Come Follow Me: Genesis 3-4; Moses 4-5 “The Fall of Adam and Eve”

Begin the lesson by either

1) Starting a discussion about breaking or rejecting rules. Some sample questions:

“Has breaking a rule ever had a good outcome for you?”

“What is a rule your parents had that you have chosen not to have in your own home?”

“What should you do if someone with authority over you told you to do something, but you believe that course of action is morally wrong?”

Or

2) Intentionally breaking a carefully selected rule*. Explain what rule you broke. Invite the class to guess why you broke the rule and ask how they feel about you breaking the rule. Explain why you think it was moral to break the rule.

 

Read and discuss Moses 4:1-4. Note that Satan didn’t want people to have agency. Ask “What kind of behaviors or situations take away another person’s agency?” Depending on your class, you might use this time to discuss topics like controlling/abusive relationships or how to appropriately provide good boundaries with logical consequences to allow children to practice using their agency. Wise words I learned from a kindergarten teacher apply here: “Mistakes are for learning.”

 

Read this quote from Elder Renlund:

“Our Heavenly Father’s goal in parenting is not to have His children do what is right; it is to have His children choose to do what is right and ultimately become like Him. If He simply wanted us to be obedient, He would use immediate rewards and punishments to influence our behaviors.”

Relate this to how the Priesthood operates D&C 121:41-43:

41 No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;

42 By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—

43 Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;

 

Ask a class member to recount the story of the serpent beguiling Eve. (This article has an interesting take on what the word “beguile” means.) Note that snakes have been used as a symbol for many things: medicine, healing, danger, power, fertility, Christ (the brazen serpent that healed the Israelites). Have the class list the consequences of partaking of the fruit (Genesis 3:6, 14-19):

  • wisdom
  • death
  • serpent is cursed
  • sorrow for both Adam and Eve
  • children
  • ground is cursed for Adam’s sake
  • Adam shall rule over Eve

Point out that the things that are cursed are the serpent and the ground. Eve was not cursed. The part about Adam ruling over Eve is tricky for modern audiences. If your class dwells on it, know that the passage really doesn’t seem to be mistranslated. The manual for Individuals and Families has a paragraph that makes it clear modern church teaching states that a man is to be an equal partner with his wife. Heather Farrell interprets it as ruling in the manner of the Priesthood (refer back to D&C 121:41-43 again if necessary). Because of the fall, Adam and Eve experienced sorrow, but they could also now experience joy. Because of the fall, both men and women have experienced being ruled over, but we can to choose to create societies where all people are treated with equality and fairness.

 

Discuss 2 Ne 2:11-16. The idea of opposition in all things is central to the church’s teachings about the Plan of Salvation. God’s work is “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). The church teaches that coming to earth and gaining a physical body is a necessary step in God’s plan. Eve’s work was to bring to pass the mortality (humans die) and temporal life (women give birth) of humankind.

Verse 16 of 2 Ne 2 is particularly powerful with the masculine pronouns changed to the feminine:

16 Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto [wo]man that [s]he should act for [her]self. Wherefore, [wo]man could not act for [her]self save it should be that [s]he was enticed by the one or the other.

With the pronouns changed, it’s easier to recognize that Eve (and women in general) can use that power to make momentous decisions. President Nelson has recognized the need for “women who have the courage and vision of our Mother Eve.”

 

God made coats of skins for Eve and Adam when they left Eden. What was God teaching them when he made those coats? (The law of sacrifice. An animal’s life had to be sacrificed in order to provide Adam and Eve with the protection, comfort, nourishment, and tools they needed to create a life in the wilderness.) Ask the class: “What do you understand about the law of sacrifice?” “What symbols do you see?” “How does it relate to the sacrament?”

 

Adam and Eve did not understand the law of sacrifice at first, but they obeyed it. Read Moses 5:7-11. Ask “Why do you think Adam and Eve were happy about the consequences of being obedient to God, when they had been disobedient?” Make sure the principle of repentance is covered.  Read the 3rd Article of Faith. The law of sacrifice teaches us about the atonement of Christ. The law of the gospel is “love God and love your neighbor”. Was partaking of the fruit of knowledge of good and evil loving God? Are there situations where we might have to be disobedient to a rule in order to follow the law of the gospel? “How do you know if keeping or breaking a rule is the right thing to do?”

 

If you have extra time, have a discussion about how Cain’s anger toward God and jealousy of his brother caused him to break those laws. “What does it mean to be your brother’s keeper?”

 

 

*I know which rule I would break. My current stake (area?) has a policy that second hour should no longer have a virtual option. This announcement came around Thanksgiving, when Covid cases were very high in my area (they still are…) and hospitals were near 100% capacity. I would break this rule and have a virtual option to attend my lesson. I would try going through ward leadership (explaining that breaking this rule was part of the lesson) to make sure that everyone in the ward would be invited to attend virtually in the same familiar way that we used to do it. If leadership objected to doing this, I’d try my best to cobble together a list of everyone who typically attends virtually and make sure to invite them on my own.

It is moral to break the no-Zoom-component-to-Sunday-School rule because, like Jesus, I would be breaking church rules to minister to the sick, quarantined, and vulnerable people by allowing them to fully participate in our community to the extent that they are able.

 

**Another rule I would want to break: the only-using-correlated-materials-in-class rule. Mary Oliver’s poem Wild Geese would be beautiful to discuss in the context of this class.

 

 

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8 Responses

  1. Beth Young says:

    I would hope than any and all second hour teachers would take the time each week to listen to The Faithful Feminists podcast and the Beyond the Block podcast. And then, include some of the concepts into the Sunday lessons. To be able to read and study scriptures with a lens of inclusion, truth, and love of God would deepen and expand our understanding.

  2. Tina says:

    The artwork chosen for this post is stunning! I would love to see it real life. Yay for rule breaking about zoom church and poems.

    I second Beth’s comment about listening to the Faithful Feminists and Beyond the Block. I would also follow @maklelan (Dan McClellan) on Instagram. As a person with a PhD in theology and religion who works as a translation supervisor, he has interesting and helpful insights about particular wording. For example, one item applicable here is that we often picture Eve being alone when she ate the fruit. She wasn’t. The original text describes Adam as ‘with her.’

    I disagree about ‘rule over’ not being mistranslated. I think it is. It is ‘rule with.’ I’m not a fan of the NIV because it tends to be a conservation translation; as an example it tends to use the singular male pronouns when the original text as a gender neutral plural pronoun. I like the NRSV especially The New Oxford Annotated Bible.

    Beverly Campbell in Eve and The Choice Made in Eden goes into depth about beguile as well. Snakes are also a symbol of the divine feminine which is interesting to think about in the context of Eden.

    • Kaylee says:

      I’ve been (slowly) working my way through NRSV New Oxford Annotated Bible. The footnotes and commentary are fabulous!

      The text in my post about translations links to a list of all the English translations of Genesis 3:16 that are on Biblegateway. Almost all of them (including the NRSV) translate it “rule over”, with most outliers translating it along the lines of “dominate over”. I like how Anna deals with it in her comment below.

      The Beverly Campbell book looks good. Thank you for the recommendation! Trees are also a symbol of the divine feminine (and that’s a big part of why I liked the picture at the top of the post.)

  3. Anna says:

    I don’t think that man ruling over women is a mistranslation. I think we misunderstand the difference between consequences of the fall and things God wants. Consequences of the fall, sickness, temptation, work for food, pain and death in childbirth, greed, thirst for power. Now, given that men are naturally stronger, they were tempted to use that strength to rule over their wives, and claim more power for them and their sons than for women. What God wanted, for us to learn how to overcome temptation. So, specifically ruling over women is a temptation for man that God would really like men to overcome. But because of the fall, god had to warn women that men would rule over them. Not that God wanted them to, but that they *will* because they can. And another temptation is for human males to read God’s words the way human males wish them to be, so men being in power, read the Bible as God told them to be bossy jerks to their wives.

    • Kaylee says:

      I love this so much!

      • Tina says:

        I looked again at NRSV and realized it too said ‘rule over.’ I can see what Anna is saying; it’s a similar to something I wondered after learning about partnership vs dominator societies from Riane Eisler. But then yesterday I found this account that shows the possible words that Strong’s Hebrew dictionary shows for all of the words in this sentence. It’s mind blowing and the possibilities are thrilling! If we do stick with the current translations though, I hope we can at least view this sentence the way Anna describes. https://www.instagram.com/p/CPtRuGMhTUo/

    • Moss says:

      This is how I read this passage, too. It’s what the conditions of a fallen world are like, not what God wants. It’s problematic to try and soften the world ‘rule’ because a few verses later there is a deliberate, similar construction where Cain is warned that sin “desires are to him” and Cain must “rule over” sin. Clearly the intent of the author is not to ‘rule with’ sin or merely ‘preside over an equal partnership’ with sin. So something else is going on.

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