Lesson 4: “Because of My Transgression, My Eyes are Opened” #BCCSundaySchool2018

Learning Outcomes

To help each class member understand that the Fall was a necessary part of Heavenly Father’s plan for us.



I have always had something of a conflicted relationship with the Adam and Eve narrative. I take it more metaphorically than how it is typically taught in LDS chapels and conferences, and I am not comfortable in how we use scriptures from this section of Genesis and Moses to justify husbands holding “presiding” power over their wives. I know my readers might disagree with me here, and that’s okay—I just want to be up front about the perspective I’m coming from as I study this lesson.

On the other hand, some of my favorite religious concepts come from this same story, like enlightenment, atonement, companionship, forgiveness and repentance. I have always marveled that God’s plan for salvation first required a transgression—a moment of disobedience that enabled humans to transcend the bounds of the laws that had kept them safe—but also stagnant and static. Life lessons are as much to be learned from stepping out on our own best judgment as it is from obeying authority figures with exactness. It’s one of my favorite paradoxes in Mormon and Christian theology, and it is a notion that supports civil disobedience and other forms of social activism. Note: I have included far more discussion questions and content than could squeeze into one Sunday School lesson, so please feel free to skim and skip around at will, and hopefully I’ve including something interesting or useful for everybody.

Opening Discussion Question:  Why was Adam and Eve’s Fall necessary to their (and our) salvation?

“The Three Pillars”

The Old Testament handbook emphasizes the “three pillars of eternity” model of the plan of salvation: “creation,” “fall,” and “atonement.” If you want to start with this three-point explanation of the Plan of Salvation, here are some scriptures you might select from to guide your discussion.

“And in that day Adam blessed God and was filled, and began to prophesy concerning all the families of the earth, saying: Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God. And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient. And Adam and Eve blessed the name of God, and they made all things known unto their sons and their daughters.” (Moses 5:10–12)

Follow-up Discussion Question:  Why is joy, knowledge, eternal life, and goodness contingent on Adam and Eve’s transgression?

“Therefore I give unto you a commandment, to teach these things freely unto your children, saying: That by reason of transgression cometh the fall, which fall bringeth death, and inasmuch as ye were born into the world by water, and blood, and the spirit, which I have made, and so became of dust a living soul, even so ye must be born again into the kingdom of heaven, of water, and of the Spirit, and be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine Only Begotten; that ye might be sanctified from all sin, and enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory; For by the water ye keep the commandment; by the Spirit ye are justified, and by the blood ye are sanctified; Therefore it is given to abide in you; the record of heaven; the Comforter; the peaceable things of immortal glory; the truth of all things; that which quickeneth all things, which maketh alive all things; that which knoweth all things, and hath all power according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice, and judgment. And now, behold, I say unto you: This is the plan of salvation unto all men, through the blood of mine Only Begotten, who shall come in the meridian of time.” (Moses 6:58-62)

Follow-up Discussion Question:  If the transgression brought about the Fall, and the Fall brought physical and spiritual death, how can we be “born again,” spiritually and physically, according to this scripture?

And after Adam and Eve had partaken of the forbidden fruit they were driven out of the garden of Eden, to till the earth. And they have brought forth children; yea, even the family of all the earth. And the days of the children of men were prolonged, according to the will of God, that they might repent while in the flesh; wherefore, their state became a state of probation, and their time was lengthened, according to the commandments which the Lord God gave unto the children of men. For he gave commandment that all men must repent; for he showed unto all men that they were lost, because of the transgression of their parents. And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end. And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin. But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things. Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy. And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given. Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.” (2 Nephi 2:19–27)

Follow-up Discussion Question:  Why do you think 2 Nephi uses the word “free” more than once to describe Adam and Eve after the Fall? What freedoms resulted from the Fall?
Related Discussion Question:  What were the other results of the Fall, and how do they affect us?
Some answers from the official lesson manual and a few handy quotes added by myself:
  • Adam and Eve were able to have children, which allowed us to come to earth and receive mortal bodies (Moses 5:11; 6:48; 2 Nephi 2:23, 25).“One of these days, if I ever get to where I can speak to Mother Eve, I want to thank her for tempting Adam to partake of the fruit. He accepted the temptation, with the result that children came into this world. … If she hadn’t had that influence over Adam, and if Adam had done according to the commandment first given to him, they would still be in the Garden of Eden and we would not be here at all. We wouldn’t have come into this world. So the commentators made a great mistake when they put in the Bible … ‘man’s shameful fall.'” —Joseph Fielding Smith, October 1967 General Conference
  • We experience physical death, or separation of the physical body from the spirit (Moses 4:25; 6:48; 2 Nephi 9:6).
  • We experience spiritual death, or separation from God’s presence (Moses 4:29; 6:49; 2 Nephi 9:6).
  • We are partakers of misery and woe (Moses 6:48; Genesis 3:16–17).
    “The Apostle Peter wrote that disciples of Jesus Christ are to have ‘compassion one of another.’ In that spirit I wish to speak to those who suffer from some form of mental illness or emotional disorder, whether those afflictions be slight or severe, of brief duration or persistent over a lifetime. We sense the complexity of such matters when we hear professionals speak of neuroses and psychoses, of genetic predispositions and chromosome defects, of bipolarity, paranoia, and schizophrenia. However bewildering this all may be, these afflictions are some of the realities of mortal life, and there should be no more shame in acknowledging them than in acknowledging a battle with high blood pressure or the sudden appearance of a malignant tumor.” —Jeffrey R Holland, “Like a Broken Vessel,” October 2013

  • The ground is cursed, causing us to need to work (Moses 4:23–25; Genesis 3:17–19).
    “The commandment to work is imposed on us by our descent from Adam and Eve, but it is a blessing to us. Illness and adversity are not punishments for being alive; they are natural accompaniments of life. Our bodies are not vile and loathsome snares for our spirits, but the temples of our spirits. The daily activities of mixing orange juice, making telephone calls, supervising homework, and scrubbing the bathtub are not distractions from our spiritual lives. They are the vehicles through which we live our spiritual lives.” —Chieko N. Okazaki, Lighten Up

  • We can learn to recognize good and evil (Moses 4:28; 6:55–56; 2 Nephi 2:23; Genesis 3:22).

  • We can have joy in mortality (Moses 5:10; 2 Nephi 2:23, 25).

  • We can know the joy of our redemption (Moses 5:11).

  • We can obtain eternal life (Moses 5:11).

Let’s Talk Gender

One of the trickier parts of this lesson, in my opinion, is the bit about Eve’s sorrow being multiplied and the other bit about Adam ruling over her. So let’s look at it. Notice that the accounts from Moses and Genesis here are nearly entirely identical, except that the Moses account has an interesting addition from God at the end (I’m not sure what to make of the added line, tbh, and I’d love to hear people’s insights on this). The other notable change I’ve highlighted is that God is speaking in the first-person in the Moses account, but Genesis talks about God in the third person (if you missed Mike’s post about point-of-view in the Book of Moses, go read it!).

And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, between thy seed and her seed; and he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. 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. And unto Adam, I, the Lord God, said: Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the fruit of the tree of which I commanded thee, saying—Thou shalt not eat of it, cursed shall be the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life. Thorns also, and thistles shall it bring forth to thee, and thou shalt eat the herb of the field. By the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, until thou shalt return unto the ground—for thou shalt surely die—for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou wast, and unto dust shalt thou return. And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living; for thus have I, the Lord God, called the first of all women, which are many. (Moses 4:21–26)

And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. Unto the woman he 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. And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living. (Genesis 3:15–20)

The New Oxford Annotated Bible, New Revised Standard Version (4th edition) says of these verses, “Though this is often understood as a curse of the woman to pain in childbirth, the word ‘curse’ is not used in these verses. Another interpretation is that the woman is sentenced to endless ‘toil’ (not pain) of reproduction, much as the man is condemned in vv. 17-19 to endless toil in food production. The man’s rule over the woman here is a tragic reflection of the disintegration of original connectedness between them.” From this perspective, part of what was lost in the Fall was gender equality and “connectedness.” An imbalance of power separates Adam and Eve, according to this reading.

On a similar note, Jeffrey Bradshaw over at The Interpreter wrote a piece earlier this week about the “rule over” phrasing, arguing that this verse is actually a warning from God about “broken marriages” in which the partners seek to “rule over” each other. He supports his claim by acknowledging that the Hebrew word “desire” in “thy desire shall be to thy husband” isn’t a romantic attraction but a “contentious wish” to “overcome to defeat another.” Bradshaw adds that the Hebrew word “rule” is “not benevolent but controlling.” His translation, therefore, is “You will want to control your husband, but he will dominate you.” Bradshaw concludes that this isn’t the ideal marriage, adding that it conflicts with the Proclamation on the Family that describes husbands and wives “as equal partners.”

It is worth noting that traditional LDS readings of these verses consider them directives from God, with more recent readings attempting to justify or soften the “rule over” detail. These are the quotations included in this week’s lesson official manual:

President Spencer W. Kimball said: “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” (“The Blessings and Responsibilities of Womanhood,” Ensign, Mar. 1976, 72).

Elder M. Russell Ballard said: “God has revealed through his prophets that men are to receive the priesthood, become fathers, and with gentleness and pure, unfeigned love they are to lead and nurture their families in righteousness as the Savior leads the Church (see Ephesians 5:23)” (“Equality through Diversity,” Ensign, Nov. 1993, 90).

To me, replacing “rule” with “preside” is just quibbling over semantics—it still results in the imbalance of power that would render an unequal partnership. I don’t see any reason why women and men can’t act as equal partners, leading and nurturing their families together with gentleness and pureness and unfeigned love. Perhaps it is helpful to note the different interpretations of this scripture to the class, but I think ultimately a good note to end on is that Adam and Eve were meant to work together, sharing each others’ sorrows and toils as well as knowledge and joy.

If I were you, I would try not to get too hung up on debates over presiding vs. ruling vs. equal partnerships. See if you can swing everybody back to talking about, say, things we can do to help and support our own companions in life (husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, neighbors, friends, coworkers, etc.) through this mortal wilderness of thistles and thorns? How can we help each other experience joy and comfort in our shared journeys?


Bear testimony of God’s Plan of Salvation, and how it is through our experiences with sin that we can understand forgiveness and through our experiences with grief that we can understand joy. The Fall happened so that we can have these experiences, and we are grateful for Eve and Adam’s transgression.

Supplemental Readings From the BCC Archives

Steve Evans, Snakes! Why did have to be snakes!? (Jan. 25, 2010)

Brad, From the Archives: Death Before the Fall (Jan. 14, 2013)

Sam Brunson, Transgressors in Eden (Jan. 29, 2014)

Stray Observations

On talking snakeshere’s some commentary from The New Oxford Annotated Bible, New Revised Standard Version (4th edition): “[Genesis 3:1] emphasizes [the snake’s] wise craftiness (Heb “‘arum”), a characteristic that contrasts with the innocent nakedness (“‘arum”) of the man and woman. Snakes were a symbol in the ancient world of wisdom, fertility, and immortality. Only later was the snake in the story seen by interpreters as the devil. The snake introduces doubt by rightly predicting the consequences of eating the fruit—the humans will not be put to death as implied in the language of Genesis 2:17 and their eyes will be opened (see v. 7) so they gain wisdom, knowing good and evil. The woman sees that the pleasant fruit of the tree is desirable to make one wise; she eats it and shares it with her husband. The result is enlightenment: the eyes of both were opened. Such wisdom takes them from the earlier unashamed nakedness (2:25) to clothing, a mark of civilization.” Others have identified the snake not as the devil but as Lilith, Adam’s first wife, according to some versions of the narrative.

The book of Moses (as well as the Book of Mormon) declares Satan as the snake in much more explicit terms: “And Satan put it into the heart of the serpent, (for he had drawn away many after him,) and he sought also to beguile Eve, for he knew not the mind of God, wherefore he sought to destroy the world” (Moses 4:6). It seems noteworthy all the same that Satan would appear as an animal that early readers of the account would associate with wisdom, fertility, and immortality, since these are all three associated with the beneficial consequences that came from Eve’s and then Adam’s transgressions.

On building women from ribs—more commentary from The New Oxford Annotated Bible, New Revised Standard Version (4th edition): “Just as the connection of humanity to the ground is affirmed in the making of the first human (Hebrew “‘adam”) from earthy ‘humus’ (“‘adamah”), so also the connection of men and women is affirmed here through the crowning event of creation: the making of a woman from a art of the man. The man affirms this connection in a jubilant poem [see below] featuring a wordplay on ‘man’ (Hebrew “‘ish'”) and ‘woman’ (“‘ishshah”). This concluding song of praise of the woman corresponds to God’s concluding affirmation of all of creation as ‘very good.'”

Here is how Oxford formats the “jubilant” poetry in Genesis 2:23 (I appreciate seeing scripture formatted into different literary genres—it helps me better acknowledge differences in voice and style):

“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
this one shall be called Woman,
for out of Man this one was taken.”

President Russell M. Nelson suggests a literal reading of the rib story by seeming to insinuate that perhaps this is why humans have one fewer rib than other animals with rib cages:

“From the rib of Adam, Eve was formed (see Gen. 2:22; Moses 3:22; Abr. 5:16). Interesting to me is the fact that animals fashioned by our Creator, such as dogs and cats, have thirteen pairs of ribs, but the human being has one less with only twelve. I presume another bone could have been used, but the rib, coming as it does from the side, seems to denote partnership. The rib signifies neither dominion nor subservience, but a lateral relationship as partners, to work and to live, side by side.”

—Russell M. Nelson, “Lessons from Eve,” October 1987

I personally read the rib story as metaphorical rather than literal, but I do like what President Nelson asserts here about a lateral relationship, and this could be a nice quote to retrieve in case anyone in the Sunday School class is determined to argue that Adam dominates over Eve. My takeaway from the rib story in the end is that men and women are closely connected—we are of each other as much as we are of the earth. We should take care of each other as if we were each other’s own flesh and blood, because we are.

On “helpmeets”—My historian friend Janiece Johnson wrote a fabulous post on this word here, and it is worth a read. She also adds, “I also like having students compare several different translations:
Heb. ez̄er kenegdô
“I will make him a helper fit for him.” (NRSV)
“I will make him a helpmate.” (Jerusalem Bible)
“I will make a fitting helper for him.” (NJPS)
“I will make him an aid fit for him.” (Anchor Bible)
“I will make a companion for him who corresponds to him.” (NET)

Many thanks, JJ, for letting me add your insights here.


  1. I’m not sure how I look forward to this lesson, as I disagree with Eve (and Nephi) when they conclude that it’s better that they transgressed. In the temple endowment, Lucifer declares he was simply “doing that which was done in other worlds; giving the fruit . . . to them.” At some point, Eve & Adam would have been given the fruit, causing the fall and the need for a redeemer. It wasn’t a paradoxical trap, but something done in order that only required patience and faith that God had a plan that didn’t involve transgression.

    It could be in other worlds Eve & Adam made the choice without Lucifer. It could be they waited patiently. It could be that Adam chose and Eve followed, creating an imbalance opposite what we ended up with.

    The point is that there was no way for God’s plan to be frustrated, not by Lucifers action or Eve & Adam’s inaction.

  2. Hmm. That’s interesting, Frank. I hadn’t thought about how this might have played out in other worlds, and certainly the Moses line about Eve’s name suggests that there have been many Eves, and that God has named them all (I’m still not sure what to do with that line).

    I’ll have to keep thinking about this. I’m not sure the Fall would have worked the same way had Adam and Eve been given the fruit and asked by godly authority to take it. It wouldn’t have been “a Fall” in the same sense. But I also hated my seminary teacher’s argument that Eve and Adam needed to break the law on their own even though that was God’s plan, because God, being perfect, was unable to encourage them to break any rules. I always imagine God to be a Gandalf/Dumbledore kind of figure who is capable of giving side-winks and nuanced directives. I think that is why I find myself attracted to the reading that the snake isn’t necessarily a purely evil devil character, even though I know that reading the serpent as anyone beside Lucifer doesn’t work with LDS canon. I guess I also like the reading that Eve was given new information that shifted her paradigm and helped her come to a new conclusion about unjust laws rather than the reading that she was just straight-up beguiled because she was innocent and foolish.

    I’ll have to keep thinking.

  3. It’s not as much of a fall, but when you’re going from perfection and immortality (via the tree of life) to a Telestial, mortal world, it’s certainly a step down.

  4. The LDS take, while I really like it, has always been a bit weird to me, that they transgressed and it was a good thing… What’s weird, I think, is that we don’t apply that to any other commandments. I mean, it’s not like we are told that if we break the Word of Wisdom or the law of chastity that, hey, we transgressed, but it’s a good thing, right?

    …Actually, now that I write that, I find I must disagree with myself. I’m not really a rule-breaker by inclination, but there are definitely times where I’ve made mistakes and hurt others and, well, sinned. And I don’t think it was a good thing– it certainly wasn’t a good thing when I hurt others, even by accident — but it might have been necessary in some cases; I’m kind of thick, especially about people, and there are some lessons I could only learn by making the mistake first.

  5. cahn, I think even among LDS authorities, there have been some different takes on the transgression. See Sam’s post linked above, for example, where he takes on President Oaks’ argument that, in this case, the transgression was not a sin (it’s a really great post with a lot more nuance than what I can give justice to here).

    But I also think that “rules” are not always as important as making justifiable and intelligent and well intentioned decisions that require the breaking of rules in order to fulfill the decisions. Eve didn’t eat the fruit because she hated God or was feeling reckless—she ate the fruit because she desired to know the difference between good and evil. Martin Luther King, Jr. in his letter from Birmingham Jail talks of “just” and “unjust laws” as a justification for why breaking the law can be the right thing to do if the law is inherently unjust. I’m not sure if I am arguing that the law against eating the knowledge tree fruit was unjust or not, but it certainly was a law that didn’t seem to have a justifiable reason for existence. I think part of my attraction to the Garden of Eden narrative is that it underscores that some laws are better broken, and that the intent of the heart is more important than obeying or disobeying laws solely for the sake of obedience or disobedience.

    Still thinking it through though.

  6. I’ll also say, cahn, that I agree with you that sinning can lead to necessary lessons, and that not all sin comes from an evil place but sometimes from just an ignorant, clumsy place. I think that any rhetoric out there about striving to avoid sin entirely—”not even once”—is particularly unhelpful given that making mistakes and learning the repentance process is an integral part of God’s plan of salvation—perfectly perfect people have no need of an atonement, after all.

  7. Jack of Hearts says:

    Thanks for the quotation on Adam’s rib from President Nelson. It fascinates me because the only other Church teaching on this that I’ve heard comes from President Kimball:

    “The story of the rib, of course, is figurative.”

    Which explicitly disagrees with that suggested implication from President Nelson.

    As an aside, the statement from President Kimball is also one of my favorites about the Creation because it seems so *not* obvious to me. What makes this particular scene “of course” figurative in an account filled with scenes that also seem quite figurative? It makes me smile every time.

  8. Aussie Mormon says:

    Nelson addresses rib numbers in the sense of pairs of ribs though, rather than the individual rib. The accounts don’t say, that God took the first rib, and then another one just to make sure things weren’t lopsided. Considering that all kinds of animals have different numbers of ribs, it may have just been an observation that was worded badly. After all, Nelson would have known that removing a body part doesn’t mean that offspring won’t have that body part.

  9. Jack of Hearts says:

    Sorry, addendum to my above comment, which sounds harsher on President Nelson than I meant it: I don’t think he was using that observation as evidence and I think it would be unfair to insist that’s what his words mean. Like Aussie Mormon above says, it sounds like it was just worded poorly. It’s the potential implication I could see people drawing from it that President Kimball’s statement explicitly disagrees with.

  10. I feel like this was mentioned in GenCon recently but I can’t find it. I found Elder Oaks’ older talk addressing the same topic about the difference between sin and error. Here is the link:
    I really feel like this is an important distinction and adds to the discussion.

  11. Hi Star, the linked BCC article to Sam’s post a few years ago on “Transgressors in Eden” delves into that Oaks talk in a really profound and insightful way, if you’re interested.

    Aussie Mormon, it could be that I am reading too much into President Nelson’s remarks, but it’s the “one less rib” remark that seems to suggest a literal reading of the rib story (not to mention that one wouldn’t mention rib numbers of an actual human skeleton in the context of the Garden of Eden narrative if not to make a point about a literal reading of this part). A quick internet search also shows that there other Christian forums out there making the same claim that because many animals with ribcages (including other primates) have 13 sets of ribs, but humans have 12, this is somehow evidence that Adam lost a 13th set of ribs to create his helpmeet. This, again, isn’t my belief, but I figured that Nelson’s comment was perhaps speculating along these same lines. In his credit, though, he does seem to be speculating about that part rather than making an outright claim.

    The guts of his comment about a lateral, equal partnership are what I value the most from that particular talk.

  12. Had a chance to read some early Mormon history regarding attitudes about women’s rights a while ago. As I remember it, at least some early leaders saw historical/institutional patriarchy as a punishment for Eve’s transgression, and they saw marriage/submission to a righteous patriarch as the only way to overcome this for women. (Hence, polygamy.) I found this depressing…except that the clear (and sometimes explicit) assumption undergirding their position was that Eden (and therefore, heaven) was a place of gender equality. The Fall brought dominion of man over woman and earth life included women’s penance, but that was not a permanent or even natural state of affairs. Further, there seemed to be a sense that part of the job of the Restoration was to restore the equality of men and women.

    Anyway, the point is that we haven’t always been consistent on our views about Eve being a hero. Nor have we been consistent about the origins of patriarchy or the nature of divine gender relations. Nor has there always been logical consistency between our various relevant doctrines. I think there’s clearly a lot of room for more revelation on this. But I do love the concept of male dominance as a product of the Fall and not a heavenly pattern.

  13. Paul Ritchey says:

    Some scholars believe the word from which “rib” is translated may refer to the baculum. I’ll leave it to interested persons to look up what that is, but I note that the great apes have bacula, while humans do not.

    I would be overjoyed to hear President Nelson revisit his anatomical story using this alternative, better translation.

  14. your food allergy is fake says:

    Can you sin, or transgress, if you don’t yet know the difference between good and evil?

  15. food allergy – people have killed others and done all sorts of things believing it was good, and they will need to repent when they learn the truth, so I’d say yes.

  16. The idea that Adam and Eve would have been given the fruit eventually is one that I’ve heard before. It’s interesting, but doesn’t really agree with Lehi’s statements in 2 Nephi 2 and Eve’s statement in the JST/Moses that had they not transgressed, they would never have had children. To your credit, Frank, you do acknowledge that. But I guess it just sounds like speculation, so I don’t find it very convincing. Especially because I don’t see it as a problem in the first place that God would give them a rule that they could not keep and become mortal, since that’s basically what all the commandments are: rules that we all break. The point, as I read it, is that if you rely on obedience to rules to save you, you will be disappointed. Your only hope is faith and repentance.

  17. JKC, it certainly is a valid point, as you read it. I just don’t think we lose anything by not having this one story, especially when we have Christ giving His example in picking corn on the Sabbath. It just leaves me empty when people portray this example of “heroic Eve”, as if her mere existence were not heroic enough; she has to be just that much better than Adam. They made a choice to take a more difficult road, which could have happened even if Lucifer was not involved. It wasn’t a wrong choice, just not the choice with the fewest consequences.

    Still, the endowment account tugs at me. What happened on other worlds when the fruit was given and the person giving it was not punished? Do we just assume that Lucifer is now lying, but wasn’t lying before? I believe that Lucifer believed what he saw on other worlds; that the fruit was given to E&A by the person who was then declared “king of this world”. Even after the expulsion, he believed he had successfully taken that role, but he had come to the wrong conclusion. The King of This World was already assigned to be Jesus, who would not only be the primary in building the earth, the one who would be its Savior, and the one who would conclude the work and reign forever over it, but would would be the one to give whatever was needed for the first couple to make the step from Terrestrial to Telestial.

    That is why this theory is so important to me. It lets the story show that no matter how Lucifer tries to be an AntiChrist, trying to take the place he feels is rightfully his, there is no way for God’s plan to be frustrated.

  18. your food allergy is fake says:

    Frank, I am not convinced that there is anything to repent of. We are not talking about mistakenly thinking an act is good while knowing there is such a thing as good and evil. We are talking about having no knowledge of good vs. evil in the first place before the fruit is eaten. A person in that state can act in opposition to God’s will, but how can it be sinful? At least that is what Lehi seems to be saying. The implication then is that eating the fruit was simply an act with important consequences that bring mortality, and wouldn’t necessarily require a tempter. Essentially a neutral act. The tempter simply hastens the process. This seems similar to what you are envisioning actually.

  19. Frank, I think I see where you’re coming from, but I actually don’t see that calling Eve heroic makes her better than Adam. I think it shows that they each represent an important principle: obedience to rules, and wisdom to know when to depart from rules in service of a more important principle. Justice and Mercy, if you like. One is not better than the other. Both are necessary. And they work best when they work together.

  20. So I’ve been reading this thread while I prepare my lesson for Sunday, and I thought I’d written down all the questions I wanted to ask the class. But then I read JKC’s comment where it stated that Adam and Eve might have been given the fruit eventually. I wrote out the question, why didn’t God just tell them that they’d have to eat the fruit to become mortal and therefore, bon appetit. But then I realized, it doesn’t have anything at all to do with the fruit. It’s about the transgression. In order to fall, Adam and Eve had to be disobedient and break a commandment.

  21. Tobia – maybe the fruit was to wait until they were prepared for it, until they actually understood what taking that next step entailed rather than a vague “you’ll become as the gods, knowing good and evil”. if disobedience was required, there are any number of ways it could have been done. A commandment not to breathe would have lasted 4 minutes, tops. There had to be a reason for the time in Eden, else why have Eden at all?

  22. mikerharris says:

    Is this article’s premise off? Adam and Eve were not disobedient. They didn’t sin. Joseph Smith taught, “that it was not a ‘sin,’ because God had decreed it.”
    (The Words of Joseph Smith, ed. Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook, Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1980, p. 63; Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual, 2014, LESSON 10)

    Additionally, Joseph Fielding Smith, “Mortality was created through the eating of forbidden fruit, if you want to call it forbidden, but I think the Lord has made it clear that it was not forbidden. He merely said to Adam, if you want to stay here [in the garden] this is the situation. If so, don’t eat it.”
    (“The Sacrament and the Atonement,” address given at the LDS institute of religion, Salt Lake City, 14 Jan. 1961, 5; see also Answers to Gospel Questions, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith Jr. [1963], 4:81; Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual, 2017, Lesson 23: 2 Nephi 2 (Part 1))

  23. mikerharris, And yet we call it a “transgression” in the Article of Faith (as if it were a sin) and we hear regularly of God’s admonishment to Adam and Eve: “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, nevertheless, thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee; but, remember that I forbid it, for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Moses 3:17. Apparently Joseph Fielding Smith believed that “forbid” does not mean “forbid.” I rather tend to agree, but cannot blame anyone for confusion. Note: “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.” Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass.

  24. Frank, my research into this lesson led me to Jeffrey M. Bradshaw’s commentary on the Book of Abraham, called In God’s Image and Likeness. You can find a link to a free download here:

    I also read this article in BYU Studies by Douglas S. Ladle, called Teaching the Fall of Adam and Eve :


    And if I understand all this correctly, the whole point here was that Adam and Eve had to become mortal and live a life that didn’t involve dwelling with God. And the only way for them to become mortal was to fall, and disobedience was required for falling, because disobedience would have made them unclean. Therefore, they would have had to leave God’s presence, because nothing unclean can dwell with God. The situation in the Garden of Eden came about because Adam and Eve had to be in an environment where they could use their moral agency to choose. In the garden, they were enticed by two opposites, with God saying, “Don’t eat the fruit,” and Satan saying, “Go on, take a bite.” It appears that God gave them a commandment which was meant for them to break eventually.

    As to why the commandments concerned the fruits of two trees, and not, for instance, breathing, it seems to me that it’s symbolic. Eating is a way of incorporating food into our bodies. We know that the tree of life represents the love of God, which, if we accept it, leads to eternal life. The tree of knowledge represents exactly that, knowledge, and once we’ve eaten the fruit, or incorporated knowledge into ourselves, we are no longer innocent, but know good from evil. (Although, of course, just knowing that there is good and evil is not the same as really understanding either one because you’ve experienced them.)

    Just my thoughts! :-)

  25. You can also access In God’s Image and Likeness Part 1 directly here:

    Click to access 140123-IGIL%201%202014-reading-s.pdf

  26. Tobia – ” In the garden, they were enticed by two opposites, with God saying, “Don’t eat the fruit,” and Satan saying, “Go on, take a bite.””

    Again, what about when there is no Satan? From the endowment, it’s obvious Lucifer is doing what he believes was done in other Edens, but was punished. If he’s part of the plan, why punish him? If he did the same on other worlds, why punish him this time and not the others?

    It’s always weird to me when people refer to Lucifer as the opposite of God. A fruit fly’s attempts to destroy the fruit of the orchard doesn’t make it the opposite of the gardener, just a nuisance that makes the work of the gardener a little more difficult.

  27. Would there ever not be a Satan, or some other force pulling man away from God? Is there not supposed to be opposition in all things? I’ve always thought of Lucifer as the opposite of Jesus, vastly more than just the nuisance of a fruit fly.

    And as for why he was punished, well, there is that scripture in Matthew 18:7: Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!

    Although on the other hand, I did read somewhere that Lucifer was punished because he offered Adam and Eve knowledge at the wrong time, as in, too early, before it was allowed. Kind of like if you know how to drive a car, even if you’re not old enough to have a license, and you go out driving on a public road.

    But then again, if the knowledge could be offered at the “right” time, then there would be no need for Satan and temptation, which would totally ruin my theory that the transgression was the important thing. So if I believed that, then I would be stuck, but I still personally believe that the Lord allowed Satan to come in and tempt Adam and Eve.

    Did Satan do this on other worlds? There’s no mention of this in the scriptures, that part comes from the temple ceremony. We don’t know if it was this Lucifer or some other spirit. I thought I understood that Lucifer was cast down to this world, or at least there’s no mention of him being active on any other worlds. There might have been other adversaries for the other worlds. In which case, yes, those others might have tempted the Adams and Eves of the other worlds with the fruit of the tree of knowledge. And they might have been punished for it, which part Lucifer would slyly leave out, choosing only to concentrate on “he did it, so why can’t I?” But that’s all speculation, and I just don’t know.

  28. Tobia, based on the endowment, I assumed Lucifer observed God giving the fruit in other edens. When Satan took it upon himself to play that role, he was further punished.

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