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Inspired by this answer to a previous question, in which the answerer stated:

"For example, the Book of Mormon adds the belief that Adam and Eve could not have children before the Fall."

Supported by quoting from 2 Nephi 2:22-23:

And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created...

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.

This leads me to ask how could this be true, given that God told Adam and Eve to "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth." {Genesis 1:28}

It would seem that this is a clear contradiction between the Book of Mormon and the Bible.

How does the LDS church address this apparently-blatant contradiction?

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Also, I just noticed that it seems that people--myself included--tend to say that Adam and Eve couldn't have children in the garden, yet the Book of Mormon says wouldn't have had children. Does anyone know of any place in scripture that actually says they couldn't have children there? Maybe there's another simple explanation that I'm overlooking. –  Matt Jun 22 at 5:22

1 Answer 1

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Mormons believe both passages,

(1) That Adam and Eve were commanded to multiply (Genesis 1:28).

(2) Unless these partook of the fruit of the tree of knowledge Adam and Eve could not have children (2 Nephi 2:23).

And along with other Christians, they also believe

(3) God commanded them not to partake of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17).

So really, the contradiction in Mormon belief seems to be in the commandments God gives to them: multiply and don't eat...but you can't multiply until you eat.

God is forcing them into a situation in which they cannot follow his commandments. Is God the author of sin?

Other Christians don't face this contradiction because #2 is unique to Mormonism.

AFAIK, there isn't a direct, clear-cut answer to this in canon, but here are two scripturally-supported common explanations.


Explanation 1: It was a transgression, not a sin

Mormons consider transgressions and sins differently.

A transgression is violating a law. A sin is violating a law, knowing it to be evil.

Joseph Fielding Smith, a President of the LDS Church said

I never speak of the part Eve took in this fall as a sin, nor do I accuse Adam of a sin...This was a transgression of the law, but not a sin...for it was something that Adam and Eve had to do!

Just as Mormons believe little children cannot sin (Moroni 8:8) they believe that Adam and Eve could not sin, as they did not know good from evil.

Thus, God's commandments were not a sadistic trap that forced them to sin. Instead, because they could not sin, he was offering a sin-free choice: live innocently in the garden forever without joy or pain, or leave the garden, know good and evil, and have posterity.

Eve chose the latter and Adam followed.


Explanation 2: One commandment superceded the other (for now)

An example:

Mankind (according to Mormonism and many other Christian faiths) is still under the command to "multiply and replenish the earth".

However, my adult sister is not participating in this commandment. Why? Though she could physically bear children, she is not married, and God has forbidden adultery/fornication. So on the one hand, God commands her to multiply, but on the other hand, another of God's commandments prevents her, at least for now.

This is the situation that Adam and Eve faced. They were to multiply, but another commandment (temporarily) restricted them from doing that. Had Adam and Eve refrained from partaking of the fruit, circumstances would have changed, i.e. God lifts the restriction, they fulfill his commandment to multiply, without repercussion.

Of course, Adam and Eve chose to take the fruit anyway, and God knew they would, but God wasn't contradicting himself then, just as he isn't contradicting himself now.


Additional notes

It is worth noting that rather than viewing the Fall of Adam and Eve as an unfortunate and evil accident, one which if it had not happened, everything would be perfect, Mormons see the Fall necessary to the purpose of life on earth.

Life is an opportunity to learn to choose good over evil. This could not happen if there was not good or evil. (See 2 Nephi 2.)

And as the sacrifice of the Son of God was planned from the beginning,

And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

Revelation 13:8

so was the Fall (necessitating the sacrifice) planned. Mormons often describe the Fall as a fall downward, but also forward.

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