Redeemed by the Savior from fall, man is born innocent into the world

We are greatly blessed to live in an age when the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored to the earth in its fullness. However, even though we live in such marvelous times, all is not well in Zion nor in the world in general. There continue to be an increasing number of individuals, marriages and families, within and without the Church, who are experiencing serious social and emotional problems. As members of the Church, we have been counseled to turn to God, to the scriptures, and to the words of our living prophets for answers. . . .

At first glance, one may wonder how the doctrine of creation . . . can in any way relate to the solving of our present problems, but it is really quite fundamental. One of the most basic reasons for the detailed manner in which the creation is outlined is to teach the divine origin and potential of man. . . . As we know who we really are, we are better able to face the challenges of life. . . .Most of the Christian world teaches that we inherited an evil, sinful nature from Adam and Eve. . . . Because of this teaching, many Christians are led to view Adam and Eve with disdain, thinking that if they had not partaken of the forbidden fruit, we would all be living in a state of peace . . . in the Garden of Eden. They teach that we would not be "plagued" by our sinful, carnal nature. These ideas . . . are simply false. . . . The carnal nature, when taught in this manner becomes an excuse for sin.

Being all-knowing, the Lord understood that for us to become like Him we must develop our divine attributes in the same manner in which He did. We must come to an earth and experience growth through opposition. (See 2 Ne. 2:15.)

Some of us falsely believe that our problems are caused by our circumstances and we attempt to solve our problems by changing our environment. We falsely believe that a divorce, job change, or other changes in our circumstances will bring the happiness we seek. The scriptures plainly teach, however, that regardless of circumstance, " . . . he that is happy shall be happy still; and he that is unhappy shall be unhappy still." (Mormon 9:14.) Hopefully, we will eventually come to the realization that even though our spouse, job or other circumstances may have changed, our problems remain the same. The changes that need to come about are not in our circumstances, but in our hearts. . . .

The fall of Adam and Eve introduced spiritual and physical death into the world. . . . However, through the atonement of Jesus Christ all mankind has been redeemed from the fall of Adam and Eve and is free from the effects of their transgression. Man is not "born in sin" as many would have us believe but is redeemed from the fall and born into the world innocent. (See D&C 93:38.)

From the age of accountability, we pass beyond innocence and begin to be accountable for our own fall which follows as a consequence of our own disobedience and our adopting of the traditions of our fathers. (See D&C 93:38-39.)

I have had the privilege of working with many individuals who have been physically and emotionally abused. They have truly suffered "the iniquity of their fathers." (Num. 14:18.) Those who have successfully worked through the implications of this kind of abuse have eventually come to the same conclusion: "There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man." (Mark 7:15.) Note the following example of this truth in the words of a former student:

"As a child I was abused by my older brother. At the time I knew what my brother did was wrong, yet I still loved him. As I grew older, however, I learned to hate him. As I came face to face with the everyday problems of life, I didn't accept the responsibility for my own mistakes and faults. I looked . . . for someone or something else to blame. I began having problems with my physical health, but when I began to get well I refused to accept it. I didn't want to return to the everyday problems that would be waiting for me. That was when the hate for my brother really grew. In my mind, all of my problems were his fault. I realize now, it was then that it became my sin. My hate, my anger was what hurt me - it made me sick. . . . I hated myself, my family, my friends, this earth and its Creator. . . . That's where the gospel came in. That was when I finally realized there was something more to life than my bitterness. . . . "

Interestingly enough, by blaming our circumstances for our problems we also give up any real hope for peace. For in thinking this way, our happiness is dependent upon circumstances which may be largely out of our control. This isn't to say that the fall of Adam and Eve, the sins of our parents or our circumstances in general haven't influenced us; they have, but they haven't made us evil or ruined our lives. . . .

It is my belief and experience that the majority of the psychological/emotional problems we face can be alleviated by understanding and living the gospel of Jesus Christ. Indeed there are problems which are not the result of our own sins nor the sins of our parents, but these are the exceptions. [The disciples asked who had sinned, the blind man or his parents. The Savior said neither had sinned, but "the works of God should be made manifest" in the blind man. (John 9:1-3.)T The disciples understood the rule; the Savior taught them the exception. . . .

In addition to blaming someone or something else for our problems, many of us expect someone else (friend, bishop, therapist, etc.) or something else (medication, therapy, book, seminar, etc.) to be the solution to our problems. By seeking answers from these sources first, we deny ourselves of a marvelous opportunity for spiritual growth and maturity.

The scriptures are filled with examples of [peopleT who found the answers they were seeking by petitioning God and living by His word in spite of the magnitude of the challenges they were facing. (See Isa. 31-37; 2 Kings 5:1-14; Joseph Smith - History 1; D&C 121:1-10.)

The Savior taught that the "key of knowledge [is theT fullness of the scriptures." (Luke 12:53, JST.) The restoration of the fullness of the scriptures through the Prophet Joseph Smith provides the means by which each of us can learn to understand ourselves, the world around us and the heavens beyond. Many will argue the point that the gospel truths are "too simplistic" to address the complex problems of our day. I have observed that it is not the gospel which is too simplistic, it it our understanding and obedience that is lacking.

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