Note from Tevya: this is a guest post from Curtis Ross. Curtis is an amazing web developer who’s put together an incredible webapp that makes scheduling home teaching and visiting teaching, super easy. As you’ll see below, he’s also a very thoughtful guy who really studies the doctrines.
How better to get us started than to ask my first question. Why and how could Adam have lived for ever in his sins after partaking of the Tree of Life? This is a very specific question and sounds like it would have a very straight forward answer, nope. This is the question that after getting an answer completely changed the way I see the story of Adam and Eve and many of the basic principles of the gospel.
I’m going to start my proposed answer to this question by bursting a few bubbles. The book of Genesis was written as the words of Moses spoken to the children of Israel. These are the same children of Israel who started worshiping a golden calf while Moses was getting the Ten Commandments. I’m guessing he was asking himself how exactly he was going to explain the beginning of man to a people who couldn’t even remember who their God was. This is a story where the principles of the gospel are so intertwined it is hard to navigate through them and explain the events.
Since the beginning God has used figurative expressions to teach principles of the gospel. Christ constantly spoke in parables or figurative expressions so that all those who were meant to understand would. This story is no different, the tree of knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life are both figurative expressions.
As to the Fall itself we are told that the Lord planted “the tree of knowledge of good and evil” in the midst of the garden (Moses 3:9). To Adam and Eve the command came: “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat, 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 day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Moses 3:16–17). Again, the account is speaking figuratively. What is meant by partaking of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil is that our first parents complied with whatever laws were involved so that their bodies would change from their state of paradisiacal immortality to a state of natural mortality.
June Ensign 1982 “Christ and the Creation” Bruce R. McConkie
I guess technically there could have been a tree with fruit on it which Adam was not supposed to take. The truth is we do not know what happened which caused Adam and Eve to fall. What we do know is that it was a choice that Eve consciously made. What they did does not matter. What does matter is the concept that it was the choice of Adam and Eve which brought about the fall of man, not any magical fruit.
So here is another question, “why did Adam and Eve have to choose to fall; why couldn’t God just have gotten it started in a fallen state?”
I know I haven’t even answered the first question yet, don’t worry I will.
So the question about why they had to choose is a great one and the answer reveals some interesting concepts about the nature of God. God is a perfect and exalted being and as such could not have created anything imperfect. Because of this we are left with a situation where man needs to find imperfection but God could not do it for us. Man needed to choose imperfection independent of the actions of God in order for God to continue being God. This is a part of the nature of God and salvation that we can’t forget. God can not make our decisions for us no matter how much we want him to. The purpose of this life is that we make our own decisions which provide us with the knowledge we need to become like God.
So God created a perfect world and put a perfect man and a perfect woman on it. The only thing he could offer was a choice. He provided Adam and Eve the opportunity to choose between two options:
One of the options was to fall from his presence by choosing to disobey him in some way, this is represented by the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Adam and eve chose to fall from the presence of the father by disobeying him. By becoming imperfect they were unable to stay in the presence of perfection.
The second option included staying in the presence of God and Jesus Christ, this option is represented by the tree of life. Adam was able to partake of the fruit of the tree of life while in the Garden of Eden just as he was able to be in the presence of God at any time. Adam and Eve of course chose to fall from the presence of God knowing that this was the only way they would be able to gain the knowledge necessary to become like their father.
After Adam became imperfect God placed a cherubim and flaming sword to protect Adam so that he would not again partake of the fruit of the tree of life and live forever in his sins. How is this possible, how could Adam live forever in his sins? The only way we know that a man or woman can live forever in his sins is by becoming a son of perdition. A person can not just choose to become a son of perdition, its actually pretty difficult. You have to have a perfect knowledge of Jesus Christ and then sin against him. So how could Adam have chosen to become a son of perdition?
The answer is that he couldn’t, just as we can’t. God uses the same thing to protect us from his presence (the tree of life) that he used to protect Adam, the veil. The cherubim and flaming sword is the veil. God placed the veil (cherubim and flaming sword) between Adam and himself (the tree of life) in order to protect Adam. If Adam would have come back into the presence of God before he had the opportunity to repent and be baptized he would have become a son of perdition and lived for ever in his sins.
This is why God places the veil when we come into this earth, so that we only gain the knowledge we are ready to be accountable for.
To back up my belief that the cherubim and flaming sword is the veil here is a scripture:
“And he made the vail of blue, and purple, and crimson, and fine linen, and wrought cherubims thereon.”
This scripture states that in the Old Testament the cherubim was actually stitched onto the veil in the temple.