Return to About Mormons home
Fall of Adam
by Robert J. Matthews
Latter-day Saints recognize the Fall of Adam and Eve as an actual event that occurred in the Garden of Eden and has affected the entire earth and everyone in the human family. The Fall was a necessary step in the eternal progress of mankind and introduced the conditions that made the mission of Jesus Christ absolutely necessary for salvation. The four standard works and the teachings of many prominent leaders of the Church are the sources for the LDS doctrine of the Fall. These sources dwell at length on the beneficial effects of the Fall as part of God's "great plan of happiness" (Alma 42:8) for his children and testify that Adam and Eve are to be honored for their actions (see Plan of Salvation; Purpose of Earth Life).
The creation of the earth was a multistep process in which the Fall of Adam and Eve and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden were the final necessary steps in bringing about the mortal condition. Without the Fall, Adam and Eve would have had no children (2 Ne. 2:23); hence, the human family would not have come into existence upon this earth under the conditions and circumstances in the garden. The prophet Lehi explained, "Adam fell that men might be" (2 Ne. 2:25), and Enoch declared, "Because that Adam fell, we are" (Moses 6:48).
After the Fall, Adam and Eve were taught the gospel of Jesus Christ and rejoiced in their situation. Adam blessed God, saying, "Because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God" (Moses 5:10). And Eve was glad, saying, "Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient" (Moses 5:11).
The Fall was not an accident, not an obstruction to God's plan, and not a wrong turn in the course of humanity. "The Lord created the earth that it should be inhabited" by his children (1 Ne. 17:36), and since Adam and Eve would have had no children in their Edenic condition, the Fall was a benefit to mankind. It was part of the Father's plan, being both foreknown to him and essential to the human family. All these things were "done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things" (2 Ne. 2:24).
The Fall brought two kinds of death upon Adam, Eve, and their posterity: the separation of the spirit and the physical body, which the scriptures call the "temporal death" (Alma 11:42-43); and being shut out of God's presence, which is called spiritual death (2 Ne. 9:6; D&C 29:41). Jesus Christ redeems all mankind unconditionally from the two deaths brought by the Fall of Adam (see Original Sin), raises all mankind from the grave, and restores them to God's presence for a judgment (Hel. 14:16-17). The Atonement also redeems individuals from the consequences of their own sins on conditions of repentance.
The Book of Mormon explains, "The natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the Fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the Atonement of Christ the Lord" (Mosiah 3:19; cf. Alma 22:14; 42:9-15). God "created Adam, and by Adam came the fall of man. And because of the fall of man came Jesus Christ, and because of Jesus Christ came the redemption of man" (Morm. 9:12; cf. 2 Ne. 9:6).
The Doctrine and Covenants states that the Fall occurred as a result of transgression: "The devil tempted Adam, and he partook of the forbidden fruit and transgressed the commandment . Wherefore, I, the Lord God, caused that he should be cast out from the Garden of Eden, from my presence, because of his transgression, wherein he became spiritually dead" (D&C 29:40-41). Thereafter, God sent angels to teach Adam and his seed "repentance and redemption, through faith on the name of mine Only Begotten Son" (D&C 29:42; cf. Moses 5:6-8).
The Fall was not a sin against chastity. Adam and Eve were "man and wife" and were commanded by God to multiply (Gen. 1:27-28; Moses 3:21-25; Abr. 5:14-19). Joseph Fielding Smith, an apostle explained, "The transgression of Adam did not involve sex sin as some falsely believe and teach. Adam and Eve were married by the Lord while they were yet immortal beings in the Garden of Eden and before death entered the world" (DS 1:114-15; cf. JC, pp. 29-31).
An inseparable relationship between the Fall of Adam and the Atonement of Jesus Christ is established in ancient and modern scripture. Paul's summation is, "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Cor. 15:22). Latter-day revelation further emphasizes that Christ will redeem all things from death and the effects of the Fall.
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that Adam's role was "to open the way of the world" (TPJS, p. 12); thus, he was the first man to enter mortality, and the Fall of Adam has a mortal effect upon the entire earth. The earth shall die (D&C 88:25-26), but through the atoning power of Jesus Christ "the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory" (A of F 10). "All things shall become new, even the heaven and the earth, and all the fulness thereof, both men and beasts, the fowls of the air, and the fishes of the sea; and not one hair, neither mote, shall be lost, for it is the workmanship of mine hand" (D&C 29:24-25; cf. 101:24-26; Isa. 51:6).
As Lehi declared, "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 must have remained forever, and had no end" (2 Ne. 2:22; cf. Moses 3:9). Various interpretations have been suggested concerning the nature of life on the earth before the Fall and how the Fall physically affected the world, but these go beyond the clearly stated doctrine of the Church. The Church and the scriptures are emphatic, however, that the Fall brought the two kinds of death to Adam and his posterity.
(See Basic Beliefs home page; The Gospel of Jesus Christ home page; The Fall of Adam home page)
McConkie, Joseph Fielding, and Robert L. Millet, eds. The Man Adam. Salt Lake City, 1990.
Packer, Boyd K. "The Law and the Light." In The Book of Mormon: Jacob Through Words of Mormon, to Learn With Joy, pp. 1-31. Provo, Utah, 1990.
Smith, Joseph Fielding. Man, His Origin and Destiny. Salt Lake City, 1954.
Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 1, Fall of Adam
Copyright © 1992 by Macmillan Publishing Company
All About Mormons