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From our Pastor 10th February

From our Pastor 10th February

If there is one passage of scripture I have read, studied, heard lectures on, and mentioned more than any others (after the cross) it would Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. And yet this week I noticed something knew. When the serpent tempts Eve, he speaks to her alone. Eve sharing forbidden fruit with Adam is a subsequent act.

This is one of those times where I am reminded of the going down a rabbit hole illusion in Alice in Wonderland. Is there something here? Does the biblical text leave open the possibility that Eve is more vulnerable to temptation when she is alone? King David is similar. When he is not with God’s army fighting God’s enemies, he succumbs to lust. Are alone people more vulnerable to sin?

Our cultures response would be to say that moral fortitude and responsibility lies with the individual. That is why we call it self-control. It’s about my responsibility to control myself. Except psychologists are increasingly finding that self-control is a bit of a myth.

Old research asked people if they had self-control, and tested if they could say no to a treat. New research is suggesting that understanding self-control as self-restraint is too simplistic. Rather, it appears people with what we traditionally call self-control have learned better habits. How to avoid or ignore temptation, how to re-focus on something else.

Furthermore, those with what we call self-control experience fewer temptations. Either because of their genes, or lifestyle choices, or resources – they find themselves in less seductive spaces.

The desire to be less entangled by sin is honourable. To imagine you can achieve that by simple will power is naïve.