Saturday, February 18, 2017

The LDS Doctrine of Sex in the Spirt World and the Resurrection

In the proclamation on the family, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stated: “All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.”[1] From this we are assured that male and female reproductive organs will remain in their proper place as gender identifiers for all eternity, worlds without end.
Misled people can make use of all the science and surgery they can to change these identifiers in mortality, but in the next life beyond the veil they will see that they still have the same essential characteristics they were born with to those same heavenly parents in their pre-existent home. God our Eternal Father is a perfect being with all knowledge and all power and he knows how to put a male spirit in a male body and a female spirit in a female body and he has never made one mistake in this regard in all the history of the world; nor will He ever. For those rare incidents of nature or other intervention, where some confusion (on our part) is present with these organs, if nothing sorts them out before then, death certainly will. Surgery cannot affect the eternal spirit found within the body of a man or woman in any way.
            But there is a further question as it relates to the resurrection: will those sexual characteristics/organs be functional—will they be operative? The revelation says: “In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees; And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage]; And if he does not, he cannot obtain it. He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase” (D&C 131:1-4). These verses constitute the settled doctrine of the church, that those who are resurrected with any kind of body other than an exalted glorified body in the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom, will not be able to have increase, or spirit children—a continuation of the seeds: “Therefore, when they are out of the world they neither marry nor are given in marriage; but are appointed angels in heaven, which angels are ministering servants, to minister for those who are worthy of a far more, and an exceeding, and an eternal weight of glory. For these angels did not abide my law; therefore, they cannot be enlarged, but remain separately and singly, without exaltation, in their saved condition, to all eternity; and from henceforth are not gods, but are angels of God forever and ever” (D&C 132:16-17). This is the eternal law.
            In explanation of these verses, including notice of the attendant mention of eternal sexual characteristics, Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught:

There are two kinds of beings in eternity: angels on the one hand, and gods on the other. And everybody [that is not exalted] is an angel—because they are unmarried. [Question: are these angels male and female?] Male and female—sure they are male and female but—a sectarian minister said to President [Joseph Fielding] Smith that he had heard about this [doctrine of Mormonism]; about God and the family unit continuing, and he said to President Smith: “There isn’t any sex in the next world,” he said, “Everybody is neuter—not men or women.”  President Smith answered: “That is right—of course that is right—as far as you’re concerned.”
            This is true . . . in the sense that there is no family unit. There is no involvement of sex. For all practical purposes they just are neither male nor female although they still are men and women. But the only place the family unit continues is up here [among the exalted].  This isn’t quite an appropriate thing to say but if you are interested in family unit associations and what most people are interested in, there is some merit to living the gospel so that it [sex] doesn’t only last as long as this life is concerned. [Exaltation] is the only place where sex in the sense of family associations continues in eternity.[2]

            Elder McConkie, in the above quotation, drawing on his personal knowledge of President Smith’s views and experience, was able to make a plainer and more correct statement than that found in a 1962 Improvement Era article containing answers to gospel questions. In that article, and with a few sentences at some variance with the much later First Presidency statement, President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote:

            Since bodies will be raised in the resurrection to suit the condition of each individual, the Lord will assign each man and woman to the place which each has earned.  We are fully justified in believing that provision has been made to cover every emergency and condition peculiar to each kingdom.  Our own judgment should reveal to us that our Father in heaven would not overlook a matter as vital as this fact that men and women are to be assigned to the several kingdoms which their mortal lives entitle them to obtain.  Divine justice will be meted out to each, whether male or female, according to their opportunities to hear and receive his gospel, and based on their free agency to act independently of the commandments and blessing of the Lord.  As simple a matter as marriage for eternity and the union of the sexes in eternity has been determined according to the mercy and justice of our Eternal Father.  We may conclude that the matter of the sexes was fully considered and the decree entered long before the Garden of Eden or the time when this earth was formed.
            Elder Orson Pratt in a wonderful discourse on the resurrection has given this key to the situation, which must be true, for it seems clear and logical:
            “In all the works of God, we behold a resemblance among classes, but a variety among individuals belonging to each class….  In every species of animals and plants, there are many resemblances in the general outlines, and many specific differences characterizing the individuals of each species.  So in the resurrection there will be several classes of resurrected bodies; some celestial, some terrestrial, some telestial, and some sons of perdition.  Each of these classes will differ from the others by prominent and marked distinctions; yet in each, considered by itself, there will be found many resemblances as well as distinctions.  There will be some physical peculiarity by which each individual in every class can be identified.” (The Seer, p. 274.)
            Our own sober judgment teaches us that the Lord in his infinite wisdom and justice, would see to it that the privileges of increase or cohabitation between men and women in these kingdoms would be impossible because of peculiar conditions pertaining to these glories.  Is not the sectarian world justified in their doctrine generally proclaimed, that after the resurrection there will be neither male or female sex?  It is a logical conclusion for them to reach and apparently is in full harmony with what the Lord has revealed regarding the kingdoms into which evidently the vast majority of mankind is likely to go. However, if members of the Church are faithful and true to the covenants and commandments of the gospel, there is no reason for them to worry about the condition which will prevail in these several kingdoms.[3]

            The proclamation of the First Presidency and the Twelve, stating that gender is an eternal characteristic of men and women, supersedes President Smith’s previous (unofficially given) thinking on this question (the anecdote related by Elder McConkie better reflects his views).
The difference is that although the characteristic sex organs are resurrected and are found in their proper place, they will not function for those with resurrected bodies in any place other than the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom; nor will there be desire for them to function without a sex drive. “There would have been male and female spirits in the preexistence,” taught Elder McConkie. “There will be male and female spirits after this life. There will be male and female when they come up in the resurrection—in all the degrees—but the only place it counts is in exaltation. The rest, in a sense, are imprisoned; their faculties are denied them.”[4]
            And as for the spirit world, which is the abode of men and women after death until the resurrection? Elder Boyd K. Packer quoted from Elder Rudger Clawson’s general conference message that touched on this question, in his book, The Holy Temple. Elder Clawson said:

Some years ago, a brother approached me, and he said: "Brother Clawson, I am sixty-seven years of age; I have been a strong and active man in my life, and have done a great deal of hard work, but now I am somewhat feeble; I cannot engage in manual labor as heretofore. How shall I spend my time?" I said to him, "Go to the house of the Lord." "Thank you," he replied, "I will take your counsel."
About eight years later, I met this brother again. He appeared to be very happy indeed; and there was an expression of joy in his countenance. "Brother Clawson," he said, "during the past eight years I have been working for my ancestors, in the house of the Lord. After that conversation with you, I went east and I gathered up eight hundred names of my relatives; and during the past eight years I have personally officiated for three hundred of my ancestors, and I propose to continue on with the good work; I am happy for the Lord has blessed me."
He further said, "I saw in a vision, upon one occasion, my father and mother, who were not members of the Church, who had not received the Gospel in life, and I discovered that they were living separate and apart in the spirit world, and when I asked them how it was that they were so, my father said: 'This is an enforced separation, and you are the only individual that can bring us together; you can do this work; will you do it?'"-meaning that he should go into the house of the Lord and there officiate for his parents who were dead, and by the ordinance of sealing bring them together and unite them in the family relation beyond the veil; and he informed me that he had attended to the work, and I rejoiced with him and congratulated him.[5]

            John Bushman, a prominent early settler of Utah and faithful latter-day saint, wrote this entry in his diary (in third person): “Dream: Sunday, January 17, 1921: At 2 pm attended sacrament meeting (local speakers) after which they visited their old friend Maties Peterson. Peterson related how his mother, after she had been dead many years, appeared to him in a dream and asked him to do the temple work for her dead parents. Told him they were separate and could not be together.”[6]
            Those who agitate and push the Church to change its doctrine (really God’s doctrine) to allow for homosexual attraction and marriage to be part of God’s plan in the spirit world and the resurrection are deeply and tragically deceived and will one day find themselves sorely disappointed, standing at the left hand of God. “Neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 11:11). They are allowed their agency to be together to some extent in mortality, but death becomes the permanent end of all such sinful associations. After that, they have the entire Millennium, while living in the spirit world, to learn the hard way why they should not have rebelled against the commandments of God and His plan of salvation: “I revoke not the judgments which I shall pass, but woes shall go forth, weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth, yea, to those who are found on my left hand.”

Therefore I command you to repent—repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be sore—how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not.
For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;
But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I;
Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, . . .“ (D&C 19)
            One may disbelieve such future eventualities with all one’s heart and proclaim against them to all who will listen, and in our wicked world that crowd may be large, but that does not change what will be. When they have failed their mortal probationary test, they will receive their reward. And the obedient righteous will receive theirs. Perhaps only those who have actually seen can begin to comprehend the glory of such a perfected, exalted, resurrected body (see D&C 137:1-3), but all who repent and obey the gospel may endure in faith and hope until they receive their own glorified, exalted, resurrected body, with everything functional and operational for all eternity, worlds without end.

[1] “The Family: A Proclamation to the World”; in Gordon B. Hinckley, “Stand Strong Against the Wiles of the World,” Ensign, November 1995, 101.
[2] Quoted as transcribed from a lecture given about Mormon doctrine at BYU in 1967.
[3] Joseph Fielding Smith, Improvement Era, January 1962, 16.
[4] Quoted as transcribed from a lecture given at the Institute adjacent to the University of Utah, March 25, 2968.
[5] Conference Report, October 1908, 74; Emphasis added.
[6] Journal of John Bushman, original in LDS church archives. Emphasis added.

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