Adam and Eve: the First TBM & NOM

June 29, 2009
By

Adam-and-Eve-GardenThere have been several attempts over the years to categorize Mormon “belief-styles”: Orthodox Mormon versus Liberal Mormon, Iron Rod Mormon versus Liahona Mormon, and so on. In the online world of LDS blogs commonly called “the Bloggernacle”, Mormons are often categorized as being TBMs (True Believing Mormons) or NOMs (New Order Mormons).

One evening when my wife and I had the opportunity to reflect on the timeless story of Adam and Eve, it struck me that their different responses to God’s commandments, and to Lucifer’s “temptation”, perfectly exemplified the different mindsets of TBMs and NOMs, and symbolically portrayed the age-old struggle between Orthodox and Liberal in any faith. And as I meditated on their dramatic dialog with Lucifer, with each other, and with God, it donned on me that Adam and Eve were the perfect TBM-NOM couple.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the TBM and NOM labels, allow me to briefly explain. Generally speaking, the mantra of TBMs is “follow the Prophet” while the mantra of NOMs is “follow your conscience.” This is not to say that TBMs don’t believe in following their conscience, nor that NOMs don’t believe in following the Prophet. Rather, the main difference between TBMs and NOMs relates to who they believe holds the “trump card” in situations where their personal views differ from Church leaders’ views. In such cases, TBMs typically believe they must yield to the authority and judgment of Church leaders, while NOMs typically believe they must follow their conscience even at the expense of disobeying Church leaders. This deference to authority by TBMs, and deference to personal conviction by NOMs, is typically an outgrowth of their divergent views about Church history. TBMs truly believe the Church’s official historical narrative (which supports Church leaders’ exclusive claim to priesthood authority and their special status as Prophets, Seers, and Revelators), while NOMs disbelieve or seriously doubt the Church’s official history (and therefore seek a new order or approach that gleans all the goodness Mormonism has to offer while pruning away the doctrines and practices that don’t bear fruit for them). These divergent views about Church history are usually accompanied by differing views about the nature of prophets and apostles. TBMs typically view prophets and apostles as authoritative guides who “will never lead us astray” in spiritual, temporal, and even political affairs, while NOMs believe that even prophets and apostles unavoidably “see through a glass darkly” when it comes to discerning God’s will, and may therefore occasionally lead us astray despite their best and most sincere intentions — hence NOMs’ inclination to rely ultimately on their own convictions.

Because TBMs typically view Church history and prophetic accuracy as clear-cut, black-and-white matters, they typically view obedience to Church leaders as a simple choice between good and evil. By contrast, NOMs’ murky view of Church history and prophetic discernment causes them to view obedience to authority as a complicated challenge where one must constantly navigate through innumerable “gray areas” of inconsistency and ambiguity, continually confronting the dilemma of choosing between the lesser of two evils, or the greater of two goods.

With that generalized description of TBMs and NOMs in mind, let’s examine how Adam and Eve exemplified these two different approaches.

Adam’s “TBM Response” to Lucifer’s Suggestion to Eat the Forbidden Fruit

Adam’s response to Lucifer when he suggests that Adam eat the forbidden fruit reflects a typical TBM mindset. When Lucifer suggests that Adam eat the forbidden fruit, Adam’s has an instant, knee-jerk rejection. With almost child-like disbelief that Lucifer would even dare suggest that Adam break the rules, Adam responds to Lucifer that because God told him not to eat the fruit, he would not eat it.

Adam’s response to Lucifer exemplifies the typical TBM mindset where all proposed actions are screened to determine whether they would conflict with any pronouncement by Authority, and if so, they are immediately rejected. Adam’s almost-automated thought process resembles that of a computer that refuses to do X simply because it was pre-programmed not to do X. Adam’s response to Lucifer demonstrates that he does not condition his obedience on his understanding or agreeing with God’s rationale for forbidding him from eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge; the mere fact that God has forbidden it is enough to persuade Adam not to do it.

Of equal significance is what Adam does not do when Lucifer suggests he eat the forbidden fruit. He does not carefully ponder Lucifer’s proposal before deciding to reject it; he does not weigh the pro’s and con’s of eating the forbidden fruit or consider how doing so might fit into God’s larger plan. Nor does Adam even consider the possibility that eating the forbidden fruit might actually be necessary to fulfill God’s other commandments. In addition, Adam does not engage in any dialog with Lucifer before deciding to quickly brush aside his suggestion to eat the forbidden fruit; Adam is clearly not interested in learning the rationale behind Lucifer’s suggestion. The mere fact that Lucifer is suggesting he do something that would violate one of God’s commandments is enough to cause Adam to completely distrust and discount Lucifer’s proposal.

In addition, it is interesting to note that when Lucifer tempted Adam to eat the forbidden fruit, he did so with the enticement that it would make Adam “wise”. Adam’s instant rejection of Lucifer’s offer to become wise through unapproved means demonstrates Adam’s absolute trust in Authority; it displays Adam’s confidence that if there is something important to know, God will reveal it to him in due time, and that he therefore need not go behind God’s back and obtain wisdom from alternative sources.

Although Adam’s TBM approach is admirable for the absolute trust and loyalty to God that it displays, it is sobering to recognize that Adam’s unquestioning and absolute obedience –if not tempered by Eve– would have ultimately prevented their spiritual development and unwittingly foiled God’s plan for all mankind. But to be fair to Adam and his like-minded TBMs, we can’t really blame them for taking God and his Prophets seriously when they speak. Just as nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition, nobody expects God to tell us, whether personally or through his authorized representatives, not to do something that is actually necessary for our eternal progression.

Eve’s “NOM Response” to Lucifer’s Suggestion to Eat the Forbidden Fruit

Eve’s response to Lucifer’s suggestion to eat the forbidden fruit is the polar opposite of Adam’s. Rather than immediately rebuffing Satan, she actually engages in dialog with the enemy of righteousness. The notable fact that Eve does not immediately dismiss Lucifer’s suggestion to break God’s commandment seems to indicate that: (1) Eve’s mind is at least open to the possibility that God’s commandments must sometimes be broken; and (2) she must rely on her own judgment to determine whether, when, and how she should obey, rather than absolutely and unquestioningly obeying all commandments at all times.

When Lucifer suggests that Eve eat the forbidden fruit for the purpose of gaining knowledge, Eve apparently sees some merit in his unorthodox proposal. Apparently recognizing that knowledge of good and evil is a necessary part of her eternal progression, Eve considers Lucifer’s proposal further by asking whether disobeying God and eating the forbidden fruit is the only way to obtain that knowledge. It seems here that, unlike Adam, Eve intuits the concept of “necessary evil” — situations where we must break one of God’s laws in order to obey a higher law or accomplish a greater purpose. In such cases, technical disobedience to lesser laws enables obedience to higher laws — although the Adams of the Church (TBMs) may interpret such measured disobedience as just plain rebellion at worst, or a lukewarm commitment to God at best.

When Lucifer assures Eve there is no other way to obtain knowledge than by disobeying God’s commandment and partaking of the forbidden fruit, Eve believes Lucifer and partakes. Of course, Eve’s decision to eat the forbidden fruit could be seen as incredibly gullible and foolish. After all, how could she trust that Lucifer was telling her the truth when he said there was no other way to obtain knowledge? And how could she use Lucifer’s assurance as a basis to disregard God’s clear and direct command not to eat the forbidden fruit? Accordingly, Mother Eve’s act of disobedience has been viewed by many as the Original Sin for which she and all mankind have been deservedly punished.

But LDS leaders have taught that Mother Eve should be lauded and revered as a heroine of mankind for her decision to disobey God, not chastised and vilified as a disobedient rebel. As Elder Dallin H. Oaks has explained:

ExpulsionWhen Adam and Eve received the first commandment, they were in a transitional state, no longer in the spirit world but with physical bodies not yet subject to death and not yet capable of procreation. . . .

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 (see Moses 6:59). This would be a planned offense, a formality to serve an eternal purpose. . . .

It was Eve who first transgressed the limits of Eden in order to initiate the conditions of mortality. Her act, whatever its nature, was formally a transgression but eternally a glorious necessity to open the doorway toward eternal life. . . .

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. (Dallin H. Oaks, “‘The Great Plan of Happiness’,” Ensign, Nov 1993, 72.)

Is it possible that one of the reasons God required a “willful breaking of a law” in Eden was to teach mankind the paradoxical principle that we sometimes need to disobey ecclesiastical authority and break “the rules” to fulfill God’s greater purposes for our existence? When I consider Brigham Young’s words: “I am fearful they [Church members] settle down in a state of blind self-security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would thwart the purposes of God in their salvation,” I wonder, specifically what “purposes of God in [our] salvation” are “thwart[ed]” by “a reckless confidence” in our Church leaders? In light of the LDS doctrine that God’s purpose is to help us become like him, does Brigham Young’s statement mean that it is actually un-Godlike to give unquestioning, absolute Adam-like obedience to our ecclesiastical authorities? Was he advocating a more examined, Eve-like approach to decision-making that recognizes sometimes disobedience is paradoxically necessary to accomplish God’s greater purposes?

Adam’s Redeeming Love

Bela_Klimkovics_Adam_and_Eve_300Regardless of what people may think of Adam’s initial failure to recognize the wisdom of eating the forbidden fruit, his loving response to Eve when she informs him of her disobedience and inevitable expulsion from Eden more than redeems him. When Eve informs Adam of her disobedience to God, his choice is a stark one: become separated from Eve and remain innocent and uncompromisingly obedient in a sheltered paradise, or stay with Eve by joining in her disobedience and expulsion. Adam’s willingness to endure disapproval, chastisement, and exile to remain with Eve demonstrated that his love for her exceeded his concern for his own comfort, safety, and approval. By recognizing that the greatest good was to stay together with Eve, and that the greatest evil was to be separated from her, Adam demonstrated he ultimately understood what the Gospel is truly all about.

Adam the Head and Eve the Neck: Both Members of the Body of Christ

When I shared these thoughts with my wife after separately reflecting on the Adam and Eve story, she responded: “Those are interesting observations, but there’s one big problem with your theory: even though it was Eve who made the right decision, Adam was given stewardship over her.” And my wife was right. God’s decision to give Adam stewardship over Eve is another puzzle in an ancient story already filled with paradox. After all, if it was Eve whose “wisdom and courage” made humankind’s existence possible as Elder Oaks has explained, and if it was Adam who was too slow to figure out something as quickly as Eve, then why not just put Eve in charge?

My response to my wife’s valid observation was along the following lines:

You’re right that it seems unfair that Adam was put in charge when it was Eve’s wisdom and courage that led to the right decision and the right result, but that’s exactly how it works in the Church today too. Although the Adams of the Church are put in charge, it’s the Eve’s of the Church that ultimately set the Church’s course. Just about every major change in Church policy and practice has been preceded by a chorus of Eves pleading with the Adams in charge to implement a change of course. For example, Lowell Bennion publicly disagreed with the Church’s priesthood ban long before 1978 and was fired from his CES job as a result of his “rebellious” views. But when the Church abandoned the priesthood ban in 1978, Elder McConkie acknowledged to a conference of CES instructors that he and other prophets and apostles had previously spoken with “limited understanding” when they had supported the priesthood ban. So in effect, there you had an Adam of the Church acknowledging that the Eves of the Church had been right all along. So it’s like the mother said in My Big Fat Greek Wedding: the man may be the head of the family, but the woman is the neck, and she turns the head in whatever direction she wants.

In light of the lessons we learn from Adam and Eve’s divergent approaches to deferring to authority versus relying on personal judgment, perhaps TBMs and NOMs can show greater appreciation for one another. As the Apostle Paul said, we are all “the body of Christ, and members in particular.” (Cor. 12:27) Hopefully, none of us will ever be guilty of saying to another member of the body of Christ: “I have no need of thee.” (Cor. 12:21.) Hopefully, the Adams of the Church (TBM’s) can recognize the valuable role that the Eve’s in the Church (NOM’s) play in moving us all closer to a correct understanding of God’s will, even if occasionally it appears their calls for change seem to be rebellion, disobedience, or disrespect for authority. As the Apostle Paul taught, we must show proper respect to all members of the body of Christ, and particularly those members that seem less honorable: “those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour.” (Cor. 12:23.)

Likewise, hopefully the Eves of the Church can be patient and take hope in the understanding that the Adams of the Church have good motives: they want to obey God, they want to do what is right, and they want to protect and preserve the truths God has given us in times past. Although their role as guardians of truth causes them to view any proposed change of course with great suspicion, they do ultimately come to recognize the wisdom of the course changes proposed by the Eves of the Church, and on a timetable that, although not swift enough for some, hopefully occurs before large numbers of members of the body of Christ decide to amputate one another.

So here’s to Father Adam and Mother Eve’s opposing but complementary approaches to learning, to life, and to love.

62 Responses to Adam and Eve: the First TBM & NOM

  1. jmb275
    June 29, 2009 at 9:40 am

    Well said! I had never thought of it this way before. This is a great analogy!

    Here’s a couple of questions I was thinking of. Should the Adams of the church try to convince the Eves of the error of their ways? Likewise with the Eves? Is there happiness that can be found in this natural tension? It feels like the Eves in the church are the softer voice, or at least the one ridiculed. Is there a balance in the “force”? Should there be?

  2. June 29, 2009 at 9:49 am

    Pretty middle of the road post. I appreciate your comments with regard to categorizing these two separate classes or styles of worship. I wonder if both are not simply following the gospel according to the dictates of their own conscience and that NOM’s don’t have a monopoly on that. The difference really being what they interpret as their conscious.

    I myself tend to lean towards the TBM model simply for the fact that I have faith in the idea that the prophets and apostles have a calling to guide and direct in the matters of this world and in spiritual matters. If you feel they are wrong, then why be a Mormon at all? I trust that following their teachings as opposed to rationalizing some permissive slant on their teachings is more inline with being faithful to the Lord himself. Placing sacrifice above selfishness seems more like a teaching of the Lord. NOM’s often seek to excuse behavior rather than bring their lives in line with the gospel teachings. For that reason I don’t feel that the principle of living according to conscious is a bad thing unless your conscious is in conflict with the teachings of the prophets. NOM’s don’t have a monopoly on Christ-like behavior simply because they appear to be more loving. In fact sometimes permissive behaviors often lead to less desirable consequences. Somethings are tough, some thing’s do require a more blind faith, and some thing’s, including the atonement, require that we place our own comfort and will aside for the will of the Father. What the natural man views as a conscious choice may be to place the objects and designs of man above that of God.

    In either case, I do believe that we all have the right to live the gospel as we see fit. Judgment’s of individuals outside of righteous judges in Israel as to “who is right and who is wrong” lead both classifications away from brotherhood and the true purpose of the church.

  3. Matt Thurston
    June 29, 2009 at 11:11 am

    A couple thoughts…

    1.) The problem with being an “Eve” is that the Adams/Church rarely, if ever, sanction or credit the heroic act of disobedience. And if such credit happens (again, very rare), it is inevitably bestowed by leaders from future generations, never the current generation. Juanita Brooks was roundly criticized for being honest about MMM by leaders of her generation. It took leaders from the next generation to more or less say, “Yeah, she pretty much got it right.”

    I’d love it if the Eve’s of the church (Bennions, McMurrins, etc.) received more credit, but save Eve herself, they never do. As such, the real lessons learned from the Adam-and-Eve story are ignored in SS/PH/RS lesson manuals; and have no practical effect on the church today. In effect, Oaks is saying, “Okay, in this one particular instance (Eve partaking of Forbidden Fruit) it was okay to disobey God, but it can never happen again.”

    2.) How often do the Adams actually follow the Eves into disobedience? Had there been a well-meaning Bishop during Adam and Eve’s time, would he have counseled Adam not to follow Eve into temptation, even if it meant the ultimate dissolution of their marriage? [BTW, I'm not saying Adams should _always_ follow Eves -- I can think of scenarios where doing so would obviously be foolish -- and I'm not saying there aren't ways to compromise (i.e. Adam observes the Sabbath his way; Eve observes it her way.)]

  4. Clay Whipkey
    June 29, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    Continuing from Matt’s point #1:

    I think church leaders see too much danger in even teaching that the Eve approach can be acceptable. Oaks’s comments are uncomfortably out on the ledge in that regard. Some leaders have spelled it out. You are going to be “safest” with the Adam approach, and even if occasionally gets you on the wrong side, you will be blessed for your obedience anyway. Many leaders feel that our safety is their biggest responsibility, certainly a bigger responsibility than the depth of our spiritual education. There will be plenty of time in the Millennium, when the influence of Satan is absent, to learn how to discern these nuances more independently, but there will be no time for that at all if we don’t even make it.

    Promoting the idea that Eve’s approach is acceptable is dangerous because while their may be many who are mature enough to use that personal conscious wisely, many more will abuse it (hypothetically, right?). When I think of my own children, I understand this reasoning. When things are harmless in some circumstances and harmful in others, its easier to just tell your kids not to do it at all. I *know* about the nuance, but it wouldn’t appear that I know about it from my kids’ point of view. In the case of church leaders, they are aware that there are mature adults amongst their “children”, but when they speak they know that the kids are listening at the same time… so for the safety of the kids they treat the adult children as if they are still kids, too.

  5. Clark
    June 29, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    This post makes me want to go to the temple.

    Seriously, I think this may be the most insightful post I’ve read on this blog. I don’t read regularly enough to know if Mr. Ainsworth considers himself a TBM or NOM, but I appreciate the way he treats both viewpoints with equal respect and validity.

    I nominate this post for an Ensign article, complete with illustrations.

  6. pinkpatent
    June 29, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    I loved this….thank you!

    In response to #2 comment: My NOM husband did not become NOM because of sin! He had questions and went searching for answers. Those answers caused him to lose his faith in the historical authenticity of the church. Yet, he remains active LDS. He does this to honor me, our marriage, our children and his duty as the patriarch of our family. This is one of the most selfless, Christ like actions I have ever seen.

  7. June 29, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    In response to #6 I wish to ask, what makes someone an active LDS? I certainly do appreciate dedication to family and don’t wish to come off as passing judgment in that regard. However can you truly be active LDS if you don’t believe in the church’s authenticity? Perhaps the “answers” that he found was simply information, not truth. Truth is not always the first thing people come across when searching for it.

    I realize that what I just wrote will probably cause some sort of defense mechanism to go off and I really am not trying to cause contention. I just feel that perhaps we differ in what is means to be an active LDS vs. a participating LDS. When you become LDS there is a lot that is to be accepted along with that. This doesn’t mean that we are not allowed to think for ourselves, but that we have the chance to experience a life of faith until that knowledge is made whole. Knowledge that comes from God, not study alone. That faith is not in ourselves, or our “natural man” tendencies or conscious, but in the Lord and his chosen mouthpieces. Keeping in mind the idea that individual sin does not change the church but rather people’s perceptions of it; the faults that exist in the latter-day church is not a fault of the individual who’s church this is.

  8. pinkpatent
    June 29, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    No worries, I am not defensive. I would offer that your distinction between “active” LDS and “participating” LDS is merely an exercise in semantics. I fall squarely in the TBM camp, yet there are many of the church’s precepts that I either disagree with, or outrightly disavow.

    For example, I have always worked outside the home and actively encourage my daughters to become educated and have careers of their own. Also, I am neutral on the issue of same sex marriage. I am married to a man, but if two men or two women want to call themselves married, it has no effect on my life. What do I care? My opinions may differ from those of the church leadership, but I do not feel that I am a less active LDS because of it.

    I do not wish to split hairs with you. You have the right to question or endorse whatever/whomever you choose. But keep this in mind; Every member of the church has questions, struggles, sin, disappointments, frustrations, etc. etc. etc. If you decide to classify anyone who is an imperfect follower as “not active”, you are going to be alienating ALOT of people.

    Now, in regards to my HERO OF A HUSBAND; He loves me and our children so much that the thought of us suffering any loss of faith is repugnant to him. He knows how important the church is to me. He knows that I am TBM and will never turn. So, instead of sulking and spewing venom, he supports us, encourages us, and guides us in the pathway of the church. He remains ACTIVE so that our children see him ACTING the gospel.

    The saviour taught that we are more blessed when we love our enemies than when we love our friends. Truly, how hard is it to love someone who already loves you? Likewise, how difficult is it, really, to live the gospel when we believe it to be the truth? I believe that my husband is more blessed because he lives the gospel without the benefit of full belief.

    One more thing to keep in mind. You never know who is TBM, NOM or what ever. I was sleeping next to an NOM and had no idea! Joseph Smith was a New Order Christian, by the way.

    Cheers!

  9. Hawkgrrrl
    June 29, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    I beg to disagree just a wee little bit from the basic idea of the post. I think the Adam & Eve analogy is more “iron rod” vs. “liahona” than it is “TBM” vs. “NOM.” The term NOM is used in ways that vary from believing cafeteria Mormons who view things with a more nuanced perspective to those who do not believe in the church, the priesthood, etc., but who only attend for family reasons. Eve may be a more critical thinker than Adam, willing to disobey for the greater good, but she is a believer. Part of the problem is the concept of “the church” being part of TBM and NOM (the Mormon component). Adam & Eve were dealing directly with God, not through a human (but inspired) church. Eve didn’t disagree with what “the prophet” said. She just interpreted God’s commandments by looking at the bigger picture and made a personal value judgment.

    So, I don’t really disagree with the terms as you’ve defined them, and I agree this is insightful, but I do think it’s problematic for those who apply the term NOM more liberally (toward the would-be-non-Mormon if not for family) and also problematic because of the notion of a church not applying in the story of Adam & Eve.

    Good post!

  10. Andrew Ainsworth
    June 29, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    Hawk, it’s certainly true that some people may use a broader definition of NOM than others, hence my attempt to define that label in the post; wherever I use NOM, I’m using my definition in the post rather than anyone else’s possible uber-broad definition. I suppose there are any number of other labels that could have been used, but then I guess we’d be debating the applicability of another label that could likewise be broadened or narrowed too much by some.

    I’m not sure how the analogy breaks down for you when we’re talking about commandments given by God versus commandments given by Church leaders. In the Church we’re constantly reminded that whether it’s from God’s mouth or the mouth of his servants, it is the same. So Church leaders certainly at least purport to speak for God, with the overwhelming majority of Mormons believing that is the case. So much so that if a member disobeys a Church leader’s pronouncment, it is automatically viewed as disobeying God. So in LDS doctrine, whether a rule comes from God’s mouth personally, or from the mouth of a Prophet, the issue is the same: in cases where your personal judgment leads you to the conclusion that it is necessary to break a commandment/rule laid down by divine authority, do you exercise the unquestioning obedience to Authority shown by Adam, or do you exhibit the “courage” of Eve by following your personal convictions, shouldering the risk that you might be wrong?

  11. Ray
    June 29, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    Fabulous post, Andrew.

    My only point is to highlight the idea that we are intended to become “agents unto (ourselves) – to act and not to be acted upon”. Frankly, I think BOTH Adam and Eve fit this characterization – and I love that both are being interpreted now as faithful and honorable.

    I also LOVE the fact that Adam partook following Eve, since remaining with his wife in the long run was more important than remaining in the presence of God without her. That’s worth considering, imo – with all its implications.

  12. Hawkgrrrl
    June 29, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    “In the Church we’re constantly reminded that whether it’s from God’s mouth or the mouth of his servants, it is the same.” Well, purporting to speak for God and BEING God are certainly two very different things.

    “So Church leaders certainly at least purport to speak for God, with the overwhelming majority of Mormons believing that is the case.” Once you add a human into the mix, you’ve removed God by at least another step, probably more. You’ve started with one potentially flawed communication (God said the same thing to both Adam & Eve who each used that information to draw a different conclusion), and then you’ve added another person in the role of interpreter. So you’ve got humans talking to God on behalf of other humans, all of whom may interpret whatever God says in different ways. (And does God speak in words or just “feelings”?) As evidence of this, I would point to the fact that we’ve got differing statements from different leaders that are on the same topics. Also, there was an excellent post on BCC last week about G.A. Smith’s refutation of the statement “when the prophet has spoken the thinking is done.”

    “So much so that if a member disobeys a Church leader’s pronouncment, it is automatically viewed as disobeying God.” Not necessarily. It certainly depends on which leader, which pronouncement and what manner of disobedience we are talking about. Also, did a different leader say something different on this topic? Is it subject to personal interpretation? Is it subject to the context of individual circumstance? There are many, many ‘pronouncements’ that are not one-size-fits-all either in expectation or practice.

    Personally, I think Adam comes off like a tool in the story, but that’s just me. Who does not see the injustice of Eve having to listen to him after the evidence of his incompetence is manifest? Yet, she takes it with humility and grace.

  13. Andrew Ainsworth
    June 29, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    Hawk, I think the views in your most recent comment may not reflect the views of most Mormons, but they do reveal how much of an Eve you are. You draw a big distinction between a commandment from God and a commandment from a prophet. That very fact shows how Eve-like you are. The official teaching is that they are one and the same. How Eve-like of you to view them as being significantly different. There you go bucking the system and thinking for yourself. :)

  14. June 29, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    See Leonid Perlovsky’s similar analysis, “Simplifying heuristics versus careful thinking: scientific analysis of millenial spiritual issues.”

    http://www.leonid-perlovsky.com/Levine%20&%20Perlovsky,%20Zygon%20preprint.pdf

  15. PK
    June 29, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    I am a male TBM. It seems to me that I have made a covenant to keep Gods commandments. If I do not do this, then I am a covenant breaker. In fact, I belieive that the essence of Christ’s perfection is in his obedience to the Father. It was the theme of his life (i,e, “thy will be done”, “My meat is to do the will of the Father”). Are we not to be as Christ is?

  16. Hawkgrrrl
    June 29, 2009 at 8:42 pm

    PK – the issue with Adam & Eve (at least in the Mormon version) is that they have to choose between two conflicting commandments: to not eat the fruit and to be fruitful. Adam chose to obey the letter of the first law, making him unable to obey the second commandment. Eve chose to disobey the first in order to obey the second.

  17. June 29, 2009 at 10:17 pm

    When I read this post I thought it was a parody. Sorry to lean that its not.

  18. Don Y
    June 29, 2009 at 11:08 pm

    I really liked this post, and agreed with the analogy. However, when I thought about sharing it with my wife (a TBM) I worried that she would take offense to the characterization of TBMs as honorable, if sometimes misguided. This post doesn’t seem to spend as much time on the potential faults of the Eve (NOM) perspective. Or maybe I just missed it.

  19. June 30, 2009 at 12:06 am

    Whoa… good point. Never would of thought that up.

  20. June 30, 2009 at 12:55 am

    Jonathan Haidt’s TED talk http://bit.ly/e7IgE

  21. June 30, 2009 at 12:58 am

    Hawk #16 – You point out a good distinction between Adam and Eve’s actions, but it is one that still seems to represent a rationalization that the gospel is a buffet where we can pick and chose the principles we want to follow. There are many that operate on a very subjective assumption that Eve had some tremendous insight beyond that of Adam and therefore chose what she did. Remember these individuals were discribed as being like children. These were not eloquent well educated individuals.. yet. Their child like faith of obedience to the commandments of the Lord following their expulsion from the garden is further proof that they did not know what was going on; they were simply acting as they were influenced to act (“I know not save the Lord commanded me”). Adam chose to follow the commandment that was given, and that he COULD comply with. His was a choice to obey. Eve’s was a choice to eat and gain knowledge, not to disobey. That is why this is often referred to as a transgression and not sin. There was not sufficient information or experience for Eve to know what the effects of her actions were. Adam and Eve needed to be taught that there was a consequence to their actions. This was the first in their “line upon line” progression. Not Eve being so brilliant and Adam being a misguided obedient man. Their eyes were not opened until AFTER partaking of the fruit. Plus, if Eve was so smart, why did she have to be tempted to take the fruit? If she was able to determine that this was such a good idea to take the fruit, why didn’t she just go and take the fruit knowing what many today assume that she knew?

    I feel that any attempt to project a further and eternal perspective on what Adam and Eve possessed at this time in the garden neglects the simple idea that they had forgotten all things and became as little children. This is not to discount who they were in the pre-existence, or what they became as life went on. In fact, this story helps me see that individuals start out at very simple stages in this life and have the capacity to achieve great things through repentance and obedience to gospel principles.

  22. Jeff Spector
    June 30, 2009 at 7:09 am

    I was very interested in reading this post and Andrew’s attempt to liken the scripture to us. But I have a main issue here with the portrayal.

    First of all, no argument that HF put two conflicting commandments in front of Adam and Eve and told them to choose. We have no idea the length of time involved in this process.

    While Andrew attributes a significant amount of thought and analysis to Eve’s decision to eat the fruit, yet, in her own explanation, she admits that she was tricked into eating the fruit by Lucifer (“the serpent beguiled me”), so I am not sure you can say that she deeply thought about the consequences of her actions. Afterwards, however, she and Adam recognize that in order to be together and fulfill the other commandment given, Adam will have to eat as well. this is where the wisdom and courage part of the story comes, as explained by Elder Oaks.

    Now, for my conjecture, not supported by any scriptural evidence. Adam was not going to let Lucifer decide when and where he and Eve would partake of the fruit. the would “choose” for themselves.

    so, I guess it is safe to say that I do not support this TBM versus NOM stuff as it applies to Adam and Eve. In fact, I don’t like the labels at all.

  23. June 30, 2009 at 8:33 am

    As a lifelong member, I seem to be a TBM with NOM tendancies. That’s probably true of a lot of strong active members. As far as Adam and Eve are concerned, I’ve felt for a long time that this belief that if Adam and Eve didn’t break the commandment then God’s plan would be thwarted is wrong. I believe that if Adam and Eve would have kept the commandment not to eat the fruit (whatever that “fruit” was), God would have blessed them for keeping the commandment and then made it possible to keep the commandment of multiplying and replenishing. I think the biggest problem with breaking the commandment was demonstrating a lack of faith in God to accomplish his plans. On the one hand, we say that Adam and Eve were innocent as children, while in the next breath we say that they knew exactly what they were doing. I think those two things are incompatible.

  24. June 30, 2009 at 9:43 am

    #22- “so, I guess it is safe to say that I do not support this TBM versus NOM stuff as it applies to Adam and Eve. In fact, I don’t like the labels at all.”

    Since its so rare I always like to point out when Jeff and I agree on something. this being one of those times.

    #23-

    “I’ve felt for a long time that this belief that if Adam and Eve didn’t break the commandment then God’s plan would be thwarted is wrong. I believe that if Adam and Eve would have kept the commandment not to eat the fruit (whatever that “fruit” was), God would have blessed them for keeping the commandment and then made it possible to keep the commandment of multiplying and replenishing. I think the biggest problem with breaking the commandment was demonstrating a lack of faith in God to accomplish his plans.”

    But in the Mormon understanding of the story, The structure in which the decision was made was such that no matter what they decided they would have been breaking one commandment while obeying another, you are proposing that the commandments formed a hierarchy with not partaking the fruit being a more important commandment than the commandment to go forth and multiply. As I understand the story they faced equal yet contrary commandments, following one by definition was to break the other, thus creating a situation in which it was impossible for Adam and Eve to do what traditional readings of the story suggest the story is about, that is obeying the will or commandments of God.

    This looks like a paradox in readings that understand the story as being primarily about the making of a decision and that seek to categorize the nature of that decision within dynamics notions of right and wrong, or obedience/ disobedience.
    Folks who see the story in this way want to talk about the decision making process, but the kind of formulaic thinking evident at times in this discussion will never resolve itself. Since the kind of resolution sought by the formulas is not part of the condition of possibility of the story itself. So we keep talking and talking and talking.

    A different reading of the story is that despite all the insistence to the contrary, it is not actually about the making of decisions but the structures of conflict and the impossibility of humanity being in complete harmony with Divine will.

  25. SteveS
    June 30, 2009 at 10:10 am

    Andrew: I love your posts. I like this one because of the way you use a mythic story of origins to illustrate an age-old duality. I think this is a fascinating exercise that reveals just how powerful myths can be to shape and re-shape our understanding of the world around us.

    I’m not sure we are truly clear (despite added scripture in BOM, D&C, and PoGP) about what truly may have happened with our first parents. In fact, I’m inclined to believe that Adam and Eve never really existed, but were characters used in early Hebrew oral traditions to explain humankind’s existence. Many fundamental concepts are explained by this story, such as: 1) it explains how the earth and all living things came into being in their current state, 2) it justified and solidified contemporary gender roles (male leads, female submissive), 3) it touches upon abstract concepts such as knowledge, faith, ethics, and moral decisions, and 4) most importantly, it explains why pain, suffering, and death have entered the world. Additionally, if the PoGP scriptures and temple ceremony are to be considered authoritative, it shows how God intervenes in humankind’s lives to save them from their sins, pains, and death through a future savior who was the Son of God.

    And yet Larry Rainey has a point which illustrates some of the paradoxes of origin myth cosmologies when he says “we say that Adam and Eve were innocent as children, while in the next breath we say that they knew exactly what they were doing. I think those two things are incompatible.” While we can’t say we speak with absolute knowledge of the past any more than those who penned Genesis did, we understand through science that reality may not have followed the same path historically as the myth did. For example, if we believe that evolution was the mechanism by which all life forms on the planet arose (including human beings), then certainly death, sex, and inter- and intra-specific violence necessarily existed previous to the Fall. If the first Man and Woman were truly innocent, they probably would not have been capable of making higher-level ethical decisions about obedience/disobedience to Deity or contemplated the value of knowing Good and Evil over innocence. In this sense, the serpent’s “beguiling” of Eve makes more sense, if it can even be extended that far. Having young children, I know that they naturally seek knowledge and yearn to be able to make decisions for themselves, especially when their desires don’t match those of their parents. If Eve and Adam were innocent, their innate child-like curiosity would have eventually driven them to partake of the “fruit” even without the talking serpent to grease the skids.

    For me, the Fall must have somehow been a gradual awakening to consciousness and a development of intellect that allowed for abstract thought, self-control, remorse, hope, and other high-level thought and emotion to occur. One only needs to look to recent archeological finds to know that the human race is much older than the Bible would suggest, and that they were creating music and appreciating beauty and creating narratives to explain the world around them very far into the past. I’m willing to believe that at some point God could have interjected himself upon some humans deep in our past and made a special covenant with them to protect and watch over them in return for worship and obedience. But to have God create a paradisaical garden with two Very Important Trees and allow a fallen angel to slither around in said garden to tempt the only two humans on the planet seems the hallmarks of a good myth that does well to help us understand some things about human nature (as Andrew has so eloquently elucidated for us with this post), but falls flat on its face if an attempt is made to ground the story in objective reality.

    On another note, I’m with Hawkgrrrl in that I think that “liahona mormon” and “NOM” are not exact corollaries. I get that Andrew defined NOM in a specific way and used that definition throughout the post, but others reading the post bring their own definitions of NOM to their reading of the text. I’m not sure I would classify Eve as a New Order person as much as a I would a “liahona” individual for the reason Hawk gave that Eve was interacting with God, not with a prophet or an ecclesiastical entity such as a Church.

  26. Thomas
    June 30, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    #15: You have indeed made a covenant to obey God’s commandments. Repeat those last two words: “God’s commandments.” As Peter declared, “we ought to obey God rather than men.”

    You are under covenant to obey commandments from God, not commandments from men.

    Generally speaking, counsel from the Brethren is congruent with God’s truth, and one departs from that counsel at one’s spiritual peril. “Picking and choosing” does carry the risk that one picks and chooses not out of sincere desire to find and follow the truth, but to justify the natural man.

    However, there is also spiritual danger in ascribing to God an ungodly teaching, and I occasionally see self-defined TBMs — both historically and today — “rationalizing” the teachings of men, mistakenly presumed to be the doctrine of God, long after the doctrine’s fallible human origin should have been clear.

  27. MH
    June 30, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    Andrew–fascinating post. You’ve given me much to consider here.

  28. pinkpatent
    June 30, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    Adam was obedient. We know that. Even after leaving the garden, he was obedient. When the angel asked him why he offered sacrifice, he replied that he “knew not, save the Lord commanded him”. What is interesting to me is that the angel did not just pat Adam on the back and tell him to “keep up the good work”. He told Adam what the sacrifice represented and why he was doing it. Even the Lord understands that we cannot follow blindly forever. In order for us to be TRULY obedient, we must be able to make informed choices.

    Again, thanks for this great post!

  29. Rigel Hawthorne
    June 30, 2009 at 4:54 pm

    ”the serpent beguiled me”

    I don’t think that this statement necessarily means that her actions were not reflective upon the consequences. The beguiling could have been viewed as the presentation of the MIXTURE of truth and deceit by the serpent presented as solitary truth. There could have been days or weeks of reflection after the first contact with the serpent, or it could have been immediate. We are reading a very condensed version. (Kind of like The Book of Mormon movie showing Nephi and his brothers making all three attempts to get the plates from Laban on one day).

    The Moses 5 account of Eve acknowledging the necessity of the partaking of the fruit, to me, is a RESTATING of the insight and reasons she had PRIOR to eating. These were reinforced by her mortal experience, but not new conclusions. Even Adam BEFORE he partook of the fruit had understanding enough to hear and agree with her conclusions. Adam fell that men might be.

    Adam and Eve in the garden were DINKs (double-income-no-kids). Eve decided to give up a career as a “Master Gardner” to become a mother, and had to get Adam to buy into the idea. Her actions seem representative of a TBM, with wisdom. Some people would argue that TBM with wisdom is what NOM is. I don’t think that in order to be a TBM one must check their wisdom at the door.

    It’s good to see an Andrew Ainsworth post, btw. I had begun to think you had ridden off into the MM sunset as other authors have done!

  30. Ray
    June 30, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    I think we often see in either character much of what we want to identify of ourselves in either character. That’s the beauty of a grand morality play, and it’s what makes succesful allegories so wonderful.

  31. Rich
    June 30, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    Oh my, oh my. I will strive to make this short.

    Somebody categorize me – TBM or NOM — or whatever else.

    In the acquisition for truth there exists, I believe, an assumption that is basic to gaining an understanding of that particular knowledge which influences our eternal welfare – namely, the truth. That assumption I have named just that – the basic assumption. It says:

    Regardless of the location of an event in space and time, it cannot be of
    such a nature that, in it’s taking place, it would be better not to follow the
    word of God concerning that event.

    I believe the basic assumption is true. If we deal with events that have choices to make that are choices between right and wrong, or in other words, choices between following the will of God or doing something else and we don’t believe the basic assumption than confusion will result and gray areas will abound. Where there are choices to make between right and wrong, there is only black and white. The problem lies not in discerning black from white. The problem lies in people who don’t have God’s vision which He would give them if they would ask for it. Instead, it seams most people choose to indulge their weaknesses.

    No, Adam and Eve should not have eaten the fruit. God, the Father, had personally and plainly, told them not to eat it. Adam’s ‘knee jerking’ reaction was perfectly correct. Who should care if he understands why? Now this notion that they needed to eat it to fulfill a larger plan is pure poppy cock and should be sold for poor quality silage. That notion is simply not true – I don’t care who is saying otherwise.

    By the way, how am I being categorized so far?

    Do you want to here some truth? I thought you would. So here it is.

    If Adam and Eve had not taken the fruit and gone on with their lives in
    Eden, the time would have come that the Father would have deemed them
    ready for their mortal probation and HE (not a devil) would have given
    them the fruit. Then their eating the fruit would have been in perfect
    obedience to God and in perfect accordance with His plan.

    The Father’s plan was commence a plan of salvation with an act of OBEDIENCE not disobedience. Don’t misinterpret 2Nephi 2.

    Enough said.

  32. June 30, 2009 at 10:05 pm

    Re 31:

    It’s interesting that Rich says that Adam and Eve would’ve had the chance to partake of the fruit at a later time appointed by God and then says not to misinterpret 2 Ne 2. I’ve heard lots of people in the church argue the same thing, but I always thought 2 Ne 2 completely debunked that.

    To wit:

    “22. And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end.
    “23. And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.”

    I honestly see no way to misinterpret that. I don’t see any caveats on the “they would have had no children” or “they must have remained in the same state in which they were” statements. It sounds absolute. I know what 1 Ne 3:7 says, but from this reading I don’t see how multiplying and replenishing could have occurred unless they partook of the fruit.

    Also, while Joseph Smith stated unequivocally in the second Article of Faith that we don’t believe in original sin, AFAIK he never really expounded much on that statement. I’d love to read any official statements he made that clarify his position, because I don’t know of any. It seems Elder Oaks was a well-intended but clumsy attempt to clarify what Joseph said.

  33. Hawkgrrrl
    June 30, 2009 at 11:58 pm

    Rich: “Enough said.” When Rich has spoken, the thinking is done.

    A good point is made in The Power of Myth. The authors say you should study the myths of other religions because then we can see the allegorical truth. When we study our own myths we have a tendency to take them too literally as if they were actual events, thus missing the point of the stories.

  34. Rich
    July 1, 2009 at 4:55 am

    What would have happened had they not taken the fruit? Well, in such a case, let’s look at what we have – two people that, because of their nature, will never die an a place that will never change. Now the Transgression Theory would use verse 22 to say that without the transgression of Adam and Eve this existence would have to have gone on forever: “…and they must have remained forever and had no end.” (2 Nephi 2:22)

    Let’s go through verse 22 one part at a time. “And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen,”That’s easy – he fell because he transgressed. It happens every time. “but he would have remained in the Garden of Eden.” Not difficult – his transgression caused his expulsion from the Garden so if he hadn’t transgressed he would have stayed there. “And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end.”

    It’s easy to get tripped on this part. The Transgression Theory would say this 2nd sentence in verse 22 refers to the first phrase of the first sentence of 22. To see this more clearly, divide verse 22 into three parts:

    Verse 22
    And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen,
    but he would have remained in the garden of Eden.
    And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end.

    Transgression Theory
    It takes an act of transgression to move the Edenical exsistence into a probationary state of exsistence. And since it had to be by an act of transgression, that probationary period would have to be in a fallen (or tellestial) state. In other words part 3 of verse 22 refers to part 1. The transgression, mentioned in part 1, was needed to bring about the conditions mentioned in part 3.

    Not so! Let’s introduce another term – the Obedience Theory.

    Obedience Theory
    Part 3 refers to part 2. When that connection is made what is established is that if they are to stay in the Garden, or in an Edenical extistence, that all things would, forever, remain as they were created. It would have remained forever because that is the way God created it. It was not a fruit that terminated their lives. It was not an act of transgression that terminated their lives. It was the power of God that terminated their lives. In the case of Adam and Eve, disobedience invoked that power but that most certainly was not the only reason God would ever have to terminate their existence in Eden.

    What the Transgression Theory is saying, then, is that we have condition that only an act of transgression can change. I can’t go along with that. It’s almost implying that if the only thing that can change a condition the Lord has pronounced “good” is an act of transgression, than the act of transgression is more powerful than God. No – God can change it too – without an act of transgression. All He needs is a good reason and that reason is easy to see. The Plan of the Father was to subject us to a test of obedience by faith-not sight. Those that failed would suffer eternal damnation to one degree or another and those that passed would be exalted. This test would not be possible without a knowledge of good and evil. And here is the secret to understanding what happened in the Garden of Eden if you will receive it.

    God did not want Adam and Eve to eat the fruit
    by Satan’s counsel. He, also, did not want
    them to eat of the fruit when they thought it
    best. He wanted them to eat the fruit when He
    Deemed them ready to eat of it and when that
    time came the fruit be given to them by someone
    Authorize to give it-not by a devil.

    By the Father’s plan He (Heavenly Father) would have given them the fruit. How is it that everyone thinks He would have chosen an animal to administer that ordinance under the direction of a devil? Only a myth maker would think that.

    To help understand Heavenly Father’s plan, define what is meant by the Transgression of Adam and Eve and then substitute that definition in for the word “transgressed” in verse 22. Here it is, again the way it is written:

    (22) And now, behold, IF ADAM HAD NOT
    TRANSGRESSED HE WOULD NOT HAVE
    FALLEN, but he would have remained
    in the Garden of Eden. And all
    things which were created must have
    remained in the same state in which
    they were after they were created;
    and they must have remained
    forever, and had no end.

    The transgression was their act of eating the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil when God told them not to eat it. So here is verse 22 with that definition substituted in place of “transgressed” –

    (22) And now, behold, IF ADAM HAD NOT
    eaten the fruit of the knowledge of
    good and evil when God told him not to
    Eat it HE WOULD NOT HAVE FALLEN, but
    He Would have remained in the Garden
    Of Eden. And all things which were
    created must have remained in the same
    state in which they were after they
    were created; and they must have
    Remained forever, and had no end.

    There’s nothing difficult about that at all. If they don’t eat the fruit when God tells them not to eat it then of course they won’t fall. It doesn’t even imply that a transgression is necessary. It merely states a fact – if you remain in the Garden of Eden than you will live forever. But because they ate the fruit when they were commanded not to eat it, they fell. The verse goes on to say that you don’t get out of an Edenical existence without eating the fruit.

  35. Ray
    July 1, 2009 at 6:18 am

    Rich, I agree, based on the temple wording, that God was more than just displeased with Lucifer’s actions. I even agree that he MIGHT have had another way planned, again given the temple wording of Lucifer’s response. However, there simply isn’t solid scriptural evidence of that, imo. I also agree that the fall consisted of following Lucifer and not necessarily of eating the fruit, given the wording of the verses immediately following those that always are quoted in 2 Nephi 2. (and I think there is great symbolic power in the idea that God’s children needed to “leave Him and follow Lucifer to where he had been cast” in order to grow and progress and become like God – which certainly fits our concept of the Plan of Salvation nicely)

    However, I also believe the entire narrative is figurative and allegorical, as used to be stated plainly in the endowment. I believe it is a dramatazation of the pre-mortal decision that we all had to make. For me, personally, that view adds all kinds of personal weight to the story, especially to the idea that I chose my own fall – with all its struggles and pain and temptation.

    Further, I believe that the foundation of many things in history is inevitability. Iow, set a certain situation in motion and watch what inevitably happens. In a state of innocence and naivete, tempted by a cunning advesary, the fall was inevitable – so God was not enraged or even angry at Adam and Eve. He simply laid out the consequences of their actions. His response to Lucifer, however, was MUCH different. He acted in full knowledge of his own motivations – to oppose and thwart God. Therefore, God reacted forcefully in the moment and promised to crush him in the future.

    I love the narrative as a morality play, even as I believe in a first “human couple” – created when God “reached down” and inserted immortal spirits into mortal bodies. Taking it literally just doesn’t do it for me – but I have absolutely no problem with others doing so if it works for them.

    Young earth theory, otoh, is bunk, imo.

  36. Hawkgrrrl
    July 1, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    I like Ray’s point about intentions. In the story, the characters each represent different intentions:
    Satan – to thwart God’s plan
    God – to test his children (?)
    Adam – to obey God and to stay out of trouble
    Eve – to take initiative so that she can have children and progress, to become wise

    Other interesting tidbits:
    - Satan talks to Adam first. Is he being sexist? Does Adam look like a patsy? When confronted by God he whines and rants.
    - Adam’s response is just talking past Satan. He clarifies Satan’s authority. (Will he only obey someone above him in hierarchy?) When he listens to Eve’s advice and eats the fruit, it’s because he wants to both obey and to stay with her. When confronted by God, he explains his rationale and then accepts responsibility.
    - Eve is willing to listen to alternate viewpoints, making herself subject to persuasion by Satan who intends to thwart God’s plan. (another NOM connection?) When she realizes Satan was just using her, she still stands by her decision and the journey she has undertaken. She believes in taking initiative rather than passive obedience. When confronted by God, she explains her rationale (but in terms of having been tricked) and then accepts responsibility.
    - God is an enigmatic absentee parent. When he returns, he asks for an explanation, and he takes action based on an assessment of the motives of the players. He is the opening and closing curtain to the little morality play.

    Eve’s story also has many parallels to Persephone from Greek mythology.

  37. Rich
    July 1, 2009 at 7:03 pm

    Young earth theory..??..! If that would be a name for what I’m saying happened in Eden, I’m not sure I get it. But whatever.

    Ray. I appreciate your words. You described what I feel , you honestly feel. I guess mortality will never be a place where I will be able to comprehend taking our Standard Works and interpreting them to say that God needed, wanted, or in any way constructed a plan or any kind of situation requiring even a single act of disobedience from anyone at any time for any reason. To me it’s pure confusion.

    You are in a lot of good company, though. Look at Lehi trying to explain this to young Jacob who seemed to be concerned about the idea of someone having to disobey God. I don’t think this figurative stuff had even crossed anyone‘s mind yet. “if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen” was for Lehi the real thing – a real Adam and Eve in a real situation. That’s why the long list of ‘important’ reasons came along for them to disobey. And remember, Lehi wasn’t saying anything that isn’t being said today (outside this figurative stuff). He didn’t know what else to do with it. And when you finally consider what he said in verse 22 How did Jacob deal with it? As far as the record goes, He just never talked about it again. So we’re not sure. And yet, 2Nephi 2:22 is one of the most misinterpreted scriptures in the Standard Works. Even Lehi didn’t comprehend what he had said and he’s the one who said it.

    How did this all get started? – with what Eve said as reported in Moses 5:11. I call this Eve’s verse. “Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, 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.”.

    WHAT?? — ’Were it not for our transgression we never should have had…the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient.’??

    How do you get redemption then – by transgression or obedience? This verse is one of the most twisted pieces of literature in existence. And the most perplexing thing is that the Lord’s people in all ages have been lapping it up like crazy.

    People!? Can we, at least, think this out a just a little bit? No, Adam! No, Eve! ‘Were it not for your taking the fruit, which initiated, by the power of God, a transition to a probationary state, you would never have gotten all those good things. Unfortunately, you took the fruit when you weren’t supposed to so there was a subsequent fall to a telestial state instead of a unilateral transition to a millennial or ’Eden-like’ state which was the original plan of the Father (a condition only some of us will now get). He had all ready made provisions for a fall but it was not His plan. Why would He ever plan for a fall? – or an act of transgression? But, the Lord’s people just gobble it up.

    Listen, instead, to what Adam said in the previous verse. Moses 5:10 – what I call Adam’s verse – “And in that day Adam blessed God and was filled, and began to prophesy concerning all the families of the earth, saying: Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my deyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God.“ Tune into the ‘because of my transgression’ part. In the English language there are two meanings for the word ’because’ – ’only through’ and ’as a result of ’. Put this scripture right beside what Nephi said in 1Nephi 3:7 ’…the Lord giveth no bcommandments unto the children of men, save he shall cprepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.’ and you will get the Lord’s interpretation for the word ’because’ in Moses 5:10 – ‘as a result of ‘ my transgression – NOT ‘only through’.

    Remember, Adams verse is prefaced with ‘And in that day Adam blessed God and was filled’. What Adam said was under the influence of the Spirit. On the other hand Eve’s verse is prefaced with ’And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying’. Eve was only glad about what Adam had said and went on to say what she said which was all wrong. She took the ’only through’ route.

    Ray. Hawkgrrl. Enjoy your figurative morality play while it lasts. The day will come that it will be nothing but dust in a bygone wind. Reality will prevail.

    By the way. Would somebody tell me what imo, otoh, and iow mean?

  38. hawkgrrrl
    July 1, 2009 at 7:32 pm

    IMO = in my opinion, OTOH = on the other hand, FWIW = for what it’s worth, IIRC = if I recall correctly, etc.

  39. pinkpatent
    July 1, 2009 at 9:38 pm

    Rich, are you suggesting that God never gives commandments that simply cannot be kept? How about the commandment for us to be perfect, even as our Father, which is in Heaven, is perfect? Sorry, but that is a commandment that CANNOT be kept. Jesus was the only one who could keep that commandment. God knows the nature of His children. He KNEW that each of us would come to earth and sin. He knew that we would need a Saviour to rescue us from our sins. Do you REALLY think he wasn’t expecting the fall?

    Whether or not the story of Adam and Eve is mythilogical or historical in nature, to me the message is clear: Adam and Eve were immortal,and in order for them to become mortal, including all that goes along with mortality, THERE HAD TO BE A FALL. The process by which children are conceived (SEX), though considered holy within the bonds of marriage, is really not for those who are innocent, and like little children. Its for grown ups. It requires carnal emotions and desires. Its an activity for adults….adults who know good from evil, adults who physically long for physical contact. Waiting for a pair of hapless eunichs to figure out how to fit A into B is really not the best pathway toward procreation. The fact of the matter is, ADAM AND EVE NEEDED TO GROW UP. God needed a MAN and a WOMAN to start the human family. Could that happen in their “Garden of Eden” state? Maybe, but I doubt it.

  40. Rich
    July 2, 2009 at 1:21 am

    Oh my. This has sure taken a different twist, now hasn’t it? OK pinkpatent, like most of the Church membership, when you interpret Matt. 5:48, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect”, you trample it unrelentingly. And as far as being able to follow all the Lord’s commandments, your argument is not with me, it’s with Nephi. I get that from him as I’ve all ready mentioned (1Nephi 3:7).

    Not only can you be perfect but the Lord has all ready prepared the that makes it possible. You need to realize that I go by the Books. If you have a problem with the Standard Works than we don’t have common ground. We may have different interpretations. That’s fine. What’s not so fine is the fact that you really didn’t have any interpretations (even though that’s what I called it in the first paragraph) because you didn’t use any scriptures in the first place. Allow me.

    Now read Matthew 5:48 quoted above. How can you read a command like that and come away with idea it can’t be done? Maybe I should be asking what your concept of God is. I don’t know, maybe Buddha does that stuff but the Christian God does not. When the Christian God commands, He’s right there to help you accomplish it (Again, 1Nephi 3:7).

    Some people will say that this commandment is not possible because we have all ready done wrong things so no one can be perfect. The main problem with this approach is the lack of honesty of those who use it. The commandment was given to people, all of whom had all ready fallen into sin so the commandment to be perfect does not concern itself with the past, it only concerns itself with the future. People use this approach in an attempt to exempt themselves from the commandment so they can nurture their weaknesses. It seems that some sins are just kind of nice to have around. We are not perfect because we choose not to be perfect. We are not perfect because we choose darkness over light. You see, pinkpatent, honesty is always the best policy.

    When we consider Matt. 5:48, we need to recognize two major differences between Heavenly Father and mortal man. Heavenly Father never commits any act of sin. That’s the easy part — OK, it’s the easy part when you consider the second difference. Heavenly Father is exalted. He is celestially immortal. That’s the hard part. Jesus didn’t command us to ‘become’ like Heavenly Father, He commanded us to ‘be’ like Heavenly Father. He commanded mortal men to ‘be’ exalted Gods. God doesn’t always command according to our mortal capabilities but according to our potential to become. “I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.” (Psalms 82:6) Here He calls mortals, gods. Not that that is what they are but that’s what they can become. God will probably never command a bug to throw a mountain into the sea because that bug will probably never have that capability given to it in all eternity. But we have that potential so ‘imo’ (thanks Hawkgrrrl.) I can see Him commanding us to do that – - – not on a large scale, but here and there. That’s the principle that got Moses and the Israelites across the Red Sea.

    Having said that it is now my displeasure to admit to you that you might be right in what you said in the first place – essentially that learning to follow all the commandments all the time is impossible in this life. I think Joseph Smith made a comment very much like that. If that’s what you say and if that is what he said then I think you are both wrong.
    Pinkpatent, you get on that path that the Lord has all ready prepared for you in order to follow that commandment and apply yourself with all your heart and I think you will accomplish it before you die. Maybe well before you die.

    “God knows the nature of His children. He KNEW that each of us would come to earth and sin.”

    That’s not honest. You are only succoring your weaknesses. You are only trying to exempt yourself from the commandment to be perfect. Probably the biggest problem with mortals is their love affair with their sins. The command to be perfect does not deal with the past. It deals with the future. Heavenly Father did not command Jesus to be perfect. He all ready was. But by the will of the Father, Jesus did command us to be perfect. So do it! And stop complaining (At least your insistence that the command is impossible tells me that is what you are doing.).

    “Do you REALLY think he wasn’t expecting the fall?”

    Of course He knew the fall was going to happen. He knew that because He knew the mind of Satan. The fall was Lucifer’s plan. Heavenly Father simply made provisions for our escape.

    “THERE HAD TO BE A FALL.” WHO SAID!!!?

    “God needed a MAN and a WOMAN to start the human family. Could that happen in their “Garden of Eden” state? Maybe, but I doubt it.”

    Definitely not. Therefore the Father’s plan had our probationary experience happening in a ‘Millennial state. ’As a consequence of ’ (remember?) Adam and Eve’s transgression, at least, part of Satan’s plan was allowed to proceed.

    “The process by which children are conceived (SEX), though considered holy within the bonds of marriage, is really not for those who are innocent, and like little children. Its for grown ups. It requires carnal emotions and desires. Its an activity for adults….adults who know good from evil, adults who physically long for physical contact.”

    If you have a problem with maintaining spiritual cleanliness in any of the procreative activities than I agree with you. You need to grow up. The vision of such a person is very dim and that person has allowed their weaknesses to become very powerful.

  41. pinkpatent
    July 2, 2009 at 10:48 am

    Rich, since you find me dim, weak and obviously on the road to perdition, you are welcome to pay no attention to my remarks. However, I would suggest that my acceptance of my own imperfection is not my lisence to sin. On the contrary, I consider it to be my catalyst toward a repentant life style. My imperfection, and subsequent need for forgiveness, is what allows me to take part in the blessed atonement. It also forces me to be humble, to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and His church, and to listen to the promptings of the Holy Ghost.

    I assure you, I have no problem feeling “spiritually clean” in regards to “procreative activities”. I live the law of chastity. I was merely pointing out the carnal nature of sex:

    car⋅nal  /ˈkɑrnl/
    –adjective 1. pertaining to or characterized by the flesh or the body, its passions and appetites; sensual: carnal pleasures.
    2. not spiritual; merely human; temporal; worldly: a man of secular, rather carnal, leanings.

    I do not believe that “procreative activities” damage my spirituality. But, I also do not consider them to be faith building experiences. I confess, that while participating is said activities, I am not contemplating scripture, remembering tidbits from the last gospel doctrine lesson, or planning my food storage. Always the imperfect one, I allow myself to enjoy the pleasures (blessings) of the flesh. I can only hope that Adam and Eve were just as blessed.

    FWIW, I happen to believe that Adam and Eve were real people. It’s comforting for me to think of them as real people that had to put up with all the same crap that I have to put up with. I joyfully look to them as being imperfect, just like me. Human, just like me. In need of a Saviour, just like me.

    Regardless of what we believe to be the mind set of Adam and Eve, as well as the need for “the fall”, the fact remains that they did fall. I honor both Eve and Adam for their handling of this most difficult situation. I prefer to focus on what Eve achieved, not on the fact that she transgressed. And I certainly honor Adam for choosing Eve over obedience. I guess I am just a sucker for romance…..

  42. Hawkgrrrl
    July 2, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    “I confess, that while participating in said activities, I am not contemplating scripture, remembering tidbits from the last gospel doctrine lesson, or planning my food storage.” Classic!

    “And I certainly honor Adam for choosing Eve over obedience. I guess I am just a sucker for romance…..” There’s a romance novel I don’t need to read.

  43. Rich
    July 2, 2009 at 11:30 pm

    I honor Adam and Eve for their obedience to God, but not their disobedience. I don’t honor disobedience from anyone. And neither does God.

    “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
    And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.”
    (Matt. 10:37-38)

    You don’t choose anyone or anything over God. That was the problem in Eden. They chose to stay together over God. They chose to have children over God. They chose to have the knowledge of good and evil over God. The Latter-Day Saints say that God wanted Adam and Eve to choose those things over Him. The Latter-Day Saints are wrong! The thing I don’t like most about that is that I’m one of them and I don’t like and don’t agree with what they are saying.

    The whole Eden incident is about obedience to God, the Father. And that obedience was simply not accomplished.

    No. I don’t believe you are evil and there is no way you are going to end up in perdition. And you are not weak or stupid which is what I think you meant by the word dim. Let me put it this way. Here is a piece of your dialogue:

    “The process by which children are conceived (SEX), though considered holy within the bonds of marriage, is really not for those who are innocent, and like little children. Its for grown ups. It requires carnal emotions and desires. Its an activity for adults….adults who know good from evil, adults who physically long for physical contact. Waiting for a pair of hapless eunichs to figure out how to fit A into B is really not the best pathway toward procreation.”

    Don’t come across this way. It’s like someone tying to shoot at a target and the bulls eye is directly behind him. You’ve missed the point in a strange way.

  44. pinkpatent
    July 3, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    Rich, I hope you can find some peace in your heart and in your life.

  45. Holden Caulfield
    July 3, 2009 at 8:37 pm

    Wow……

  46. hawkgrrrl
    July 3, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    Well, that was special.

  47. Andrew Ainsworth
    July 6, 2009 at 11:27 am

    Brigham had his Adam-God theory. Based on Rich’s comments on this post, I am formulating a Adam-Rich theory. :)

  48. July 11, 2009 at 4:29 am

    In my new book The God Secret’ I give conclusive proof that the Adam and Eve story was dreamed up by people interpreting ptterns they saw in the stars. It will rock the foundations of Western riligious belief

  49. July 11, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    I know that god did create Adam and Eve!God isn`t there father,God is tere creater!I know that because God does`t have children!

  50. Ray
    July 11, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    #49 – How in the world can we respond to that? I’m not going to try, even though I don’t think your comment is trollish at all. I’ll just leave it at, “I disagree.”

  51. pinkpatent
    July 11, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    Ditto, Ray.

  52. Judy Blanders
    August 16, 2009 at 5:12 pm

    Donned on you? Donned on you? The expression is DAWNED on you. Sheesh!

  53. October 11, 2009 at 8:18 am

    Here is an additional issue: In the Book of Mormon we read that God will give no commandment to man save he prepare a way to do so. It was impossible for Adam and Eve to keep both commandments to not eat the fruit as well as go forth and populate the earth. What do you say about that?

  54. November 6, 2009 at 5:44 pm

    Thanks for sharing this with me Andrew, I loved it! Very eloquent, powerful. The only part that’s hard for me to swallow the beauty of sticking with the adams. If I were Eve, and realized my husband felt he should be 100% obedient all the time, and felt shame in disobeying with me (even if he loved me and wanted to be with me enough to disobey), that would have been very disappointing to me. I don’t want to be with an adam. I want to spend my life with a male Eve! :)

  55. November 14, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    i really enjoyed reading this. I was raised in a Protestant home (brought up in a Baptist church) and found the LDS view of Adam and Eve (particularly Eve) very uplifting. The parallels you draw between Adam-TBM and Eve-NOM I feel are applicable across religions.
    God gave us the ability to question for a reason and we have his laws to guide us as well as those he has graced with wisdom and the power of authority but that does not mean those people are always correct. I am glad I was led to this article in my google search for pictures of Adam and Eve!

  56. Anon
    May 12, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    Why do Adam and Eve have belly buttons? Wouldn’t that imply an umbilical cord from a mother who birthed them?

  57. Dominique
    March 1, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    You have given me an inspiration to my own life in such a way that I have a new understanding about what I must accomplish and acknowledge in my own life. Thank-you. God Bless

  58. Kmstrutt
    May 29, 2012 at 9:59 pm

    You are chronically entrapped in a system of logic that has no place in a thinking society.  I wish the NOM’s a happy journey toward a more open and enlightened to the modern world.  

  59. Rashad
    July 11, 2012 at 8:26 pm

    You all should know that Adam or Eve has to be black. The garden of eden is in ethiopia which is in Africa, and Africa is the orgin of the black race. So please stop making Adam and Eve white!!

    • poiuyt
      January 16, 2013 at 10:26 am

      So what your saying is that if its Africa its Black ?? hmm your racist

  60. Nick
    August 28, 2012 at 8:33 am

    Where are you getting the notion that Adam was specifically approached to eat the fruit? I’m not a Mormon, so perhaps there’s a Mormon version of the story where this happens, but in the Bible, Eve is tempted by the serpent, takes the fruit and gives it to Adam, who was with her. There’s no biblical passage which describes the serpent tempting Adam, so where is the text you’re drawing on to characterize him as a TBM?

  61. unknown
    January 16, 2013 at 10:27 am

    Adem and Eve’s story is written in both Bible and Quran ; so what religion really where they??