Falls, Sins, Transgressions, Commandments

A couple of weeks ago, we had an interesting lesson on the Fall of Mankind. A number of things were brought up that interested me. One was the difference between sin and transgression.

The way I see it, a transgression is the breaking of a law, while sin is knowingly breaking the law and willfully disobeying God. By this definition, a sin is a transgression, but a transgression isn’t necessarily a sin. This fits nicely with 1 John 3:4, which I’ve heard numerous times from those unfriendly to the Church to make out the Fall to be a horrible thing, something that we as a Church try to explain as something necessary and beautiful.  They were innocent (2 Nephi 2:23, Genesis 2:25), and therefore their transgression wasn’t so bad.

But my real question isn’t the degree to which Adam transgressed. My question is that which has been asked so many times before me; Why did God make the path to a necessary mortality through a transgression of the commandments of God?

Some have theorized that God was testing them to see if they would be obedient for a period of time, and that later he would command them to partake of the fruit.  This doesn’t make sense to me for a few of reasons: 1) Such a test wouldn’t seem to have any bearing on anything temporal or spiritual.  They still would have been required to enter the lone and dreary world where they would be subject to sin and temptation.  2) I don’t believe God would command someone to do something that would result in separation from him.  All of his commandments are designed to bring us closer.  3) A stronger argument than anything I could offer comes from 2 Nephi 2:22, where it seems to teach that if there had been no transgression, Adam and Eve would still be hanging out in the Garden of Eden.

I offer what I believe is the truer answer.  God knew that the experiences we needed to grow and become gods ourselves required a test of mortality and separation from God.  But by his own laws, he can’t simply remove himself from us.  We have to transgress to part from him.  He set up a law that could be broken in order for them to separate themselves.  Here’s the part that some might consider dangerous.  He allowed them to make a decision that put them in the fallen state necessary for growth via transgression.  Some may believe this to be borderline blasphemous.  I knew a missionary who put it this way: “It sounds like God set them up to get screwed.”  I don’t see it that way.

You see, God knows the beginning from the end.  He doesn’t ever command someone to sin, but he knows they’re going to do it.  So he uses others’ choices to further his own ends.  Take the crucifixion of Christ for example.  In 2 Nephi 10:3 it explains that it was necessary for Christ to live among the Jews, because they were the only ones wicked enough to crucify their Messiah.  He used the bad choices of others to complete his Son’s atonement.

But in the case of Adam and Eve, God didn’t even allow them to sin.  From certain scriptures (Moses 4:14, and others that seem to imply such), we know that children can trangress the law.  Heck, if you punish your 3-year old child for coloring on the wall, you know this.  They break the law, and there are temporal consequences, like time-out.  Nevertheless, they are innocent, and are therefore not eternally accountable for their decisions.  Adam and Eve’s innocence allowed them to pay for their decisions temporally (because it was merely transgression), and yet remain unstained from sin (see Moroni 8:8, 20, 22 that it still required Christ to atone for children, which he did because of their innocence).

Adam and Eve were innocent, and therefore they fulfilled God’s plan by transgressing the law, and yet God didn’t cause them to sin in the process.

I imagine that some readers (if I still have any after my absence) might have qualms with this doctrine.  I invite any comments, as this is a merely a question and a theoretical answer.

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