When it comes to Mormonism, one of the questions I’ve been asked about recently has to do with the role of women in the Book of Mormon. Specifically, why are there so few named at all? This is a very good question. Personally, I think it is to focus more on the ones that are mentioned, of which there are six – Eve (Adam’s wife), Sarah (Abraham’s wife), Mary (mother of Jesus), Sariah (Lehi’s wife), Abish (a Lamanite), and Isabel (a prostitute). These women each have very special rolls that teach us a great deal. I will talk about each just enough to highlight why they were exceptional enough to be mentioned by name.
Let’s start with Eve. While Eve was not really the first woman, she too had a father and a mother, she was the first (or second, if you think Lilith was Adam’s first wife) we are aware of that the Lord, God, introduced himself (or themselves) to. Like all animals, she was innocent and only given three commandments – have children, care for the Earth, and do not lose that innocence (Genesis 1: 28, 2: 15-17). As we know, Eve was tempted by Lucifer and did not pass the test (2 Nephi 2: 18). She became as the Gods, knowing good from evil. She had to make a choice, but was limited to her understanding of what she now had. She did not know of God’s plan of salvation for us. But she knew that she would be taken from Adam and would not be able to have children and thus would fail to obey a second commandment from God and now understood that this was evil. So, how to stay with Adam?
Not knowing of the Lord’s plan for man, Eve thought to trick Adam, and gave him access to the same wisdom she now had (Genesis 3: 6-7). This was her second sin. When the Lord came to Adam and Eve, rather than admit she failed and ask for forgiveness, both Adam and Eve shard another sin – passing blame (Genesis 3: 8-13). Rather than Admitting that she chose poorly, she blamed the serpent for her mistake, and Adam in turn blamed Eve. They were able to repent, but the damage was done and they were cast from the garden, or more accurately – from the presence of the Lord (2 Nephi 2: 19). As they had been told, they did die – spiritually.
Later, Eve tries to excuse her sins – pointing out that if they had been separated, they – Adam and Eve – would not have been able to have any children (2 Nephi 2: 22-23).
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 lesson we learn from Eve is that we should rely more on the Lord. We all sin, but rather than make excuses, we should look to the Lord for guidance and admit our mistakes. The Lord has a way out for all of us, and no matter how deep of a hole one digs, the Atonement will get us out. Yet how much easier on us will it be if we do not dig so deep a hole in the first place? How much should we suffer before turning to the Lord? It is far better to repent sooner than later. This is not just a lesson for women, but one for all of us. So, why Eve? Because Eve had a role in the Atonement just as Adam did. It is important for us to know that she did try to right her wrongs by tricking Adam so they could stay together. Had she not “eaten the fruit” we would not know right from wrong today and would still be as dumb animals. it is because of Eve that we become that which we are – gods as the Children of our Heavenly Father.
Image: Adam and Eva” by Lucas Cranach The Elder, 1528