“Why did the Lord command Adam and Eve to multiply in the Garden of Eden when they could not have children before the fall?” New Era, Sept. 1973, 13–14
Answer/Daniel H. Ludlow
One important point to consider in this question is whether or not Adam and Eve could have had children while they were in the Garden of Eden. The scriptures do not say Adam and Eve could not have children; they say Adam and Eve would not have had children if they had remained in a state of innocence, not knowing good from evil.
For example, note the words of Lehi in explaining the situation of Adam and Eve before the fall: “And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.” (2 Ne. 2:23. Italics added.) This scripture seems to indicate that Adam and Eve were physically capable of having children in the Garden of Eden (thus they could have had children), but so long as they remained in their state of innocence, they never would have had children. Remember that Adam and Eve were so innocent in the Garden of Eden they didn’t even realize they were naked!
Sometimes it helps to understand a religious question if we ask ourselves, How else could our Heavenly Father have done this? For example, how else could our Heavenly Father have brought about the necessary conditions that resulted from the fall of Adam and Eve? Following are four possibilities, and the only acceptable one is the one followed by the Lord:
1. What if the Lord had created the world in such a way that evil and sin would have been here from the beginning? In this case, God would be responsible for all sin and evil.
2. What if God had created the world in such a way that we never could commit any sin? In other words, what if he had never given us any law? It is true that in such a condition we never could have broken a law (committed sin), and thus there would have been no evil, no pain, or no disease. But if there is no possibility for sin and for the punishment and misery that accompany it, then there is no possibility for good and for the blessings and joy that follow obedience to law. None of us would want that type of world.
3. What if God had created a world where he would give us law (the opportunity of choice) but would not give us free agency (the freedom of choice)? How could there be any real growth in this situation? What development is there if we do things only because we have to do them? Also, how could a just God hold us responsible for our acts if we had no choice in the matter?
4. The other major possibility is the one the Lord followed. He created a world that was without sin or evil, and he placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden in a state of innocence. He then gave law (the opportunity of choice) to Adam and Eve, and he also gave them their free agency (the freedom of choice). Then, and this is a very important point, he did not hold Adam and Eve responsible for any transgression they committed in their state of innocence.
God knew before the earth was ever created that it would be necessary for Adam and Eve to fall so they “would have seed.” Thus, even before the earth was created, Jesus Christ had agreed that he would pay the penalty required by the law of justice for the transgression of the law that resulted in the fall of Adam and Eve. The scriptures refer to the Savior as “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8), and they indicate that Jesus Christ had agreed to bring about the atonement before the earth was ever created (1 Pet. 1:19–20; Eph. 1:4; Moses 5:57; D&C 121:32; Mosiah 18:13; Ether 3:14).
The second part of the question states, in essence, “Why didn’t the Lord prepare the way for Adam and Eve to keep the commandment to multiply?”
The answer to this question is that the Lord did prepare the way.
In this dispensation the Lord has revealed through Joseph Smith additional information concerning the status of Adam and Eve both before and after the fall. In fact, the Lord restored to the Prophet the words of Adam and Eve to each other after they had been driven from the Garden of Eden and had been taught by an angel that Jesus Christ would atone for their transgression unconditionally and also would atone for their own personal sins upon the condition of their repentance.
“And in that day Adam blessed God and was filled, and began to prophesy concerning all the families of the earth, saying: 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.
“And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and 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 5:10–11. Italics added.)