Sunday, May 9, 2010

Remembering Mother Eve

I once made the mistake of using an incorrect word while trying to pay a friend a compliment. After being given some delicious fudge as a present, I told my friend that she was infamous for her fudge rather than famous. Sigh. Yes, it was embarrassing. As soon as the words had crossed my lips, I immediately knew I wasn’t going to get out of that situation easily. I had really good intentions, but the compliment never arrived. Unfortunately, every time I think about the fudge she and her husband made for me, I also think about my faux pas. The two seem inseparable. A really good thing was tainted by my error.

Similar to my experience, I often wonder how well the world receives the gift that was given to us by our Mother Eve, because of her transgression. After Adam and Eve were commanded not to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, Lucifer beguiled our mother and she “saw that the tree was good for food, and that it became pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make her wise….” Based on what she knew at the time, “she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and also gave unto her husband with her, and he did eat.” (Moses 4:12)

Immediately following their meal, the eyes of Adam and Eve were opened. Not only did they realize that they had been naked, they knew they had not responded to God’s warning and they hid out of fear. I find it interesting that they tried to hide the nakedness of their skin as well as the openness of their disobedience. But that is another subject, entirely. They found inadequate cover for both and then the Lord provided a better solution. Once they were prepared, they were driven out from the garden.

It may be too easy to judge our first parents based on appearances. Adam and Eve were disobedient, but they were not fully accountable without a prior knowledge and understanding of good and evil. They transgressed, yes, but they did not sin. However, their choice to eat the fruit introduced the potential for sin into the world and made it possible for them and their children to be tested. Both Adam and Eve discovered the effects of their decisions and suffered for them. And yet, while there was a cost to be paid, both were glad for their choice afterward. Eve said, “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.” (Moses 5:11) While she did not possess knowledge before, she recognized afterward that her choice, though it would come with a cost, would be worth it.

In Prince Caspian, of the Chronicles of Narnia, C. S. Lewis wrote about this peculiar dichotomy. Near the end of the story, Aslan the Lion tells Prince Caspian of his less than reputable ancestral line. Prince Caspian then wishes that his lineage were less tainted. Aslan replies to Caspian, "You come of the Lord Adam and the Lady Eve…. And that is both honor enough to erect the head of the poorest beggar, and shame enough to bow the shoulders of the greatest emperor on earth. Be content." Disobedience may not be honorable, but good should not be discredited due to a lack of perfection.

As I have thought about Adam and Eve’s decision that brought both sin and happiness into the world, I have discovered some beautiful lessons that are worth honoring and not forgetting.

Fidelity in Marriage
While Adam and Eve lived in the garden, God commanded that they stay together and that Eve remain with her husband. (Moses 4:18) The same applies to Adam. While there weren’t a lot of other options in the garden, other than to not be close, their faithfulness to each other is largely the reason that Adam was persuaded to eat of the fruit. After leaving the garden, nothing else had preeminence for Adam and Eve, except for God. If couples struggling with marital issues today would remember the counsel given by God, “Therefore shall a man … cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh,” (Moses 3:24) and “thy desire shall be to thy husband,” (Moses 4:22) many marriages could be saved. It is when we turn our hearts away that we are in the most danger.

Raising Families
God has a great love for mothers. Of all the titles he could have chosen for Eve, mother was the most important. “And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living; for thus have I, the Lord God, called the first of all women, which are many.” (Moses 4:26) Adam called his wife Eve, but Moses makes it clear that the title, “mother of all living,” originated with God. Because of her choice, God also told Eve,” I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception.” (Moses 4:22) While bearing children would not be easy, and raising them would be difficult, Eve recognized that we are meant to have joy, and so much of that joy comes from having children, teaching them the ways of the Lord, and enjoying with them the blessings that come from obedient living.

Seeking Help through Prayer
“And Adam and Eve, his wife, ceased not to call upon God.” (Moses 5:16) Raising a family is a lifelong effort with many unknown variables that can influence our happiness. With so much out of our control or experience, we would be wise to call upon God for help to raise His children. When we lack wisdom, He is willing to give us help liberally if we ask in faith. (James 1:5) After they were driven from the garden, Adam and Eve began to call “upon the name of the Lord, and they heard the voice of the Lord from the way toward the Garden of Eden, speaking unto them, and they saw him not; for they were shut out from his presence.” (Moses 5:4)

Again, it is easy to judge the tone of this verse by its conclusion, as though it were a bad thing. Remembering that the decision of all of us in the grand council in heaven was to leave Father’s presence so that we could be tested, we should not condemn Adam or Eve for their choice. They chose to do what we all chose to do, which is to learn by being tested. When we have faith, and repent of our sins, it is as though we never sinned.

The important lesson for me is that Adam and Eve continued to listen to the voice of the Lord God, even when they could not see him. They prayed. He answered. Praying with faith is important if we seek the Lord’s help. However, following the answers He gives us to our prayers is just as important. Adam and Eve set a clear example for us to follow.

Teaching from the Scriptures and by the Holy Ghost
After the Holy Ghost came upon Adam and Eve, they “blessed the name of God, and they made all things known unto their sons and daughters. (Moses 5:12) “And thus the Gospel began to be preached, from the beginning, being declared by holy angels sent forth from the presence of God, and by his own voice, and by the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Moses 5:58) “and a book of remembrance was kept, in the which was recorded, in the language of Adam, for it was given unto as many as called upon God to write by the spirit of inspiration; and by them their children were taught….” (Moses 6:5)

What a beautiful thing to realize that as many of Adam and Eve’s children who chose to pray to God were given answers that were worth remembering and recording. All they had to do was ask. They then passed on what they had learned to their children.

Each of us has the opportunity to be taught directly by the Holy Ghost. Those who are confirmed after baptism are invited and directed to receive the Holy Ghost. He is ready to teach us as long as we are ready to listen and follow.

Becoming Like God as We Choose to Follow Him
Knowing that we, each of God’s children, would fall to temptation and the conditions of mortality, our Father provided a Savior, even Jesus Christ, who would redeem us from the fall. The prophet Lehi taught that this redemption makes us free. Because we are not bound to the conditions of death that were introduced by eating the forbidden fruit, we are free to choose the pathway of our future.

Lehi taught, “Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself. And now… I would that ye should look to the great Mediator, and hearken unto his great commandments; and be faithful unto his words, and choose eternal life, according to the will of his Holy Spirit….” (2 Nephi 2:27-28)

I may wonder at why things happened they way they did, or if there could have been another way. Then I content myself to remember that “all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things. Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.” (2 Nephi 2:24-25)

The greatest happiness in our lives comes when we choose to be like God. We choose to become like Him when we choose good over evil. No matter how small the decision, each choice will carry us closer to or further from God. What a gift this choice is! Every day we, like our mother Eve, are able to experience the lessons God has prepared for us, all because she wanted to be like Him, knowing good from evil. Knowing is not enough, but having faith is. If I ever get to meet mother Eve on the other side of the veil, I am hoping to save a special heartfelt compliment for her. I am so grateful that she made a choice that make all of my choices possible. Did she ever regret her decision? No, and neither do I.

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