When I tell my toddler twins "no," sometimes they stop what they're doing because they understand the meaning of that word. Sometimes though, they just keep doing whatever it is that I asked them not to do. Though it is disobedient, it is not an act of rebellion. At 1 1/2 years old, they don't have an understanding of the world sufficient to be able to rebel. They know the meaning of my words and they are beginning to understand consequences ( like "hot") but they don't understand right and wrong. Because they are human and subject to the needs, emotions, and discomforts of a mortal body, children do things that are not right. Even so, they are innocent because of their lack of understanding. Young children cannot sin; they cannot even understand right and wrong. It is our job as parents to teach them right from wrong, and though they are subject to the natural consequences of their actions (like getting hurt when they jump off the couch), they are not held accountable for their wrongdoings until they are old enough to understand the difference between doing a 'wrong thing' and doing something that is 'wrong' (a concept that requires abstract thinking abilities).
When Adam and Eve were first placed in the Garden of Eden they were innocent as children. Like children, they did not understand the abstract concept of right and wrong. God told them not to partake of the fruit of the tree of Knowledge, warning them that it would bring them death. Though they understood this warning and transgressed the law by eating the fruit, they did so as innocent children. Eating of the tree was what gave them knowledge that there was right and wrong. Before they partook of the tree and gained knowledge of what was good and what was evil, how could they have chosen to do one or the other?
In the Garden of Eden, they were capable of living forever and had the privilege of living in God's presence. As a natural consequence of eating of the fruit, their bodies became mortal and corruptible. They became subject to the trials and difficulties of mortal life and to the needs and discomforts of a mortal body. They became capable of sin. They were no longer able to be in God's presence.
"Wherefore, it came to pass that the devil tempted Adam, and he partook of the forbidden fruit and transgressed the commandment, wherein he became subject to the will of the devil, because he yielded unto temptation. Wherefore, I, the Lord God, caused that he should be cast out from the Garden of Eden, from my presence, because of his transgression, wherein he became spiritually dead...But, behold, I say unto you that I, the Lord God, gave unto Adam and unto his seed, that they should not die as to the temporal death, until I, the Lord God, should send forth angels to declare unto them repentance and redemption, through faith on the name of mine Only Begotten Son." D&C 29:40-42 And the days of the children of men were prolonged, according to the will of God, that they might repent while in the flesh; wherefore, their state became a state of probation, and their time was lengthened, according to the commandments which the Lord God gave unto the children of men. For he gave commandment that all men must repent; for he showed unto all men that they were lost, because of the transgression of their parents. 2 Ne. 2:21 For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father. Mosiah 3:19 But behold, I say unto you, that little children are redeemed from the foundation of the world through mine Only Begotten. D&C 29:46God knew that the Fall would happen and that men would thereby become subject to physical and spiritual death (separation from God). Before it even occurred, God, with infinite love and mercy, provided a way for man to overcome these effects of the fall. Christ's atonement makes it possible for us to be cleansed from sin and to be resurrected. Thus, through Christ, we may return, spirit and body bound in a perfect and incorruptible whole, to live in the presence of our Father.
Some of my friends have expressed discomfort in knowing how to teach their children about the Fall. There need be none. In 1913 James E. Talmage declared "I take this occasion to raise my voice against the false interpretation of scripture, which has been adopted by [some] and is referred to in a hushed and half-secret way, that the fall of man consisted in some offense against the laws of chastity and virtue...What right have we to turn the scriptures from their proper sense and meaning? ...The fall was a natural process, resulting through the incorporation into the bodies of our first parents of the things that came from food unfit, through the violation of the command of God regarding what they should eat. Don't go around whispering that the fall consisted in the mother of the race losing her chastity and her virtue. It is not true; the human race is not born of fornication. These bodies that are given unto us are given in the way that God has provided. [Unchastity] was not introduced by Adam. It was not committed by Eve. Let it not be said that the patriarch of the race...and his equally royal consort, were guilty of any such foul offense...Our first parents were pure and noble, and when we pass behind the veil we shall perhaps learn something of their high estate, more than we know now. But be it known that they were pure; they were noble. It is true that they disobeyed the law of God, in eating things they were told not to eat; but who amongst you can rise up and condemn?" Talmage
In bringing about the conditions of mortality, Adam and Eve gained the ability to keep another of God's commandments that was given to them in the Garden of Eden: "And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end. 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. 2:22-23 In bringing mortality and death into the world, they also brought life: as husband and wife, they could have children. God had commanded them to Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. Gen. 1:28 Because Adam and Eve took on mortality, you and I can come to earth, receive a body, and gain necessary experiences that we could have no other way. As children of God, we rejoice in the opportunity that we have to pass through mortality and we honor Adam and Eve as our first parents, we honor their courage and their goodness. They rejoiced in the redemption that they were provided and they taught their children about the Savior that was provided for them. We rejoice in that same redemption and we, too, have the privilege and blessing of bearing children and of teaching our children about the Savior and the goodness and mercy of God. Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy. 2 Ne. 2:25
The Fall of Adam was necessary to bring about mortality and mortality is necessary for our progression. I am grateful for the opportunity that I have to come to earth and to experience mortality. I am grateful for Adam and Eve and for the blessings that I enjoy because of them. I am grateful for the Plan of Redemption, for my Savior who enables me to return to my Father in Heaven and live again in his presence.