Monday, July 4, 2011

Who Gave Birth to God's Spirit Children?

The following is a question I received from someone who is not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My answer follows: 

Question: Who gave birth to God's spirit children, and if it wasn’t God, the Father, where did the women come from?

Answer: "Gave birth to" is something we don't say with regard to spirit children, since it is not taught that way in any of our scriptures. In my decades as a Mormon, I have never once heard it phrased that way; rather, we speak of spirit children being "created". We have no idea whatsoever how we were created as spirit children, again since that is not explained to us in any detail, at all.

"Created" does not necessarily mean anything remotely related to "giving birth" - and there is no official doctrine of sexual relationships (in the way that they occur here in mortality) in heaven - either prior to the creation of this world or after the resurrection. Unfortunately, that is a common misapplication - among some members (including prior leaders) and nearly all critics, but it is not doctrine. There is no doctrine whatsoever on the process of spiritual creation. This is one case where the proper answer, in my mind, is, "We don't know."

Having said that, I will speculate here.  (*grin*)

Genesis 1:27 says, "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them." We aren't told what that means or how God created male and female in "His" image. Given the totality of the imagery and the familial terminology that is used throughout the Bible to describe our relationships (before our birth, during mortality and after death), we speak of a Heavenly Mother - but there is no obvious, canonized scriptural, unmistakable basis for that belief. (For example, the hymn, "Oh, My Father", includes the following statement: "Truth is reason; truth eternal tells me I've a mother there.")

Personally, I believe that women are created in the image of God, the Mother (my own phrasing and not a title I've heard used in the LDS Church - ever), mostly because of what the Bible says about marriage and our intended end as "one" - as well as statements by our prophets and apostles. Frankly, I believe it is the only way to stay within the Biblical concept of heavenly family and validate women as women - to believe that sex / gender identity has eternal meaning and that women are not simply bastardized, sub-standard men (as has been implied or stated blatantly in many statements by Christian leaders throughout history and as is the natural interpretation of many when the only reference to God is in masculine form). However, I personally do not believe that Heavenly Mother "gave birth" to spirit children, and I personally do not believe that the creation of spirit children involves anything like pregnancy and gestation - in ANY way, shape or form as we know it here on earth. 

So, in summary, my own response is that I believe nobody "gave birth to God's spirit children" - that our Heavenly Parents created us in some way, but that it was not in the way children are created here on earth.


Anonymous said...

Well put!!!

FelixAndAva said...

This makes sense to me.

Being an LDS woman, I can think of no other place in the world, religious or secular, where women are as valued as in the Church. Sure, we don't hold the priesthood, but I consider that just fine (and I was not raised LDS). I get all the benefits of the restored priesthood without the associated responsibilities and I have my own role to play. I think we women in the Church have the better part. :)

R. Gary said...

Our spirits are the literal offspring of heavenly parents.

Papa D said...

I agree, R.Gary. I am going to copy my comments on your post here, so anyone who reads these comments will have them, as well:

"I agree that we literally are the spirit children of God - created by Heavenly Parents. Just as we can say we are "born again" through baptism and not need gestational pregnancy to claim that wording as spiritual children of God, I have no problem with wording that we are "born" to heavenly parents. I just don't think that involved a gestational pregnancy like mortal birth does.

If you do believe in that sort of gestational spiritual pregnancy, fine; I don't. I just want to make it clear that I have no problem whatsoever agreeing that we are literally spirit children of God, born to Heavenly Parents."

I'll copy the second one as soon as it clears your moderation queue.

Papa D said...

Here is my second comment on R.Gary's post:

"I probably should add, just for clarification, that not one of the quotes in this post uses the phrase "gave birth to" to describe the process of our spiritual creation. "Born" means "to be brought forth" - usually through a conscious and intentional creative endeavor. I support that wording completely.

Finally, there is no reasonable argument whatsoever within Mormon theology that we were born exactly in the image of our Heavenly Parents, since they possessed perfect ("complete, whole, fully developed") physical bodies and we did not. Our progression to become like them is not just one of a spiritual nature; it also includes a physical component absent in the type of "birth" we experienced in the pre-mortal creation.

That is not a trivial detail, as it clearly is a significant difference than the type of birth we experience here on earth.

Again, I have no problem whatsoever with saying we were born of Heavenly Parents in the pre-mortal life. I believe that deeply. I just believe there are obvious differences between that "birth" and our mortal "births" - and gestational pregnancy is one of the differences in which I believe, largely because gestational pregnancy as we experience it now involves the direct transferal of exactly similar physicality. Our pre-mortal birth did not."

R. Gary said...

Papa D: Your personal point of view doesn't concern me. I'm fine with whatever you want to believe. However, my own memory of attending Church goes back to George Albert Smith's presidency. And in all of those years, there has been no dissonance among senior Church leaders on this. The terms "literal offspring" and "natural-born spirit children" are clear, they reflect the plain and obvious meaning of the words. The Church's teachings about this don't need clarification.

Papa D said...

"The terms "literal offspring" and "natural-born spirit children" are clear, they reflect the plain and obvious meaning of the words."

I agree. I think the quotes you provided are correct exactly as they are worded. We just disagree about what those plain and obvious meanings are. Ironic, I know.

Good night. *grin*

Howard said...

Well done! Good night. *grin*