Whenever we enter the temple and participate in an endowment session, we are placed in the position of Adam and Eve and accompany them on their journey through creation, fall, and redemption. Our modern endowment sessions involving watching a movie do not convey this participatory role quite as well as live sessions. And based on the Nuavoo Endowment Company record, the original endowment companies were even more immersive and interactive. But there are nevertheless moments even in a modern session where we fully get a taste of the participatory role of the endowment. For instance, the brethren are asked to stand and close their eyes as Adam is asked to do so. Those who have been through the temple can also think of other similar moments.
Elder N. Eldon Tanner in his talk from the Sunday Morning Session (final session!) of the October 1971 conference similarly asks us to place ourselves figuratively in the shoes of Adam and Eve. He begins by asking us to consider “God’s first question to Adam, “Where art thou?” He describes it as “a direct and searching question that applies to every one of us today.”
Elder Tanner relates how Adam must have felt after having eaten of the forbidden fruit . He describes that Adam first “had hidden himself because he was ashamed” and then when he was confronted “Adam, as we all are inclined to do, tried to blame someone else . . . ”
God will from time to time ask us the question “where are thou?” not because he doesn’t know the answer, but because he wants us to consider the answer. Elder Tanner notes that god “knew where Adam was . . . but he was calling Adam to consider the seriousness of his actions and to report to him.” We likewise are called to report and account for our conduct and for our mistakes.
We must all place ourselves in Adam’s shoes. For “[w]e are all like Adam in that . . . we partake of ‘forbidden fruits or do the things we are commanded not to do.” When we do so, we have a choice how to respond. When can be ashamed “and . . . draw away from the Church and god and hide ourselves” Alternatively, we can draw towards God in repentance. Individuals and societies have fallen because they “refuse[d] to repent and turn to God, and quit hiding . . . from him.” But we have the great “promise that if we will serve god we will be saved from destruction.” Even if we wander off the path, he will provide for us a savior and help us to return to him.
Likewise, we are all again in Adam’s shoes as we witness him offering sacrifices out of obedience without knowing the full meaning of his sacrifice. Like Adam, “[s]ometimes we do not understand why ti is necessary for us to keep the commandments and do certain things to receive certain blessings, except the Lord commanded it.” Again, Adam’s example is instructive, but this time for his commendable faith. Rather than become angry at his condition, or begin to doubt the Lord, Adam remained faithful in doing the things of God even though he did not fully understand them. And when tempted by Satan, Adam reject his temptations and continued to give praises to the Lord.
Adam’s example in the scriptures and the endowment ceremony is thus deeply instructive to us. Adam was overcome by shame, guilt, and doubt. Because of his actions he was cast out from God’s presence. And yet, through faith and obedience he managed to repent and to begin to take the steps needed to come back to the presence of God.
God’s question “where art thou?” and the modified version “where goest thou?” are thus timely question for each of us. In our spiritual devotion and in our life’s journey we are ultimately replicating Adam’s journey. We are either moving away from God through the temptations of the devil, or back towards God through the power of the atonement of Christ. Adam was faithful in all things and therefore entered into God’s presence. We likewise should strive to do likewise.
All the posts from this session:
Strategies for Seeking the Lost (Nathaniel Givens at Difficult Run)LDS Conference October 1971- Shame, the Potemkin ’50s, and Generational Wonders (J. Max Wilson at Sixteen Small Stones)Where Are We and Where Are We Going? (Daniel Ortner at Symphony of Dissent)The Starry Heavens and the Moral Law (Ralph Hancock at The Soul and The City)“The True Gift” (Michelle Linford at Mormon Women)“And, Behold, Thou Art My Son” (Walker Wright at Difficult Run)Lost People (SilverRain at The Rains Came Down)Life, and Living, With Simple Purpose