Why are some children born into privilege and others into misery?

Why are some children born into privilege and others into misery?

Question

Gramps,

Is there a reason that some souls are chosen to be raised in affluent homes that can afford a high-level education and to parents that genuinely care about the child, and some into poverty, abuse, and suffering from the moment they exit the womb? Why are some children naturally smarter than others – why are some child prodigies, and some mentally disabled?

Jeremy

 

 

Answer

Dear Jeremy,

I should start with a story. I once worked with a building contractor whose wife was a member of the church. As we discussed this on occasion, he would tell me about attending church with his wife for special events. He was supportive of her worship, but not interested in membership. At one point in our work relationship, when things did not go well in a particular negotiation, he seemed to be taking the bad news I delivered in stride. I commented on the maturity of his acceptance of the bad news. He told me, “you know, whenever things like this happen, I ask myself, ‘will this matter to me in five or ten years?’ If the answer is no, I don’t get too worked up over it.” I asked if he had ever considered what it would mean to him in 100 years. He look at me a bit puzzled and said, “no.” I told him that when he did, he would get baptized. We had a good laugh over that, but what I said, I meant.

So I have good news and bad news for you. The bad news is that I do not have any definitive answers for you, especially when it comes to connections between our choices, activity and faith in the pre-mortal world and this world. The bucket of things we don’t know is fuller than the bucket of things we do know. Though we cannot make assumptions about any given person or situation, Alma 13:3 makes it clear, that for some, there is certainly a connection.

“And this is the manner after which they were ordained—being called and prepared from the foundation of the world according to the foreknowledge of God, on account of their exceeding faith and good works; in the first place being left to choose good or evil; therefore they having chosen good, and exercising exceedingly great faith, are called with a holy calling, yea, with that holy calling which was prepared with, and according to, a preparatory redemption for such.”

Some patriarchal blessings indicate that some people chose the family they were born into or were given a particular family due to faithfulness in the pre-mortal world. This does not give license for us to make assumptions about any given person and their situation in life.

The good news is that what happened in the pre-mortal world is of little importance compared to what happens here and now in preparation for what comes after. Doctrine and Covenants 83:3 is clear that,

3 For of him unto whom much is given much is required; and he who sins against the greater light shall receive the greater condemnation.

The inverse is also true, ‘Unto whom little is given, less is required and he who is righteous with the lesser light shall receive greater exaltation.’ The parable of the talents comes to mind. The only rebuke given in the parable was given to the person who buried their talents instead of using them. Enough is given to everyone to receive every eternal blessing available.

Elder Boyd K Packer, as part of a CES Broadcast, The Plan and the Play, described life as a three-act play. We find ourselves in the middle act without recollection of much of anything in Act 1. This makes life more difficult, of course. He said,

Though it may seem unfair and even hurtful that some are born into privilege, and others into abuse, poverty and suffering, a longer perspective and trust in the plan of redemption, including perfect justice and mercy, are quite soothing.

“Until you have a broad perspective of the eternal nature of this great drama, you won’t make much sense out of the inequities in life. Some are born with so little and others with so much, some in poverty, with handicaps, with pain, with suffering, premature death even of innocent children. There are the brutal, unforgiving forces of nature and the brutality of man to man. We’ve seen a lot of that recently. Do not suppose that God willfully causes that, which for His own purposes, He permits. When you know the plan and purpose of it all, even these things will manifest a loving Father in Heaven.”

I recommend you read the entire talk.

 

Gramps

If a woman can’t bear a child in mortal life, will she during the millenium?

If a woman can’t bear a child in mortal life, will she during the millenium?

Question

 

Gramps,

If a woman is not blessed with the opportunity to bear children in this life, will she have the opportunity to bear children in the ,mllennium (if she is united in marriage)?

Dennis

Answer

 

Dear Dennis,

Earlier this year, as I was reading about the wives of the Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob), I noticed something remarkably peculiar. These men were promised posterity as numerous as the stars of the heaven, and as plentiful as the sand on the shore. Their wives were every bit their matriarchal equals in this promise. These promises are renewed and extended in our day to worthy husbands and wives in holy temples.

Now get out some pen and paper so we can tally up multitudes of children these righteous women had. Sarah gave birth to Isaac and…. huh, that’s it. Rebekah gave birth only once, but she got 2 kids out of it (“thousands of millions” is starting to sound like an exaggeration). That’s ok though. In the next generation we have the twelve tribes of Israel, so Rachel has clearly fulfilled the prophecy with… 2 sons. This is not the trip to the beach nor the starry sky I imagined.

I have known some women who have heard these promises and sorrowed that they were given physical limitations preventing the fulfillment. I hope they can take some comfort knowing that the women we associate with these blessings felt the same sorrows. Rebekah struggled to have her two children while her sister popped out another baby every time her husband winked at her. Such comparisons are dangerous (even if understandable), because they lead the believer to doubt the promised blessings. It would be better to look to the matriarchs who experienced similar trials but were blessed triumphantly for their faithfulness.

The promise of seed is one that has two fulfillments in this life. For the literal application, we often have to wait several generations to see it at work. For a more spiritual application, we turn again to the Abrahamic covenant. “As many as receive this Gospel shall be … accounted thy seed, and shall rise up and bless thee, as their father” (Abraham 2:10). Sarah and Abraham received seed through gospel ministries. When they moved from country to country, they took with them “the souls that [they] had won” (Abraham 2:15). We see this playing out in our day as well when we listen to converts speak fondly of the missionaries who brought them into the Church. They hold in their hearts a powerful, familial-like bond for the families that introduced them to the gospel, or who stood at the crossroads of life and guided them down the right path.

For the barren woman in this life, she can hold out hope that she will be another Sarah, whose womb was miraculously quickened. Or she can embrace the hope shared in an apostle’s testimony:

“We know that many worthy and wonderful Latter-day Saints currently lack the ideal opportunities and essential requirements for their progress. Singleness, childlessness, death, and divorce frustrate ideals and postpone the fulfillment of promised blessings. … But these frustrations are only temporary. The Lord has promised that in the eternities no blessing will be denied his sons and daughters who keep the commandments, are true to their covenants, and desire what is right.

“Many of the most important deprivations of mortality will be set right in the Millennium, which is the time for fulfilling all that is incomplete in the great plan of happiness for all of our Father’s worthy children. We know that will be true of temple ordinances. I believe it will also be true of family relationships and experiences” (Conference Report, Oct. 1993, 101; or Ensign, Nov. 1993, 75).

For these women, the literal fulfillment of the Abrahamic promise lies in the eternities, where they can have “an increase” free of mortal privations. They will find themselves surrounded by their children in the faith who remain grateful for the nourishing watchcare that brought the prodigals home. “How great shall be [her] joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!” (D&C 18:15, emphasis mine). In that day, they will understand the personal fruition of Isaiah’s hymn:

“Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord” (Isa. 54:1).

Gramps

Is in vitro fertilization for me?

Is in vitro fertilization for me?

Question

Dear Gramps,

I have a history of depression and have been taking medication since 2002. I also have a history of brain cancer and chemotherapy.  This caused me to go into a peri-menopause state at 24 years old. I am now 40 and have accepted that I can’t have children. A recent change in my medication opened some kind “door” through which the Holy Ghost has sent a somewhat disturbing message. It seems that God wants me, via in vitro fertilization, to have a child. Without a husband/father and below-poverty income, the cost of such a procedure terrifies me. I know God can make it happen (e.g. Sarah bearing Isaac at 90).  If He truly wishes it to be so.  I don’t know if you can help me but I know of nowhere else to turn. Please let me know anything you can.

Diane (more…)

Babies During the Millenium

Babies During the Millenium

I have recently had a hard time with having a miscarriage. Will new children be brought into the world even after the second coming? I have heard that there will be no temptation during the millennium. If this is true would there still be children?

Allyson (more…)

Vasectomy/Sterilization

Vasectomy/Sterilization

As I understand it contraception is acceptable in marriage and decisions about having children and how many children are between the couple and the Lord. I have several children, however due to medical reasons, a further pregnancy could be fatal to me. I know the health of a mother is of prime consideration when making decisions of this kind. We considered my husband having a vasectomy, or myself being sterilized and despite it being an obvious option, I felt uneasy about the finality of such a decision. I have since heard that the Church Handbook of Instruction/Church policy specifically speaks against sterilization. Is this true? Is it wrong to have a vasectomy and/or my tubes tied? I appreciate your response.

Kel (more…)

Do we have a moral obligation to worry about population growth?

Do we have a moral obligation to worry about population growth?

Question

Gramps,

The LDS Church encourages married couples to have children. In a letter the Church says: “We have been commanded to multiply and replenish the earth that we may have joy and rejoicing in our posterity. “Where husband and wife enjoy health and vigor and are free from impurities that would be entailed upon their posterity, it is contrary to the teachings of the Church artificially to curtail or prevent the birth of children. We believe that those who practice birth control will reap disappointment by and by.” If this is all true, then what about the problems of population growth? Or the one child policy in China? How should we respond? As an ethical issue, knowing that increased population will mean a lack of food, pollution, increased war and crime, higher use of natural resources, and congestion in certain countries; should we be selfish and choose to have as many children as we want? And what about Mormons in China? How should they respond to the one child policy law?

Eliza

 

Answer

Eliza,

When understanding our moral obligation with regard to population growth we must understand first the doctrines associated with your question. Within your message there are two parts: first being resource and population control, second China and LDS members.

When we read the scriptures, particularly the Doctrine and Covenants 104: 17, this is specified:

For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves.

In this verse of scripture we see that the Lord is declaring that the earth is full and that there is enough to spare, and how he has prepared all things which have been given unto us. Thus the question we must ask ourselves, in relation to what others have stated, do we really need to worry about over-population issues? This does not mean that we become irresponsible citizens and trash everything. We are here to improve our situations, and to properly use resources which have been given.

With regard to having children, remember we are not able to help the Lord to bring  to pass the immortality and eternal life of his children without having more children. It isn’t selfish at all to bring children into this world.

As pertaining to China and members in China who are only able to have one child, then they are to obey the laws of the land as specified in our Articles of Faith #12.

12 We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.

Members are to obey the laws of the land which they reside in.

 

Gramps

Invitro Fertilization

Invitro Fertilization

Hi Gramps!

I would like to know why the church “strongly discourages” the use of donor eggs in in vitro fertilization. If I knew the reasoning I feel my husband and I could make a more informed decision, as the handbook states that it is the husband and wife’s decision. We would like to do the right thing. Do you know or can you speculate on the reasoning? Do you know how I can find out? Any information would be appreciated!

Leanne (more…)

The Human Spirit

The Human Spirit

Gramps,

What and where is the scriptural basis for your contention that a person’s spirit existed in Heaven before that person’s earthly body was born? Does that spirit inhabit a baby’s body before birth or, as you see it, or does it occur when the baby emerges from the birth canal? If the spirit is not present in preborn babies, they are just blobs of human flesh that have no eternal significance. Abortion then is not a bad thing at all. The many millions of babies who were never allowed to draw their first breath are of no consequence to God. What happens to all those uncounted spirits who pre-existed in Heaven, waiting to inhabit their human counterparts?

Wayne (more…)

Pregnancy

Pregnancy

I am 43 Years old. A member of the LDS Church. I was told by my doctor that it wasn’t likely that I would be able to ever become pregnant. However, we were told last week that I am pregnant. Five years ago I would have been thrilled. I am very unhappy. I would never have an abortion or do anything that isn’t morally right. I don’t feel that I have anyone to talk to. I was told by my doctor today that I should be put on Progesterone, if I don’t that I could miscarry. In your opinion would it be morally wrong to just let my body do what it’s going to do and not take the Progesterone? Thank You.

Lee-Anne (more…)

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