The fall of man is a very misunderstood doctrine for most people. However, we need to know and understand that without the Fall, God’s purposes wouldn’t have been able to be fulfilled. Without the Fall, the creation would have been pointless and there would not have been a need for an atonement. The Fall, while it can be somewhat troubling, was an essential part of our progression, and it should ultimately be seen as a great blessing.
There is so much that could be said and written about the Fall, I think that today, I’m just going to write about a few of the key players and their part in the fall. Hopefully it will help us to understand the fall – both in general and personal terms.
“And to bring about his eternal purposes in the end of man, after he had created our first parents, and the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and in fine, all things which are created, it must needs be that there was an opposition; even the forbidden fruit in opposition to the tree of life; the one being sweet and the other bitter.
Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other.” – 2 Nephi 2:15-16
Heavenly Father played an important role in the fall of Man: He allowed it.
Some people have a problem with the idea that God would give conflicting commandments: both to multiply and replenish the earth and not to partake of the fruit of the tree of life. But there are a few things I’ve been thinking about:
One: Everything that God did – including creating the world and placing Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden with the Tree of the Fruit of Knowledge – was to fulfill His purposes. It is good to take the moment to remember that, according to God, His work and glory is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. Instead of accusing God of making some kind of gigantic mistake, instead of claiming that he was making “conflicting” commandments, we need to remember what Lehi said: that he did these things to bring to pass His eternal purposes. Instead of thinking we know more than God, we ought to trust Him, and maybe think a little bit more about this entire situation.
Two: God couldn’t create man in His natural state. God created Adam, and he was good. How would it be possible or fair for God to create a man that was natural: carnal, sensual, or devilish. What God created was good. Yet, Adam was incapable of fulfilling His eternal purposes as God had created Him. This isn’t because God made a mistake in creating Adam. It is because God values our agency – and has always valued our agency. God created a good man, an innocent man. Adam, in order to progress, would need to make His own choice. God helped Adam and Eve to progress by putting the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in their midst, so they would make the choice to leave His presence and progress.
Three: God has always had a plan. The Plan of Salvation was worked out during the pre-mortal existence. God created the earth spiritually before creating is physically. Of course he had a plan for Adam and Eve when He placed them in the Garden of Eden. Why else would he have put the tree of knowledge in their midst? God had a plan for Adam and Eve. Mortality, the fall, was a part of the plan. It would be pretty depressing if He didn’t also have a plan for a Redeemer (more on that later), but it is essential to recognize that what happened in the Garden of Eden was no horrible accident. It was an essential part of God’s purpose for us.
Satan also played a part, obviously, in the fall of Man.
One: Satan had a strong motivation to tempt Adam and Eve while in the Garden of Eden. He was still the same soul that we learned about in this post. He was wicked, rebellious, and power hungry. Satan tempted Eve and wanted their fall to come to pass because he didn’t understand God’s plan. He thought he was going to foil it. He also sought to destroy the world and sought the misery of all mankind. (See Moses 4:6 and 2 Nephi 15:18.)
When Satan tempted Eve, he did it in open rebellion against God. He had no other motive than to destroy the work and glory of God. He is a bad guy! He didn’t have Eve, Adam, or anyone else in mind – other than He sought their agency and happiness.
Two: We notice, too, after the Fall, it is only Satan that is cursed. I suppose that this is because Satan is the only one who intentionally sinned against God. Also – I think it is interesting to note that even when Satan was cursed – even when all hope seemed to be lost – there was a glimmer of what would come – though Satan would bruise the heel of the seed of the woman, her seed (Christ) would have the power to crush Satan’s head. More on this in a few days. 🙂
So…Eve was the first to partake of the fruit, and for many thousands of years, people have misunderstood her decision. They see her transgression as a serious mistake, an act of wickedness. They see her choice as the original sin, but we should all actually be grateful for her.
One: First of all, I think that we should recognize her motive for partaking of the fruit: She wanted wisdom. She wanted her eyes to be open. She wanted to progress. We have no idea how long Adam and Eve were in the garden before they partook of the fruit, but I think that she obviously knew that she was supposed to be learning, progressing, moving forward. She partook of the fruit, not as an act of rebellion, but because she wanted to reach her divine potential.
Two: I think that it would be difficult to be in Eve’s shoes. She was told that if she partook of the fruit, then she would die, but death did not exist in the Garden of Eden. I’m not sure that she could even understand what death was. She hadn’t seen a human, animal, insect, or even plant die. I’m sure she logically understood the concept of death, but I don’t know that she really understood what mortality would really mean. It would have been hard not to choose progression without a real understanding of death.
Three: When the Lord asked Eve what had happened (after partaking of the fruit of the tree), she explained exactly what happened. She was tricked by the devil, and she partook of the fruit. Heavenly Father did not curse her, but she still suffered a consequence: the difficulties of mortality. Childbirth/rearing would be difficult.
Finally, we discuss Adam.
One: Unlike Eve, Adam was not beguiled. Adam made the conscious choice to partake the fruit. Yet, he he did not do this as an open rebellion against God. Adam explains why he partook of the fruit:
“And the man said: The woman thou gavest me, and commandest that she should remain with me, she gave me of the fruit of the tree and I did eat.” – Moses 4:18
I used to joke about this – thinking that Adam was kind of a tattle-tale. But, when I really read it, I notice that Adam was explaining himself: he knowingly partook of the fruit that had been forbidden, he willingly accepted the consequence of death, in order to keep his marriage intact and keep the commandments of God. Adam loved Eve. He loved the Lord. This would have been a hard decision to make.
Two: If Adam hadn’t partaken of the fruit, then God’s purpose wouldn’t have been fulfilled. He wouldn’t have progressed. The family would have been destroyed. The rest of the Spirits waiting to come to earth never would have the chance to come. Adam chose, willingly, to become mortal. He chose to leave God’s presence. He chose to cleave to the flesh of His wife. He chose progression and family even though it would cost him his life. He was a good man.
Three: Again, Adam wasn’t punished directly because he didn’t transgress as an act of rebellion against God. Instead of cursing Adam, the Lord cursed the ground. Just as Eve’s mortal experience would be more difficult as she performed her divine role, so would Adam’s. Providing and presiding in the family would come at a price. It would be hard. It was the condition of mortality.
This is a long post. I hope that it helps to understand more of the nature of the Fall. What did you learn as you studied the Fall? How can you see that it has been a blessing in your life?