Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Mother Eve and Her Legacy of Wisdom

This blog post is my Mother's Day talk delivered on May 12th. I believe that Eve's motherly legacy needs to be reconsidered. She is not merely the first biological mother, but also a woman who is an earnest truth seeker and seeks to share it with others. I then trace how other women follow Eve's legacy in becoming effective spiritual teachers for those around them. This is important to note, as not all women will have the blessing of being a biological mother in this life. But every woman is bestowed with the capability of being a part of Eve's motherly legacy by learning and sharing spiritual truths. 

Good morning, brothers and sisters. When I was asked to give this talk, I immediately thought of a time in 3rd grade, where I was supposed to list three things that I would request if I were given three wishes. I can’t remember what two of my wishes were, but I distinctly remember writing down my wish to have six children someday. I did not think that my wish was out of the ordinary, but from my 3rd grade classmates’ incredulity and laughter, I immediately became conscious that motherhood for many was not considered important, even ridiculed.

Today in our world, motherhood is a role that continues to be frequently underminded and misunderstood, and I think it has been only amplified in recent years. As we live in this kind of society, it is often inevitable that we as members of the Church, including myself, wonder about how we should perceive this role. Since I have thought and pondered frequently about this subject for a long time, I am grateful for the opportunity to speak to you about my thoughts on motherhood’s role in the plan of salvation.

To answer this momentous question, let’s go back to the garden of Eden. Have you ever wondered why it was Eve, and not Adam, who decided to partake of the fruit?

Eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil would ensure two things for Eve: 1: a mortal body, and 2: the opportunity to learn the difference between good and evil, or the opportunity to gain wisdom. In choosing to eat of this fruit, Eve set the precedent for her and her daughters to become the literal vessel for all of humankind to obtain these two necessary points for one’s eternal progression. In short, in eating of the fruit, I would argue that Eve had consented to become a mother.

It is important to note that there was an opposing tree in the Garden of Eden, the tree of life, which is supposed to represent eternal life. We know that a cherub and a flaming sword prevented Adam and Eve from partaking of this fruit, which made sense, since, without those obstructions, they would have been able to partake of eternal life without going through mortality first. Rather, just as Eve became a mother through partaking the knowledge of the tree of Good and Evil, Adam and his sons help those who are worthy to partake of the Tree of Life, through their stewardship of priesthood ordinances.

So, there you have it: mothers assist us by giving us a chance to have a mortal body so that we can have the opportunity to gain wisdom. Fathers assist us through administering priesthood ordinances. Both roles are not only complementary but necessary. For that reason, Sheri L. Dew stated: “Motherhood is not what was left over after our Father blessed His sons with priesthood ordination. It was the most ennobling endowment He could give His daughters, a sacred trust that gave women an unparalleled role in helping His children keep their second estate.” I like the idea of motherhood being a literal endowment—a divine gift of power—give by God to us women.
But as I have stated before, in partaking of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Eve distinguishes herself by desiring wisdom. After she partakes of this tree, she then desires for Adam to partake of the tree, so that he will gain the same knowledge as well. 
I would also argue that Eve is continuing to teach Adam her wisdom, as seen through Moses 5: 10-11.
Here, Adam states 3 blessings from transgression, as he states: "My eyes have been opened, I shall have joy, and I will see God again." Eve, however, clarifies and builds upon what Adam has just said. When Adam says, my eyes were opened, Eve explains this to mean that “we shall have never had seed and have never known good from evil.” When Adam says, "I shall have joy and see God again", Eve talks about the joy of redemption given to all those who are obedient. 

I would say that Eve could be teaching and explaining to Adam why the things he had just said are true. Only after Eve speaks, both she and Adam “made all things known unto their sons and daughters.” From this chapter, and from the encounter in the Garden of Eden, I would say, then that Eve set a precedent for the women’s need to acquire wisdom for themselves and becoming spiritual teachers. And I think that this is important to tune into, because while there are many women in the church who do not or who will never have their own children, I believe that all women in the church can nonetheless partake of an important aspect of motherhood that Eve set: the need to learn and teach wisdom to others.

Think of all the women in the scriptures who served as spiritual teachers for those around them, both with children, and without. Think of the women at the well, who desired to know of and partake of the water where she would never thirst, and when she learned who Christ was, she “left her waterpot and went her way into the city and saith to the men, “Come, see a man which told me all things that ever I did: is this not the Christ?” This woman was so joyful in imparting her wisdom to others that she leaves behind the object needed for her physical livelihood in a desert, the water pot, to share the joyous wisdom that she has just learned. Sisters, we can be enthusiastic partakers and sharers of wisdom to help others in their path toward salvation.
Let’s talk about another amazing partaker and sharer of wisdom: Abish in the Book of Mormon. She gained a testimony through a vision of her father, but kept those things in her heart. At the opportune time, however, she realized that she could be an instrument of conversion to those around her. Because of her efforts in rounding up as many Lamanites as possible to view the prostrate Alma, King Lamoni and the queen, she was able to help those around her witness a miraculous, faith-converting experience to the degree that “as many as heard his [King Lamoni’s] words believed, and were converted to the Lord.”

 But Abish’s influence does not end here. It would make sense that some of the men who were converted in that audience became the righteous Anti-Nephi Lehies, who covenanted to never again take up arms, and became the fathers of the righteous 2,000 stripling warriors we hear about. Perhaps when the sons said, “We do not doubt our mothers knew it,” they were not only paying tribute to their own mothers but also to Mother Abish, who helped their fathers become converted to the Lord. Yes, Abish, despite a scant mention in the scriptures, was nonetheless a great spiritual teacher who brought others into salvation. Sisters, let us follow the example of our mother Eve, and become desirous to partake of and share our acquired wisdom. Let us become spiritual connoisseurs, gospel theologians, if you will, through taking advantage of scripture study, prayer, temple worship, and immersing ourselves fully into the gospel of Jesus Christ. And in doing so, we can emulate and share our acquired wisdom, just like Eve, just like the women at the well, and just like Abish.

In doing so, we are mothering those around us, as we are assisting others in path towards salvation. Even a singles ward can be a laboratory for single women to take on a motherly role, as we share lessons to those we visit teach, serve others in our church callings, and seek to uplift those around us. I can honestly say that I have been mothered both in this singles ward and others that I have been in. 

I know that God has entrusted us with an intrinsic role in saving his children, and he is relying on us. I know that motherhood is a divine calling and a holy title that demands reverence, awe, and respect. I know, sisters, that the more we study this topic fully with a prayer in our hearts, we will better understand our role. We can understand what God intends us to become, as mothers on Mt. Zion.

Photo credit by Snappa2006. 


  1. What wonderful thoughts, Sarah! I'm so glad you are keeping a blog--you can count on me to be a regular reader :)

    Hope you are well!

  2. I love the second insight, of women reaching their divine potential as spiritual leaders. It reminds of the following quote from President Spencer W. Kimball:

    “I stress . . . the deep need each woman has to study the scriptures. We want our homes to be blessed with sister scriptorians—whether you are single or married, young or old, widowed or living in a family. Regardless of your particular circumstances, as you become more and more familiar with the truths of the scriptures, you will be more and more effective in keeping the second great commandment, to love your neighbor as yourself. Become scholars of the scriptures—not to put others down, but to lift them up! After all, who has any greater need to ‘treasure up’ the truths of the gospel [on which they may call in their moments of need] than do women and mothers who do so much nurturing and teaching?”

    Great talk, Sarah!

  3. This reminds me of the book, "Eve and the Choice Made in Eden" by Beverly Campbell. One of my favorite books. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Thanks everyone! Raymon, I'll have to read that book--I've never heard of it before. :)