Friday, 12 January 2007

Breaking the FQI Ice

I decided to jump up to the plate with a post. (Hope you don't mind.)

In regards to Eve and the Choice Made in Eden, I just read an interesting post on the Segullah Blog which mentions the book. I really did like the part of the book she mentions in her post. It's an interesting post anyway, and a nice blog, if you haven't already come across it.

On that note, it may become obvious that one of the things I think about at length is the Fall. (Particularly the way it is presented in the temple.) One thing I have wondered, but have never been able to answer, is, why were two contradictoy commandments given? (Audrey-- I like your take on this, but I'll let you interject if you so desire.) There are so many questions surrounding the fall, but I think they ultimately lead to this. (One question I keep thinking right now: how was Satan allowed in the Garden?) Ultimately, was Eve's choice not a case of wickedness being happiness? What are your takes on the Fall?

On more general terms, thinking of Eve, Adam and Eden, how has the knowledge of the Fall changed your life, personality, relationships, testimony, etc.?


Nancy said...

I haven't read the book or the other bog entry but I am interested in the questions you raise. As for Satan and his place in the Garden of Eden, I'm not sure that he was ever officially allowed or not allowed, but he was necessary. The endowment ceremony certainly suggests that Satan thought he was doing something necessary. I'm not sure that Eve's choice was a case of wickedness being happiness, as her choice brought physical separation from God, pain in childbirth (something I'm not looking forward to at 7.5 months pregnant), hard work (in leaving the fruitful garden) and death to every living thing. But I think that there was still a lot of wisdom in Eve's decision, though it is difficult for us to know if she really knew what she was doing and the implications of her choice. I've even toyed with the idea of naming my daughter Eve, as I feel that the name has a good strength-in-the-name-of-adversity vibe.

Alexandra said...

Ok, I have lots of thoughts about this topic, and going to the temple really helped me realize that one of the most significant lessons taught by the Fall is that this portion of scripture is primarily a test of our own faith in God's omniscience and justice. Clearly there are a lot of things going on in the Fall that we simply do not know, but if we arrange what we do know, I think we can come to some possible explanations that makes sense of the scriptural record we have. Sticking to what we do know, we know that God is just and we know that God's word is truth - so not only would he not give contradictory commandments, but if he says wickedness never is happiness, that that is true by virtue of it being God's statement.

So, possible ways of understanding how the Fall was not a case of contradictory commands, which could lead to the possibility that wickedness could be happiness: According to the limited text we have available to us, Adam and Eve were commanded not to partake of the fruit. But, there are lots of variables here: partake of the fruit ever? Partake of the fruit from Satan? We learn that Eve was beguiled by partaking of the fruit, but perhaps it wasn't the act of eating the fruit that was the transgression, perhaps it was the time at which she partook (perhaps Adam and Eve were to progress further spiritually before leaving the Garden) or perhaps the problem was who she took the fruit from - Satan (Christ is our way to salvation, not Satan). Clearly if God had intended Adam and Eve to partake of the fruit in the way they did - at that time and from Satan - then he would not, indeed, could not, have commanded them not to do so.

In this sense, rehabilitating Eve as a sort of hero doesn't do any more good than has the millenia of maligning her, either way she and Adam were disobedient and either way, God still provided a means of salvation in Christ. But, I think what is most significant, is that we explore ways of interpreting scripture such that our understanding of God's nature is consistent.

Looking at the Fall this way has been an interesting exercise because it has tested my faith in God's perfect - complete - nature and underscored how my lack of understanding a particular commandment is a reflection of my own ignorance rather than any deficiency in God. Exploring the Fall in this way has also helped me avoid the tension inherent in thinking of Eve as Sinner and Adam as Victim and the unequal gender roles this perpetuates. The Fall isn't about Eve being disobedient - though she was - I think it reinforces how each of us, as human beings, are reliant on Christ for redemption.

This is such an interesting topic, espcially since it has had such an impact on civilization: How we think about gender, how we characterize our condition as mortals, what Eden was and represented, etc - so fascinating!

Courtney said...

I agree that some of the consequences of the fall were not so good (pain in childbirth-- eek! good luck nancy!)however, because of Eve's choice to partake of the fruit, we were able to come to Earth-- this is happy! Eve chose something contrary to what God commanded, yet it resulted in our ability to progress to the second estate.

Yes, the endowment ceremony certainly does suggest that Satan thought he was doing something, if not necessary, normal. I guess my question is, if neither good nor evil existed in the garden, how would Satan even be present? If the fall introduced sin and evil (along with obedience and righteousness) into the world, it seems that Satan could not have been allowed into the garden. His mere presence would contradict the foundation of the Garden of Eden.

Wouldn't you have loved to be a fly on the wall?

Nancy said...

Some interesting comments. I would like to respond to Courtney's comment that 'we were able to come to Earth-- this is happy'. I do not feel that this mortal life is inherently happy. In the scriptures, prophets often use words like happiness or joy to mean closeness or one-ness with God and mortality creates a separation from God that can only be regained through leading a spiritual life. So, from my point of view, mortality is inherently an unhappy experience and it can only become happy through the atoning power of Christ and closeness with God. Alexandra - I like your point that in order to correctly understand the Fall (which we can't really do because we don't have all of the information) we must first understand the nature of God - that he is just and loving and merciful. All of God's actions must be consistent with these concepts (ok, so his divine justice and divine mercy aren't entirely clear to us... so much we don't know). And in answer to Courtney's question, yes, I would have love to have been a fly on the wall (or on a piece of fruit!) and witnessed what did happen and to have also been in the board meeting that arranged the Fall and seen all of the flow charts and explanations that went into its preparation, as I'm sure that God doesn't just let Falls happen on their own. I'm sure a few minutes in that meeting would teach me more than I could ever know in a lifetime.

Emma said...

I have sooo many thoughts, not all of which are coherently put together, but I have been reading about this topic a lot lately so there's a ton swimming around in my head.

First of all, I don't think that characterizing a lot of the consequences of the Fall as "punishment" is really that accurate. Things that lead to progress and growth - such as physical labor, childbirth, and even death - may seem to be kind of harsh on the surface, but in fact I think that they are among the greatest blessings we have. Pain and suffering allow us to know joy, and opposition allows us to learn and become more Godlike. Certainly there are hard parts about our mortal probation, but all in all, I think we're all glad that we get to HAVE the mortal probation.

Also, I think God's command to not eat the fruit is very interesting. The actual text in Genesis, to me, has always read more like a warning: If you eat from this tree, you will die. I think that Adam and Eve were not to eat from the tree until the appropriate time, when they had been instructed by God in the consequences and meaning of their actions. When Eve does eat the fruit, it's clear that there's a thought process that she goes through; it's not a spur-of-the-moment decision. There are a lot of conditional commandments that hinge upon there being an "appropriate time" for all things; sexual relations, polygamy, and using the priesthood appropriately all come to mind. I don't think God meant that Adam and Eve were NEVER to eat from the tree of life. Not allowing his children to have the knowledge that eating from the tree entailed would have amounted to the same thing as allowing Lucifer's plan in the pre-existence to go forward.

Um.. enough rambling for now. In addition to Eve and the Choice Made in Eden, another good (secular) book on this is Genesis by Bill Moyers; it's quite interesting.