Adam and Eve
Because Adam and Eve chose to follow God the Father, we are all able to come to earth, as they did, to receive a body, learn and grow, and become more like God and Jesus Christ so that we can return to live with Them again someday.
God’s plan of happiness for us is centered on Jesus Christ and His Atonement. This selfless act balances the scales of justice, allowing each of us to repent of our sins and be redeemed. Adam and Eve too had important roles in this divine plan. Their choices in the Garden of Eden (which led to the Fall) enabled us to receive physical bodies and continued the agency that is so crucial to our eternal progression.
In the Garden of Eden, God told Adam and Eve to have children and to know joy, but He also commanded them not to eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Without transgressing the latter commandment, they could never have followed God’s first two commandments. Joseph Fielding Smith, former President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, explains that “Adam’s ‘transgression’ . . . was an essential act which opened the doors for the millions of spirits to come to this earth and receive bodies of flesh and bones preparatory to their eternal salvation and exaltation” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1966, 59). Their complicated choice was a vital part of God’s plan for us. As noted by Church scholar Robert J. Matthews: “Mortality was an essential step in the progress of the human family. . . . God does for human beings only what they cannot do for themselves. Man must do all he can for himself. The doctrine is that we are saved by grace, ‘after all we can do’ (2 Nephi 25:23)” (A Bible! A Bible! , 186).
As with all choices we make, Adam and Eve’s choice to partake of the fruit had consequences. God Himself warned, “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shall not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:17). When God saw that Adam and Eve had eaten the fruit, they were cast out of the garden and became mortal beings, which means they would be subject to mortal death—but also that they would be able to populate the earth. As it says in Genesis, “Thou [Eve] shalt bring forth children. . . . And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living” (Genesis 3:16, 20). God’s spirit children would now be able to have physical bodies.
Adam was the first of God’s children to come to earth. But even before he came to earth, he was involved in God’s plan of salvation. From the scriptures we learn that Adam’s premortal name was Michael; he is the same Michael who led the hosts of heaven in a war against Satan and his followers before they were cast out (see Revelation 12), never to come to earth to receive bodies and never to receive salvation. This battle took place after the Council in Heaven where God gathered all of His spirit children together to teach them about His plan of redemption.
While we typically consider opposition to be a negative thing, understanding it through the context of Adam and Eve’s experience helps us to better appreciate the opportunity each of us has to make decisions—if we didn’t have opposition, there would be no choices to be made, and so there would be no purpose in having agency. Without being able to make choices, we couldn’t learn and grow.
When considered out of context, Adam’s transgression could certainly be considered negative, as could the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ. However, these events were essential pieces of God’s plan for our happiness in this life and our salvation in the next. Adam and Eve’s choice resulted in them providing physical bodies for God’s spirit children; Jesus Christ’s choice in Gethsemane and at Calvary led to His Atonement and Resurrection, the two most significant events in the history of the world.
Together these heroic acts meant we could come to earth, obtain a physical body, and exercise agency. As we exercise our agency, we make important choices and experience life-defining consequences that can give us wisdom and teach us about faith, sin, repentance, and forgiveness. We experience joy and sorrow, and we discover that, despite our natural tendency to sin, the Atonement provides a way for us to draw closer to our Heavenly Father and become who we yearn to be.
This is the beautiful plan created by God, executed by Jesus Christ, and embraced by Adam and Eve, each of whom had a part in bringing about the remarkable opportunities we now enjoy on earth as God’s children.
Crucial to God’s plan were agency and opposition—these two things provided the way for us to prove ourselves and progress in our journey to return to live with our Father in Heaven. Jesus supported God’s plan, offering Himself as the one who would be sacrificed as part of that plan to pay for our sins. Satan opposed the plan and tried to suppress the agency of humankind, encouraging our Father’s children to follow him instead. Adam’s role as the archangel Michael helped ensure that God’s plan for us would be fulfilled.
The choice that Adam and Eve had to make in the Garden of Eden teaches us about opposition. In the Book of Mormon we read:
“For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, . . . righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. . . .
“And to bring about his eternal purposes in the end of man, after he had created our first parents, and the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and in fine, all things which are created, it must needs be that there was an opposition; even the forbidden fruit in opposition to the tree of life; the one being sweet and the other bitter” (2 Nephi 2:11, 15).
“Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy. . . .
“And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves. . . .
“They are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death” (2 Nephi 2:25–27).
These passages help explain the noble roles of Adam and Eve, as well as to clarify the role opposition played in their lives and in our own. Adam and Eve were created in God’s image, as are we. Like them—and because of them—we have the chance to obtain physical bodies and progress on earth. We are all part of their family, and we will all have the opportunity one day to live together again with our Heavenly Father.