I have not blogged in AGES. I'm so sorry. Life has been pretty hectic. I think about it regularly, but obviously it doesn't get any farther. But today I feel that I have amazing things to share with the world!
At church, I am the Relief Society Secretary. This means I attempt to keep things organized in order to be a support to my presidency. When I was first put in, nearly a year and a half ago, I asked if I'd be in the teaching rotation for the monthly presidency message in Relief Society. No such luck, secretaries don't teach. *heavy sigh* That's okay, I love the interaction I get with the ladies as we do home visits, and I have also found that for some reason, the new sisters come to me with their questions. Possibly because I got their personal information from them to begin with.
So the opportunity finally arose for me to teach RS. I have had a message I have felt I needed to share with the Sisters in RS for a few months now, so it was easy to use that as my topic and go from there. Some of you may not know that the presidency message is not an assigned topic or prewritten lesson. The presidency is expected to be in tune with the needs of the sisters in our ward, as well as be in tune with the Spirit in order to know what the Lord would have them teach.
I'd like to blog my lesson, but I want to focus on an experience that I had while reviewing my lesson just last night. My lesson was finished about a week ago and I spent the week reviewing and tweaking it as I felt inspired. I went to the temple and the Lord helped me have a better understanding of what I was teaching, which was really cool. Then last night as I was reviewing it before I went to bed, I felt inspired to look up a certain topic in the scriptures to possibly add to my lesson.
So here's the breakdown. Most of my lesson is taken from Ch. 8 of Daughters in My Kingdom. I also used an essay by Valerie Hudson Cassler (who is an LDS Scholar), in which she expounds upon the stewardship of men vs women by assigning a tree to each. Let me explain. Going back to the events in the Garden of Eden, Moses 3:9 (towards the end of the verse) reads, "And I, the Lord God, planted the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and also the tree of knowledge of good and evil." So here are labeled the two trees. Cassler explains that Tree of Knowledge represents the women's stewardship, and the Tree of Life represents the men's stewardship.
I felt inspired to find the verses that talked about Adam and Eve being forbidden to partake of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. I skim through a couple chapters and finally come across Moses 3:15-18. They read, "(15) And I, the Lord God, took the man, and put him into the Garden of Eden, to dress it, and to keep it. (16) And I, the Lord God, commanded the man, saying: Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat, (17) 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. (18) And I, the Lord God, said unto mine Only Begotten, that it was not good that man should be alone; wherefore, I will make an help meet for him."
I gasped! I read it again like three more times. Why have I not noticed this before? Why has it not been taught in church doctrine, in seminary, in primary? Did you notice? In verse 15, the Lord spoke to the man, Adam, and in the next two verses he tells Adam (and only Adam) that he, Adam, is forbidden to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. JUST ADAM. In the next verse, Eve was created. In other words, Eve was NOT forbidden to partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The only commandment she is given happens in the previous chapter, Moses 2:28, "And I, God, blessed them, and said unto them: Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth."
I have been taught through LDS doctrine that Eve was foreordained to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. She agreed to this in the preexistence and this was her major role in the Plan of Salvation. Her stewardship, which Cassler explains is our stewardship as women, is to put agency into play, opening the doorway from heaven to earth and for women to provide mortal bodies for all of the Spirit Children of God. This stewardship is a Godly power and is just as important as the role of the Priesthood.
Cassler goes on to explain the Tree of Life represents the men's stewardship that we know of as the Priesthood. Their role is to open the doorway back to heaven through the ordinances that provide salvation (baptism) and exaltation (temple sealing). So many women feel they are inferior to those who hold the Priesthood, but that is not the case. Our roles are equal, divine gifts from our Heavenly Father. One cannot take place without the other. Women cannot provide mortal bodies for Spirit Children without the help of man. Men cannot gain eternal exaltation without being sealed to a woman. This right here is why the Church teaches that a family unit is SO important!
But there's more! Amazed by what I was learning the night before I taught my lesson, I wondered if there could be more still. But of course! In Moses 4:6, Satan shows up to tempt Eve. "And Satan put in into the heart of the serpent, (for he had drawn away many after him,) and he sought also to beguile Eve, for he knew not the mind of God, wherefore he sought to destroy the world." The critical words here are, "...he knew not the mind of God..." God already knew what would happen when Eve partook of the fruit. He had given her this divine role. Satan did not know that by tempting Eve to eat of the fruit that all of the Spirit Children would have the opportunity to come down to earth! Had he known, I don't think he would have tempted Eve. As it was, it was important for Adam to not be the first to partake of the fruit. It was not his stewardship and would have possibly caused some major problems in the Lord's plan. But it was important that Eve be the one to eat first and then provide the opportunity to Adam, which means she actually provided him a way into mortality just as is our role as women.
I'm sure Adam had told Eve that they were forbidden to partake of the fruit. It says in Moses 4:9, Eve is telling Satan they are not allowed to partake of that fruit. And yet, Eve had not been commanded by the Lord to not partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
As I said my prayers and climbed into bed, the Holy Ghost confirmed to me these things are true. I was so excited that I could not sleep. Maybe some of you knew this already, but this is a big discovery for me! I think it's one of those things the Lord reveals to us as we are ready for it.
If you are interested in the essay I refer to written by Cassler, you can find it at mormonscholarstestify.org/1718/valerie-hudson-cassler. It is titled "I am a Mormon Because I am a Feminist." I love her perspective, which helped me put into words how I have felt about women and the Priesthood for many years. Thank you Valerie!
My lesson goes on to talk about other aspects of the Priesthood. I hope to blog about those another time, maybe even tomorrow while it's fresh on my mind. So keep your eyes peeled for part 2!