The Pearl of Great Price is a small book of scripture used by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Members of this church are sometimes called Mormons.
One fascinating aspect of this book is its discussions on what the Fall of Adam and Eve means and how it impacts us today. Mormon beliefs on this subject are a bit different from those of most religions and help to demonstrate the unquestionable fairness and love of God for His children.
The Pearl of Great Price offers this from the Biblical prophet Enoch:
And he said unto them: Because that Adam fell, we are; and by his fall came death; and we are made partakers of misery and woe (Moses 6:48).
To many people, this understanding means we are all born sinful, and so, if we die before we are baptized—even infants with no control over their choice—we are eternally prevented from spending eternity with God. For Mormons, this is not true. Mormons believe in a loving and fair God and it would be entirely unfair to punish an infant for dying before baptism, especially when God chooses the time of death and the infant had no ability to choose baptism for himself.
The Pearl of Great Price helps us understand what really happened when Adam and Eve made the choice they made in Eden. Mormons believe that Adam was taught about Jesus Christ and about baptism. He asked God why he needed to be baptized and was told that God had forgiven him for his transgression in the garden. (Mormons believe the decision was a transgression, not a sin.)
Hence came the saying abroad among the people, that the Son of God hath atoned for original guilt, wherein the sins of the parents cannot be answered upon the heads of the children, for they are whole from the foundation of the world (Moses 6:54).
This means that the atonement of Jesus Christ covers the mistakes made by Adam and Eve. Babies are born pure, but become sinful through their choices. There were some consequences for us that resulted from their choices—death, difficult childbirths, and the need to work for what we receive. However, those consequences do not affect our eternal salvation. When Jesus rose from the dead, He overcame death so we could all rise from the dead. His atonement made it possible for us to repent of our sins and to be forgiven through baptism and repentance. For this reason, Adam was taught to repent and was baptized.
59 That by reason of transgression cometh the fall, which fall bringeth death, and inasmuch as ye were born into the world by water, and blood, and the spirit, which I have made, and so became of dust a living soul, even so ye must be born again into the kingdom of heaven, of water, and of the Spirit, and be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine Only Begotten; that ye might be sanctified from all sin, and enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory;
60 For by the water ye keep the commandment; by the Spirit ye are justified, and by the blood ye are sanctified;
For Mormons, the fall of Adam was not a tragedy. It was a blessing. While Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden, they were not mortal. They had bodies, but no blood. They could not get sick or die. They also did not—and could not—have children. Only when they left the Garden did they become mortal. While this brought about great challenges for them, some of which have become part of our lives, we would not have had the opportunity to be born had they not left the Garden and achieved fully mortal bodies. Mormons believe they understood this and were able to make a choice with full knowledge of the consequences of each choice. They could live peacefully and easily forever in the Garden, which perhaps served as a form of childhood, or they could eventually leave the Garden and start the human race.
When Adam and Eve were baptized, Adam said, “Blessed be the name of God, for 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). He understood that his transgression had allowed him to know the difference between good and evil and to experience joy. When every moment is happy and easy, we don’t know we are happy. We have to experience opposition. When we’ve been sad, we recognize our happiness and appreciate it. Thus, Adam knew that the new trials he was facing would allow him to experience and appreciate true joy for the first time.
His wife, Eve, said, 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).
God knew Adam and Eve would eventually choose to break the one commandment they were given. He planned for this event from the very beginning and provided a Savior to atone for that mistake and for every sin that would be committed from that moment on. Mormons, unlike people of many other faiths, honor Eve for her decision because it was a selfless gift in which she chose to accept hard work and suffering for the ability to have children and to bring mortality into the world. She is recognized for having made an intelligent and wise decision and Adam is honored for following her lead in this choice.