Imagine that you were given the opportunity to live in a world where there was no sickness, sorrow, sin, pain or death. Would you like to live in such a world? Adam and Eve lived in just such a world when they were first placed on the earth. There was no sickness, sorrow, pain or death in the Garden of Eden. Many people wonder why Adam and Eve would choose to leave such a wonderful place. This article will explain why Adam and Eve made their decision and how their choice has affected all of us.
In our pre-earth life, our Heavenly Father called all of His spirit children together in a big conference so that He could explain His plan for the eternal happiness of His children. He explained that an earth would be created and a way would be prepared for all of His spirit children to gain mortal bodies, to gain knowledge and experience, and to return to His presence to live with Him forever. Not all of His spirit children were thrilled with the Father's plan; in fact, one-third of the hosts of heaven rebelled against God and was cast out of heaven. Satan - known as Lucifer in heaven - led the rebellious spirits.
Adam - known as Michael in heaven - was one of the leaders of the righteous spirits who fought against Lucifer. Under the direction of Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ - known as Jehovah in heaven - created this earth, and He was assisted by Adam. Adam and Eve were among the most righteous of our Father's spirit children, and they were chosen to be the first man and woman on the new earth.
After Adam and Eve entered the Garden of Eden, God gave them two commandments. The first commandment ever given to mankind on this earth can be found in Genesis 1:28 and also in Moses 2:28: "And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth."
The second commandment given to Adam and Eve can be found in Genesis 2:16-17 and also in Moses 3:16-17: "And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
"But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."
Adam and Eve could not keep both of these commandments because they contradicted each other. If they chose to eat the fruit, they would be cast out of the Garden of Eden. But if they did not eat the fruit and remained in the garden, they would not be able to have children or to "multiply and replenish the earth." Because the Garden of Eden was a place of innocence while Adam and Eve lived there, they could not change or progress in any way, including having children. By giving Adam and Eve two contradicting commandments, God put them in a position where they had to use their agency - their power to choose.
An ancient American prophet named Lehi taught his children: "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." (See Book of Mormon - Another Testament of Jesus Christ, 2 Nephi 2:22-23.)
Elder Russell M. Nelson, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, taught: "To bring the plan of happiness to fruition (fulfillment), God issued to Adam and Eve the first commandment ever given to mankind. It was a commandment to beget children. A law was explained to them. Should they eat from `the tree of the knowledge of good and evil' (Genesis 2:17), their bodies would change; mortality and eventual death would come upon them. But partaking of that fruit was prerequisite to their parenthood" (Ensign, Nov. 1993, 34).
The decision of Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit was not a sin, as it is sometimes considered. According to Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, it was a transgression - an act that was formally prohibited but not inherently wrong. (See Ensign, Nov. 1993, 73.) The Fall was necessary for us to progress toward exaltation. We have to experience mortality to become like our Father in Heaven, and Adam and Eve fulfilled their mission to make this possible. The Fall of Adam and Eve enabled each of us to come to earth, receive a body, and gain experience in choosing between good and evil. Instead of thinking of the Fall of Adam and Eve as a fall backward, we should consider it as a step forward.
So what actually happened to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden? The scriptures tell us that "Satan put it into the heart of the serpent … and he sought also to beguile Eve, for he knew not the mind of God, wherefore he sought to destroy the world.
"And he said unto the woman: Yea, hath God said - Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? (And he spake by the mouth of the serpent.)
"And the woman said unto the serpent: We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden;
"But of the fruit of the tree which thou beholdest in the midst of the garden, God hath said - Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
"And the serpent said unto the woman: Ye shall not surely die;
"For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
"And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it became pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make her wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and also gave unto her husband with her, and he did eat." (See Pearl of Great Price, Moses 4:6-12, italics added.)
Satan told Eve a lie and then followed the lie with a truth. He told her "Ye shall not surely die," which is a lie. By partaking of the fruit, Adam and Eve brought death into the world. Satan also told Eve, "… your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil," which is a truth.
Satan tempted Eve to eat the fruit because he thought that he could destroy God's plan for the happiness of His children. He had no idea that partaking of the fruit was a necessary part of God's plan for Adam and Eve.
Eve and then Adam ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil because they acted with understanding and used their agency to choose. They realized that if they did not eat the fruit, they would not be able to have children and they would not be able to learn to make righteous decisions. They wisely chose to eat the fruit.
The Fall of Adam and Eve had great effects on them as well as their descendants, including you and I. Before the Fall, they could not have physical bodies or the mortal experience with testing and probation. They had limited choices and no joy or pain. There was no work, sin or opposition in the garden and no opportunity for exaltation. By partaking of the fruit, the bodies of Adam and Eve changed in order for them to have the mortal experiences - testing, probation, children, unlimited choices, work, judgment, sin, opposition, repentance, joy, and pain. They also prepared the way for Jesus Christ, our Savior, His Atonement, and eventual exaltation.
"Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy" (2 Nephi 2:25). The Fall of Adam and Eve was essential to the eternal joy of all their posterity. Through the Fall we are able to be born on earth, where we can learn and progress toward exaltation and eternal joy.
In our pre-mortal life, we were among the righteous spirits with Adam. We are like Adam ad Eve. They were spirit children of God, and so are we. They were given agency to choose between good and evil, and so were we. They used their agency wisely and followed God; we too are given that opportunity. They had a special mission to be the first man and woman on earth. We too have a special mission because we were held back until the latter days.
Elder Ezra Taft Benson (then of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and later President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) stated: "For nearly six thousand years, God has held you in reserve to make your appearance in the final days before the Second Coming of the Lord…. God has saved for the final inning some of his strongest children, who will help bear off the Kingdom triumphantly. And that is where you come in, for you are the generation that must be prepared to meet your God" ("In His Steps," in BYU Speeches of the Year, 1979, 59-60).
Adam and Eve made a deliberate choice to partake of the forbidden fruit. Their choice did not come from a desire to disobey the Lord, but from a desire to gain wisdom. Because of this choice, we have the opportunity to come to earth and learn, as did Adam and Eve, how to choose good over evil. I am very grateful for Adam and Eve and the choice they made. I encourage you to continue to be like Adam and Eve and follow their righteous examples in choosing good over evil.