Introduction: Bruce R. McConkie calls the Fall one of the “pillars of eternity”. What does he mean? Why is the fall so important?
After asking about the pillars of eternity, I just planned to dive right it, by asking:
What was life like before the Fall?
- Adam to “dress” and “keep” the garden (Genesis 2:15).
- Not (surely) dead (Genesis 2:16)
- Adam and Eve naked and not ashamed (Genesis 2:25).
- No children (2 Nephi 2:23).
- Innocent: no joy, no misery; no good, no sin (2 Nephi 2:23)
- Eve a “help meet” for Adam. Discuss this point. Suggests a state of equality. The verb is “meet”–it means something like “sufficient for” or “equal to the task of”. The particular Hebrew noun, “help”, is pretty rare in the Bible, and refers to divinely granted aid. Only used in reference to Eve and God. That is, only Eve and God are equated with this particular form of “help”. My source.
What was life like after the Fall?
Results of the Fall (1-10 come from the manual; 11 – 13 are my additions)
- Adam and Eve were able to have children, which allowed us to come to earth and receive mortal bodies (Moses 5:11; 6:48; 2 Nephi 2:23, 25).
- We experience physical death, or separation of the physical body from the spirit (Moses 4:25; 6:48; 2 Nephi 9:6). Somebody brought this up–I think as part of the list about pre-Fall life. I pointed out that this is not an obvious point, and pointed to Ezekiel 28 as a case of somebody being kicked out of the garden and killed (probably not Adam, as argued here (see here), but probably not Satan either). It would have been better, I realized after the fact, to point out that BH Roberts thought there might have been “pre-Adamites” based off of his reading of Genesis. Church leaders/manuals hammer this point, but this is one point where I think careful reading suggests some different viewpoints.
- We experience spiritual death, or separation from God’s presence (Moses 4:29; 6:49; 2 Nephi 9:6).
- We are partakers of misery and woe (Moses 6:48; Genesis 3:16–17).
- We are capable of sinning (Moses 6:49, 55; 2 Nephi 2:22–23).
- The ground is cursed, causing us to need to work (Moses 4:23–25; Genesis 3:17–19). Ask: What does it mean that it is cursed “for Adam’s sake”?
- We can learn to recognize good and evil (Moses 4:28; 6:55–56; 2 Nephi 2:23; Genesis 3:22).
- We can have joy in mortality (Moses 5:10; 2 Nephi 2:23, 25).
- We can know the joy of our redemption (Moses 5:11).
- We can obtain eternal life (Moses 5:11).
- Eve cursed with painful childbirth, desire (probably sexual) toward her husband (Genesis 3:16).
- Adam to “rule over” Eve. This does NOT mean “rule with” (see here). I read this as a difference between the state of equality prior to the Fall and a state of inequality after the fall. This point went okay. We fell into a discussion of men presiding in the home and so forth, which pretty much ignored the point I was trying to make, but nobody attacked the point itself, instead the comments sort of dodged it.
- We are afforded protection from disembodied spirits (Joseph Smith, see Matthew Brown, The Plan of Salvation, pg. 33). We didn’t end up discussing this point, as I don’t think we got this far. I think we got tied up in discussion at 12).
A comparison of Genesis and the Book of Moses presents an interesting pair of views on the fall and its effects.
- Read Genesis 4:1 (story of Cain and Abel)
- Read Moses 5:1-5 (different story)
What do you make of this comparison? That these stories come immediately after the fall can (and probably should) tell us something about the effects of the Fall. What, then, are the effects of the Fall according to Genesis? What are the effects of the Fall according to the Book of Moses? [This is not the right question. I had a great thought about this earlier, but I can’t quite recover it] I ended up wrapping up my lesson on this note. I pointed out that the Book of Moses and Genesis present two perspectives on the Fall. In one, God (almost) immediately acts to resolve the effects of the Fall, while in the other, he doesn’t, and we can (or should?) see the effects of the Fall in our families and even our most intimate relationships. On the Fall and families, see these two posts. This point was wrapped up in my closing testimony, so there wasn’t a lot of opportunity for anyone to respond to this point.
Are the changes descriptive–talking simply about how things are, or are they prescriptive–talking about how things ought to be? In particular, I used this point to try to address the point in 12. That is, if the state of things as God lays it out in the “curses” in Genesis 3 describe how things are and don’t prescribe how things ought to be, then we can both recognize our fallen-ness and make some attempt to overcome the effects the fall has on our relationships.
Mercy and the Fall (we sort of got into this, but not much)
God tells Adam that “you will surely die” when he eats the fruit. Adam does not die. What’s going on? In one reading, God does not punish Adam and Eve with death as a result of their eating the fruit: he’s merciful to them and only kicks them out of the garden of Eden. Of course, the first answer to this question is he dies spiritually. From one perspective, I’m fine with that answer, but it really does short-change the text. I’m not sure I managed to get that across to my class at all.
Another mercy: God makes them clothing. Does this strike any of you as a mercy? Why or why not?
What other aspects of the fall strike you as merciful?
Sin vs. Transgression (We did not discuss this)
A sin and a “transgression of the law” are different things. Elder Oaks compares this to the difference between something wrong because its wrongness is inherent, while other things are wrong because they are prohibited. Were Adam and Eve “punished” or were the changes in their state a natural result (or simply the consequences) of their actions? This seems to feed into the descriptive vs. prescriptive question about the results of the fall.
On the whole, things went well. I felt like I lost the audience a bit with the Ezekiel thing, although I am glad I managed to throw that in there. I was disappointed that the point about pre- and post-Fall gender relations didn’t get taken up more seriously, but it also didn’t devolve into something more than the usual soft patriarchy of “presiding.” I had lots of extra material which I hoped would have made for interesting discussion, but we just didn’t get to it.