2 Nephi 2. Adam’s “Dilemma”
The Book of Mormon says that God told Adam not to eat of the forbidden fruit, yet he also told him to have children, thus placing Adam in a situation where he has to break one law in order to obey another (2 Nephi 2). How can we explain this, in view of the fact that the Bible teaches that God never tempts man (James 1:13-14)?
The story as told in the Book of Mormon does not imply that God tempted man. But we do know that he tests men, as he tested Abraham-though the King James version of the Bible reads, in Genesis 22:1, “God did tempt Abraham.” God gives us choices, but he does not persuade us to do evil, which is what the passage in James means.
Several things must be said before we can even begin to understand the nature and impact of the fall: 1) Each of us lived in a premortal world as spirit children of our Heavenly Father. 2) The plan of salvation required that we come to an earth to experience mortality. 3) A Savior was chosen in the premortal world (see 1 Peter 1:20), to ransom us from the grave and from sin. 4) Adam was foreordained to begin the entire cycle.
We must remember that Adam and Eve had a very specific mission and that the commandment received of God concerning the eating of the fruit was different from any other commandment ever given to the human family, for the Lord also said, “thou mayest choose for thyself for it is given unto thee” (Moses 3:17). Adam could have remained in the Garden of Eden forever had he elected to do so. Yet God used His foreknowledge of Adam’s actions to bring about his righteous purposes. Lehi declared that “all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things. Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:24).
The foreordination of Christ demonstrates God’s advance preparation for the fall that he knew would come. Adam’s “dilemma” was by no means unresolvable. The Father never at any time hindered Adam from choosing to remain in his paradisiacal state. The fact that Adam could have remained in the garden in the presence of God had he not partaken of the fruit (2 Nephi 2:22-24) may indicate that for him to not have children in a condition of innocence would have been no sin, in spite of God’s commandment to “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (Genesis 1:28).
This is consistent with the idea that God does not hold us accountable for that which is physically impossible to perform, as in the case of the temple in Jackson County, Missouri (D&C 124:49-51). Yet, if Adam had not partaken of the fruit, we would not have come to earth with a chance to live again with God, the plan of salvation would have been void, and God’s plans would have been frustrated.
Most would agree that God, being perfect, would not create anything imperfect. And yet, in order for earth life to be a test for us, there had to be both good and evil present. God would not create the evil, so he provided a way by which Adam, making a choice, brought evil and mortality (i.e., death) into the world. At the same time, the earth itself suffered the effects of Adam’s fall (Genesis 3:17-18). Thus, God, while remaining perfect, made it possible for our imperfect world to exist as a testing-ground for us. As part of his plan, he sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to provide the means whereby both mankind and the earth can become perfect again.
 Remember that no unclean thing can dwell in the presence of God, and Adam was in the presence of God while in the garden.