Curiosity Killed the Cat

Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 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 2:15-17.

Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’” Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” – Genesis 3:1-5.

The phrase “curiosity killed the cat” began, as “care will kill a cat, up-tails all” in British playwright Ben Jonson’s 1598 play “Every Man in His Humour.” Cats are by nature inquisitive and so it is easy to understand how the phrase evolved to the current “curiosity killed the cat.” The earliest known printed reference to the phrase occurred in 1916 in the Washington Post. A cat had tried to crawl up a chimney where it had gotten stuck and no one was able to save the cat. The cat’s owner had contacted the Police Department, the Fire Department, the Health Department, the Building Department, and the Washington Heights Court. The cat eventually tried to climb higher but fell and broke its’ back.

People are perhaps even more inquisitive than cats as the saying goes, “inquiring minds want to know.” When I was five years old and conducted a cotton burning experiment to see if cotton would burn, I found out the answer. Cotton will burn but if someone had not come along to save my cousin and me from the burning cotton trailer, it would have been a very costly truth to learn.

Adam and Eve learned a very costly truth that the serpent was partially correct they did not die immediately after eating the forbidden fruit and they did gain knowledge. Sadly, Adam and Eve may have wished they were dead after failing this test and being banned from the Garden of Eden. No, they did not immediately die but they would eventually die a physical death along with all of their descendents – all of the human race. The immediate consequences for their new knowledge were severe. It was no longer the life of favor instead; it was exchanged for a life of pain. Their knowledge came with a very high cost indeed.

Curiosity will still kill the cat and our inquiring minds will still lead us into experiencing great difficulties. There are some things in life that we just do not need to know anything about and we should avoid having any knowledge of those things. The testimony of one of our deacons who has gone on to be with the Lord was that he had never had even a taste of alcohol. What a wonderful testimony! Would an alcoholic who has to deal with the cravings and the destruction of his addiction tell you to avoid the road he has gone down? Most likely. Would a drug addict who has wasted their life and caused pain to all of those in their family tell you to avoid that first taste? Most would. Would someone addicted to pornography tell you to never start? Yes! Would someone who has been involved in adultery and tasted the consequences of their actions tell you to avoid what they have done? Most would. Would the young person who has contracted a sexually transmitted disease after their first experience tell you that it was not worth it? Of course!

There are some things in this life that we do not need to know and we should flee from the knowledge of such things. God warned Adam and Eve and He warns us through the Bible today to avoid those things that He knows will be harmful to us. Remember curiosity killed the cat and it can kill us too.

(There are some things that we are better off not knowing anything about.)

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