[For most of my life I’ve had two fascinations: Bible study and movies. For a long time I considered them two sides of my personality, like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde—the spiritual side and the secular side. But then I watched in amazement as the two merged. In a women’s Bible class, I decided to teach a series on women of the Bible. As I mapped out the study, something about each woman character I chose reminded me of a female lead in a movie. The connections happened so often that I announced to the class that the study would link the two. Out of that study came these lessons which will appear regularly this summer in MMCW.]
In 1950 the film All About Eve won six Academy Awards, including one for Best Picture. In it Bette Davis plays glamorous, aging movie star Margo Channing, and Anne Baxter plays her adoring star-struck younger assistant, Eve Harrington. By the end of the movie, we begin to see that Eve is an especially appropriate name for Anne Baxter’s character. Eve does everything she can to obtain what she wants, no matter the consequences. She ingratiates herself and charms everyone around her—even the acerbic Margo—with a disarming sweetness and acts of helpfulness.
Bette Davis as Margo is a diva on steroids. Her famous line delivered at a cocktail party became a common expression: “Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night!” It gives a hint of the emotional turmoil she habitually stirs up. (Eve looks all the more charming by contrast.)
Eve connives until she is able to replace the great actress on stage in an emergency. (Can you guess who caused the emergency that keeps Margo away from the theater?) What a coincidence that Eve just happens to have memorized all the dialogue for Margo’s part and turns out to be a wonderful actress, as well as a fresh face for jaded theater-goers! By the time Margo becomes wise to what’s going on, it’s too late. She has lost her husband to Eve, who has become an acclaimed Broadway star.
SPOILER ALERT–ENDING REVEALED: The greatest irony comes at the end when a pretty young girl shows up, this time at Eve’s dressing room. The girl flatters Eve and makes herself indispensable to her. When she is alone, we see the girl’s ambition revealed. In front of the full-length mirror, she holds up Eve’s costume and imagines how she will look as she acts on Broadway one day. And the cycle begins again.
In the movie, Eve got what she wanted because she went after it with a vengeance. As we look at the biblical Eve, she doesn’t seem to have a conniving nature. But she has God-given free will and can make choices—even the choice to sin. And she is plagued with the same problem the cinematic Eve was: she wasn’t content with what she had, what God had given her. She wanted something more. Let’s look at Eve in Genesis 2:18-3:13.
In Genesis 2:18-25 God gave Adam the woman he named Eve to complete him. Matthew Henry said that “she was taken from under his arm that he might protect her, next to his heart that he might love her, not from head to be superior or from foot to be inferior but from the side to be equal with him.”
Look at Eve’s story another way. What if just one thing was changed? Seminary professor Ruth A. Tucker tells the story of the First Lady of the Old Testament in her book Multiple Choices: Making Wise Decisions in a Complicated World (1992, Zondervan Publishing House). She shows how a wrong choice can have far-reaching consequences. In her what-if scenario she imagines that Eve, although tempted by the fruit and the serpent’s claims, realizes that she is about to directly disobey God. She throws the fruit down and she and Adam run off vowing to always abide by God’s law. She gives birth to many beautiful children and the Eden family lives happily ever after. “No sickness, no sadness, no death,” Tucker writes.
Wouldn’t that have been great? Unfortunately, it didn’t happen that way. Eve made a wrong choice that was disastrous for her world and ours. Every person who has come after her has been affected by that one decision because we were born with a sin nature. Thankfully, our choices will not affect the whole world, but they may have a rippling effect in our families and circles of influence for generations to come.
It’s not that Eve got up one morning trying to find a way to get into trouble. For her, like us, too often temptation slams right into us because we aren’t prepared mentally, emotionally, or spiritually to fend it off. Paul writes in 2 Cor. 11:3 “But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”
For many of today’s women the expression is, “It’s all about me.” For biblical Eve, the movie title held true: it was “All about Eve.” Although we don’t know if she thought about it long, then told Adam about it, and decided to try the fruit, verse 6 seems to indicate that Adam “who was with her” might have also been standing right there not speaking up for what he knew was right. But is that any reason for her to have given in? Some women are always waiting for their husband or boyfriend to make decisions for them. But moral decisions, the decision to obey God, can’t be made for you by anyone else. You have to do it.
Notice that Eve was deceived, but Adam wasn’t. “For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner” (1 Timothy 2:13-14). I’ll admit the first time I saw this I was, frankly, embarrassed. It seemed to be saying that women are dumber than men. Later I realized that’s not what it is saying, but there is no real winner given the choice: Is it better to be deceived or disobedient? Both led to the Fall, and either would have caused the Fall. Eve made the wrong choice in ignorance of the real consequences; Adam made the same choice deliberately. Both paid the same penalty because sin is sin in God’s sight. And sin separates us from God.
If “what will God think of me or do about this?” ever entered her mind, she dismissed it quickly. Instead of focusing on God, her creator, she put her eyes on Satan. He was a super-salesman and he sold her. Jill Briscoe wrote a book called There’s Still a Snake in my Garden. In it she tells stories of her life and her conversations with “the snake” because she knows he’s still around trying to make her fall. Satan, the snake, was only able to influence Eve because she lost her God-consciousness and replaced it with total self-consciousness. Eve was a perfect human being living in a perfect world and, yet, she wanted more. By putting herself and what she wanted above what God wanted, she started a chain reaction that we are still dealing with today.
Lots of women make wrong choices—some more devastating than others. I read about a woman who was married ten times. The psychologist described it in her case notes as “same man, different names,” meaning that she chose the same kind of man every time
Eve’s choice that led to her fall reminds me that if she could fall in a perfect environment, I have a lot more occasions to fall in my far-from-perfect environment. So it might be good to ask ourselves a few questions:
Do I feel a chronic dissatisfaction with my life? Am I easily distracted by my surroundings so that I forget about God for hours or days at a time? Do the things the world around me offers lead me astray? Do I trust that God gives me what is best for me and has me where He wants me to be?
We don’t live in anything like Eden, but God has given us everything we really need: “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires” (2 Peter 1:3-4).
©2016 by Vicki Huffman
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