It is written:
“And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 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.” (Genesis 2:16-17)
Could God have created mankind without giving him freewill?
Of course He could have.
But would it be truly loving to create mankind in such a way?
Speaking as to why God put the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden, Jim Pace has powerfully written:
“I used to be very angry with God about that tree. Tempting them like that? It was only a matter of time before they wouldn’t be able to restrain themselves. And then what? He blames them ? How long did God expect they would make it before, to their ears, the “you can eat everything but that one tree” became “you can eat everything but that one tree”?…I have come to appreciate the risk of that tree for God— and the necessity of that tree for us. Simply put, that tree made us real: it gave us choice. God wasn’t looking to make some complicated hamsters that he could set up in a sweet cage. He created us for real relationship with him. Real relationship simply cannot exist if you cannot choose something else other than that relationship. We pity a woman whose husband or boyfriend keeps her locked in their house, monitors the few phone calls he allows her to have, and keeps even her family at arm’s length. No one would call that love. Had God not offered the tree and with it the opportunity to rebel against him, he would have been that guy. Love that isn’t chosen is forced. In giving us that tree and making the warning very clear, he gave us choice, even the option to reject his guidance and companionship. He knew very well that decision would cost him dearly, but it was what was best for us.” (Jim Pace, Should We Fire God? Finding Hope In God When We Don’t Understand, 829-842 (Kindle Edition); New York, NY; FaithWords Hachette Book Group)
Recently, while teaching in our local jail ministry, I was asked by a cell of young men whether or not freedom is actually a good thing. Of course God says it is (Genesis 1:31); but how can we tell? How can we be sure that freedom is actually good, even when people knowingly misuse it to hurt others? I shared this quotation with them, and one boy looked up at me said, “Wow, that really clicks!”
In a world created by a loving God, freedom must be an inherent part in any sentient creature that God makes. Remove freedom from angelkind and mankind, and God is turned into the ultimate cosmic rapist.
But fortunately, that isn’t God-He is a perfect Gentleman.