I have a very difficult time understanding the fall. How could God give Adam and Eve commandments that were in opposition to each other? And even more, how could God curse them for transgressing if He wanted that to happen? I know He did not set them up for failure, I just want to understand well. I understand how the fall was necessary. My question is about how it came to pass, it is very difficult to understand. Thank you very much.
Associated with the fall of Adam and Eve is the concept of free agency, which is one of the greatest gifts of God to man. God’s gifts are not given as wrapped packages that we open and there they are. Some of the gifts must be merited before they are received, such as forgiveness of sin, which requires repentance before it is given. Other gifts are given to all without regard to merit. One such gift if the resurrection, which is given freely to all living things at the cost of infinite suffering on the part of the Savior.
The precious gift of free agency required that contrary options exist for the gift to be manifest. In their pre-mortal state, Adam and Eve lived in a blessed terrestrial environment, where peace, love and harmony were the natural components of their environment. Since agency gives us the God-like option of being able to choose between good and evil, and the burden of responsibility for the results of our choice, Adam and Eve had to be placed in an environment where such options were available. In order to bring that plan about, God gave Adam and Eve two conflicting commandments, both of which could not be kept. This would require them to break one or the other and live with the resulting consequences. They were required to multiply and replenish the earth; they were also required to abstain from partaking of the fruit of a certain tree. If one were to eat of this fruit the person would be aware of the difference between good and evil, and therefore responsible for the choices to be made between the two alternatives.
Satan was permitted to come on the scene. Because of his evil nature and because he knew not the mind of God, Satan would attempt to get Adam and Eve to break the immediate commandment to not partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. He tempted both Adam and Eve. Adam resisted the temptation, but Eve did not and partook of the forbidden fruit (see 1 Tim 2:14). As a result of Eve’s action she would be banished from the Garden, would be changed to a mortal state with its inevitable death and separation of the body and spirit, and would be remanded to a telestial state. This change left Adam with an enigma. He could keep the Father’s commandment not to partake of the forbidden fruit. However, with Eve now changed to a telestial mortal he could not also obey the other commandment to multiply and replenish the earth. The only way that could be accomplished would be to break the first commandment and consume some of the forbidden fruit so that he would be changed to the same state as Eve.
Here is where Adam’s agency was activated and came into play. He felt that he would be serving the greater good if he went with Eve so that they could have children and thus provide for all of the Father’s spirit children to be born into mortality, experience both good and evil, have the opportunity to learn to choose good over evil, to accept the great principles announced by the Savior and his servants encompassed in the plan of salvation, and known as the gospel of Jesus Christ. Following that plan would propel its adherents back into the presence of God their Father as immortal, eternal beings, enabled to continue their progress until they would obtain perfection in the celestial kingdom of God.
So you see that the pivotal action in the Garden of Eden opened the way for the salvation of all mankind–even as many as would harken to the will of the Lord and obey his commandments.