3 Fallen Notions About the Fall [Video & Transcript]
Welcome to I Believe Podcast!
One of the most misunderstood and misinterpreted doctrines in all of Christianity is the doctrine of the Fall of Adam. As one Christian apostle said:
It has become a common practice with mankind to heap reproach on the progenitors of the family and to picture the supposedly blessed state in which we would be living but for the fall; whereas our first parents are entitled to our deepest gratitude for their legacy to [their] posterity.
(James E. Talmage, The Articles of Faith, The Church of Jesus Christ, 1913, p. 70).
I’d just like to wipe away that umbrella notion that the Fall held us back or was some sort of tragic mistake in the divine playbook—and erase the big black smudge marks on the bright doctrinal canvas of the Fall in a way that I believe may awaken your whole view of woman and fill your whole soul with a restored knowledge about both the equality of man and woman and the perfect nature of God’s plan as well as our innocent beginnings as descendants of Adam and Eve. So I’ll address three fallen notions that lead to this one larger fallen idea that the Fall was a tragedy. These include:
1. Eve is a second-class citizen and blew it. Or–Adam and Eve are to be condemned for their choices in the Garden of Eden.
2. The Fall was unanticipated, and caught heaven by surprise.
3. Adam and Eve committed a serious sin that is then cast on all of the human race since them.
Let’s unravel these:
1. Adam and Eve Are to Be Condemned for Their Actions in the Garden of Eden
Some Christians condemn Adam and Eve for their actions, or they condemn Eve specifically, concluding that she and her daughters are somehow flawed by her choice to advance into mortality. Not so! Informed by revelation, we celebrate Eve’s act and honor her wisdom and courage in the great episode called the Fall (B. R. McConkie, “Eve and the Fall,” Woman, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1979, pp. 67–68). The Fall represents the ushering in of our mortal experience through deliberate choices. We’ll get to that in just a minute.
As one prophet declared, “We should never blame Mother Eve, not the least” (Journal of Discourses, 13:145). Another late apostle said: “I never speak of the part Eve took in this fall as a sin, nor do I accuse Adam of a sin. … This was a transgression of the law, but not a sin … for it was something that Adam and Eve had to do!” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954, 1:114–15).
To understand where this powerful and truer portrayal of our first parents comes, we have to pull the camera back and see Adam and Eve’s placement in the garden and overflowing choices from a larger panorama of the plan rendering a fresh and refreshing view of the Fall.
Have the camera pulled back? Okay, so the Fall was part of a plan laid down in the very beginning.
Adam and Eve were Foreordained to Become the Parents of the Human Race
Adam and Eve were among our Father’s noblest children. In the spirit world Adam was called Michael the Archangel (Jude 1:9). He was chosen by our Heavenly Father to lead the righteous in the battle against Satan (Revelation 12:7–9). Adam and Eve were actually foreordained to become the parents of the human race!
By the way, and this may be new, we each lived before as spiritual individuals with spirit but not current physical bodies. We grew and needed a home/school to inhabit and progress, be tested, gain bodies, and develop faith to return to our Heavenly Parents. So okay, scene 2: Enter Adam and Eve in the garden—they are on the very cusp of initiating a necessary experience for all of us. We watched with eager anticipation from our home above.
Okay, so the Lord issues forth a few statements with which we are mostly all familiar:
“Be fruitful, and multiply” (Moses 2:28; see also Gen. 1:28). This commandment was first in sequence and first in importance. It was essential that God’s spirit children have mortal birth and an opportunity to progress toward eternal life. God also told Adam and Eve that they could freely eat of every tree in the garden except one, the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Of that tree God said, “In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Moses 3:17).
So here comes what for some will be brand new and revelatory. Stay with me through the end if you really want the fuller picture.
When Adam and Eve received the first commandment, they were in a transitional state, no longer in the spirit world—in the place we lived before this life as spirit children of God. They were on earth, but with physical bodies not yet subject to death and not yet capable of conceiving and having children.
So—and this is key—they could not fulfill the Father’s first commandment without transgressing the barrier between the bliss of the Garden of Eden and the terrible trials and wonderful opportunities of mortal life. Coming here needed to be an act of will and free spiritual choice; it could not be forced.
Transgression, Not Sin
In other words, for reasons that have not been revealed, this transition, or “fall,” could not happen without a transgression—an exercise of moral agency amounting to a willful breaking of a lower law to achieve the fulfillment of a higher law (Moses 6:59). This would be a planned offense, a formality to serve an eternal purpose. The Word explains that “if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen,” but would have remained in the same state in which he was created (Modern Scripture: 2 Ne. 2:22).
Crossing the Street to Save a Life: An Analogy of Transgression
Let me toss in an analogy, a very limited one, but it helps me attempt to articulate this concept of transgression for the sake of a higher law. Let’s say we have a moral law which is to love one another. We also have a legal law that says “Don’t cross the street when the light is red.” So, let’s suppose someone suddenly has a heart attack on the other side of the street from us. The light is red. We look both ways, dart across the street, knowing that our transgression of the law is not the important thing in light of the larger law and first commandment; what’s important is to save that person’s life. The life is saved.
So the analogy is this—the formality was to eat the fruit of the tree, transgressing the lower law, in order to serve the higher law, attain a fallen or earthly condition whereby they could have children, learn through opposition, and, by accepting the Savior’s sacrifice, become more like the Savior.
2. The Fall was unanticipated, and caught heaven by surprise
So condemn Adam and Eve for their transgression? No, we rejoiced that the choice was made for us to progress eternally.
Adam and Eve Understood the Necessity of the Fall; Eve Was Courageous
So think how courageous Eve was! Set in this true gospel light, we see that it was Eve who thoughtfully first transgressed the limits of Eden in order to initiate the conditions of mortality. She didn’t act randomly. She acted deliberately. Her act was formally a transgression, but eternally a glorious necessity to open the doorway toward eternal life. Adam showed his wisdom by doing the same. And thus Eve and “Adam fell that men might be” (2 Ne. 2:25).
Our first parents actually understood the necessity of the Fall! Note the clear perspective and special wisdom of Eve, focusing on the purpose and effect of the great plan of happiness: “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” (Moses 5:11). Adam likewise expresses joy in the prospects ahead, resulting from the choices of Eden: “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” (Moses 5:10).
Without bravely choosing to let go of Edenic bliss, the Word says that Adam and Eve “would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin” (2 Ne. 2:23).
Eve As Adam’s Equal
A Postscript here:
Sometimes this of condemnation of Adam, or of Eve particularly, stems from another misconception of Eve out of the chute in the creation account. So let’s take care of that one while we’re here, too! Eve was created as a help meet for Adam. “Help meet” in its original means “equal in power to save.” Eve was every whit Adam’s equal spiritually, emotionally, intellectually. She was the capstone of creation, not a second string in any sense. More on woman and Mother Eve in other casts!
What happened in the garden illustrates her initiative, courage, and willingness to be “the Mother of all living” and the help meet, equal in power to save, of her husband.
3. Adam and Eve committed a serious sin that is then cast on all of the human race since them.
Again, some people believe Adam and Eve committed a serious sin when they ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. However, we just explained that Adam and Eve’s choice was a transgression—violation of a lower law to fulfill a higher law, not a sin which is a violation of something that both morally and inherently evil.
Moreover, and this is critical and not taught throughout Christianity, except in the Savior’s restored Church, the Word says that each of us will be accountable for our own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression. The doctrine of original sin—the false doctrine that the “sin” of Adam is picked up by and cast on all of us and that, therefore, everyone—infants included—must be baptized to be saved—is false and inconsistent with the nature of a perfect, loving God.
Adam and Eve Did Not Bring Original Sin into the World; Children Are Born Sinless
We account for what we do, and not for Adam’s transgression. We come into the world innocent and pure from a Heavenly haven, a home, and then by our choices, at the age of accountability (8 years old), we eventually sin and are then are fallen.
“Adam [meaning Adam and Eve] fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:22–25).
Truly “all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things” (2 Ne. 2:24).
The consequences of the Fall into mortality and the Savior’s redeeming sacrifice will be discussed in subsequent casts.
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karenrose – has written 75 posts on this site.
Living out a great season of my life, thanks to Jesus Christ, and two wonderful daughters, a great life's work. Loving this opportunity to share faith online... I'm a single Mom, convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, second-gen Italian, from the East coast originally. Love the fine arts, dance, frozen yogurt, temples, scriptures, writing, jazz, helping others reach their potential, king salmon, ....and not in that order. God is good. I feel it deeply when people have a misconception of Heavenly Father or Jesus Christ, His Son, that lessens or cheapens Them and blinds one's ability to feel His presence or to trust in an ultimately good eternal end to life's circumstances.