“Theoretical” questions, i.e., those that deal with the key aspects of Christian theology, aren’t a rare occurrence among questions asked by children. Archpriest Alexander Yelatomtsev, the rector of the Nativity of Christ Church in v. Rozhdestveno (Istra Raion, Moscow Oblast) and the spiritual father of Rozhdestvo Orthodox School, answers some of the questions.
Who is more to blame for the Fall? Adam or Eve? Eve, I guess: wasn’t it her who took the apple first?
We will have to dig deep into who Adam was and who his Wife was (that was the original name Adam assigned to the second human being on earth. The name ‘Eve’ appeared later) to be able to answer your question correctly. It is essential that we understand what they were like when they were created by the Lord, in what ways they were different and similar.
Both were pure and innocent, endowed with reason and the ability to love. However, Adam was older and stronger. His Wife was younger and weaker. She was prettier than her husband. When Adam saw her for the first time, he fell in love with her. She was also less able to defend herself. Adam was her guardian and defender.
When the serpent decided to fool the human couple, he approached the weak woman first. Adam had to defend her. It was him who had to ask Eve, “Darling, what is that thing in your hand? That’s the deadly fruit, don’t you know? Throw it away!” However, Adam missed that moment and discredited his manhood. That’s pathetic. Since those times, girls have to remind boys about their role as the defenders and those who are in charge of everything. Better still, the boys should keep that in mind.
Why did God let the Devil come to be?
That’s a strange question. I’d like to know what you mean when you say ‘let the devil come to be’? It sounds as if the devil decided to come into being, to crawl with all his animosity out of nowhere – out of the void – and God let that happen and thus participated in it.
There was never a moment when the devil appeared out of the blue. If we follow this line of reasoning, it will lead us to postulate the existence of two gods: a good one and a bad one. Presumably, they have always existed but when the evil god decided to surface out (to show himself), the good god could not do anything about it. Can we call him God then, if He couldn’t control the evil one and didn’t do anything to stop him?
The Bible provides a very clear answer to this question. There was no devil at first. God didn’t create him. God created good angels, they are his creatures and they initially served him voluntarily. But then, one of those angels made up his mind to resist the Creator. He used his free will to choose resistance to God instead of serving him. God had granted this free will to people and angels. Some of the angels and people said, “We’ll obey God because we want to!” Other angels and people decided that they wouldn’t obey God, that was what they decided.
It was at that point when the Satan appeared (the word literally means ‘an adversary’ in Hebrew). Why didn’t God kill him on the spot? God didn’t create angels and people to destroy them. His love has no way back, unlike our love: I love you, I love you, but if you do something wrong, I’ll kill you. God is different: He loves his creatures no matter what. He is patient. He waits for us to become better. Evil will die out eventually, that’s part of its self-destructing nature.
However, God doesn’t just keep waiting and doing nothing. He keeps doing more and more good and defending it from evil. He keeps suffering along with his creatures. The proud devil wants to appear as strong as the humble God. That’s why he makes you think he appeared out of the void. It’s like a pot that regards itself as smart as the potter who made it. No matter what the pot thinks, we shouldn’t think like that.
Translated by The Catalog of Good Deeds