Monday, March 30, 2015

Did We Choose Our Mortal Trials in the Pre-Existence?

I have a friend who said once:

"We are all put in the right place for the best possible outcome."  

I have thought about that idea off and on for a long time, and I both agree and disagree with it.  My main concern, however, isn't in the wording but rather in the extrapolations that are so common from it.  I hope the following makes sense as a summary of why I am conflicted about the quote above. 

Given our belief in a "veil of forgetfulness", the pre-existence is where Mormon theology gets a bit squishy, but within Mormon theology there are some things that point toward the wording above. Two of those things are:

1) In the case of a crack baby (or a child born into terrible abuse) who dies early, if we accept the idea that all children who die before being accountable inherit the Celestial Kingdom (which my heart loves, but by head has a hard time accepting due to my dislike of predestination), that baby gets the best possible reward for what s/he suffers in this life.

2) Our temple work does not require anyone to accept God or Jesus or Mormonism or the LDS Church or anything else in this life - and it leaves the final judgment completely in the hands of God. The standard really is what type of person each individual becomes, relative only to their personal effort and circumstances - and, again, that judgment is God's alone.

My problem with the quote above, as worded, also is with the phrase "in the right place" and how it can be interpreted. I have heard it used way too often in my life to justify a condescending attitude toward "the other" - that their specific situations in this life (and, by extension, our own situations) are a direct result of something about their former life, usually worthiness or valiance.  Thus, I believe the idea that every person is born into the best circumstance for that person can be viewed in such a way that it functions as a conceit of luxury. It's a way to justify one's own privileged position and rationalize others' horrible circumstances.

It's also one of the reasons I am open to the idea of multiple probationary experiences, even though I don't preach it or believe it passionately. Rather, I lean toward a structure of eternal progression that is WAY more expansive and extended than a limited focus on mortality allows. I do believe that this life is the most important stage in our eternal progression at this moment, but I also believe our previous stages were the most important at those times and that our future stages will be the most important at those times. I believe all is present unto God in the sense that the past is gone and the future will be whatever the present makes it be.

I think all we can see is the here and now, so we do the best we can to understand the stark differences all around us - and, because we see through a glass, darkly, we each end up with partial views that make sense to each of us. That's why I try to understand the best I can and allow others the same privilege, let them understand how and what they may.

I simply would say,

All who are born will receive the best possible outcome, according to the wisdom, grace and love of God. All who "keeps their first estate" will be rewarded for it to the greatest extent possible.

1 comment:

Frank Pellett said...

This is why I wonder sometimes if we're looking beyond the mark when referring to the Celestial Kingdom and who may or may not get there. We seem to forget the next judgment for us, the Heaven/Hell dichotomy that leaves an option to progress out of Hell by learning about and accepting Christ.

We spend our time trying to work out the "rules" for each Kingdom that we're forgetting the test we're going through now.