Mormons honor Mother Eve for the sacrifices she made, along with her husband, Adam, to bring forward the plan of salvation as laid out by our Heavenly Father in premortality. Elder John A. Widtsoe perhaps says it best when he describes the choice made in the Garden of Eden:
In life all must choose at times. Sometimes, two possibilities are good; neither is evil. Usually, however, one is of greater import than the other. When in doubt, each must choose that which concerns the good of others — the greater law — rather than that which chiefly benefits ourselves — the lesser law. The greater must be chosen whether it be law or thing. That was the choice made in Eden — Elder John A. Widtsoe. (Beverly Brough Campbell, Eve and the Choice Made in Eden, Deseret Book, 2003 vii)
Newsweek magazine once said of Eve, “The name evokes too many wrong images — the weak-willed figure in Genesis . . .” I take umbrage at that description of the woman who sacrificed a perfect life in the Garden of Eden for the much tougher life in mortality in order to further God’s plans. Weak-willed? I think not. And here, we have an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, stating that the choice made in Eden is no reason for vilification of the Mother of All Living.
Eve came into this world last, not because she of least importance but, in the words of the living prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley, “Woman is God’s supreme creation. Only after the earth had been formed, after the day had been separated from the night, after the waters had been divided from the land, after vegetation and animal life had been created, and after man had been placed on the earth, was woman created; and only then was the work pronounced complete and good.” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Our Responsibility to Our Young Women,” Ensign, Sept. 1988, 11)
From these two leaders of the gospel of Jesus Christ we gain an entirely different perspective on the first woman who became the mother of all who have lived on this earth from the very beginning.
Eve joined Adam in the Garden of Eden with two commandments: to “multiply and replenish the earth” (Genesis 1:28), and “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 3:17)
In the Garden, the fate of hundreds of billions of Heavenly Father’s children depended upon the events unfolding there. We waited with baited breath, watching and waiting as Adam and Eve dressed and cared for the Garden. We watched as they were taught and instructed and we watched as the second commandment, the lesser and time-centered commandment, was adhered to and by doing that, the first, the certain and definite commandment, could not be followed. We could not be born. Therefore we couldn’t gain bodies and further our eternal progression. As long as Adam and Eve remained in the Garden, we were stuck.
Adam and Eve were immortal, and being immortal they were unable to “multiply and replenish the world.” They were the beginning of the mortal phase of the plan of salvation and until they “ate of the fruit of the tree” would not be able to fulfill the most important commandment given to them by Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. To put it plainly, the first commandment could not be kept unless the second was broken.
Prophets and apostles of old have spoken of the time in the Garden. There are reams upon reams of scripture, both ancient and modern, discussing this very thing. Modern-day theologians such as Matthew B. Brown, Hugh Nibley, Andrew Skinner and others have addressed this time in our history. But until Beverly Campbell addressed it, pulling all thoughts on Mother Eve together, it was never fully understood in my mind the sacrifice Adam and Eve made for us until I read her book.
Eve, when confronted by Satan in the form of a snake, was beguiled by him into partaking of the fruit of the tree. But according to the aforementioned scriptures and books, the actual Hebrew word was not beguiled and it was not something easily translated. But in essence it meant that Eve said, “I’ve weighed all the options and see that we cannot keep the first commandment if we do not ‘eat of the tree.’”
” . . . there was too much at issue to introduce man into mortality by force. That would contravene the very law [free agency] essential to the plan.” (Eve and the Fall in Woman, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1979)
Elder Widtsoe further elaborated:
The eternal power of choice was respected by the Lord Himself . . .It really converts the command into a warning, as much to say, if you do this thing, you will bring upon yourself certain punishment [mortality and certain death], but do it if you choose . . .
The Lord warned Adam and Eve of the hard battle with earth conditions if they chose to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He would not subject his son and daughter to hardship and the death of their bodies unless it be of their own choice. They must choose for themselves. They chose wisely, in accord with the heavenly law of love for others. (John A. Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, Arranged by G. Homer Durham. 3 vols in 1. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1960)
Hugh Nibley, one of the greatest apologists or defenders of the faith of the Mormon Church, said that he believed it was little wonder Satan has had it in for women since the beginning of time. He didn’t trick Eve or foil the plan as laid forth by Heavenly Father. Instead, he unknowingly participated in moving forward Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation.
All these great men and woman, and many more which I have not cited, have stood and been counted in regards to Mother Eve and the events which unfolded in the Garden of Eden. I will publicly state this. Mother Eve was a woman of honor, integrity and loyalty to God, her husband and those of us who were born of her and her posterity, which includes every human being born on this planet. I do not worship her but I revere her and the choices she made, difficult as they may have been. I look forward to the day when I will be be able to kneel at her feet and listen as she tells me of those days and what it was like to step onto a brand new planet and carve civilization out of it. I can’t wait to weep as I listen to her longing for children, which she could not have in her immortal state. I can’t wait to grieve with her for the actions of Cain and his posterity. Above all else, I cannot wait until I am able to thank Adam and Eve for the sacrifices they made so that I could gain my eternal reward.
Oh yes, we must thank Eve rather than vilify her. We must follow her example in choosing the greater good over that of her own. We must understand that had Eve not made that choice, Heavenly Father’s plan for our eternal progression would have been stalled. Eve would not let this be . . . she chose, and because she chose . . . we are.