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JORDAN - I have a question that has been bugging me sometime about the fall of Adam and Eve that an old friend brought up to me (we're both active members of the church). I've asked it many times but have never been able to find a really satisfactory answer.

When God first creates Adam and Eve he gives them two commandments: First, he tells them to multiply and replenish the earth. Then second, to not eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. However, when Lehi explains about the fall, he says that if they had not partaken of the fruit, they would have not had children (either from the inability to do so, or the lack of knowledge how to do so, I'm not entirely sure) and this seems to me a paradox and leads to my question:

Why would God leave two contradictory commandments with Adam and Eve? If they do not partake of the fruit, they cannot have children, therefore breaking the first commandment, and if they do partake of the fruit, they would be able to have children, but would be breaking the other commandment God gave them. To me it seems like God commanded them to do something that wasn't possible, but that doesn't sound much like God to me. It would be like forcing them to sin, since they can't do both things.

I've heard that not eating of the fruit wasn't a commandment, but it says pretty clearly that he commanded them not to partake of it "lest they should die", and I've also heard that it was a "transgression" not a sin, but neither of those really seem satisfactory, because at the end of it all, it seems that he still commanded them to do something that they couldn't possibly do.

JOEL - This has always been a hard thing for people to understand; myself included. The commands God gave Adam and Eve seem so contradictory. He tells them not to eat the fruit, when it was vital for the success of His entire plan that they do eat it. He tells them to multiply and replenish the earth, when, in their state of innocence, they could not do that unless they did partake of the fruit. So why would God give a commandment that He wanted Adam to break?

First of all we need to understand that at the moment Adam and Eve were created, they were still immortal beings who were able to converse with God and learn from Him about the premortal life and plan of salvation while in the garden. There was no veil between them and God before the fall. God walked and talked with Adam and Eve and most certainly made them aware of His plan. Even though in their inocent state they did not comprehend good and evil, they did have a knowledge of God's plan of salvation.

The situation God put them in is all about choice. The commands God gave Adam and Eve were not necessarily contradictory; He was simply giving them the opportunity to choose for themselves; an eternal principle that had to be followed even in this case. God was simply telling Adam that if he wanted to stay in the Garden forever he should not partake of the fruit of the tree. But He also gave them a greater commandment; that they must multiply and replenish the earth; something they could not do if they remained in the garden. The concept of agency and choice has been an eternal principle from the very beginning. It was there in the pre-existence when we made our choice to follow Christ's plan; it was there when Jesus chose to give up His life to save us; it is with us now as we work out our salvation; and it was there when Adam and Eve chose what they decided was the way things had to be. As God said; "Nevertheless, thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee;" (Moses 3:17).

The fall of Adam was not an accident nor was it an obstruction to God's plan. God knew that Adam would choose the way he did, but it was still important that Adam make the choice for himself, and not just be forced to do it. After Eve was beguiled by Lucifer to partake of the fruit, Adam, who was familiar with the plan of salvation, concluded that Godís command to remain with his wife (see Moses 4:18) was more important than His command to abstain from the fruit; so they made the decision to choose the greater of the two commandments. Thus "Adam fell that men might be" (2 Ne. 2:25).

A possible example of this is in how we keep the Sabbath day holy. We have been commanded that we should do no work or cause others to work on the Sabbath day. Yet if we stop and help someone who ran out of gas and go buy some for them on the Sabbath day so they are not left stranded, we are not commiting a sin. We have chosen to obey the greater law of loving and serving our neighbor.

Joseph Fielding Smith tells us to think of it in the following way:
"The Lord said to Adam, here is the tree of knowledge of good and evil. If you want to stay here then you cannot eat of that fruit. If you want to stay here then I forbid you to eat it. But you may act for yourself and you may eat of it if you want to. And if you eat it you will die."
"As is well known, Adam and Eve did not yet have blood in their veins during their stay in Eden. Thus, they were incapable of having children."(Charge to Religious Educators, 2nd ed. [1982], 124). )

As President Smith noted, God was simply informing Adam and Eve that if they wanted to have children they would need to partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, that blood might enter their veins, and they would then have the procreative ability required.

Thus, there really is no contradiction or paradox. And because the Lord was giving Adam and Eve options rather than commands, He is described as employing the phrase, "thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee."

Even though it might be hard to understand why God did it this way, we should take comfort in the fact that God's will prevailed. Adam and Eve ultimately kept the greater commandment He gave them, to multiply and replenish the earth, and because of that we were able to come to earth and work towards eternal life with God.

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