Faith, Sin

The “Forbidden Fruit” Fallacy

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You’ve heard the old adage: “forbidden fruit is sweeter.” When people use this phrase, what they mean is that if you tell someone he can’t have or do something, he’s going to want to have or do it all the more just because it’s forbidden.

I heard this little cliché several times last week on blogs, on Facebook, in discussion groups, etc., in reference to the deluge (yes, I contributed to it) of Christian blog and press articles decrying the movie Fifty Shades of Grey, and discouraging Christians from attending. Apparently – and I can see where they’re coming from, a little, I guess – some folks felt that the strong, repetitive, and biblical stand against Fifty Shades turned it into a piece of forbidden fruit that a) actually informed Christians (who would have been otherwise oblivious) that this movie even existed (Really? People are tech savvy enough to be on Facebook, Twitter, and blogs, but they were completely unaware of this movie? Ok, I suppose it’s possible.) and b) made Christians want to go see the movie because of its verboten status. The implication was that, if Christians went to see this movie, it was the fault – at least in part – of Christian writers who had warned against it.

Seems reasonable, right?

Until, that is, you start looking at this line of thinking a little more closely through the lens of Scripture.

Pop quiz: What does the phrase “forbidden fruit” allude to?
a) prunes
b) Snow White’s poisoned apple
c) the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in Eden

Please tell me you answered “c,” because, if you didn’t, I might have to sit down and cry. When God put Adam in the Garden way back in Genesis 2, He said, “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.” (2:16-17) Fruit. Forbidden. Boom.

Notice that God is the One who forbade Adam from eating this fruit. God’s way, throughout the entirety of Scripture, is to warn the people He loves of the dangers and consequences of sin, not to remain silent and keep His fingers crossed that they don’t stumble into a pit. God didn’t stick the tree in the middle of the Garden and say to Himself, “Gee I hope Adam doesn’t notice this tree and eat from it, but I’m not going to mention it to him because I’m scared that I’ll make him aware that it exists, and that he’ll want to eat from it just because I said he can’t.” Uh uh. God pointed it out and said, “No.”

And let’s take a gander at something else in this story. What caused Adam and Eve to eat from the tree? Was it God telling Adam not to eat from it? No. If that was all it took, why don’t we find Adam eating the fruit immediately after God told him not to? Why didn’t Eve immediately eat from the tree upon learning from Adam of God’s prohibition against it?

Because the warning is not what led them to sin.

We don’t see Eve lay a finger on that fruit until Satan enters the picture. He tempted her, and she gave in to sin.

james-1-13-15

It wasn’t God’s fault for putting the tree there. It wasn’t God’s fault for warning them. It was Adam’s fault and Eve’s fault for being disobedient.

And giving in to sin is still our fault today. If you went to see Fifty Shades of Grey, it’s not God’s fault for allowing the movie to exist. It’s not some Christian blogger’s fault for making you aware of the movie or warning you not to see it. It’s your fault. You were tempted. You gave in to sin. (The good news is that if you will repent, God will graciously forgive you.)

As Christians we are to be imitators of God. “Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” (1 John 2:6) That means that when we see sin that could easily ensnare our brothers and sisters, we don’t turn our heads. We don’t mind our own business. We don’t keep our mouths shut to be polite. We do the same thing God did time after time in the Bible. We run into the fray to rescue those we love.

And we are not to blame if there are those who choose to charge headlong into sin rather than heed the alarm we sound.

10 thoughts on “The “Forbidden Fruit” Fallacy”

  1. Does this go for all nudity, sex and blasphemy in tv and movies or only 50 shades of grey and other less “artistic” productions?

    That’s an honest question because I’ve had it up to here with all this Christian outrage about this one film when I see a dozen with content ratings even worse in their Facebook likes. Because they say THOSE productions teach a profound lesson or tell a story from his history. Is that you Michelle? I sure hope not.

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    1. I would say this “forbidden fruit fallacy” (that we should keep quiet and not “create” forbidden fruit that people might then want, and that if someone reaches for a piece of forbidden fruit it’s the fault of the person who warned against it) not only goes for all movies and tv shows but way beyond. It could apply to anything tempting.

      For example, there are some parents out there who refuse to sit their kids down and teach them about sex because they’re afraid that will make the kid want to go out and have sex. Same with drugs, birth control, abortion, etc.

      I mentioned Fifty Shades because that is what I saw the “forbidden fruit” comment about last week, but what I’m really writing about is the fallacious principle, not the movie itself. Sorry if that was unclear :0)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m sorry. Forgive me. I was impatient and bristling this morning from watching all the debauched hypocrisy in the church amidst my morning web stroll.

        I didn’t mean the forbidden fruit fallacy. Which is totally unbiblical I agree 100%. The people of God should OWN the conversation on anything wherein morality and the nature and law of God is touched. And yes, parents (if they’re ever around anymore, even in the church), should be the ones to teach children, and much younger than we have believed, the beauty and blessing of God’s glorious gift of marriage, sex and family.

        I was talking generally when I asked the question above. Person after person after person after person after person after person after person after person after person after person after person after person after person after person after person after person after person after person after person after person after person, ALL outraged and fuming about the alleged Christians supporting 50 shades, but then turn around and themselves defend some other show or film with plenty of pornographic, blasphemous profane language, nudity and sex and gruesome brain splattering blood because it purports to be teaching us about history of some profound life lesson that it appears the church missed for a few thousand years until some God hating pagans made a movie.

        I have HAD IT!!!

        If I have to stand all by myself and starve to death, I KNOW God has called me to raise up a standard and cry aloud and spare not at the crippling, necrofying influence that the entertainment industry has on Christ’s church today. (not that tv or movies are necessarily evil in themselves)

        I don’t take anybody seriously who talks about how bad 50 Shades of Grey is, but then embraces media that is a thousand times more dangerous because it’s simply accepted with open arms. It might shock you Michelle if I showed you what some of the people you like are into. At least I hope it would shock you..

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      2. Nothing to forgive. I thought it was a good question! :0) I agree, there’s way too much trash out there. Sometimes, though, I think some of the “clean” stuff and stuff that calls itself “Christian” is even more dangerous. Lots of people will stay away from obvious smut, but they will swallow heresy hook, line, and sinker just because they see it on a “Christian” TV channel or at a “Christian” retailer.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Artists themselves are also very responsible in either creating bad or good fruits. Those in charge of others, parents, educators, culture managers, should also take up their responsibility to present good ethical stuff and to leave the defiling material in the bin.

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  2. Michelle says: “Nothing to forgive. I thought it was a good question! :0) I agree, there’s way too much trash out there. Sometimes, though, I think some of the “clean” stuff and stuff that calls itself “Christian” is even more dangerous. Lots of people will stay away from obvious smut, but they will swallow heresy hook, line, and sinker just because they see it on a “Christian” TV channel or at a “Christian” retailer.”

    NO doubt about it. “Heaven is for Real” (Lord save your CHURCH) and “God’s not Dead”, come immediately to mind as being flat down horrific for totally different reasons.

    Listen to Dr. Carl Trueman, who you may have heard of:
    ” I am also struck by how Christian talk of cultural engagement has coincided with a watering-down of Christian standards of behavior and, ironically, thought. I have lost count of how many times I have been told in recent years that Christians should be able to watch any movie, providing they do so with a critical, Christian eye. There are several obvious problems with that kind of statement.

    For a start, such a categorical, sweeping statement has little, if any, scriptural or exegetical foundation and indeed seems not to take any account of texts such as Mt. 5: 27-30, Eph. 5: 1-3, Phil. 4: 8, etc. Second, even those making the case rarely mean exactly what they say: ask them if Christians can therefore watch child pornography, and none that I have spoken to have been prepared to go that far, except in the necessary cases of those professionally involved in the detection and prosecution of paedophile crime.

    No, Christians shouldn’t watch child porn, they’ll say; but the problem, of course, is that definitions of what is and is not pornography, even child pornography, are changing all the time and are driven, by and large, by the wider culture which increasingly mainstreams such material. Witness the new Kate Winslet movie, involving a sex scene between her character and a fifteen year old boy.

    Specious distinctions involving the actual age of the actor notwithstanding, it is arguably child pornography. Frankly, there are films rated PG-13 today which my grandparents would have considered as porn. Is the standard of what is and is not obscene set by biblical truth or by cultural accommodation? Talk of `Christians can watch anything as long as they do it critically’ is as daft, unbiblical, soft-headed, ill-thought-out, and confused as anything one is likely to come across.

    In fact, I have a suspicion that for some it might simply function as a rationalization for watching whatever they like and not having to feel guilty about it, the Christian voyeur’s equivalent of the `I only do screen nudity and sex when the script demands it’ excuse of so many `serious’ actresses whose bank balances have been boosted by the occasional flash of on-screen flesh.”

    That whole ARTICLE is awesome btw. Trueman’s right. What we call fairly mild mainstream entertainment today, was clear socially stigmatized pornography not that long ago.

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    1. Also in Belgium several films to be rated as to be children above 8 or 12 allowed, would have considered in our children’s time as pornographic or too violent films to be seen even by adults.
      What people allow into the house by the screen today, often they would never want their children to speak or act like that. The biggest danger is that so many people do take it for granted what they see and all the fornication is considered a normal part of life whereby many do not mind showing of with the amounts of girls or boys they could treat with a sex-ride or roller-coaster of unlimited fun..

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