Week Three: Genesis 3–4; Moses 4–5
The foundation of the plan of salvation is the fall of man and the subsequent atonement of Christ. Both were necessary “to bring about His eternal purpose.” (2 Nephi 2:15) Elder Holland said, “Because we were then born into that fallen world and because we too would transgress the laws of God, we also were sentenced to the same penalties that Adam and Eve faced.” (Ensign, Apr. 2015) In addition to weakness, sickness, temptation, and death, other penalties we must endure could be attitudes we have in common with Eve that leave us open to sin. But, with the Lord’s instruction to Adam and Eve after leaving the garden, they are given tools that help them overcome. As women, we can look to Mother Eve before and after the fall to get direction on how to move forward despite previous choices.
Interestingly, as I considered writing about the lessons I’ve learned from Mother Eve, I began searching for others to give me insight. In April 1987, at the women’s session of the conference, Elder Russell M. Nelson gave a talk called “Lessons from Eve.” In it, he lovingly outlined five areas that reflected Eve’s post-fall righteousness and applied them to the present day:
- She labored beside her companion
- As Adam bore the responsibilities of fatherhood, so Eve bore the responsibilities of motherhood
- Eve and her partner worshipped the Lord in prayer
- Eve and her husband heeded divine commandments of obedience and sacrifice
- Adam and Eve taught the gospel to their children
What interested me is comparing the pre-fall Eve to the post-fall Eve and seeing the difference in each of these five areas.
- She labored beside her companion or Staying Together
Adam’s response to first meeting Eve was to say a man “shall cleave to his wife; and they shall be one flesh.” (Gen 2:24) Later in the New Testament, Paul states, “Neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. (1 Cor 11:11) In Milton’s great work “Paradise Lost,” he offers a precursor to Eve being tempted by saying that she asked to go off on her own. With the work of tending the garden growing, she asks Adam if they could each work on different areas. At first, Adam is worried, but then he agrees, “Thus saying, from her Husbands hand her hand Soft she withdrew, and like a Wood-Nymph light…Betook her to the Groves.” (Paradise Lost, Milton, p.168) We may not know what happened to that detail, but we do know that when Eve was tempted, she was alone with Satan and made the decision without consulting her God-given spouse, despite it having a huge impact on his life.
Of course, Eve had to take the fruit, but it may have altered the way she did it had she asked Adam’s opinion BEFORE she partook. After leaving the garden, Adam and Eve are portrayed together until the end of their lives. Pres. Nelson added that the strength of a married couple being unified can be a great gift. “As you obey each of God’s commandments, your holiness will fortify the foundation of [each other’s] faith. When the two of you are together spiritually, one plus one is clearly greater than two.” (Lessons from Eve, Nelson, Apr 1987)
- As Adam bore responsibilities of Fatherhood, so Eve bore the responsibilities of Motherhood or Priesthood and Motherhood
Eve makes it clear at the end of her life that she is grateful for the fall for a number of reasons, the first of which is “Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed.” (Moses 5:11) One of the commandments given in the garden by God was that they “multiply and replenish the earth.” Indeed, one of the reasons she may have wanted to “become as the gods” by partaking of the fruit as Satan tempted her was so that she could become a parent like the loving parent that had mentored her in the garden.
After the Lord finds out about her transgression, he speaks of the Savior coming through the loins of a woman when he says, “I will put enmity between thee [Satan] and the seed of the woman.” In addition to this prophecy about her future child, God curses the child-bearing process. “I will greatly multiply they sorrow and they conception. In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children, and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” (Moses 4:22)
The “rule over thee” part has been poorly understood by many outside and inside the church. Spencer W. Kimball explained, “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). Paul taught, “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church.” (Eph. 5:23) So, post-fall the Lord established roles of Priesthood and Motherhood, reflective of the Family Proclamation. With those roles defined, Eve is able to become the true “Mother of All Living,” (Moses 4:26) while Adam blesses, provides, and protects.
In our world, making motherhood a priority can be confusing. Too often we feel overwhelmed or like we are doing it wrong. Pres. Nelson told of his first wife and how she approached this difficult calling. “I’ll share a few lines that have sustained Sister Nelson through the years. They also reflect her sense of priority:
Cleaning and scrubbing can wait ’til tomorrow.
For babies grow up,
We’ve learned to our sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs.
Dust, go to sleep.
I’m rocking my baby,
And babies don’t keep.
I’m glad Sister Nelson has not tried to be a “supermom.” But she has been a “soothing” mom. This she has done simply by being herself… When priorities are in place, one can more patiently tolerate unfinished business.” (Lessons from Eve, Nelson, April 1987)
- Eve and her partner worship the Lord in prayer.
Had Eve listened to Satan’s temptation and then prayed, how would the fall have been different? I’ve been guilty of making bad decisions without praying and of making surprisingly right decisions when I felt inspired to do so after serious fasting and prayer. It is interesting to look at the way Christ met temptation with Satan in contrast to Eve. They had the same three temptations. The first is appetite. In Eve’s case, the fruit was delicious to the taste and very desirable, and in Christ’s example, he had fasted and was hungry. Second, Eve had been made the promise of having children which had not happened, she has been told that she would replenish the earth but was alone with her husband in the garden. Christ had been told he was the Son of God, but casting himself from the pinnacle of the temple would be a miracle that would announce his coming with grandeur instead of the rather quiet growth of his early ministry. Both Eve and Christ must be subject to the Father’s will, but as Talmage taught in Jesus the Christ, “God alone must decide when and how His wonders shall be wrought.” We must pray, but when we receive answers to those prayers of waiting or holding back, we must also hold to the faith and wait for the Lord’s time.
- Adam and Eve heeded the divine commandments of obedience and sacrifice or Made Covenants
One of the gifts God gave Adam and Eve upon leaving the garden was the law of sacrifice. Soon after being cast out of the garden, Adam was sacrificing to the Lord as he had been instructed and an angel came to him and explained the significance of what he was doing, “This thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth. Wherefore, thou shalt do all that thou doest in the name of the Son and thou shalt repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore.” (Moses, 5:7,8) So why wouldn’t have God explained why he was doing what he was doing BEFORE they started sacrificing? Because that’s the point of covenants, they are given as something we do and we receive vast amounts of revelation in the doing. Think of the baptismal prayer, it is short and provides no instruction, but how deep and rich is the sacrament prayer that renews that covenant and fills us with inspiration weekly. The same is true of temple covenants. Understanding comes as we return and renew those covenants in proxy for those that have passed and, thus, we receive revelations and assistance.
Pres. Nelson said the gifts of first of the greater covenants and their effect on us as well as Eve and Adam, “Thus, the laws of obedience and sacrifice are indelibly intertwined. Consider the commandments to obey the Word of Wisdom, to keep the Sabbath day holy, and to pay an honest tithe. As we comply with these and other commandments, something wonderful happens to us. We become disciplined! We become disciples! We become more sacred and holy—like our Lord!”
- Adam and Eve taught the gospel to their children
This was something the pre-fall Eve didn’t have the gift of doing, but honestly one of the greatest blessings on earth! Nothing in life is as joyful to me as teaching your children the gospel and watching them receive it. When my oldest son got the priesthood and came running up to me afterward and told me he could feel that power entering his body, when my third son felt the Holy Ghost and was brought to tears for the first time, when my daughter struggled with her first visit to the temple and prayed about it and returned until she felt and enjoyed that sweet communion with the Lord, each has been a gift I cherish more than any other.
Pres. Nelson ended his talk with this appeal, “I plead with the women of the Church to accept individual responsibility to know and to love the Lord. Communicate with him. He will impress upon your mind inspiration and personal revelation to give you strength.” (See
2 thoughts on “Eve Before and After the Fall ”
That was really beautiful Christine. I loved it!
Thank you. I have a new appreciation for Eve, but also for growth. Love you!