Most Interim readers are familiar with the biblical account of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The story tells us that Satan presented himself to our long ago father and mother as a friend, and used lies to induce Eve – and through her, Adam – to defy their Creator.

The prizes Satan promised – total knowledge, power and freedom – all seemed so desirable. The woman saw these things as good for herself and good for her spouse. So they seized the opportunity.

This was their introduction to lies, deceit and enemies. Too late they learned that evil can disguise itself as good. And soon they learned that life had become hard, confusing, full of mistakes and heartache.

They learned, too, that they had lost access to Paradise, for themselves and for all their offspring. It was lost first through a woman, the mother of us all.

“That was easy,” Satan must have laughed, thinking he had foiled God’s plans forever.

But at the appointed time, another mother – Mary – entered history. She had a special part to play in helping us regain access to Paradise. Through her love, her teaching, her prayers, her sacrifices, through those of her husband Joseph, and through their mutual love and support, a home was shaped that would properly nurture the Son of God, the holy One who came to defeat Satan.

And so we, who were almost destroyed through the disobedience of one woman, were rescued through the obedient co-operation of another.

The Bible tells us all this. The rest of the story is based on circumstantial evidence.

“Hmm,” said Satan much much later. “I underestimated the power of a strong, intact, prayerful family unit . The power of a virtuous, wise, prayerful, committed mother. But … what if…?

“What if … I convince women that commitment and self-giving thwart growth and lead to stultifying emotional entanglements, whereas choice, independence and power lead to personal fulfillment?

“What if … I convince them that churchgoers are hypocrites, and the practice of religion engenders hatred and intolerance?

“What if … I convince them that marriage and home-making are traps? That male-female relationships are inherently exploitive, controlling, abusive power struggles?

“What if … they can be persuaded that fertility is a curse? That all human beings – regardless of age, relationship, gender, or circumstances – are entitled to sexual expression and activity in any form or circumstance they fancy?

“What if … women can be convinced that conceiving, bearing and raising children is a waste of their gifts, and best left to scientists, governments and other surrogates? What if they can be made to believe that the inconvenient and unwanted are disposable, or raw material for experimentation?”

Sadly, it’s obvious that these “what ifs” and their attendant consequences have become widespread realities.

Back in Eden, Eve had to be coaxed to reach for the “apple.” Today, women themselves loudly demand it as their legal right – preferably publicly funded. So is Satan winning again?

Not necessarily.

Like Eve, mothers have always wanted the best for their children, their husbands, their homes, themselves. But today’s mothers can be wiser than Eve. We can learn to distinguish genuine life-giving, life-enhancing opportunities from those that are death-dealing illusions, lies and traps. We can look carefully at how the other Mother handled life, and be reassured, strengthened and guided by her example.