In the Beginning (Part 2): Sin or No Sin?
In the last post, I explained the foundational role that the LDS pre-existence has on many LDS doctrines. I felt this was important to address before discussing the LDS teaching on the original sin. The Bible clearly portrays the original sin as a sin. Let’s take a look at one clear passage of scripture that directly addresses this subject. As you read, take note of how the words sin, offence, transgression, and disobedience are used interchangeably:
“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous” (Romans 5:16-19).” (Romans 5:12-19).
Strong’s concordance has this Greek definition for the word sin:
amartia hamartia ham-ar-tee’-ah
a sin (properly abstract):–offence, sin(-ful).
Here’s the definition for transgression:
parabasiV parabasis par-ab’-as-is
In LDS scriptures, there is a teaching that the original sin was actually necessary so that Adam and Eve could bear children. We will look at these scriptures a little bit deeper in the next post, but for this post I would like to simply show the difference between how the original sin has been defined in Mormonism as compared with the Bible’s teaching on the subject. An article from the Ensign has the following quotes:
President Joseph Fielding Smith (1876–1972) said: “I never speak of the part Eve took in this fall as a sin, nor do I accuse Adam of a sin. … This was a transgression of the law, but not a sin … for it was something that Adam and Eve had to do!”
Partaking of the fruit brought mortality, with its many opportunities to choose between good and evil, and enabled Adam and Eve to have children. Thus the Fall opened the door for Heavenly Father’s children to come into the world, obtain physical bodies, and participate in “the great plan of happiness” (Alma 42:8). “Therefore this life became a probationary state,” a time to learn and grow, to repent and overcome weakness, “a time to prepare to meet God” (Alma 12:24) 
Quote from the LDS Old Testament Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual:
Partaking of the forbidden fruit was not a sin
To help explain that Adam and Eve did not sin when they partook of the forbidden fruit, read the following statement from Elder Dallin H. Oaks:
“It was Eve who first transgressed the limits of Eden in order to initiate the conditions of mortality. Her act, whatever its nature, was formally a transgression but eternally a glorious necessity to open the doorway toward eternal life. Adam showed his wisdom by doing the same. …
“… We celebrate Eve’s act and honor her wisdom and courage in the great episode called the Fall. … Elder Joseph Fielding Smith said: ‘I never speak of the part Eve took in this fall as a sin, nor do I accuse Adam of a sin. … This was a transgression of the law, but not a sin.’ …
“This suggested contrast between a sin and a transgression reminds us of the careful wording in the second article of faith: “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression” (italics added). It also echoes a familiar distinction in the law. Some acts, like murder, are crimes because they are inherently wrong. Other acts, like operating without a license, are crimes only because they are legally prohibited. Under these distinctions, the act that produced the Fall was not a sin—inherently wrong—but a transgression—wrong because it was formally prohibited. These words are not always used to denote something different, but this distinction seems meaningful in the circumstances of the Fall” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1993, 98; or Ensign, Nov. 1993, 73).
In contrast, Romans 5 shows us that Adam’s actions were not only “Adam’s transgression” but also —
“one man’s offence”
“one man’s disobedience”
“sin” (“by one that sinned,” “by one man sin entered into the world”)
1. “The Fulness of the Gospel: The Fall of Adam and Eve,” Ensign, Jun 2006, 48–49
2. Lesson 4: “Because of My Transgression My Eyes Are Opened”, Old Testament Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, 12