignorant of the requisite knowledge.

Since Eve was not yet created when the command was given, but it did apply to her in the moment, we can assume that had there been any other offspring that ate of the fruit their eyes would also have been opened. What if everyone in your scenario had not eaten of the fruit? What then? Would some have the knowledge and others be ignorant/innocent? Would some be exiled from the garden while others stayed?

About all I can really say about those questions is…WAY above my pay grade! But fun to pontificate.

(Tim Behan) #18

Hi David,

I’m also a bit late to this discussion, so sorry about that. It’s an awesome question though. Thankfully my children are a little younger so I haven’t been faced with this one yet (although they do bring up some cracking questions).

I haven’t read every reply to your question so this may have been said… but I would think about asking the question “Would we have done it differently if we were Adam or Eve?”. I think for me personally I can’t answer that in the affirmative so we have to say that, while it happened through Adam and Eve… we can’t lay the blame on them without first thinking about blaming ourselves too (something pops into my mind about pointing out splinters in other peoples eyes while having plank in my own… but you probably don’t have to bring that out for a seven year old).

Maybe that helps… don’t have the experience with the 7 year old just yet, but it’s my two cents worth.

(David Cieszynski) #19

Evening Tim, no need to apologise on ‘being late’ to the discussion as there are no time restrictions as we are always learning and discovering new thoughts.

God knew he would have to sacrifice His Son for us, children’s questions keep us on our toes.

(Jennifer Judson) #20

Perhaps that’s why have the faith of a child is so important to God. Imagine your daughter asking Jesus that very question. I see him smiling and chuckling, then squatting down to be eye to eye with her and explaining all about God’s love.