An Eve Choice
Mother Eve faced two incompatible directives – “to multiply and replenish the earth, that you may have joy and rejoicing in your posterity” and “of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, nevertheless, thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee; but, remember that I forbid it, for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”
Since Eve could not have a family without first becoming mortal, she had to carefully weigh the choices and consequences. One commandment is to do something (conceive, bear, and rear children) that will bring joy, while the other is to not do something (eat, becoming mortal) that will bring death (and sadness). She realized that there would be no joy without sadness first, and chose the path to mortality and obeying the higher law to fill the measure of her creation. Thus she earned the moniker of “mother of all living” by bringing both life and death into the world.
Women today face similar difficult choices. The church idealizes a certain plan, but there are always other options. What are we asked to do that will bring joy? But that we are told not to do that will enable us to do what is asked? One way this plays out in Mormondom is that we have perpetuated a longstanding tradition of not marrying “outside the covenant”. Youth and young adult lessons strongly emphasize temple marriage. When dating options dwindle and Sisters who are interested in marriage find themselves aging and single, they have to choose whether to expand their dating pool by looking outside the faith or continue searching and waiting.
In a church culture where girls are indoctrinated from a young age that marriage and family are not only the path to fulfillment, but also critical to her eternal salvation, the weight of singleness is often more than a heavy burden. In the United States, LDS women who decide to marry men who are not members of the church can be stigmatized. In other countries where I have lived, it is far more common for LDS women to marry outside the faith.
The natural desire for companionship, culturally formalized by joining two lives in marriage and raising a family is an almost universal human desire. A single woman who has this longing must decide – will she wait (possibly into the millenium) for a righteous available priesthood holder who will go with her to the temple to make eternal covenants? Or Will she find a man now who she will marry and raise a family with?
The prospect of joy and rejoicing in posterity is a righteous motivation. If God is good, all who live worthy lives will obtain blessings they ought to receive. Sisters who wish to marry and have children should be encouraged to find a good man and seek these blessings. Finding a companion and making a marriage work is difficult under any circumstances. Why do we compound this by restricting options and encouraging single martyrs who postpone their happiness until the next life if a certain option doesn’t open in this life?
Eve led the way for women along the convoluted path of life. Sometimes the right choice looks wrong from certain perspectives. Eating the fruit that God said not to eat must have been a heartbreaking choice. She knew she would have to leave Eden, and she know she would die. She has been despised and her daughters punished through much of earth’s history for her choice, yet without it we would have no life and no joy.