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Dear Gramps,

We know that there were two Commandments given to Adam and Eve. I understand that they “lived in a state of innocence” and that they could not have children until the fall. I’m confused because of two things; first, I thought God won’t give Commandments we can’t handle; second, if that is the case here, that means they HAD to eat the fruit to obey a commandment, almost forcing them to do so – No agency.

Justin

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Answer

 

Justin,

The question you have asked covers a few scriptures I will begin quoting, as this will provide a good basis to draw my response from.

1) First commandment Adam and Eve received, “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” (Genesis 1:28)

2) The second commandment Adam and Eve received, “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Genesis 2:17)

3) Adam and Eve being in a state of innocence, “And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.” (2 Nephi 2:23)

4) God not giving us more than we can handle, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

In answer to your first question, which stems from the fourth scripture shared, we are informed that with every temptation (which is not more than we can bear) is a way to escape. Our personal use of our moral agency, which God has provided us, will determine if we choose the way of escape, or if we choose to give into a temptation that we could handle — otherwise God would be a liar and would cease to be God.

In this case, Adam and Eve, did not lose their agency (or as you shared – “No agency”). Their moral agency, which God had given, remained in tact throughout this whole scenario. Elder D. Todd Christofferson provided a wonderful talk regarding our moral agency and what is required for our moral agency to remain in tact:

1) First, there must be alternatives to choose among. Lehi described it as opposites, or “opposition.”
2) Second, for us to have agency, we must not only have alternatives but we must also know that they exist and what they are.
3) Third, after the existence of choices and a knowledge of choices, is the next element of agency: the freedom to make choices.

When we review the given story of Adam and Eve we can fully see there was opposition (the trees). Adam and Eve knew of the different types of trees, and Adam and Eve knew of the results if they chose to partake of some and what would happen if they partook of another. We also know according to this verse of scripture, “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, nevertheless, thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee; but, remember that I forbid it, for in the dday thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die,” that they had the freedom to make a choice. In this case, the command to multiply and replenish the earth doesn’t remove their agency in the least. The command to multiply and replenish the earth was only a conundrum for Adam after Eve partook.

This conundrum was solved through the following verse of scripture, “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.” In order for Adam to keep the commandment given unto him by God with Eve, Adam would now need to partake. In light of Elder Christofferson’s three elements for agency to exist, Adam still had his agency. Agency was not lost.

Now, if we are to take the literal meaning you have provided for not being tempted above we can bear, otherwise their is no agency, how then does this explain “sin”? Sin, as you have provided, would be receiving a temptation that is more than we can bear — at least from the paragraph we received. Does God give us temptations that are more than we can bear? No, absolutely not. Every temptation that has come upon, that we have given into, has been something we could bear if we were looking for the way provided to escape. Eve had a way of escape simply by saying “No” and then eating the other fruit.

What is unknown is what you have suggested, “they HAD to eat the fruit to obey a commandment.” This is true to a point. We do not know how this whole scenario would have played out if Adam and Eve did not partake of the fruit. We do not know if God eventually, due to their innocent state, would have informed them, or given them more knowledge according to this plan that they had forgotten. As fathers, at times we forbid our children from specific tasks, and if they break it we discipline them; however, as they mature that same task is no longer forbidden, and the punishment is removed. That is a theory by the way. Just simply stating the “unknown” with a possible reason.

One thing for sure though Justin, Adam and Eve did not lose their moral agency. Their agency was intact the whole time they were in the garden. Due to the abridged story of Adam and Eve, we can see there is much more than what has been given/received.

 

Gramps

 

 

 

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