Gospel Principles 6: The Fall of Adam and Eve

by mraynes

One of the things I truly love about Mormonism is our doctrine surrounding the fall of Adam and Eve. I would start my lesson by highlighting  our knowledge of the Plan of Salvation and how it allows us to see the beauty and love in a story that is vilified by so many others. (note: my thoughts and questions will appear in italics.)

Adam and Eve were the first to come to Earth

I  like the suggestion in the manual to use questions to start a discussion that will lead class members to the text of the scriptures. To get the class comfortable and involved, I would ask questions like:

  • Who were our first parents?

God prepared this earth as a home for His children. Adam and Eve were chosen to be the first people to live on the earth (see Moses 1:34; 4:26). Their part in our Father’s plan was to bring mortality into the world. They were to be the first parents. (See D&C 107:54–56.)

  • What do we know about them?

Adam and Eve were among our Father’s noblest children. In the spirit world Adam was called Michael the archangel (see D&C 27:11; Jude 1:9). He was chosen by our Heavenly Father to lead the righteous in the battle against Satan (see Revelation 12:7–9). Adam and Eve were foreordained to become our first parents. The Lord promised Adam great blessings: “I have set thee to be at the head; a multitude of nations shall come of thee, and thou art a prince over them forever” (D&C 107:55).

Eve was “the mother of all living” (Moses 4:26). God brought Adam and Eve together in marriage because “it was not good that the man should be alone” (Moses 3:18; see also 1 Corinthians 11:11). She shared Adam’s responsibility and will also share his eternal blessings.

You might want to stress this last point. There is certainly a disparity between what we know about Adam and what we know about Eve but we have to assume that our first mother did many noble and great things, including opening up mortality for all of us, and will be blessed for those things in her own right.

  • What scriptural evidence helps us know that Adam and Eve were valiant spirits? (Abraham 3:22-23)
  • What can we learn from the examples of Eve and Adam?

The Garden of Eden

  • Under what conditions did Adam and Eve live in the Garden of Eden?

When Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden, they were not yet mortal. In this state, “they would have had no children” (2 Nephi 2:23). There was no death. They had physical life because their spirits were housed in physical bodies made from the dust of the earth (see Moses 6:59; Abraham 5:7). They had spiritual life because they were in the presence of God. They had not yet made a choice between good and evil.

  • What were the commandments God gave Adam and Eve?

God commanded them to have children. He said, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it, and have dominion over … every living thing that moveth upon the earth” (Moses 2:28). God told them 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).

You might want to have a conversation with your class about why God would give two seemingly contradictory commandments. Direct the class to 2nd Nephi 2:22-24. Elder Dallin H. Oaks has said, “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 law. This would be a planned offense, a formality to serve an eternal purpose.” I love that in Moses 4:6, we are told that Satan played right into God’s hand by beguiling Eve. This backs up what Lehi tells us, that all thing were done in the “wisdom of him who knoweth all things.”

I would also spend some time talking about Eve, especially if you are preparing this lesson for Relief Society. Many Christian religions have reviled Eve for her choice but through modern day revelation, we know that Eve made a righteous and noble choice. Have somebody read this quote from Dallin H. Oak’s talk, “The Great Plan of Happiness“:

“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. Joseph Smith taught that it was not a “sin,” because God had decreed it. Brigham Young declared, “We should never blame Mother Eve, not the least” 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!”

I also love this quote by Sheri Dew:

“Eve set the pattern. In addition to bearing children, she mothered all of mankind when she made the most courageous decision any woman has ever made and with Adam opened the way for us to progress. She set an example of womanhood for men to respect and women to follow, modeling the characteristics with which we as women have been endowed: heroic faith, a keen sensitivity to the Spirit, an abhorrence of evil, and complete selflessness. Like the Savior, “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross,” Eve, for the joy of helping initiate the human family, endured the Fall. She loved us enough to help lead us.”

If time permits, you could share this beautiful poem by Mormon poet, Elizabeth Cranford.

Adam and Eve’s Separation from God

  • What physical and spiritual changes occurred in Adam and Eve as a result of their transgression?

Because Adam and Eve had eaten the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, the Lord sent them out of the Garden of Eden into the world. Their physical condition changed as a result of their eating the forbidden fruit. As God had promised, they became mortal. They and their children would experience sickness, pain, and physical death.

Because of their transgression, Adam and Eve also suffered spiritual death. This meant they and their children could not walk and talk face to face with God. Adam and Eve and their children were separated from God both physically and spiritually.

I don’t think you need to spend a lot of time in this section, briefly make the point that with mortality comes with all the ills of the human condition: pain, death and separation from God.

Great Blessings Resulted from Transgression

Some people believe Adam and Eve committed a serious sin when they ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. However, latter-day scriptures help us understand that their Fall was a necessary step in the plan of life and a great blessing to all of us. Because of the Fall, we are blessed with physical bodies, the right to choose between good and evil, and the opportunity to gain eternal life. None of these privileges would have been ours had Adam and Eve remained in the garden.

After the Fall, Eve said, “Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed [children], 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).

  • How does the Fall provide opportunities for us to become like our Heavenly Father?
  • Why do you think it is important to know about the Fall and how it influences us?

I would end this lesson by testifying of the beauty of the Plan of Salvation. That by entering mortality, not only do we have the opportunity to return to our Heavenly Parents, we also have the ability to be like Them. The Fall provided each of us with the opportunity to have a physical body, to know good from evil and exercise our agency. But most importantly, our Heavenly Parents and our First Parents gave us the opportunity to experience joy. (2nd Nephi 2:25).

(Additional Resource: As a teacher, I like to have as much context as possible for the subject I am teaching. Yale University provides a wonderful service in that they make several courses available for viewing online. One of those courses is an introduction to the Old Testament taught by Dr. Christine Hayes. In sessions 3 and 4, Dr. Hayes covers in detail the story of Adam and Eve and provides context, insight and superior translations of scripture. I would highly recommend looking at them if you have time. You can view a recording of those classes or read a transcript here.)


Note: This lesson was originally written for the Relief Society audience in 2010-2011, when the Gospel Principles manual was temporarily used as curriculum for Relief Society, Elders Quorum and High Priest classes. The lesson may require adaptation for Gospel Principles classes, which are mixed gender and primarily serve new members and investigators of the church.

Mraynes

Mraynes lives in downtown Denver with her husband and four children. She spends her time lobbying at the Colorado Legislature, managing all the things and preparing Gospel Doctrine lessons.

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30 Responses

  1. sue raynes says:

    It’s wonderful for a mother to be taught by her daughter. I teach this lesson in 2 weeks and was concerned on how I would expand doctrinally on such a controversial subject. I really like your positive approach. I was going to start my lesson with the question, “Who has problems with Adam and Eve?” I’ve now decided to focus more on the greatness of Adam and Eve and a celebration of the fall. My reading of Pres. Kimball and others suggest that the Adam & Eve story is symbolic, especially the rib. I want to finish the lesson with the sisters feeling more comfortable with their own research.

  2. marion allen says:

    I commend your effort to make a ‘user friendly’ templare for the lesson on Adam & Eve – I was hunting for something to mail my sistrr (UK) who is giving a lesson in RS. However, I have a resistance to ‘obvious’ questions e.g. “who were our first parents?” as I think this infantalizes class participants -so I might have given assignments to a couple of sisters to do a 3/4 minute presentation (with picture!!) or I might do a ‘chacter sketch’ and ask – can you guess who I am talking about – still a bit juvenile though, as everyone will know the lesson subject!!! I like the idea of discussion re the ‘contradictory’ commandments – as this could be quite thought provoking and could correct some possible misperceptions. Yes, the Sheri Drew quote is inspiring – I might be tempted to introduce this in my “who is this?” starter…… I have to say I didnt warm to Dr Hayes but I DO derive great inspiration from “God, Man and the Universe” by Andrus…..but I am grateful for the inclusion as it helps us to see that there are ‘many voices’ ….. think I too would testify of the marvellous plan of Salvation – with the crowning blessing of Eternal marriage through the abrahamic covenant (new & everlasting) linking the whole human race of faithful saints back to Mother Eve and Father Adam and I might also acknowledge that in spite of the marvllousness of our first parents they still had kids that went astray!!! wWould also take great care re single/divorced/childless sisters who need to feel personally included in Father’s Eternal Family….thank you again
    Marion (Malaga, Spain)

  3. marion allen says:

    email address

  4. marion allen says:

    I guess Sue means that there is symbolism in the account – not that the whole thing is a myth!!!

  5. Jane Mcbride says:

    Read also if you have time “EVE AND THE CHOICE IN THE GARDEN (Deseret book) think they still sell it. Not only does it give great insights on Eve but the beginning chapters gives some really thought provoking questions about the Fall that I think could provoke interesting discussion in your lesson.

  6. eljay says:

    One thing that I found fascinating is that the Fall not only made it possible for Adam and Eve to have children, but for all creation to have offspring. It is a beautiful reminder that Eve was indeed “the mother of all living”. My reference for this is the Bible Dictionary in our Scriptures.

  7. Sharon T says:

    Thanks for the great lesson ideas! I am teaching this week and was hoping to find some additional info. I truly apprecite it and especially love the ideas of Eve and her divine part in the plan of salvation and all we can learn from her.
    Thanks again,
    Sharon T

  8. Debi Kaye says:

    I’m teaching this on Sunday does anyone have a creative attention getter?

  9. Monica says:

    I appreciate your insights.

    Because I anticipate discussions from this lesson focusing heavily on doctrinal facts instead of anecdotal experiences, I plan to form the doctrine into questions for a Jeopardy game. I also will probably include review questions from the previous lessons since this chapter seems to wrap up the whole premortal & creation theme from the begining of the manual.

    Just a few of the questions inspired by your post and its links:

    Name three blessings that resulted from The Fall.

    Is there a difference between transgression and sin? (The Dalin Oaks talk)

    What was Adam called in the premortal life? Side note…what is the definition of the word archangel?

  10. Sandra Lima says:

    I always like to bring some treats to go with a lesson ,so this time i will start my lesson asking the sisters, when you think about Adam and Eve ,what fruit comes to your mind? They will say “apple” So I will pass to them a plate with a slice of an apple to enjoy a delicious apple,while asking them What do we know about Adam and Eve.

  11. Joanne Vorkink says:

    Thanks for your insights on this lesson! Debbie Kaye–I’m using a flannel board story of Adam and Eve from the Primary closet. I’ll tell the basic story with the figures as I read from a 99cent store children’s book about Adam and Eve. It ends with Adam and Eve with sad faces, leaving the Garden. I’ve got a sister in the ward prepared to raise her hand, pretending to be a visitor, and her name will be “Sister Pauline Harvey” who is excitied to tell “the REST of the story” for the sisters, using modern scriptures. She’ll add children to the flannel board figures now in the lone and dreary world as she gives the outline of what we’ll be discussing.
    I like eljay’s point about ALL creations being able to mulitiply because of the fall, and I think Sandra’s idea of the sister’s munching on an apple slice is causing me to rethink my idea of making apple sheet cake–thanks!

  12. Joanne Vorkink says:

    Just remembered that many readers of this blog may be outside the USA. My previous post using the name “Pauline Harvey” is meant to represent a famous radio host, Paul Harvey, known for his phrase: “..and now you know the REST of the story.”

  13. Dora says:

    Thanks for this thoughtful lesson plan.

    Unexpectedly, I find that I am going to be teaching this lesson this Sunday. I’m not a huge fan of Relief Society, but I do appreciate that the lessons are now structured for more discussion, and less lecturing. I think that the women of the church have so much to teach one another, and RS is one of the few places that women can directly share their experiences, thoughts and feelings. I find this much more rewarding, as opposed to trying to come up with whatever answer the teacher has already preformulated in her mind.

    Also, thanks for the quote from Dew, and the Yale link!

  14. chelsie says:

    Attention grabber…I am going to bring in 2 plastic easter eggs (representing before partaking of the fruit) and 2 real eggs (representing the result of partaking the fruit). I will then ask the questions that partain to the lesson…
    Will the easter eggs ever die?
    Will the real eggs ever die?

    Will the easter eggs ever be able to have children? Will the real eggs?

    Will the easter eggs ever know good vs. evil or experience joy and pain? Will the real eggs?

    Could one “real egg” (Eve) be able to have children if “an easter egg” (adam)
    didn’t partake also?

    I will then wrap up the little egg spill that we WERE all like the “easter egg”…stuck in that state forever. But because of the fall, we are now like the “real egg”, we will be able to die, have children, and experience joy and pain.

  15. Stella says:

    This lesson has so many amazing points to talk about. Sometimes I wonder why we need these attention getters in Relief Society…for me, when I taught and when I go, they always seem to serve as distractions rather than helping.

    Watching a movie, playing a soft rock gospel song, getting a fresh baked cookie, or having a quote put on card stock for me always seemed to take time from the actual meat of the discussion that we could go into. I think it’s a bit trite, and I have seen MANY go awry– I had one lady bring in a butcher knife to RS when she was giving a lesson about the Atonement–I won’t go into how that was received and I’m not trying to be funny. It was disturbing.

    Simply put, I think that beginning the lesson WITH the actual lesson–with powerful words and thoughts, with intelligent questions and opening for discussion allows the spirit into the class and all of us sisters learn from each other and really benefit.

    Again, I’m not trying to put down the “attention starters” mentioned here, but reading through them, I really wondered why they were at all necessary and what purpose they really served. They seem more fitted to sharing time and for children–not grown women with ideas to share.

  16. Swisster says:

    I am a fan of the Matrix movie. If I could, I might explain the fall thusly: Eve took the red pill and left the matrix.

  17. Sister says:

    “Stella” Every sister is different. I give lessons how I would want to receive them. Sometimes I learn the most when I see things visually!

    I am using my “attention grabber” at the end of my lesson…

  18. Kimberly says:

    “Stella,” I understand what you are saying and I appreciate a deep discussion on doctrine when possible. In my branch we have five languages being spoken with headphones, the background noise of multiple translators, and a good delay between what is said and what is relayed. Sometimes, a visual object lesson is the only takeaway that everyone can understand. It is a way to see sisters, too shy due to language barriers, participate in the class. Each Relief Society is different and teachers have the responsibility of adapting the lessons to best fit the needs of the sisters.

  19. Jenny says:

    (from my cousin Mona)
    EVE ANALOGY: Last night, on my way to the airport to get Jason, I was driving by myself on the fast lane, with the carpool lane to my left and traffic to my right. I was watching the car in front of me and the thought came, what if that car got into some kind of trouble right in front of me–I couldn’t go to my right because of traffic there, so the safest thing for me to do would be to break the law and cross the double lines into the carpool lane! I would be breaking the law, but if I didn’t do it, I’d get caught in a traffic accident, be stuck there for a long time, and worst of all I would not get to see my Jason for all that time.
    At that moment, I thought of Mother Eve and the choice she had to make in Eden, and I finally understood it!

    Another example I thought of was how couple decide to have children. We know it’s going to take sacrifice and life would be lots “easier” if we decided to not have children. But, where would be the joy?

  20. Joanne Vorkink says:

    Your comment made me smile, Stella–you’re so right about my “attention getter” seeming like a Primary lesson. My post reads that way to me, too, but my RS sisters seem to contribute, marvelously, to every discussion, no matter who teaches and with what opening style. I guess I’m a very visual teacher and learner who sometimes uses a child-like approach to start the gospel discussion. I haven’t noticed anyone dozing or rolling their eyes….yet.
    I think most every RS teacher focuses on how to cultivate the spirit in the classroom and how to inspire change for the better using the talents she has to aid her with the lesson manual. And I must tell you–the flannel board story I’m borrowing may be from the Primary, but it’s GORGEOUS, bordering on a work of art fit for the Louvre!

  21. StellaStar says:

    I’m going to start my lesson by this beautiful quote from president Joseph Fielding Smith:
    ‘One of these days, if I ever get to where I can speak to Mother Eve, I want to thank her for tempting Adam to partake of the fruit. He accepted the temptation, with the result that children came into this world. … If she hadn’t had that influence over Adam, and if Adam had done according to the commandment first given to him, they would still be in the Garden of Eden and we would not be here at all. We wouldn’t have come into this world.”

    I like this comment a lot, because it tells me more about what kind of person Eve must have been: incredibly strong, seeing the bigger picture, etc. And I also like how it talks about the ‘influence she had over Adam’, shows us what kind of ‘soulmates’ they really were.

  22. Diane says:

    I am also teaching this lesson tomorrow, and have some references to use for insights.

    First of all, what is an archangel?
    Theology. a chief or principal angel; in medieval angelology one of the nine orders of celestial attendants on God.

    (Side note: Read this article: http://www.sarahsarchangels.com/9orders.html. It will give you something to think about next time you are in the temple.)

    There also were a few good articles recently in Meridian Magazine that have helped me with this lesson:

    http://www.meridianmagazine.com/articles/100318temple.html

    http://www.meridianmagazine.com/articles/050523curses.html

    http://www.meridianmagazine.com/articles/060829garden.html

  23. Trudy Lucas says:

    Thanks so much for your insight into this lesson. It really helps to read a second opinion or presentation before we give it ourselves. I realize the responsibility I have in touching the sisters lives and you helped with that. And, I am gonna do the apple slice idea from a “sister commenter.” love it.

  24. Lucy Hoko says:

    What a great lessons, I was thinking for this to get more info. I will be teaching the 2nd sunday of april, this will help me out a lot, appreaciate our mother Eve for the choice she made and to our father Adam for accecpting it so they gave us the opportunity to experience joy, thanx for the quotes it really helps out for my lessons, please any handout I could use for the less. thank you

  25. Johnna says:

    I’m so delighted to for more people to discover Elizabeth Cranford’s poetry.

    Here’s a direct URL that brings the entire poem onto screen:
    http://journal.segullah.org/poetry/eve’s-blood/

  26. hayley says:

    Will you guys be posting helps for lesson 7? I can’t seem to find it one here.

  27. Luseane Piutau says:

    I appreciate your insight…I needed to read it…what a blessing to have the fall so that we will have the chance to come to earth and get ready to go back and live with Heavenly Father for eternity…I will be forever grateful for the fall…

  28. Lisa says:

    Stella – thanks for saying what I was thinking. So many times, RS gets into all the “froo-froo”. It isn’t always necessary. The sisters aren’t coming for snacks and handouts. Focus your energy on what really matters.

  29. Kerry says:

    Snacks and handouts aren’t always needed. For some women it might be the pick-me-up needed to focus their attention on the lesson after a busy first two hours at church. You also need to teach to all different types of learners; those who learn by reading, listening, touching, visually, taking notes, something where they can be up and talking part, dramatics—not all methods can be used in every lesson, but use some variety!

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