“The woman is not the villain of the story, enslaved by appetite and bringing sin and death into the world. She can be seen as the heroine of the story, leading her husband into the brave new world of moral demands and moral decisions,” Rabbi Harold S. Kushner, author and rabbi
“It is the woman who sees through Satan’s disguise of clever hypocrisy, identifies him, and exposes him for what he is. She discovers the principle of opposites by which the world is governed and views it with high-spirited optimism,” Hugh Nibley , Mormon scholar
“…there is no language that could do credit to our glorious mother Eve,” Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon scholar
The story of Eve, our first mother, is too often told negatively. She is often viewed as a foolish temptress who led Adam into sin and brought original sin upon the world.
I don’t see it that way. I think Eve was strong and wise. Mormons do not accept the idea of original sin. We do acknowledge that we live in a mortal state, separate from God, in this life, which includes suffering, and that Adam and Eve began that journey with their taste of fruit. Joseph Smith said in our Articles of Faith, “We believe that man will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam's transgression.”
As a Mormon, I believe every person who ever has lived, or ever will live, existed as a spirit child of God in heaven before Adam and Eve came to earth and received bodies. I hope you will be patient as I try to summarize complicated (and yet sweetly simple) beliefs for the purpose of Eve’s story, including Mormon scripture.
We believe before we came to earth and received bodies God presented us with a wonderful plan we refer to as a “Great Plan of Happiness” or “Plan of Salvation.” Essentially, it is the meaning of life. It outlines how all of God’s children could come to earth and receive bodies (a great blessing), grow and develop here, choose whether or not to return to God, and be redeemed and allowed to return to God’s presence because of the gift of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Then we continue to grow and become like God forever and have eternal families and great joy.
In the Book of Moses, — a scripture from Joseph Smith’s translation of the book of Genesis (however Mormons generally study the King James version of the Bible), we learn God presented this “Plan of Salvation “ to his children during what we call the pre-mortal life. He would give us the gift of “free agency,” or the gift of choice. It is always our choice whether we choose good or evil. Chooseing good over evil will allow us to return to God after our earth life. We then learn Satan offered a different plan to God whereby God would not lose any of his children to sin because we would not have the right to choose. Satan would ensure our return and deny us the precious gift of choice! He also wanted all the glory. He was cast out from heaven (he started as an angel, like us — Isaiah 14:12), and Jesus Christ humbly said, “Here am I, send me,” and “Thy will be done, Father,” making the plan possible through his redemptive gift, the atonement, found in Moses 4:1-4 (Mormons don’t believe in the Trinity; we think God and Jesus are separate beings).
So when Adam and Eve came to earth, it was important they begin to fulfill this plan. Adam and Eve were given two conflicting commandments by God — the principle of opposites, or paradox, mentioned above in the second quote.
The eating of the fruit would make Adam and Eve mortal and able to bear children; they would have to leave the Garden of Eden, where they existed in a state of innocence (not ashamed of their nakedness), according to Genesis 3: 7, 19.
How could they obey both? Not eating the fruit would mean remaining like innocent children in the garden forever, never dying, never truly living, never having children.
After she became mortal, Eve said, “Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed [children], 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).
After partaking of the fruit they were no longer innocent and they had to work and suffer outside of paradise. But they knew true joy (for example, the joy of family) because they knew true pain. One cannot be appreciated without the other.
Satan thought he was meeting his agenda by offering the fruit, his lies and half-truths to Eve, by encouraging her disobedience. But after she ate the fruit she became mortal and became our first mother, and God’s Great Plan of Happiness was able to truly begin. Spirits started coming to earth to receive bodies and fulfill their earthly journey and purpose here. You see, it was Satan who was the fool, not Eve.
I hope others find Eve’s story as empowering as I do!
Laura Kipp is a 20-something Mormon living in Spokane Valley.