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Isn’t it interesting that the first story in all scripture is also the most romantic? As we celebrate Valentine’s Day, and as chocolates and roses are offered, let’s take a moment to remember our first parents, and the incredible example of love they gave us.
We all know that God created the earth, and man in his own image. We also know that God gave Adam a companion, Eve, as a help meet for him. But not everyone realizes that “help meet” is not “helpmate,” or even merely “helper.” It actually means a champion, a rescuer. “Help meet” comes from two Hebrew words, “ezer” (help, rescue, savior) and “k’enegdo” (exactly corresponding to). In her book, Eve and the Choice Made in Eden, Beverly Campbell says she wishes we could all understand Genesis 2:18 as something like, “It is not good that man should be alone. I will make him a companion of strength and power who has a saving power and is equal with him.””
We’re told that a man shall “leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24, Moses 3:24). What a beautiful directive to remind us of that paramount relationship. That one line also makes it clear that Adam had a mother and a father, whom he left.
We are so blessed to have additional scripture, and fuller understanding of the events in the Garden of Eden. Rather than see the partaking of the fruit the way the world depicts it, we see intelligent choice, self-sacrifice, and a decision that made it possible for all mankind to be born.
Throughout history we have seen couples in love whose lives are torn apart by circumstances. They love each other, yes, but not quite enough to surmount the obstacles—romantic literature and movies are filled with couples who lacked the courage, the humility, the selfless devotion, that could have kept them together.
Eve’s love for Adam is astounding. As she weighs the choice offered by Satan, she knows she will have to experience sorrow, pain, and all the suffering of mortality. But Eve loves Adam enough to do it. She wisely and intelligently chooses to bring mankind to be, with Adam as her partner. She knows they have been commanded to multiply and replenish the earth, and willingly steps into the dark unknown, with the kind of absolute faith that brings light. Eve takes the lead, but clings to Adam with fierce devotion.
For those who swoon over romantic scenes, you will never find one more heart stirring than when Adam, knowing what his wife has done, chooses to eat of the fruit, and to stay with Eve. He, too, will forever be leaving the beautiful garden, the world of innocence, his own immortality. He will suffer, he will know sickness, he will experience the agony of wayward children, he will even die. But he agrees to all of it, for Eve. He looks into her eyes and sees eternity. Every woman in the world wants a man who loves her that much.
They also love God, and when Adam praises God (Moses 5:10) Eve is glad and responds, “Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient.” (Moses 5:11) They truly understood the Plan of Salvation, and the power and joy of Christ’s atonement.
Their resolve to stay together despite enormous obstacles is a good example for couples today, who’ve grown up in the generation of Dispensable Problems. Actually for several generations brides and grooms have been pummeled with the message that if something breaks—or you even simply grow tired of it—you can discard it. We throw away ball point pens, appliances, bottles, you name it, which in years past would have been repaired or re-filled. Students drop difficult classes rather than hunker down and tough it out. And, of course, we only stick with a video on social media for a few seconds before we get bored and move on. This mentality encourages quitting when the going gets tough, and soon that becomes the way we approach relationships.
Holy Writ is filled with stories of love. We learn of our Heavenly Father’s love for his children, and the love Christ demonstrated by atoning for our sins. We see prophets who love their fellowmen, parents who love their children, leaders of all kinds who love the Lord.
But the ultimate story of romantic love is Adam and Eve’s. Romantic heroes as well as phenomenal spiritual leaders, they got it right, and forever set the bar for how devoted we should be to our spouses. This Valentine’s Day, let’s celebrate our sweethearts, but let’s also remember where it all began.