Friday, September 25, 2015

Why was the Fall a Good Thing, and Why Does it Matter to Me?

Unlike most of the Christian world, people of the Latter-day Saint faith believe that Eve and Adam were courageous to eat the fruit, causing the Fall, which moved forward God's plan of salvation. (See a few quotes about this at the end of the post.)

Here are ten effects of the Fall that we studied in seminary recently.  

Some of these might look bad, but think about it. Without these things, we could never have eternal life and become like Heavenly Father. So they make life harder, but in the long run, they make life much, much better.
  1. Adam and Eve’s eyes were opened, instead of seeing through the eyes of a child. (Moses 4:13, 5:10)
  2. Women will have painful childbirth. (Moses 4:22)
  3. Work, opposition, and sorrow in working for our food, including overcoming weeds, which will be for our benefit. (Moses 4:23-25)
  4. Mortality, which brings death, sickness, and injuries instead of perfect bodies. Of course we will receive perfect, immortal bodies at the resurrection. (Moses 4:25)
  5. We are separated from God’s presence. Adam and Eve were sent forth from the Garden of Eden, and we are sent forth from heaven to come to earth away from God's presence. (Moses 4:29)
  6. Joy. Without the opposition of sorrow and misery we cannot know joy. (Moses 5:10, 2 Nephi 2:25)
  7. Children. You and I can come to earth instead of being stuck in heaven while Adam and Eve just puttered around the Garden of Eden and the whole plan of salvation being stuck because nobody was moving forward. (Moses 5:11, 2 Nephi 2:22)
  8. Knowing the difference between good and evil, and the ability to choose good. (Moses 5:11, 2 Nephi 2:23, D&C 29:39)
  9. Knowing the joy of redemption. Without knowing that we fell, we don’t need a Savior to rescue us. (Moses 5:11)
  10. Eternal life. This is our ultimate goal – to return to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, live with forever families, and become like God someday. Without the FAll that could never happen. (Moses 5:11)
  11. Being influenced by the devil and his followers. (D&C 29:39-40) 
  12. We need to overcome our fallen nature. Although we are born innocent, once we are old enough to be accountable, Satan tempts us to exploit our mortal appetites of the flesh with selfishness, lust, addictions, and so forth. The Fall gives us the opportunity to spend each day of our lives overcoming the natural man and become a saint by yielding to the enticings of God and using Christ’s Atonement. (Mosiah 3:19)

At first glance, it sounds blissful to avoid the Fall and live in the Garden of Eden forever, always comfortable, having food grow without having to work for it, no suffering, no death, no work, no problems. 

But really, is that what’s best for us in the long run?

No. And here's why. 
  • First, you and I wouldn’t even be here if Eve and Adam hadn’t eaten the fruit, because they couldn’t obey the commandment to have children until they ate it and had their eyes opened. The whole plan would be stuck, and we would be stuck in heaven unable to progress further. 
  • Next, could we even appreciate joy without sorrow? Good health without sickness? Triumphs without failure? Accomplishments without work? 
  • Would our muscles ever become strong if we didn’t have to work for what we eat, live in, and own?  
  • Think of a baby learning how to walk. If we coddled the baby by holding her all the time and never letting her down on the ground, sure, she would never fall, but neither would she learn how to walk or run or dance. It holds the baby back not to let her work, fall, grow and progress. 
  • Would we grow mental and emotional stamina and resilience without doing hard things? 
  • Would we need to work our spirits so hard with prayer, scripture study, and listening for the Holy Ghost if we weren’t physically separated from God? (See Moses 5:4.) 
  • Without the temptations of Satan opposing the commandments of God, could we fully exercise our agency and show our allegiance to God? 
  • And most importantly, could we ever become like God without the Fall, which created the opportunity for us to come to earth, gain physical bodies, become stronger and more compassionate because of the challenges of life, and be tested to show we will be loyal to God even outside of His presence?  
No, we could not. Did the Fall make life harder? Sure it did. Did it make life better? Definitely.

Why does this matter to me?

Because when I’m having a hard day or a hard challenge, it helps to remind myself that THIS IS THE PLAN. Coming to earth and experiencing pain and sorrow, hard work and challenges, amidst the joys and triumphs is the plan for helping us become like God. When I remind myself of this, suddenly I feel more purpose and perspective, which brings a level of peace, and the challenges seem more worth it. 

God cares more about our progress than He does about our comfort. The Fall is a perfect example of His loving care about our progress back to Him. 

Here are four quotes about the importance and necessity of the Fall. 
Elder John Widtsoe: "Eve faced the choice between selfish ease and unselfishly facing tribulation and death." (Evidences and Reconciliations, p. 193). 
Encyclopedia of Mormonism: "As befit her calling, she realized that there was no other way and deliberately chose mortal life so as to further the purpose of God and bring children into the world." (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, under "Eve")
Elder Dallin H. Oaks: 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. And thus Eve and “Adam fell that men might be” (2 Ne. 2:25). Some Christians condemn Eve for her act, concluding that she and her daughters are somehow flawed by it. Not the Latter-day Saints! Informed by revelation, we celebrate Eve’s act and honor her wisdom and courage in the great episode called the Fall (see Bruce R. McConkie, “Eve and the Fall,” Woman, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1979, pp. 67–68). Joseph Smith taught that it was not a “sin,” because God had decreed it (see The Words of Joseph Smith, ed. Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook, Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1980, p. 63). Brigham Young declared, “We should never blame Mother Eve, not the least” (in Journal of Discourses, 13:145). Elder Joseph Fielding Smith 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, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols., Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954–56, 1:114–15). ("The Great Plan of Happiness, Ensign, Nov. 1993)
President Joseph Fielding Smith said, “The Lord said to Adam, here is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you want to stay here then you cannot eat of that fruit. If you want to stay here then I forbid you to eat it. But you may act for yourself and you may eat of it if you want to. And if you eat it you will die.” (“Fall—Atonement—Resurrection—Sacrament” [address given at LDS Institute of Religion, Salt Lake City, Utah, Jan. 14, 1961]).

1 comment:

Kassie said...

Hi Becky,
I'm a new reader of your blog. I think I got here from a scripture study related pin on Pinterest. Thanks for sharing your wisdom and thoughts and insights on so many gospel topics.
Just wanted to share a thought on Eve. I loved reading Eve and the Choice Made In the Gardeb of Eden years ago. As I think of her choice I I always remember the moment, in the old temple movie with the blonde Eve, where both Adam and Eve are looking back toward the garden as they're being driven out. Then Eve faces forward resolutely. She knew what she did and was ready to move ahead. I so admire her courage and desire to help put Father's Plan into motion.