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Eve: The Very First Wingman?

By Brooke Benton

Or just thoroughly confused?

I can’t stop thinking about the lesson in Gospel Doctrine a few weeks ago that was all about Eve. About whether she knew what she was doing when Satan tempted her with the fruit of that tree. About if she was truly tricked, or if she just knew in her womanly heart of hearts what she needed to do. And as one person said in class, what she needed to do was “take one for the team.”

But as soon as she said that, another sister piped up: “But she was listening to the Father of Lies and so he wasn’t telling her the truth.”

But he was telling her the truth, right? Knowledge of good and evil, becoming as a god, eyes open to remembrance? Isn’t that stuff true? And didn’t we need that? And was there even a Plan B if that didn’t work out?

In my womanly heart of hearts I’ve always known that Eve knew. I’ve been especially keen on her essential glorious part in the plan. And I’m grateful to her, and to a God that loved women enough to make them central to it all. Really, because of her, because of the fall, we have a savior—we have posterity, we have real joy, we have repentance, we have knowledge.

To me, there really was no other way.

But am I being shortsighted?

(Was there another way?)

I get the part about her agency. Our agency. But I don’t get the part where she had to “transgress” to bring it all about because I can’t think of any time when disobedience is the right choice. Okay, I confess… in two weeks I did finally think of one: sometimes I watch rated R movies. I don’t make a habit of movie watching in general, and not because of some noble, moral choice but mostly because I’m just really too tired to endure them; but when I really, really want to see something I’ve never let the rating deter me. And I do think my life is better (perspective enlarged, Spirit felt) because of it.

And perhaps there will be judgment passed upon me because of it—and this is a minute thing with really no lasting ramifications. Are there judgments out there against Eve? Does anyone feel like she was, as she said herself, “beguiled?” And that we got to this point out of deception? And what about this scripture (Moses 4:22): “Unto the woman, I, the Lord God, said: I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception. In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children, and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” What do you think about that?

(And please trust me when I say that I’m not trying to argue or unravel doctrine. I’ve always loved Eve and was surprised when the conversation in our class sort of went south on her. I’m just curious your thoughts on her and her part.)

About Brooke Benton

(Blog Team) is attempting inner om with this writing stuff. Proud to claim four loud children, a patient husband and a fat black cat as family, she feels blessed to be their mommy-- their giver of kisses and baker of cookies. She is ever seeking a good novel and wishing for the sand between her toes, palm trees, the ocean.

97 thoughts on “Eve: The Very First Wingman?”

  1. We had this lesson too. There are a lot of things to reconcile and I feel like most of it comes down to teasing out tiny details and semantics. At the end of the day, I love Eve. I believe she was trying to do something honorable.

    I really like this interpretation of Moses 4:22 that I got from a post on Feast on the Word (http://feastuponthewordblog.org/2010/01/24/garden-oracle-fallen-nature-of-male-dominance/). I am starting to be convinced that the "male dominance" in verse 22 is a description of our fallen state and NOT instructions/commandments. Food for thought anyway.

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  2. Quite frankly, I think a good portion of the population of the church falls back on Christian myth, i.e., Eve was the betrayer and led man to his downfall blah blah blah, able to give lip service to a different explanation, but not really believing it or even internalizing it enough to ask themselves what they really do believe about it.

    Me? I think she totally rocked it. I think she understood the plan and got tired of nagging Adam to do what needed to be done, and finally did it herself. (At this point, a man always pipes up and says, "But the Lord would have provided another way." Oh yeah? So…where is that in the text, exactly?)

    The serpent may have been whispering in her ear for a while. S/he may have been instructing Eve. S/he may have prodded/taunted Eve to finally do it. S/he may have said, "Look, whatever. Do what you want. I'm outtie" and Eve realized the time for procrastination was over. I don't know.

    Seriously, this Eve-as-succubus notion is just so ancient, and our Puritan heritage is buried pretty far down, too. I believe a good portion of our membership does not part with Christianity where our doctrine does, and they are perfectly content to live with the contradictions as long as the details aren't explored too deeply, or as long as they aren't confronted with the possibility of something so exotic as…Eve making a deliberate choice that required strength and courage and faith in the Lord's plan.

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  3. I love this post, Brooke. And I have thought long and hard about this very thing.

    Yes, Satan is the Father of Lies, but that doesn't mean that everything that comes out of his mouth is a lie. That would make him a pretty ineffective deceiver (it'd be way easy to catch on to that). No, his great power comes from mixing truth with lies in very subtle and hard to discern ways.

    Also, without resorting to quoting sacred script, let me just point out that there was a precedent (maybe many precedents) for what Satan was trying to do. Satan's great sin, as C.S. Lewis so aptly points out, was that he tried to make himself the center (or centre, as Lewis would say :-)) of the plan. He was trying to become God.

    So perhaps the great lie (or maybe it wasn't even a lie; perhaps Satan wasn't as "in" on the whole plan as he liked to think he was) was not "there is no other way"; perhaps it was rather the implication that the fruit had to be eaten right then and without consulting either God or Adam.

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  4. Years ago, Beverly Campbell spoke to a women's conference our singles ward had in the Washington DC area. She was the church's Public Affairs Director at the time. She spoke about this life long research project she had about Eve and the powerful choice she made. I was transfixed. What she said spoke to my womanly heart about her understanding, about the deeper than English meaning of the Hebrew root of "beguiled" (so much more than confused or deceived). Then, several years ago, she came out with the book Eve and the Choice Made in Eden. Well- worth the read!

    And as for the Father of Lies, we really should call him the Father of Half-truths. He tells as much truth as he needs to get his way with us, for if he told only outright falsehoods, no one would believe him, but because some of what he says is true, we doubt our reaction to the untrue part and he gets his hooks into us.

    Sorrow in conception to me is shorthand for the great depth of feeling associated with motherhood. Sometimes there is great sorrow and pain because of the whole opposition in all things part of life. Sometimes I think we read divine pronouncements in scripture, especially the OT, and think they are punishments from a vengeful God when really, He's just telling consequences–that this sorrow, among many others, is a by-product of agency and opposition in the world, so that we can watch for it and understand.

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  5. Wonderful post, Brooke–as per usual for you. I love your thoughts and your writing.

    I was asked last minute to sub for the 14-soon-to-be-15-year-olds and to give this lesson. As I prepared I was struck by the following statements by Elders Dallin H. Oaks and Joseph Fielding Smith:

    “It was Eve who first transgressed the limits of Eden in order to initiate the conditions of mortality. Her act, whatever its nature, was formally a transgression but eternally a glorious necessity to open the doorway toward eternal life. Adam showed his wisdom by doing the same."

    “We celebrate Eve’s act and honor her wisdom and courage in the great episode called the Fall."

    That sums out how I feel about her choice–it took courage and wisdom. And I, too, honor her for it.

    I also loved this from President Spencer W. Kimball:
    “I have a question about the word rule. It gives the wrong impression. I would prefer to use the word preside because that’s what he does. A righteous husband presides over his wife and family”

    I love that he took issue with the word "rule." I know there are people who also have issues with the word "preside," but I don't so much. When I think of it in terms of what priesthood leadership does in our meetings–sacrament meeting, general conference, etc.–I see that they are present and they are, in a way, watching over and looking after things. I'm cool with that.

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  6. Are there judgments against Eve out there? Do you mean among LDS women? Because most of the rest of Christianity views Eve as the most selfish woman of all creation, the antithesis of Mary, the worst woman ever to live. (There is a related belief that we'd all be living in the Garden now if it weren't for her.)

    I think the transgression is a singular act. It's hard to come up with other examples of disobedience being this necessary and having this big an impact because this may truly be the one time in the history of man that it was. My dad opined this when I was stumped for an object lesson for it 😉 .

    (The statement on Christian faiths comes from an evangelical book on motherhood. It was supposed to be about loving life as an at-home mom, but I couldn't get past the Eve-bashing in the intro. Eve was the counterexample, the antithesis of all we should do and be.)

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  7. That was an interesting link, Red. Thanks for posting it.

    Brooke, I've been thinking about this too. Over the years, I've tried to reconcile the "listen to the counsel of thy husband" commandment given at the temple with Eve's actions, because if Eve had listened to Adam, nothing would have happened. The men are not counseled to listen to their wives, and yet if Adam had not listened to Eve, the plan would have been frustrated.

    I do wonder if there could have been a way for them to make this decision together. Maybe if they had more time to talk it out? The fact that Eve acted alone, however, makes me believe that she didn't think so. At this point in time, I'm thinking that I'm told to listen to my husband so that I don't use Eve's actions as an excuse to act alone, since I don't possess her degree of wisdom and would likely not go through the depths of decision-making that she did before acting alone. The ideal is to act as a unified couple, but for whatever reason, that ideal was not or could not be met in Eden.

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  8. I second the recommendation of Eve and the Choice Made in Eden by Beverly Campbell. I've never had a book open my eyes to Gospel Doctrine like that one did. Simply amazing.

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  9. I find it interesting that Moses 4:22 was removed from the temple ceremony in the recent past. When I asked a temple president about it, he said: "President Hinckley doesn't tell us why he does things." So essentially, Eve's punishment/consequences are no longer part of the temple ceremony.

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  10. Great post, Brooke. I've been thinking about this too.

    Our Sunday School lesson went the other direction: everyone was talking about how Eve was 100% certain that what she was doing was right, that she "knew" the plan and was simply following the script. But that line of thinking bugged me too. There's definitely evidence in our three differing versions of the Fall (Bible, Pearl of Great Price, Temple) that Eve was unsure that she was making the right choice. My impression has always been that Eve *thought* she was making the right choice but wasn't sure (the same way all of us are when we're making tough choices)–and when she was confronted by God she was particularly nervous that she'd made a mistake. When the pendulum swings so far in the direction of Eve's goodness and wisdom that she ends up simply following a predetermined script, the incredible courage it took for her to do what she did becomes watered-down. To me, the story of Eve is an example of the incredible power of agency in the face of a difficult and even terrifying choice.

    Also: I read the whole "man shall rule over thee" thing as a description of the particular type of suffering that women will endure in this life. It's not an injunction, telling men how to act. It's a way to tell women what to prepare for. And it's true that throughout the history of time, most women born on this earth have suffered much due to their position of inferiority relative to men.

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  11. " . . .because if Eve had listened to Adam, nothing would have happened."

    Necessarily? What if they would have counseled together and with God? Adam seems like a pretty reasonable sort of guy. It didn't take him long to see that "this must be" when Eve explained the ramifications of her actions.

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  12. I don't have any ill feelings toward Eve for it, but I think she was being short-sighted. God gave her two commandments that seemed to contradict one another; she did what she thought she needed to do in order to fulfill one of them. And, yes, I am one of those people who thinks that God would have provided a way for that commandment to be fulfilled in His time (and before anyone jumps down my throat, asking for scriptural evidence to support this, I say, give me scriptural evidence to disprove this. There is none on either side; it's vague). I just think that if this was the way that it was "supposed" to happen, then that would mean Satan was fulfilling a role God wanted him to, meaning he was obedient. And as we should all know, Satan is not obedient, hence the state he is in now.

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  13. I think that Eve was showing one of the traits inherent in the female gender: an itch to get moving, to see what's next. I'm proud to have inherited it. Who knows how long Adam would have been happy to sit in the garden with his feet on the coffee table clutching the remote?

    I think that God had to give them two contradictory instructions in order to insure they acted independently of Him. Who knows how long they would have (and already did) simply followed His directions in everything, remaining passive and "acted upon" if He hadn't set up a little quandary for them, forcing them to act for themselves?

    I like to think that "rule" as in "rule over" is talking more about measuring, like a little wooden ruler. At least in my marriage, I'm always going off gung-ho about things and my husband helps to keep me more measured. It works well for us.

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  14. you said "i can't think of any time when disobedience is the right choice." sometimes, like in the case of nephi killing laban, the necessary choice is one that is contrary to what we have been commanded. i know that nephi received specific permission in his case, before killing laban, that it was the better choice at the time and it was an exception to the rule of thou shalt not kill – which makes his situation a little less complicated to understand than eve's situation. it could be argued that because he received permission beforehand it wasn't disobedience even though the rule to not kill was still generally in place. but, it's something to go on at least. it shows that God does sometimes allow for exceptions if that is the way to accomplish His purposes. i'm sure there's a lot of gray area to go along with that, and lots of arguments that could be made, but it's not something i worry about. i think that eve was wise and made the right choice.

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  15. Two books I'd recommend on the subject that really changed how I feel the story are "The Savior and the Serpent" by Alonzo L. Gaskill and "The Beloved Bridegroom: Finding Christ in Ancient Jewish Marriage and Family Customs" by Donna B. Nielsen.

    Both of those books really got me thinking not just about Adam and Eve and the Fall, but about my role in the plan and the role of men and women all throughout the plan.

    As for another time when doing something bad brought about something good, I can't imagine selling the Savior for money to the judges by Judas, or any of the other activities that went on that night leading up to the crucifixion, were righteous acts. But they were necessary to bring about the Atonement.

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  16. To second Kathy's comment (13), I think of it as the Genesis 50:20 principle: "You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day." It's the lense through which I look at a lot of the gunk of the world that we inflict upon one another. People inflict harm on one another, but that won't prevent God from allowing us (through time and healing) to turn intended harm into something strong and powerful.

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  17. I think the Lord created Eve with such a powerful mother-heart (as He has women in all ages) so that she could unravel this mystery on her own. After some time in the garden (we have no idea how much or how symbolic this all is) she realized that she and Adam, for all their "not transgressing" were really not following God's commandments at all. Where were the babies? I don't think Satan tricked her in that he introduced an idea that hadn't already passed through her pretty head; I think he presented an opportunity and that he softened the blow of the consequences, which she had perhaps not thoroughly thought through.

    Also, I think about this: what if Eve, thinking over all this in her mother heart, had taken her idea to Adam, and then in turn had taken it to the Lord, rather than just acting in response to Satan's suggestion? Instead, she had a good idea about a very serious thing, but instead of counseling with Adam and seeking the Lord's inspiration, she just acted on her own. She didn't consider what it meant to have Adam as her helpmeet. To me, this is the real lesson of Eve to modern, "liberated" women. When momentous decisions of our lives come along, we have to be careful not to think that we have all the answers, that we need no one else to counsel with. We should work with our husbands and/or with the Lord to make sure we understand all of the choices AND consequences, and then act in the best way we can, feeling confidence that we are following the path the Lord would have us take.

    Also, it is fascinating to study the myth of Pandora as see that it might be an ancient warping of the true Biblical story. Long story short: Pandora, in her infinite curiosity, ends up introducing all sorts of misery into the world, but it is also through Pandora that hope comes into the world to heal. When the Lord tells Eve that it is the through the SEED OF THE WOMAN that the serpent's head will be CRUSHED, it is a clear reference to the Savior, as Christ was the only man ever to live that was only the seed of the woman. In other words, Eve's transgression introduced the contrast of light to dark in the world, but the Lord promised that another woman would set all to rights–not to set one against another, but to point out that Elohim believed each role, roles only women could have, to be equally important.

    Anyway, those are my thoughts on Eve and what she can teach us. What a wonderful post. I second those who have recommended Eve and the Choice Made in the Garden.

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  18. Unto the woman, I, the Lord God, said: I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception. In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children

    As a side note, in Genesis where it says sorrow, the word is the same used for toil when he addresses Adam.

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  19. I intend to go back and read all these comments, but wanted to put in my two bits worth while I have the time (sleeping infant) and before I forget what I wanted to say 🙂

    In our class a few things were mentioned that made me feel a bit better. Keep in mind, I am recalling this from memory, but it seems to me that our ward discussed the idea that just like the Word of Wisdom is not a commandment as much as a general guide to live by, so were the two rules given to Adam and Eve. Multiply and replenish the earth, and avoid "that tree." We all know they couldn't follow both rules- that's like handing you a candy bar and saying, "You HAVE to eat the candy bar, but you CAN NOT open the wrapper." One rule needed to be broken in order for the other to be followed. It was of general conclusion in class that they were more of guidelines or rules, and not commandments.

    I wish I could remember all the references that were cited, differentiating verbiage God uses for commandments as opposed to guidelines and rules, but it was a pretty good argument and seemed well backed up.

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  20. Regarding Satan's lies, if you look you can see Satan said two things to Eve. 1 – That if she ate of the forbidden fruit that she would know good and evil, which was true. 2 – That if she ate of the forbidden fruit she would not die, which was a lie, and directly opposite to what she was told by God. Eve did indeed become mortal and die as a result of her choice, just like God said, and totally opposite to what Satan said.

    Aren't the most vicious lies always mixed in with a little truth? I've thought that this was classic Satan twisting of the truth going on – so subtle that a lot of people don't even notice the lie.

    Second, to the people who think that if Eve had just waited longer that God would have provided a way for them not to transgress the law… Isn't the whole point that God created a situation where they had to break the law? They had to break the law in order for the fall to happen. No fall, and this whole earth life thing never happens. Breaking the law was the point of the exercise. The debate is over whether Eve truly understood that fact or not, and I tend to think like what other have said, that she kind of understood and acted on that understanding, but she wasn't totally sure. Afterwards she completely understands and says the "I see now that it was necessary for this to happen" comment.

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  21. I've been thinking a lot about this lately and I've come to this:

    God (through Jehova) created an earth and beings that could abide his glory. He could do nothing less. And to do less would be to create a damned being. The choice before Adam and Eve was to remove the earth and all mankind from the presence of God in order that we might pass through experience and become like God. The mercy of God is that He did not choose this for Adam and Eve. Nor was His plan to send them out into mortality before they were prepared. Satan, knowing the plan, sought to speed up the process, offering something that was not His to offer (his goal being to replace God in the plan), hoping thereby to thrust Adam and Eve into a premature mortality in which their agency would be easily captured. Have we considered what his plan may have been had God not intervened? Might he have led them almost immediately to the Tree of Life to partake and live forever in their sins? Might he have used more counterfeit truths to convince them that partaking of that fruit was now the way to Eternal life? Had he succeeded the whole plan would have been frustrated.

    I believe his haste also points to the idea that there would have been another way. Partaking of the fruit was probably still the way, but as others have said, I think it would have been done at a different time and as a joint decision, and after more preparation. Think of Satan's response to God as to why he did it. I think he is referring to something that may have happened in the right way at other times, and he did it in a counterfeit way without proper authority.

    I think Eve was beguiled by the counterfeit teachings of Satan, the taking and twisting of truth. But I do think she was aware of the commandment and the repercussions and had a desire to fulfill it. She simply used a God-given power she was not under covenant to use. Much like other gifts we are given, but are only to use them when under covenant or commandment to do so. Satan acted without authority from God. So did Eve. We often do the same. It is the difference between having a God-given stewardship over our children and trying to control them. It is the difference between being under covenant to participate in sexual relations and fornication. One is God-given. One is counterfeit.

    I think it is also telling that Satan tempted Eve when she was alone. Had Eve talked this through with Adam they may have come to a different decision, ie, wait for the Father. He played upon her good desires to fulfill the commandment and twisted it into an act that didn't consider Adam. We must consider one another in all that we do. We are commanded. George MacDaonald said, "The one principle of Hell is: I am my own". Eve used her agency in a way that, while considering all of mankind, was really a way of being her own- making a decision that was not hers alone to make. Don't we do this as well? Move ahead with choices because we "know better" or are just sure we're right when we really should consider and counsel with our spouses or others whom our choices affect?

    I think of this as well: We have many rules we give our children depending on their age, maturity, etc. My nine year old doesn't live by all the same rules as my four year old. I tell my four year old not to leave the cul-de-sac. How silly it would be to have the same rule for my nine year old who rides his bike to school. keeping that rule would keep him from progressing. Might the commandment regarding the tree have been somewhat the same?

    However, a wise Father knowing the nature of man and of Satan had a plan in place. And, yes, He allowed Satan to tempt and try them because He understood better than anyone that we must recognize evil to know the good. There must be opposition. I don't think this means he set Satan there to "make" it happen, but that Adam and Eve could not choose God if there was no choice away from God. His hope for all of us is that we will choose Him, but when we don't (as we so often don't) there is a way provided that we may return to His presence.

    In all, I think Eve was brave and faithful and amazing. Her intent was good. Her timing, in my mind, was misguided by believable lies. She and Adam chose physical and spiritual death for all of us, something I believe God could not give us (thereby forcing us into being fallen and damned), but something necessary in order for us to choose God and Eternal life.

    That's my two cents. Feel free to pick it apart.

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  22. So many great thoughts here. But I can't get something out of my head that my husband's been struggling with — how was it fair for God to give two contradicting commandments? Part of being God is being fair and just. But he gave two commandments that were impossible to be obeyed simultaneously. How is that fair?

    Sorry to introduce a tangent, but maybe this would be a good forum to find an answer.

    (I've read Eve and the Choice made in Eden. It is fantastic, but didn't hold the answer. Also, we understand that it was necessary, but how was it FAIR?)

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  23. If we assume that Adam and Eve DIDN'T know right from wrong before they ate from the tree of knowledge, how could she know that disobeying by eating of the fruit was wrong? If they were truly innocent in a childlike sense, then Satan's tempting was like a kid daring another kid to break their parents' rules. Satan understood and Eve didn't. I always thought that Eve didn't "get" the whole sin concept until after she had that knowledge. Satan DID understand the concept. It was simple for him to "beguile" her, or trick her into doing it. How many older siblings do we see setting up the younger ones in mortal life? I think Heavenly Father knew it would happen eventually. By allowing Satan to tempt them, the opportunity for eating the fruit was there. I think Eve realized later that eating the fruit had both good and bad consequences and that the knowledge was worth the pain. I don't totally buy into the thought that Eve knew what she was doing when she ate the fruit. I don't think she should be eternally condemned for it, like some religious thinkers would do. Great good came out of it if for no other reason than that Adam and Eve were aware afterwards of the difference between good and evil, obedience and disobedience, relying upon oneself vs relying upon God. Some concepts are better learned through practice than lecture.

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  24. In Stephen Robinson's book, Believing Christ, he says that when it comes to judgment, we actually don't want God to be fair or just, we want him to be merciful. Perhaps the contrary choices was the only way to make it work, a plan that was ultimately much more merciful than it was fair?

    Wonderwoman–it really is a hard thing to reconcile; I didn't mean to sound glib, if I did. I hope that your husband's questions haven't (or don't) lead to a faith crisis that drives a wedge between you.

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  25. As far as blaming Eve, I wrote a few months back in a comment at T&S:

    I don’t like blaming Eve, because the game looks incredibly rigged to me.

    Take a child of God without knowledge; one formed in the image of God, whose glory is intelligence; one whose nature demands knowledge and learning. And one who is completely innocent, not even knowing the difference between good and evil.

    Tell that child, here is a tree that will satisfy your deepest and most vital longing, and by the way don’t partake of it. Instead, please multiply and replenish the earth, a task which you have no idea how to do.

    Wait and watch as one of the most cunning and intelligent beings of all time talks to that child and makes a series of arguments which (not surprisingly) convince the guileless, innocent, clueless child to go ahead and take that thing that she desperately wants.

    Then, when that child finally eats from the fruit, curse her and all of her children forever.

    That’s a pretty rigged game, I’d say.

    It’s like putting a giant slice of chocolate cake right in front of the three-year-old and saying, “don’t touch,” and then going in another room. Or putting that three-year-old into a boxing ring with Mike Tyson.

    When the three-year-old touches the cake, or loses her bout with Mike Tyson — both of these are totally inevitable — you curse her and her posterity forever.

    I don’t see how blaming the three-year-old makes much sense.

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  26. I have always thought of Eve as having done her best, and, being human, sometimes making bad choices. God has the power to take even the bad choices and use them for our growth and development, if we are willing to submit to him and just keep on picking ourselves back up and trying again.

    I read Genesis 3:16 with particular interest when I was pregnant with my third baby. I'd had two AWFUL hospital experiences and was done with birthing in that setting. I planned to give birth to my daughter in a birthing center, with a midwife, using the hypnobabies method, which promises, over and over, an enjoyable, if not pain-free experience. I had a friend who had two babies and swore it worked for her. Eve's curse floated around at the back of my mind until I had the courage to look it up and reread it. Check out the footnote:

    16b HEB increase thy discomfort and thy size (i.e. in the condition and process of pregnancy).

    Discomfort to me is very different from sorrow. Discomfort can be a powerful teacher. Sorrow can too, I know, but I'd prefer to be taught by discomfort, personally:).

    I had the birth I wanted. It was not pain-free, but it was totally and completely free of the sorrow of my first two experiences. So I think Eve's curse was more of a blessing- well-deserved because of her faith and humility and willingness to let God turn a bad choice into a chance for growth.

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  27. Katie,
    Are you saying it is God's eternal plan that all women feel pain and in child birth, and otherwise mothers aren't humble enough, or doing God's will?

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  28. "But I can’t get something out of my head that my husband’s been struggling with — how was it fair for God to give two contradicting commandments? Part of being God is being fair and just. But he gave two commandments that were impossible to be obeyed simultaneously. How is that fair?"

    In the scriptures the commandment to multiply and replenish (fill) the earth is given well before Adam and Eve are placed in the Garden. I would guess this was actually done during the Spiritual Creation or planning thereof (see BofAbraham's take).

    Thus, there were no conflicting commandments and there was nothing for Eve to figure out. She only knew two things about the fruit–what God told her and what Satan told her. She chose to believe what Satan told her.

    "I don’t like blaming Eve, because the game looks incredibly rigged to me."

    No more than mortality is rigged for us today. What did God do to A&E that he doesn't do to us. He gives us commandments knowing full well that we are weak and imperfect.

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  29. I taught this lesson on Sunday Brooke and was so grateful to be able to study and learn more about our first mother, Eve. A couple of things that people have already said stand true. 1) Satan lied and he told the truth (about dying/knowing good from evil). But Satan truly thought he was thwarting God's plan by doing this. He does not and can not know the mind of God because he doesn't have the Spirit with him.

    2. In Moses 4:12 it says that the tree became pleasant to Eve which implies that over some course of time (whether minutes, hours or days) Eve saw that this had to take place.

    3. It took me awhile to come to grips with the two contradicting commands, but as Elder Oaks pointed out (and was quoted above) the only reason it was wrong to eat of the tree was because God said it was – not because it was inherently evil (like murder).

    4. I think of it as a domino effect. It was necessary for us to use our agency to come to this earth and here we have Eve using her God given agency to usher all of us in to our second estates. It was a glorious act, whether or not she knew fully what she was doing. It also made them and us all keenly aware of our absolute need for a Redeemer.

    5.As far as the verse where it says "rule over" thee, I am reminded that Eve was symbolically created out of Adam's rib – not his foot. They were equal partners as husband and wife should be – but with different responsibilities. Just like the Bishop presides over Sacrament meeting.

    6. God cursed two things after the fall and neither of them were Adam or Eve. He cursed the ground (for Adam's sake- which institued work which really is a blessing) and the serpent.

    7. The Hebrew words translated 'sorrow' does not mean sadness, it means pain or hurt and 'multiply' in this instance means repitition. So, Eve would have pain repeated over the course of her life. It's the same with us: childbirth and childraising is painful but necessary. It's sad, it's hard, but it also comes with overwhelming joy. Thus we have the law of opposition.

    I would recommend "Women of the Old Testament" by Camille Fronk Olson. She has wonderful insights into the lives of these great women who came to know God under such varying circumstances.

    Sorry for the novel.

    Reply
  30. "If we assume that Adam and Eve DIDN’T know right from wrong before they ate from the tree of knowledge, how could she know that disobeying by eating of the fruit was wrong? If they were truly innocent in a childlike sense, then Satan’s tempting was like a kid daring another kid to break their parents’ rules."

    I think they didn't know good from evil because they had not encountered it. Think "know" in the biblical sense.

    And re: being child-like. We believe that Satan has no power to tempt children. D&C29:47. So, I don't put much stock into that comparison.

    Additionally, in Moses 6:53 we read that God had to forgive A&E for what they did in the Garden. Would he have to forgive them if they were child-like and unaccountable?

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  31. "1) Satan lied and he told the truth (about dying/knowing good from evil). But Satan truly thought he was thwarting God’s plan by doing this. He does not and can not know the mind of God because he doesn’t have the Spirit with him."

    Satan wasn't going to accomplish anything on the Earth with everyone stuck in the pre-existence (or whatever we're calling it). If he was going to succeed in making men miserable like unto himself, he needed Eve to partake of that fruit.

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  32. So many of these comments, in addition to the OP, have given me more clarity on questions that I have had as I've sat in the temple. I'm glad the discussion has remained mostly friendly. I won't latch on to any one idea without more thought on my own, but I echo most of what's been said. The only thing that I have thought as I watch depictions of Satan, is that perhaps HE was the one deceived. I like the idea of Heavenly Father knowing that the time would have come when Adam and Eve would have been prepared to decide together to partake of the fruit and that Satan in his pride and hubris wanted to speed things up to frustrate God. But I still picture Satan as walking around, strutting his stuff and thinking he knew and understood a LOT more than he actually did.

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  33. wonder woman asked: "But I can’t get something out of my head that my husband’s been struggling with — how was it fair for God to give two contradicting commandments? Part of being God is being fair and just. But he gave two commandments that were impossible to be obeyed simultaneously. How is that fair?"

    My idea about this is that because agency is so fundamental to the plan of salvation, humankind needed to exercise agency even from the beginning of mortality. Humankind had to "opt in" to mortal life on earth. So they had to make a choice, because without choice, agency cannot be exercised. I disagree with Tim J. @30 that there were no conflicting commandments. Conflicting commandments necessitated choice, and Eve & Adam chose mortal life, just as God intended. And I strongly believe there was no other way.

    They didn't sin in making that choice, because they didn't violate moral law. Their transgression was more of a technicality. The big debate about Eve is whether she showed less moral fortitude than Adam because she partook first. But since what they did was not sinful, how can she be less moral than Adam?

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  34. Here's my tongue-in-cheek comment: I think Satan may have been telling Eve the truth, but only "truth" like the way commercials tell the truth. Maybe his "fruit of that tree" pitch was the first "Direct Buy" style commercial. (Yes, you save money, yes many manufacturers are at your fingertips. But nobody mentions that when you factor in 1)shipping costs and 2)shipping speed, it's not so great.) Yes, Satan tells Eve, you'll know good from evil, yes your eyes will be opened. But Satan probably didn't mention 1) Eve would be endlessly ridiculed by her posterity in Sunday School classes and 2)menstruation/childbirth is lame. 🙂

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  35. I don't think the stories we read in the Bible, Moses or see depicted in the temple are literal word for word accounts of what might have transpired. The temple in particular is a dramatic presentation intended to teach a specific principle. I'm not convinced there was no plan B. We can never know what might have happened, we can only know what did.

    I am convinced there is no other way for humankind to learn good from evil except by their own experience. Experience that can only be gained from mortality and the choices it requires.

    For thousands of years this story has been used to explain why it is women are inferior to men. Eve is seen a a domineering, lustful woman who has passed her sensual tendencies on to her daughters. The chaste Mary is the role model set up for women to follow since the foundation of Christianity.

    I personally am grateful that we honor Eve for her part in the plan. I am not bothered at all by what she did. She did what she believed was correct. She made a choice that mattered.

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  36. "I disagree with Tim J. @30 that there were no conflicting commandments. Conflicting commandments necessitated choice, and Eve & Adam chose mortal life, just as God intended. And I strongly believe there was no other way."

    The choice was God or Satan. The choice was whether or not to eat the fruit. The thought that God gave them a commandment that they couldn't obey (multiply) without breaking another is a fallacy.

    Adam & Eve had not yet become carnal & sensual. They knew not their own nakedness. Multiplying and replenishing would have meant very little if anything at all to them. They couldn't comprehend it.

    God put Adam and Eve in the Garden and told them not to eat the fruit. They ate the fruit and were driven out from the Garden. Death and Sin entered the world. I think we're making this more complicated than necessary.

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  37. "They didn’t sin in making that choice, because they didn’t violate moral law."

    I would refer to D&C 29 about the nature of the commandments God gave to Adam & Eve.

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  38. "Tim, I think you’re being more condescending than necessary."

    I apologize. Not my intention.

    I only point this out as a realization that we've projected so much and inserted many things into this story which simply do not exist.

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  39. Tim,
    You are welcome to your own reading of the scriptures and sharing what you think they say, but you are not welcome to tell everyone else that they just aren't getting it.

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  40. Regarding the "fairness" of God in setting up the two commandments, and allowing the fall of man:

    God makes it clear that we had to experience the fall in order to reach our full potential – to learn what we needed to learn to become like God. In order to have the fall Adam and Eve had to choose, of their own free will, to break a commandment. Once you realize this you can see that the only fair, just, and loving for God to do was to do exactly what he did.

    An analogy might help: Let's say that my daughter has a disease and I can choose to either fix this disease via surgery that will momentarily be very painful, but will allow her to grow up. Or, I can choose to spare her the pain but know that she will eventually die and never grow up. I think every parent would agree that it is better to choose momentary pain than it is to choose to let my child die just to spare her some pain.

    God had everything planned out from the beginning: the fall, and the redemption through Jesus Christ. He did this because he knew it was the only way for us to "grow up" and gain the incredibly joy and happiness of becoming like our Father. God's love, justice, and mercy does not mean God protects us from painful or hard things. Like any good parent, God allows us to experience hard things because he knows it is the only way for us to grow up and be like him.

    p.s. This is not the Katie who had the home birth experience. This is another Katie who is going to go into labor at any moment and give birth in a hospital, knowing that is what is right for me, and happy that women can choose to give birth in whatever way is right for them.

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  41. Wowee, the lesson got my dander up in class. I had to step out for a few minutes. I'm with you Brooke. I was always taught that Eve made the eternal and correct choice to bring about the fall, the necessary first step.

    Just as with other plain and precious truths, the beauty and correctness of Eve's choice has been twisted into something evil, for which we are supposedly all paying the price for today. Wrong. We know better.

    I love the Oaks' quote from Dalene in #5.

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  42. A couple of thoughts.

    I really don't think Lucifer/Satan every truly understood the Plan. He didn't understand it in the Grand Council–he wanted it to be all about him. He didn't fully understand agency, and he didn't understand that Adam and Eve using their agency would put the plan into action. Thus his efforts to thwart it actually helped it to happen.

    And I wonder about the conflicting choices that Adam and Eve had. They couldn't choose both. They had to choose one or the other. The forbidden fruit in opposition to the tree of life as it says in 2 Nephi 2:15. Do you think there had to be that conflict or opposition in their choices, so the result would be they had to leave the presence of God? They had to leave his presence to become mortal, and the one thing that would make them leave his presence would be disobedience.

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  43. God doesn't need contingency plans because he see the end from the beginning. He knew Eve would partake of the fruit. He knew she needed to. If not the whole plan would have been frustrated, i.e. we wouldn't exist and Adam and Eve would still be there, not progressing.

    Heavenly Father did give them 2 contradictory laws. They could not physically multiply the earth unless the ate the fruit and fell. Their bodies were not equipped for that without the fall. I know sometimes people have a problem with this idea that God had two commandments at odds with eachother but I just figure He is God and can do what He wants. Also not multiplying the earth would have been a much graver sin then partaking of the fruit.

    Of course people out there have negative views of Eve and they are sadly misinformed. I don't see how any members can have that attitude about Eve if they have ever read anything by Church leaders about her. They are always very complimentary.

    I agree that the parts where God says that the man shall rule over the woman is not so much a commandment but a foreshadowing of things to come. Like God was saying now that you guys are living in a fallen world, men are going to use the fall as an excuse to abuse and discriminate against women.

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  44. Sunny (#23), you make good sense.

    I have always been one of Mother Eve's most ardent defenders. Regardless of how things actually played out in the Garden, she earns my deepest admiration and respect. She was strong, brave, proactive, and, most certainly, well-intentioned.

    For too many years, though, I think I saw the whole Garden of Eden scenario as a battle of the genders: Adam vs. Eve; male vs. female. And I saw it too much in terms of an either/or thing (either Adam was admirably obedient or he was dumb; either Eve was wise or she was deceived). When I'm able to pull myself away from the deep-rooted (and, given the long history of Eve-bashing alluded to by others, understandable) need to make Eve the unequivocal hero of the story, I suddenly start to see all sorts of new possibilities and layers of meaning. And far from diminishing my regard for Mother Eve, I find myself relating to, loving, and admiring her all the more.

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  45. "Tim J. – I don’t understand how you see the 2 commandments as not conflicting. Can you please explain that?"

    I'll give you the short of it but I'll start by saying that I give more authority to the modern scriptural account (PofGP) than I do the temple's as far as historicity goes–though I do accept a bit of allegory with my Fall.

    1. Find in the scriptures where God first starts talking to Adam in Moses ch. 3. Nowhere in this chapter exists the commandment to multiply and replenish the earth. Also note this entire discussion happens before Eve's creation.

    2. You have to go to the previous chapter to find the multiply commandment, but who is being commanded in this instance? Some say this is the spiritual creation referred to in Moses 3:5 and some say it is just the planning part of the creation that we have in Abraham. In any event, this commandment happened well before Adam and Eve passed thru the veil and were placed in the Garden. They had no knowledge of the commandment whatsover while in the Garden.

    How do we know this? We know man (A&E) was actually physically created on the 7th, yes 7th, day. See D&C 77:12. The commandment was given on the 6th.

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  46. But that is just interpretational conjecture, it's not a doctrinal stance. I'm very close with a PofGP scholar, and this is not his interpretation at all. Rather, it's that there were two conflicting commandments introduced, because God could not be the author of the fall.

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  47. "I’m very close with a PofGP scholar"

    As am I, my grandfather, who used studied the papyri and gave lectures to the BYU religion dept on the subject of the creation and the Fall.

    "Rather, it’s that there were two conflicting commandments introduced, because God could not be the author of the fall."

    He wasn't. God told Eve not to partake of the fruit, and she did. That was the only commandment she needed.

    If Eve were to have figured everything out, then Satan was unnecessary and really, the Fall is all about Satan. That's why Moses gives him such a grand introduction.

    "But that is just interpretational conjecture, it’s not a doctrinal stance."

    The doctrinal stance is contrary to what most people here are conjecturing. Talmage says in Articles of Faith (also shown in the OT Institute Manual):

    “Eve was fulfilling the foreseen purposes of God by the part she took in the great drama of the fall; yet she did not partake of the forbidden fruit with that object in view, but with intent to act contrary to the divine command"

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  48. I've often wondered if the "commandment" to not eat the fruit was actually a commandment, or just a statement of fact. So God didn't command them not to eat the fruit, just told them that if they did so there would be a natural consequence – death.

    In that way, there is no contradictory commandments, or even disobedience/sin/transgression on the part of Eve – just an opportunity for her and Adam to exercise their agency with a knowledge of the consequences of both their death and their ability to create life.

    This theory doesn't really work with everything in the story seamlessly, but I do like it better than most other explanations.

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  49. This is SUCH a slippery slope to be caught on. I find that I have to take a lot of things on faith and not get so bogged down in the minutiae of it all that I forget the truth. Remember the Pharisees.

    Still, it's an interesting question. Do Eve's actions make or break my faith in the gospel? Not a bit. Am I grateful for her choice? Heck yes. Every day. Does it matter if "a different way would be provided"? Nope. Because that was the way. The end.

    Let's not turn her into Lilith, and let's not get ourselves so tangled in a web of deceit and the philosophies of man that we forget the divine truth: the fruit had to be eaten, there had to be a fall, and there had to be an Atonement.

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  50. #55 Let's not get so tangled in our own thought process that we fail to allow others the option of thinking, really deeply thinking, about the gospel and its ramifications. And let's not compare them to pharisees, nor accuse them of forgetting the truth.

    Certainly, Eve is no Lilith, at least not in the Genesis story.

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  51. Sharlee, I agree that one of the unfortunate aspects of this story are the gender divisions it can create. The implications about gender are interesting, but I wonder if what happened in the Garden was a personality thing. Adam and Eve specifically chosen to play these roles,and they both have value.

    On our ward on Sunday it was pointed out that in Moses 5:10-11 Adam says "I" while Eve says "we/our" when referencing the Fall and their redemption. I felt like it was an implied slight to Adam, that he considered only himself. However, I think it could be interpreted as an example of individual/joint salvation. In most references to salvation, we talk about oursleves as individuals (as Adam did), yet the reality of being redeemed (or exalted) as couples is also true.

    Interesting comments.

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  52. I second Beverly Campbell and her wonderful perspective on the subject. Love her book Eve and the Choice Made in Eden. For those of you wondering and seeking insight on the topic, please read this book.

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  53. I would encourage anyone who has questions about this to go to http://institute.lds.org/courses and download the Religion 430 Doctrines of the Gospel manual. Chapter 8 on the Fall talks about pretty much every issue brought up in these comments, complete with scripture references and quotes from prophets and general authorities. Lots of them! It's great and really not very long and totally clear and easy to read. I do think this is one area where it's really important to know where the church stands because there are so many wrong ideas from other religions that get mixed in, and it's a big building block to a strong testimony of God.

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  54. "I second Beverly Campbell and her wonderful perspective on the subject."

    You can get the cliff notes here:

    http://www.kenningtons.com/kennington/campbell.htm

    While I agree with her premise that we shouldn't vilify Eve nor denigrate her actions, I can't say I agree with many of the other assertions she makes as they just don't make sense scripturally.

    But of course, we only prefer "interpretational conjecture" if we agree with it.

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  55. There is much that doesn't make sense scripturally, Tim, n'est pas? This is why I am greatful for modern day revealation. If any religion reverences the role of Eve in God's great plan for us, it is the LDS religion and I am grateful for modern-day insight into Eve's place in the grand scheme of things. You are correct that what you call interpretational conjecture is preferred only when we agree with it. But some interpretational conjectures just sit right in my soul. I call this the Spirit of God. And I will go with that.

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  56. The part Satan told about the need for knowledge between good and evil is true but that once partaken they wouldn't die is the lie part. They would die if they partook, not instantly but eventually because they would become mortal. Satan is the master of lies, and he knows the best way to lie is to mix it with truth.
    Whether Eve knew the truth from the lie I don't know. Perhaps not but even so I think she was willing to take the consequences because I think she knew it needed to be done.
    I've really wondered about why it was necessary for Adam and Eve to transgress also and what makes the most sense to me is that God being God could not advocate bringing evil into the world. That seems like it would be against his nature even though it would be necessary for his children's growth. So it was necessary for Adam and Eve to invite evil into the world, beginning with disobedience to one of God's commands which I look at like more of a statement of consequences rather than a command.
    I do think Beverly Campbell's book does an excellent job with this subject and the "multiplying sorrow part."

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  57. I used to be bothered by the apparent contradiction as well. I wondered why God would come up with such a complicated scheme that seemed like he was playing games with poor innocent Adam and Eve. Then I once again sat in another Gospel Doctrine class learning about the Fall, but this time the teacher focused so well on the choice of Eve and Adam (and they both receive credit/blame together) as a step forward in the Plan that was so carefully shepherded along by everyone involved. Amanda L in comment 31 nailed it in her item #4–Adam and Eve ushered in the part of the plan that introduced transgression into the system. Of course it had to be them! Who else could have brought transgression into play? Not the Father and not the Son. They have other parts of the plan to bring into the world, such as the creation and the atonement. Which is another piece of the plan that was ordained before they started "construction." (And the Fall should always be taught in concert with the Atonement)

    I have never been confused by this since, and when I read statements such as the one cited here by Elder Oaks, I really feel the praise that he has for Adam and Eve. They were given a command to obey, that the Lord knew full well they eventually would not, and it was a transgression of the commandment, not an egregious sin. Which was enough to get the ball rolling, and how fitting that it was a man and a woman who together pushed the start button. So to speak.

    After all, they were told at the time they were forbidden to eat the fruit, that nevertheless, they could choose for themselves. Adam can be admired in his noble determination not to disobey his Father, and Eve can be admired for desiring knowledge and experience and having at least some awareness of what she was really doing. Even Satan played his part, though the scriptures say that he knew not the mind of God. I think we can be reasonably sure that he thought he was ruining everything.

    And so they created the rest of us, and we come into the fallen world that they had a hand in creating too, and learn what transgression really is by sad experience, and learn to apply the atonement in the hopes that somehow we can reconcile this awful separation from God.

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  58. Tim J. – So are we just supposed to discount the Temple version? No offense meant to any Pearl of Great Price scholars but I will put more weight on the prophet's interpretation of scripture over a scholar any day. We need to look to official church doctrine in the manuals, the temple, and statements of the mdern prophets. The way you explain the fall is not in line with these things as far as I understand them.

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  59. "Tim J. – So are we just supposed to discount the Temple version?"

    Which version? If we are to take the Temple narrative literally what do we do when it changes–which it has? The Temple narrative as we know it is mostly derived from lectures Brigham Young would give in the temple. And there are a lot of Brigham Young-isms in the narrative.

    I'm not suggesting we should wholly throw it aside, but these things need to work in harmony. I happen to give a lot of credence to Joseph Smith's__modern__translation of the account of the creation and the Fall as found in the Books of Moses and Abraham.

    "We need to look to official church doctrine in the manuals, the temple, and statements of the modern prophets."

    So when I quoted Talmage above saying that Eve had zero knowledge about what she was doing and partook of the fruit only to disobey God, a quote that appears in a major book of Mormon doctrine (AofF) as well as the OT Institute Manual, what do you do with it? It seems to contradict what most people here are saying.

    We as Mormons are very good at cherry-picking quotes and scriptures to fit our own preconceived notions, but we rarely try to make them work together.

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  60. "Adam and Eve ushered in the part of the plan that introduced transgression into the system. Of course it had to be them! Who else could have brought transgression into play? Not the Father and not the Son."

    Now this is spot-on. God could not introduce sin into the world, He needed another to do it for him — Adam.

    Likewise, He could not save the world from that sin and needed another, like unto Himself, to do it for Him — even Jesus the Christ.

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  61. "We as Mormons are very good at cherry-picking quotes and scriptures to fit our own preconceived notions, but we rarely try to make them work together."

    Well said. ironically 🙂

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  62. But in my defense, Beverly Campbell has worked very few quotes while disregarding many many others, then taken a few scriptures out of context and adjusted their translation in order to arrive at her preconceived notion of how the Fall took place. She's had to extrapolate quite a bit from quite a little.

    I don't think this is how doctrine works.

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  63. Nan, in #19 you said:

    When momentous decisions of our lives come along, we have to be careful not to think that we have all the answers, that we need no one else to counsel with. We should work with our husbands and/or with the Lord to make sure we understand all of the choices AND consequences, and then act in the best way we can, feeling confidence that we are following the path the Lord would have us take.

    Should husbands likewise counsel with their wives to make sure they're in tune with the Lord's will?

    To build on my earlier response to Janet's #9: the consequences of Eve's choice are a central part of the temple ceremony. I'm referring to the first covenant that we make in the temple, which is different for women than for men. We're explicitly told that the difference stems from the fact that Eve partook first.

    Certainly, religious thinkers have twisted Eve's choice in terribly damaging ways. As Carina said, we know better. But I also think we need to acknowledge the duality in Eve's choice, the wrongness as well as the ultimate rightness.

    I especially dislike rhetoric that casts Eve as the wise, progressive partner, in contrast with a bumbling, apathetic Adam. Both partners had legitimate concerns, and the tension they felt is the very same tension we feel as we struggle to exercise our agency in righteousness. Rather than being a singular event (as Jordan described in #6), I believe the dilemma in the garden teaches us that we, too, face complex choices and even seemingly contradictory commandments.

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  64. I appreciate all of the responses. Let me assure you that this has not led to a crisis of faith for my husband or myself. Just something that my husband has wondered and searched long and hard about. It's something we've discussed often, yet inconclusively.

    Nan- I realize that when it comes to judgment, we want God to be more merciful than just. But the justice is part of what makes God, God. He will judge us justly, then the Savior intervenes and brings the mercy.

    Tiffany W. — I know that life is not fair. But God is. It is part of what makes Him God. My question is not about life being fair, but on the nature of God in giving two seemingly contradicting commandments. It was not physically possible for them to multiply without eating of the forbidden tree. But they were supposed to multiply. And not eat of the tree.

    Genavee — I personally come close to your stance on this. That to not eat of the tree was more of a warning of consequence than an actual commandment. My husband's problem with that is that scripture language states it as a commandment.

    Mommy Dearest — your comments also come very close to my own thoughts. It was necessary. There had to be a logical wasy to "fall" and for sin to enter the world. Transgression vs. sin, etc. For the record, it is my husband who has a question about this more than myself. I'm just trying to help him figure it out.

    Tim J.- I mentioned to my husband that according to the PoGP, Eve wasn't present for the "commandments." But according to the temple she was. I'm (we're) not sure exactly how to reconcile that. Also, if the command to multiply and replenish was only given in the premortal state, then how did they know about it? Though I do greatly appreciate all your insights.

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  65. Also, if the command to multiply and replenish was only given in the premortal state, then how did they know about it?"

    They didn't.

    I know that's kind of tough to swallow as it changes the entire story for some people, but why would God tell them to do something that at the time they were physically unable to do and could not complete without directly violating a God-given commandment.

    In other words, the God I believe in doesn't give us conficting commandments. I think attempts to reconcile the two result in some major mental gymnastics.

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  66. I have a question. Why do we assume that Adam and Eve could not multiply and replenish the earth while in the Garden of Eden? I know there have been some statements to that effect by church leaders, but is it really doctrinal? It seems clear from the temple ceremony that the reason Adam had to partake of the fruit after Eve did was because she would be cast out and he would remain in the Garden, and thus, being separated, they would be unable to fulfill the command to multiply and replenish. Both Adam and Eve seem to have clearly understood that point (I see that this must be); hence, they were perhaps not as "innocent" in that regard as some have suggested.

    I'm just trying to think things through here, basing my thoughts on what is actually portrayed/said in the various official accounts we have. Please feel free to correct me if I'm veering off course! 🙂

    Also, it seems clear that one of the mistakes (maybe even the Big Mistake) Adam and Eve made was not waiting for God who had promised to return and give them further instruction.

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  67. "Why do we assume that Adam and Eve could not multiply and replenish the earth while in the Garden of Eden?"

    There's actually a bit of good healthy debate on the topic but I would certainly toe the LDS doctrine line for a couple of reasons:

    1. Lehi in 2 Nephi 2 says they would have remained in the same state forever and would not have been able to have children.

    2. Notice that "the woman" does not become "Eve" (mother of all living) until after the fall. She could not become mother until this point.

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  68. "the reason Adam had to partake of the fruit after Eve did was because she would be cast out and he would remain in the Garden, and thus, being separated, they would be unable to fulfill the command to multiply and replenish."

    Adam was told to "cleave unto his wife."

    A Garden commandment we don't speak much of. Note, it was when Adam did not cleave unto his wife that they got into trouble.

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  69. Sharlee, I've wondered the same. The scripture Tim quotes doesn't settle the question, because it speaks only of Adam's choice, and the temple ceremony directly contradicts his second point. In fact, as you pointed out, Eve's plea for Adam to eat the fruit hinges on the problem of separation, not the premise that they could not bear children in the garden.

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  70. Wonder woman, I apologize for being a snippy with you. I read your comment after having a day listening to my children tell my how unfair I am to them as I was trying to do my best in parenting them, keeping them safe, helping them learn and grow. So, your question to me, sounded very much like the complaining I heard from my children.

    I don't think God is fair. Because fairness is a very arbitrary thing that we often decide for ourselves. We cannot look at the entire picture nor always see the eternal ramifications of choices, commandments or even doctrine. Thus, to say, "this isn't fair" and "God is fair" doesn't make sense to me. When things I read in the scriptures or hear from prophets seem to contradict my notions of fairness about God or life, I have to take a step back and realize I don't have always have the full picture.

    Ironically, in those moments of "unfairness" or paradoxes, I seem to grow the most. My hope is that I don't become so entrenched in my own ideas of fairness that I shatter and break when things from the gospel contradict that. And if you look at the Adam and Eve story, you can see how the paradox creates opportunities for great growth. Furthermore, God doesn't doom Adam and Eve for their choice, but instead provides a Savior to precipitate a redemption. A redemption, I might add, which was anticipated in the pre-existance.

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  71. Katie (59) thank you for the link referring to the LDS institute manual. It is fascinating and very thorough.

    I have read all the comments and its been fun to see people try to wrap their heads around this one. I have nothing to add except that its probably a lot more complex than any of us realize. And yet look how fun to at least try to understand.

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  72. I've been gleaning through the further ideas…very good discussion. I liked Kathryn Soper pointing out the duality of what they did, that it was both wrong and right. I'll take that further and say that because it was wrong that's why it was exactly the right thing…only by transgression could they bring about the Fall, and I think God did give them conflicting commandments, and in such a way that makes perfect sense, and we can see it clearly. Geez Tim, if you haven't ever had to struggle with two conflicting commandments, your life is blessedly uncomplicated.

    My most troubling questions about the Fall have largely been settled by internalizing this, but I can see that, like most of the rest of doctrinal history, many questions remain. And a lot of them revolve around the apparent differences between Adam's transgression/punishment and Eve's transgression/punishment. I'm impressed by the thoughtfulness of people raising them, and I haven't yet found my answers.

    I'm kinda grateful that my faith doesn't require it right at the moment.

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  73. "Geez Tim, if you haven’t ever had to struggle with two conflicting commandments, your life is blessedly uncomplicated."

    I wish! 🙂

    Trust me, I struggled. I struggled for a long, long time and it took a lot of fasting, prayer, studying, and many trips to the temple to assuage my confusion over this one (seemingly) little problem.

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  74. I’ll take that further and say that because it was wrong that’s why it was exactly the right thing.

    EXACTLY. Three cheers, Mommie Dearest!

    Each of us are Adam or Eve. Each of us must make weighty and complex decisions in that wide-open gray area between contradictory poles. The inherent dualities of our existence are extremely uncomfortable when we insist that everything is either Right or Wrong, Obedient or Disobedient. Even when we get more comfortable with ambiguity, agency is a tricky thing.

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  75. heathermommy said “Tim J. – So are we just supposed to discount the Temple version?”

    Tim J said" Which version? If we are to take the Temple narrative literally what do we do when it changes–which it has? The Temple narrative as we know it is mostly derived from lectures Brigham Young would give in the temple. And there are a lot of Brigham Young-isms in the narrative."

    Well I would say the most recent temple ceremony. It is all about modern revelation. The most recent one should be the most correct and if I have never heard a prophet say thet they were not given two conflicting commandments, then I do not believe it. We have to look to modern prophets, yes, even over Joseph Smith.

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  76. One thing I have wondered about is the knowledge of Satan in his part of the plan. Some have said on this post that he unwittingly played into God's hands by tempting Eve. But from his statement when questioned by HF about what he had done, he had seen this all played out before so he must have known the outcome

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  77. Not necessarily, Sally. He knew that the fruit had been given in other worlds, but the outcome in those instances may have been very different since the offering was made at the right time and by the right person (God). Satan's big sin was that he tried to usurp God's power and authority (both in the great council in heaven and in the Garden).

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  78. Interesting thoughts about Satan.

    A couple of additional questions that come to mind:

    1. Looking back in hindsight, would Satan choose not to tempt Eve? I only ask this because as I asserted earlier, Satan wasn't going to accomplish anything with all of us stuck in the pre-existence.

    2. Does Satan not know God's plan now? I would think he does, but if that's the case, why doesn't he just stop tempting everyone and remove the opposition that Lehi deems necessary to the plan?

    3. Was Satan different before receiving God's curse than after? If so, how?

    I don't really have answers to these–just wondering aloud.

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  79. My question exactly Kathryn.
    Sharlee, are you saying that the offering of the fruit in other worlds was by God so that is why the outcome was different? Doesn't make sense to me since God wouldn't tempt Eve to break a commandment (unless you are talking about a Nephi-Laban type scenario).
    Tim, I think question 1 and 2 go together. He wants us to be able to choose because that at least gives him a chance to make everyone miserable like unto himself, which is is goal.

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  80. Sally, I don't think we have any idea how things played out in other worlds (and I didn't mean to suggest that it was God who offered the fruit in those other instances, although I think that's a possibility). My point was simply that we can't necessarily assume that Satan knew the exact outcome in this case just because he knew the fruit had been partaken of in other worlds. The circumstances surrounding those other events could have been vastly different.

    I guess what I'm wondering is if, in fact, there *was* another way.

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  81. I know that I do a lot of blathering here at Segullah but I need to add my two cents, by the time I'm done it will probability be more like $127.53 in currency of questionable value none the less here goes.

    I love Eve. I love the story of the Eden. I have not been to the temple so I can not in my heart and mind contrast the narrative found there with the one found in the PofGP or Genesis or from the mouths of modern prophets. This is not due to lack of desire or worthiness but rather my family circumstance. So please be kind if I miss the mark.

    I love the duality of the dilemma in Eden, I love what Kathryn said in #79. How in a way each of us being Adam and Eve. This is something that strikes a very resonate chord with me.

    As one of my children was approaching baptism I felt that she was essentially preparing to "leave the garden" those very words found themselves in my heart and mind at that time. I rejoiced and mourned all at the same time for her.

    This particular daughter had much anxiety about leaving that figurative "garden" and desired very much to be baptized on her eighth birthday. She wanted membership in God's earthly kingdom as well as the gift of the Holy Ghost as soon as she left the realm of the innocents.

    Well living in Provo, Utah, that is not how it is usually done. There is a date set aside for stake baptisms each month and it takes some pretty extraordinary circumstances for those who coordinate such things to make an exception, like when my uncle who works as a civilian in military intelligence was flown in by the Red Cross to baptize his son on a Saturday morning with very short notice. Everything was bent and arranged so that he could baptize and confirm his young son.

    We however were not exceptional in our circumstances so imagine our delight when we discovered that the first Stake Baptism day that my sweet little daughter was eligible for fell right on her birthday.

    The correlation was so clear to me at that time, that each of us in our mortal journey model the experience of Adam and Eve in the Garden. We spend the early years of our lives essentially learning to "tend the garden." As we reach accountability leave that time of innocence, we become subject to the Fall and to mortality and sin. We then need the intersession of the Savior and his Atonement to return to the presence of the Father.

    I also find certain beauty in Eve's situation. The fact that she partook first, fell first entered mortality first, and she did this initially alone of her own will. Regardless of the interpretation of the circumstances surrounding this occurrence.

    As a woman she was to become the "Mother of all Living" That is a immense responsibly to bear. As a woman to truly be the vessel or physical conduit by which the Father's spirit children enter mortality, that was something I think Eve had to accept on her own. She on behalf of all her daughters that would follow her. To stand ready to bear children into mortality if so called. Not only that but to be 'primarily responsible for the nurture' of those children once here (taking loosely from the Family Proclamation). We as women nurture not only children literally born from us, if we are so called, but generally all of the of the Father's children. That is heavy stuff and I love Eve for it, I am so grateful to be a "Daughter of Eve."

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  82. I did not read all of the blogs but I want to suggest a time in the new testament when the mother of two of the apostles asked the Savior if her sons could be on the left and right of the Lord (this is from memory – I have to leave or I'd look it up). Anyway the idea here was they indeed could have power in the next life but it would be through tribulation. I think that Eve was committing herself to a notion she could not understand (she was innocent) the notion was being like God. Being like God is actually a change in nature from within, it is not a position – but she wouldn't know this – she only knew He was great) The transgression in a way was dedicating oneself before sure knowledge – isn't that like faith? In a way wasn't Eve innocently taking the first step toward Godhood by choosing (maybe the fruit was merely a vehicle of commitment). I am saying that we, everyday, choose like Eve to step toward a worthwhile goal or to step away from a worthwhile goal. The story of Adam and Eve is a story we live out every day. (my take on Adam was he was interested in the details and was unwilling at first to cross a line which was known to be unsafe or hazardous).

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  83. There's little need to speculate about Satan's motives or his understanding of the plan. He was in the council in heaven. No veil. He had seen what happened on other planets.

    Nobody here has mentioned this, but the Book of Mormon (Alma 42) hints at Satan's game plan. He prodded Adam and Eve to partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge so that he could then talk them into taking the fruit of the tree of life and live forever in her sins. Alma points out that if he had succeeded the plan would have been frustrated. Hence the immediate and dramatic entrance of the Father on the scene right as Adam partakes. Time to put a stop to the mischief. We are going to command Satan to depart and place cherubim and a flaming sword to guard the way to the tree of life lest Adam and Eve make a serious mistake.

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