Lessons from Eve
It is interesting to me that in a church that so avidly preaches strict obedience to every commandment of the gospel we deem Eve’s decision to transgress God’s commandment as a wise decision. First of all, I think we are right to praise Eve’s decision to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. I think this took a great amount of moral reasoning, courage, and faith. But since we are taught to liken the scriptures to ourselves, how should we read our own moral struggles into this story and what are some of the take-away lessons?
Following are a few lessons on life I’ve learned from Eve:
A Lesson on Agency
The first thing I learned from Eve is that our agency is a precious tool that should be used with careful consideration. When concluding she should transgress God’s commandment she proclaimed, “Is there no other way?” The implication being that she thoughtfully considered the choices before her and tried to make the best one.
How often do we meditate on the consequences of our actions and carefully consider all our options?
The scriptures have several examples of moral struggles where the absolute right answer was not entirely clear or easy: Nephi killing Laban, Alma and Amulek choosing not to save Christians from being burned to death, the Anti-Nephi-Lehis choosing to risk death rather than break their covenants with God and defend themselves, to name a few. The scriptures (mostly the New Testament) also have a lot of examples of people who were strictly obedient to the law of Moses or other commandments who were not exemplars of moral behavior. Think about the scribes and Pharisees who were obedient to a fault, but in their hearts, they were not converted.
Eve’s decision reminds us that we are not here to be rule-keeping robots. In fact, doesn’t that kind of behavior sound a lot like Lucifer’s faulty version of the Plan of Salvation? We are here to be moral agents, people who make thoughtful decisions, people who act and are not acted upon.
A Lesson on Relationships
One thing Eve didn’t do quite right is she made this epic decision on her own. Her decision greatly affected Adam’s life as well, and not including him in this decision was not very considerate of his agency or his well-being. Since she did not include Adam in something that greatly affected him, Adam was forced into a bad spot where he had to deal with the aftermath of Eve’s decision, and try to pick up the pieces as best he could.
I think this is a great metaphor for how not to behave in a relationship. Partners need to involve each other in the great decisions that affect both parties. When one partner or another does not follow this moral code, the results are often a sense of betrayal and often a loss of trust.
To take this a step further, what she really should have done is talk it over with Adam, come a unified decision, and then ask God if their decision was the right one. I’m sure, as he has done on many other occasions, he would have approved making an exception to the rules.
Another thing that impresses me about Eve is how she went to Adam and told him what she had done, explaining to him the consequences of her actions and the potential mess she’d made. This is an incredible act of vulnerability, and it must have been a hard thing to do. I think this also applies to relationships as no one is perfect and will eventually have to fess-up to something they regret. Choosing to follow Eve’s example and be vulnerable with your partner might be scary, and it might hurt at first, but in the long run it’s the only way to nurture a loving and trusting relationship.
A Lesson on Jesus as Redeemer
Another lesson I learn from Eve doesn’t have much to do with Eve at all, but is all about the merciful role of Jesus Christ as the Redeemer. God prepared a redeemer for Adam and Eve so they could overcome the effects of having eaten of the fruit of knowledge of good and evil. This part of God’s plan was just as much a necessity as their agency. Without one or the other God’s entire plan would be compromised.
Similarly, we all, in our own ways, eat that same fruit over and over. While it is sometimes wrong to do so, we gain a lot out of it, and Jesus is there to catch us when we fall.
I have learned from Eve to have gratitude for the gifts of reasoning, understanding, and the ability to choose for myself; and for the gift of the Savior who tirelessly invites me to take advantage of His grace and love. I am grateful for His endless invitation. Invitation is the key word, as it implies our role in choosing to accept or deny: “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and sup with him, and he with me” (Rev. 3:20).