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?”
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):
- serpent is cursed
- sorrow for both Adam and Eve
- 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.