When someone commits suicide, do they go to another earth?

When someone commits suicide, do they go to another earth?

Question

 

Gramps,

If there are other “Gods” and other “Earths,” do people that commit suicide perhaps go to another “Earth” with worse circumstances to work through?

Timothy

 

Answer

 

Timothy,

In short, no. Not those who commit suicide, nor any others, will be reborn or reincarnated at any level to any other world. This can easily be substantiated with a few scriptures. First, Paul teaches us in Hebrews 9:27:

“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:”

Amulek teaches us in Alma 34:32-33:

“For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.

“And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.”

Also, he teaches us in Alma 11:45:

“Now, behold, I have spoken unto you concerning the death of the mortal body, and also concerning the resurrection of the mortal body. I say unto you that this mortal body is raised to an immortal body, that is from death, even from the first death unto life, that they can die no more; their spirits uniting with their bodies, never to be divided; thus the whole becoming spiritual and immortal, that they can no more see corruption.”

As we can plainly read, once we die (one time only) we will be resurrected, never to die again. And this life is the time we have been given.

In Abraham 3:25 we learn that we are here to be proven and to see if we “will do all things whatsoever the Lord [our] God shall command [us].”

Putting these scriptures together helps us to understand this basic part of the plan of salvation. This is the life that is given us, and another one will not be.

I do think that it is important that we understand, as well, the justice and mercy of our Father on judgment day. We are not to judge others as to their potential for salvation or not, nor can we anticipate who the Lord will and will not accept into His kingdom. We do not know the state of other’s minds or their accountability level. So we leave that to God.

We cannot and should not presume that those who commit suicide are doomed or saved. To presume that someone who committed suicide deserves a worse situation is as unfair as presuming that someone who committed suicide is automatically unaccountable. We leave that to God.

Either way, just as all of us, they will stand before Christ on the day of judgment and answer for themselves per their agency. And God will deliver unto them mercifully and justly according to His law.  (See also Alma chapters 40 and 41.)

 

Gramps

 

 

If we are either on the Lord’s side or we are not, why are there 3 degrees of Glory?

If we are either on the Lord’s side or we are not, why are there 3 degrees of Glory?

Question

 

Gramps,

While having a religious discussion I was asked about the 3 degrees of Glory. In my friends eyes, all of our works are as a dirty rag to be burned and all of our sins are equally as horrible before the Lord so you are either a believer or you are not. Having 2 or 3 places to send the sinners to meant that we could justify some sins as being not so bad and still getting some glory. So he wanted to know why there all the extra kingdoms when you are ether on the Lord’s side or you are not.  Thanks.

Cindy

 

Answer

 

Dear Cindy,

The trouble is you are basically comparing apples and oranges.  LDS doctrine differs substantially from other Christian doctrine in some areas.  In order to help your friend, you need to explain things outside her box of understanding and help her expand her understanding by expanding her conceptual framework.

Joseph Smith answered the question this way:

“The idea that some men’s form of the justice, judgment, and mercy of God, is too foolish for an intelligent man to think of: for instance, it is common for many of our orthodox preachers to suppose that if a man is not what they call converted, if he dies in that state he must remain eternally in hell without any hope. Infinite years in torment must he spend, and never, never, never have an end; and yet this eternal misery is made frequently to rest upon the merest casualty [chance]. The breaking of a shoe-string, the tearing of a coat of those officiating, or the peculiar location in which a person lives, may be the means, indirectly, of his damnation, or the cause of his not being saved.

 

“I will suppose a case which is not extraordinary: Two men, who have been equally wicked, who have neglected religion, are both of them taken sick at the same time; one of them has the good fortune to be visited by a praying man, and he gets converted a few minutes before he dies; the other sends for three different praying men, a tailor, a shoemaker, and a tinman; the tinman has a handle to solder to a pan, the tailor has a button-hole to work on some coat that he needed in a hurry, and the shoemaker has a patch to put on somebody’s boot; they none of them can go in time, the man dies, and goes to hell: one of these is exalted to Abraham’s bosom, he sits down in the presence of God and enjoys eternal, uninterrupted happiness, while the other, equally as good as he, sinks to eternal damnation, irretrievable misery and hopeless despair, because a man had a boot to mend, the button-hole of a coat to work, or a handle to solder on to a saucepan.”

 

“The plans of Jehovah are not so unjust, the statements of holy writ so [illusory], nor the plan of salvation for the human family so incompatible with common sense; at such proceedings God would frown with indignance, angels would hide their heads in shame, and every virtuous, intelligent man would recoil.”

 

Chapter 35:  Redemption for the Dead

 

Gramps

 

 

 

Why are we not encouraged to pray for those in the spirit world?

Why are we not encouraged to pray for those in the spirit world?

Question

 

Gramps,

Why are we not encouraged to pray for those in the spirit world?  Whenever someone passes away, we are always encouraged to pray for the family, but we are never told to pray for those who have passed on to make the right choices in the spirit world.  I noticed other religions pray for their dead ones.  I know we perform sacred ordinances for the dead, but why do we not pray for them in their spirit world endeavors because there are challenges on the other side.  I hope that makes sense.

Kristen

 

Answer

 

Dear Kristen,

Not enough has been revealed about the Spirit World for me to give you a concrete answer.  I see nothing wrong with praying for loved ones who have passed to the other side.  It IS certainly good to pray for others.  Elder Bednar touched on this topic in a talk about prayer:

 

“Petitioning Heavenly Father for the blessings we desire in our personal lives is good and proper. However, praying earnestly for others, both those whom we love and those who despitefully use us, is also an important element of meaningful prayer. Just as expressing gratitude more often in our prayers enlarges the conduit for revelation, so praying for others with all of the energy of our souls increases our capacity to hear and to heed the voice of the Lord.

 

“We learn a vital lesson from the example of Lehi in the Book of Mormon. Lehi responded in faith to prophetic instruction and warnings concerning the destruction of Jerusalem. He then prayed unto the Lord “with all his heart, in behalf of his people” (1 Nephi 1:5; emphasis added). In answer to this fervent prayer, Lehi was blessed with a glorious vision of God and His Son and of the impending destruction of Jerusalem (see 1 Nephi 1:6–9, 13, 18). Consequently, Lehi rejoiced, and his whole heart was filled because of the things which the Lord had shown him (see 1 Nephi 1:15). Please note that the vision came in response to a prayer for others and not as a result of a request for personal edification or guidance.

 

“The Savior is the perfect example of praying for others with real intent. In His great Intercessory Prayer uttered on the night before His Crucifixion, Jesus prayed for His Apostles and all of the Saints.

 

“I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. …

 

“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; …

 

“… that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them” (John 17:9, 20, 26).

 

During the Savior’s ministry on the American continent, He directed the people to ponder His teachings and to pray for understanding. He healed the sick, and He prayed for the people using language that could not be written (see 3 Nephi 17:1–16). The impact of His prayer was profound: “No one can conceive of the joy which filled our souls at the time we heard him pray for us unto the Father” (3 Nephi 17:17). Imagine what it might have been like to hear the Savior of the world praying for us.”

Pray Always

I would further add that my best prayers come when I ask the Lord for guidance in what to pray for, or whom to pray for.  So my counsel is to seek the Lord’s guidance.  If you feel the desire or direction to pray for those in the Spirit World, I see no reason not to do so.

 

 

Gramps

 

 

 

How will there be enough space in the Celestial Kingdom for all who will make it?

How will there be enough space in the Celestial Kingdom for all who will make it?

Question

 

Gramps,

I understand the Earth will be the Celestial Kingdom. It doesn’t seem there will be enough space for all those who are in the Celestial Kingdom or are there only going to be 7 billion who make it? If so then I’m wasting my time going to church. I am not in the top 7 billion.

Gael

 

Answer

 

Hello Gael,

I think your question presupposes a number of things that we cannot know for certain now, and that may not turn out to be correct at all.  For example–you assume that those who receive a celestial glory will be confined to this earth, or even spend the majority of their time there (my children still refer to Gran’s and my house as “home”; and they are always welcome here; but it’s not where they live and they rarely stay under our roof anymore).  You are also assuming that the earth is incapable of supporting seven billion (or any higher number) of immortal beings.

But, if you’ll excuse me for saying so:  There’s one assumption you’re making that worries me more than all the others; and that is the one that underlies your conclusion that “I am not in the top 7 billion”.  The important thing to remember, Gael, is that you–in fact, we— don’t have to “make it” into some sort of exclusive subset of the impossibly righteous; because we have a Savior who most certainly did.  And He has repeatedly promised that, as He puts it in Doctrine and Covenants 84:36-38:

 

For he that receiveth my servants receiveth me;

And he that receiveth me receiveth my Father;

And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him.

 

The requirement is that we receive (or try to pattern our lives after) Christ, and his servants–full stop.  We do not have to do it better than anyone else.  Exaltation is not a competition against anyone except against our own fallen natures; and as we strive to follow Christ (for, strive we must) we have divine assurance that “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9).  “Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.”  (2 Nephi 31:20).  I have learned through my own experiences that we can rely on the Lord’s intent, and ability, to keep His promises; even if we aren’t quite sure scientifically how that will come to pass.

Now, just for fun, let’s assume that your assumptions are correct and that every exalted individual will spend eternity living on this earth–each with his or her own spouse.  Let’s also assume that traditional notions of housing occupancy apply.  Let’s also say–for fun–that there are no traditional densely-packed cities in heaven:  no tenements, no high-rises; every couple gets a lovely single-family home on a half-acre lot.  Now, scientists estimate that 108 billion humans have lived on the earth in its existence–pair them up and that’s 54 billion households; put them on half-acre lots and you need 27 billion acres to house all of these people.

We know that earth currently has a land surface area of about 57.5 million square miles (whether this will still be the case after the Millennium, of course, is another unknown).  There are 640 acres in a square mile; so by doing a little math it seems it would take 42,187,500 square miles to house all those people.  That’s definitely a lot of space–but you’ve still got over 25% of the earth’s land sitting completely vacant!  So any way you slice it, I think there will be plenty of room in the Celestial Kingdom for all who want such an inheritance and, through the grace of God and their own diligence and faith, have been prepared to receive it.

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.  D&C 104:17

 

Gramps

 

 

Will we learn of the sins of our spouses at judgement time?

Will we learn of the sins of our spouses at judgement time?

Question

 

Gramps,

There was a time when my husband was withdrawn from me. And having found small hints of infidelity I asked him directly if he had been unfaithful. He denied, of course, but now, two years later I still feel he cheated and is ignoring it. Will there be a day during our judgement that I will know if he was unfaithful, or will his sins be kept from me?  Many thanks.
“Hopeful”

 

Answer

 

Dear “Hopeful,”

What is your real concern here? Are you looking to the eternal welfare of others and self, or are you just worried about someone getting their comeuppance?

Also, there is a logical fallacy known as “begging the question”. What it means is that we make an assumption and use that assumption as evidence to prove the assumption true. For instance, you assume that your husband cheated on you. Then this assumption is proven true, because, when confronted about it, “he denied [it], of course”. Such is clearly the act of a guilty man. But then, we could cut this the other way too. Let’s assume that your husband never cheated on you. Our assumption is validated because when confronted about having cheated “he denied [it], of course”. What else would you expect an innocent to do?

The day will come when your husband will stand before the Savior and his wicked thoughts, words, and deeds will testify against him to his condemnation (Alma 12:14). What’s more, the rebellious shall be pierced with much sorrow; for their iniquities shall be spoken upon the housetops, and their secret acts shall be revealed” (D&C 1:3). Any indiscretion on his part will be publicly broadcast, visible to yourself and the world.

But this will not be to satisfy some sort of self-righteous desire to see those who have wronged us getting what’s coming to them. If that is the state that our heart is in, we will likely be right there beside them with the weeping and the wailing and the gnashing of teeth and all that.

You see, one day you will also stand before the Savior, “and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again” (Matthew 7:2). Your secret, wicked thoughts, words, and deeds will be broadcast publicly for all the world to see. What will your husband think of your accusing heart?

Your best bet is to approach your situation with prayer, faith, and love. Forgive all men, including your husband, and leave judgment to God. Worry about the example you set, the kind of person you are, the messages you share with others, and that all of the above are true representations of Christ, whom we covenant to stand for at all times and in all places.

 

Gramps

 

Who determines if a spirit is sent to spirit prison or to paradise?

Who determines if a spirit is sent to spirit prison or to paradise?

Question

 

Gramps,

At death, spirits are taken home to that God who created them.  They are “prejudged” and sent to either paradise or spirit prison.  Christ is the ultimate judge but who determines if a spirit is sent to paradise or spirit prison?

Dave

 

Answer

 

Dave,

You pose an interesting question that challenges our understanding of what has been revealed about the nature of the spirit world. In our Sunday School classes and in our missionary discussions, we often teach of the plan of salvation. We teach that there is a veil through which we pass at death and that the unrepentant go to a spirit prison and that the righteous go to paradise.

We recall that Jesus told the unrepentant thief on the cross that He would be in paradise with him that very day (Luke 23:43). This passage is often cited by sectarian Christians to indicate that Jesus forgave the thief without his having undergone the process of repentance and baptism for the remission of his sins. When we understand the nature of the spirit world in the revelations, this passage makes a little more sense.

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that the spirit world is one place. He stated:

Hades, the Greek, or Sheol, the Hebrew, these two significations mean a world of spirits. Hades, Sheol, paradise, spirits in prison, are all one: it is a world of spirits” (Scriptural Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 310).

The unrepentant, the righteous, and those who die without knowledge of the gospel all go to the place we now call the spirit world. In the Book of Mormon, we read the words of Alma regarding the time between death and the resurrection:

11 Now, concerning the state of the soul between death and the resurrection—Behold, it has been made known unto me by an angel, that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life.

“ 12 And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow” (Alma 40:11-12).

Note that Alma uses the word “state,” not “place.” The wicked and the righteous are in one place, but they are in different states of being. The righteous are in a state of peace, but the wicked are filled with fear and dread of the final judgment.

13 And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of the wicked, yea, who are evil—for behold, they have no part nor portion of the Spirit of the Lord; for behold, they chose evil works rather than good; therefore the spirit of the devil did enter into them, and take possession of their house—and these shall be cast out into outer darkness; there shall be weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth, and this because of their own iniquity, being led captive by the will of the devil” (Alma 40:13).

We know that Jesus visited the Spirit world and prepared the conditions for the preaching of the gospel to the dead (John 5:25, 1 Peter 3:18, 4:6) and that gospel ordinances like baptism can be performed for those who died by living proxies (1 Corinthians 15:29). We also know that when Jesus ministered to the spirits in the spirit world, He went to the righteous and organized them into a missionary force. He gave them authority and a commission to preach the gospel of repentance to those who died without having received a remission of sins (D&C 138:29-31).

It appears, from one New Testament passage, in the parable of Lazarus recorded by Luke, that prior to the Savior’s ministry to the spirit world, that the preaching of the gospel to the dead was not possible. This was symbolized by the “great gulf” between the wicked and the righteous mentioned in Luke 16:26). The mission to the spirit world by the Crucified Lord bridged this gulf. Again, we are reminded that the spirit world is one place and that the wicked, the righteous, and the unlearned are all there together.

The lesson manual “Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young” has two fantastic lessons, one on the spirit world and another on the judgment, that are well worth reading in entirety. Brigham Young had a great deal of knowledge about the conditions in which the departed spirits reside. Here are some interesting highlights:

 “The spirits that dwell in these tabernacles on this earth, when they leave them go directly into this world of spirits. What! A congregated mass of inhabitants there in spirit, mingling with each other, as they do here? Yes, brethren, they are there together, and if they associate together, and collect together, in clans and in societies as they do here, it is their privilege. No doubt they yet, more or less, see, hear, converse and have to do with each other, both good and bad. If the Elders of Israel in these latter times go and preach to the spirits in prison, they associate with them, precisely as our Elders associate with the wicked in the flesh, when they go to preach to them” (DBY, 378).

As on earth, the righteous tend to gather together in groups, congregations, and communities. Likewise, the wicked also do so, just as they do on earth. This is necessary because those who have not yet accepted the gospel must hear it and decide for themselves to repent and accept the ordinances. They must have no unfair advantage over their mortal counterparts. The wicked who repent and receive baptism are received, just as they are on earth, into the felicity and fellowship of the saints of God who abide among them. Brigham Young continued:

Suppose, then, that a man is evil in his heart—wholly given up to wickedness, and in that condition dies, his spirit will enter into the spirit world intent upon evil. On the other hand, if we are striving with all the powers and faculties God has given us to improve upon our talents, to prepare ourselves to dwell in eternal life, and the grave receives our bodies while we are thus engaged, with what disposition will our spirits enter their next state? They will be still striving to do the things of God, only in a much greater degree—learning, increasing, growing in grace and in the knowledge of the truth” (DBY, 379).

Our nature upon entering the spirit world does not change. A wicked person will continue to strive to do evil in an even greater degree, even as the righteous strives to do God’s will to a greater degree. The righteous who tended to resist Satan’s temptations while in the body are freed from the Adversary’s influence in the spirit world. This is why it is paradise to them. They are in a state of peace. To those who died in their sins, it is a different story. They are still subject to temptation and Satan continues to have influence over them in the spirit world. Brother Brigham taught:

If we are faithful to our religion, when we go into the spirit world, the fallen spirits—Lucifer and the third part of the heavenly hosts that came with him, and the spirits of wicked men who have dwelt upon this earth, the whole of them combined will have no influence over our spirits. Is not that an advantage? Yes. All the rest of the children of men are more or less subject to them, and they are subject to them as they were while here in the flesh” (DBY, 379).

When it comes to judgment, it is we who condemn ourselves. President Young stated:

All who believe, have honest hearts, and bring forth fruits of righteousness, are the elect of God and heirs to all things. All who refuse to obey the holy commandments of the Lord and the ordinances of his house will be judged out of their own mouths, will condemn themselves as they do now, will be accounted unworthy and will have no part or lot with the righteous” (DBY, 383–84).

 

The principles of eternal life that are set before us are calculated to exalt us to power and preserve us from decay. If we choose to take the opposite course and to imbibe and practice the principles that tend to death, the fault is with ourselves. If we fail to obtain the salvation we are seeking for, we shall acknowledge that we have secured to ourselves every reward that is due to us by our acts, and that we have acted in accordance with the independent agency given us, and we will be judged out of our own mouths, whether we are justified or condemned” (DNW, 17 Aug. 1859, 1).

In part, we will feel at peace among the righteous in eternal glory or we will feel so ashamed and filthy that we will be unable to endure their presence. An unrepentant soul finds the glorious light unbearable. Brigham Young described it in these terms:

Were the wicked, in their sins, under the necessity of walking into the presence of the Father and Son, hand-in-hand with those who believe that all will be saved—that Jesus will leave none, their condition would be more excruciating and unendurable than to dwell in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone. The fatalist’s doctrine consigns to hell the infant not a span long, while the adulterer, whoremonger, thief, liar, false swearer, murderer, and every other abominable character, if they but repent on the gallows or their death-beds, are, by the same doctrine, forced into the presence of the Father and the Son, which, could they enter there, would be a hell to them” (DBY, 385).

In essence, we will rise or sink to the level where we are comfortable. I recall a story told about a young man who followed the ways of the world, whose parents sent him to a week-long religious convocation (like an Especially For Youth conference). After a couple of days, he called his parents saying, “Get me out of here!” He could not abide being in the presence of righteous people. He was more at ease among people of low standards. Perhaps that is the case in the kingdoms of glory as well.

In some measure, a partial judgment occurs at death when we are taken home to the God who gave us life. We either rejoice in His presence because we have repented of our sins and are confident in God’s grace, or we seek to escape from it because of our unworthiness. In the spirit world, we will gravitate to either communities of light and peace or darkness and uncertainty. The righteous await the resurrection with joyful assurance and the wicked dread the moment where they must again re-enter the Savior’s glorious presence in their sins. It is the joyful anticipation or awful dread that makes spirit prison either a paradise or a hellish state of existence.

 

Gramps

 

 

Will I be stuck with my ex husband forever?

Will I be stuck with my ex husband forever?

Question

Gramps,

Unfortunately I am in a situation I never wanted. I was sealed in the temple but am now divorced. I have 2 young children. What is the church’ stance on having the sealing revoked?  I have heard it can only be done if you want to remarry? Will it void my sealing to my children? My ex husband did not respect me and did many things wrong in our marriage, if the sealing cannot be revoked will I really be stuck with him forever?

BillyBob

 

Answer

Dear BillyBob,

Have faith that the Lord knows what He is doing and that He will take care of everything we cannot.

In order for your fear to come true, something very important has to happen.  You both have to make it to the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom.  Anything less then that and it simply is not going to be an issue.

Think of the level of repentance and change that would have to happen in both your hearts for both of you to get there. Hopefully you are working toward that with all diligence no matter what your ex or anyone else does.

As you continue to work on your own progress you will find that the Lord will open up doors you never imagined.  And should you progress all the way to the Celestial Kingdom, when that day comes for you to gain Celestial glory, whomever it is at your side will be perfectly acceptable to you, because he too will have overcome all to be there.

As for your sealing to your kids, that would not be affected by any action the Church might make to revoke the sealing between you and your ex.

 

Gramps

Will we still have our tattoos when we are resurrected?

Will we still have our tattoos when we are resurrected?

Question

Gramps,

My brother is a tattoo artist. He does it for a living. My mom doesn’t like it though and therefore approaches him constantly about it. My brother’s reaction is, “Mom don’t worry, when we’re resurrected, we’re not going to have them anymore.” I don’t know where he got that idea, so now I’m wondering. Is it true or was he just trying to make mom feel better? The answer is important and personal to me. You see. I have 4 brothers and their bodies are covered in tattoos and mom is worried. Thank you!!

Rachel

 

Answer

Dear Rachel,

There’s a lot going on in your question, so I’m going to parse it to three focus areas:

1. When we are resurrected, we will no longer have tattoos. Is this statement correct?

2. If correct, then does it matter if we get them willy-nilly?

3. How does the Church’s teachings on tattoos affect cultures (like the Pacific Islander culture) where tattoos are much more than counter-culture statements? (My Knights of the Internet (of course I have Internet Knights; how do you think I fight the trolls?) tell me this question is relevant though not stated).

First, my reading of the scriptures leads me to agree with your brother that in the resurrection we will not have tattoos. Amulek testified that “the spirit and the body shall be reunited again in its perfect form; both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame, even as we now are at this time” (Alma 11:43). So while our resurrected bodies will be familiar, they will have a “perfect form”. Clarifying more, Amulek contends that “there shall not so much as a hair of their heads be lost; but every thing shall be restored to its perfect frame, as it is now, or in the body” (Alma 11:44). Alma teaches this same doctrine to his son. “Every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame” (Alma 40:23). I’m aware of only one example where a permanent scar is still present on a resurrected body, and that is the Savior and the marks of the Atonement He bears.

Second, using the doctrine of the resurrection as justification for tattoos is a mockery of the body. It smacks of the damnable teaching condemned by Nephi, “Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God—he will justify in committing a little sin; yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God” (2 Nephi 28:8-9). Technically unrepentant sinners are eventually saved in the Telestial Kingdom and enjoy the company of the Holy Ghost. Technically they do suffer for those sins (see D&C 19:17-18). Technically such devilish advocates are correct. But experientiallypractically, and holistically, Nephi is absolutely right to call these out as “false and vain and foolish doctrines”. Nobody goes to church to learn how to be saved in a lower kingdom. Salvation, in it’s ultimate and proper sense, is all about the Celestial Kingdom, living the kind of life our Father lives. It is about Eternal Lives!

Similarly, the doctrine of the resurrection is a real non-sequitur to the practice of tattoos. The body is the first stewardship we are given in this estate. We will one day have to give an accounting for it. It is a great disservice to preach to someone contemplating getting a tattoo that they are really temporary because of the resurrection. Before then they will have to repent of abusing that stewardship. I have quoted from prophets in the past on this matter, and I will do so again:

 What creation is more magnificent than the human body? What a wondrous thing it is as the crowning work of the Almighty.

Paul, in writing to the Corinthians, said: “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

“If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are” (1 Cor. 3:16–17).

Did you ever think that your body is holy? You are a child of God. Your body is His creation. Would you disfigure that creation with portrayals of people, animals, and words painted into your skin?

I promise you that the time will come, if you have tattoos, that you will regret your actions. They cannot be washed off. They are permanent. Only by an expensive and painful process can they be removed. If you are tattooed, then probably for the remainder of your life you will carry it with you. I believe the time will come when it will be an embarrassment to you. Avoid it. We, as your Brethren who love you, plead with you not to become so disrespectful of the body which the Lord has given you. (Gordon B. Hinckley, A Prophet’s Plea and Counsel for Youth, Liahona April 2001).

Since I’ve already upset readers on this topic, let me point out that this is the standard the Lord’s anointed have set for members of the faith. Different guidance and counsel is given for those who enter the faith or renew their faith already possessing tattoos. Note also that I am not expressly condemning your brother for the being in the tattooing business. As with so many gospel principles, the disciple must exercise agency in selecting a career, balancing a number of concerns that feed into the decision. Naturally with this agency (as is proper with all stewardships) comes the principle of accountability which should be fully weighed in the decision process.

Third, I think it’s very clear what the Lord’s standard is for us when tattoos are counterculture, defiant statements (and also when it’s the result of a poorly-thought-out escapade). But what of other cultures where tattoos have other meaning and significance. I once spoke with a Samoan Talking Chief and asked him about his tattoos. He laughingly told me they kept him covered in case his ‘ie lavalava  ever fell off so he’d still be modest. There is great value in incorporating the gospel culture into worldwide cultures. Oftentimes, it magnifies the good that is already there. For instance, Island culture greatly values family, and that is only increased when the gospel culture is added to it. Sometimes (as in the American south), a part of the culture needs to be abandoned (like iced tea and sweet tea) in favor of gospel living. Elder Oaks says of this challenging choice:

The gospel of Jesus Christ challenges us to change. “Repent” is its most frequent message, and repenting means giving up all of our practices—personal, family, ethnic, and national—that are contrary to the commandments of God. The purpose of the gospel is to transform common creatures into celestial citizens, and that requires change.

The traditions or culture or way of life of a people inevitably include some practices that must be changed by those who wish to qualify for God’s choicest blessings.

[T]he present-day servants of the Lord do not attempt to make Filipinos or Asians or Africans into Americans. The Savior invites all to come unto Him (see 2 Ne. 26:33D&C 43:20), and His servants seek to persuade all—including Americans—to become Latter-day Saints. We say to all, give up your traditions and cultural practices that are contrary to the commandments of God and the culture of His gospel, and join with His people in building the kingdom of God” (Dallin H. Oaks, Repentance and Change, October 2003 General Conference).

I’m not qualified to speak to the conflict between the general prohibition on getting tattooed versus the specific cultural meanings for a Pacific Islander. That’s one of the reasons why the Lord, in His wisdom, has granted us local leaders who are familiar with both cultures and endowed with the Spirit to guide us in such matters. I encourage you, your mother, and your brother to visit with your local bishop and talk tattoos. I find local leaders useful in matters of counsel.

 

Gramps

Is it fair that some shall be barred from Celestial glory?

Is it fair that some shall be barred from Celestial glory?

Question

Gramps,

D&C 88:22 says “For he who is not able to abide the law of a celestial kingdom cannot abide a celestial glory.” I understand temple marriage to be an important key to this. But what of those who, though willing to live it, have a spouse who never joins the church, or who never meet someone worthy? It seems unfair that they, due to things beyond their control, should be barred/ banned from celestial glory.

Diane

 

Answer

Dear Diane,

You are not alone in wondering this. It was the subject of excited discussion following my remarks on this life being the time to sort such things out. This exact scenario is one that I had in mind when I addressed 3 timelines to sort out resurrection confusion. Please take some time to review that answer, as it sets the foundation for this one. For this, we’ll revisit Sunbeam (a contemporary of our time) who, through no fault of her own, was never sealed to a spouse while she was alive. For the sake of our hypothetical, she lived a celestial law (as you note, lots of our sisters do this – either they were never proposed to (in our society it is still the man’s responsibility to do so), or they joined the Church after they were already married, and their husbands never joined, or some such thing).

If dearly departed Sunbeam was married but not in the temple, then her descendants can do that vicarious work for her while she’s still in the spirit world awaiting the resurrection. If she was never married, then her work still needs to be done for her by mortals. But the those on the earth will not know who she needs to be sealed to, so they will not do any temple work for her (the Lord’s house is one of order after all). Then Christ comes and calls forth the celestial saints to rise from the graves to meet Him. Here is the mass resurrection at the start of the Millennium, so now we have a conflict: Sunbeam is celestial quality and should be resurrected at this time; but Sunbeam needs to be sealed to a husband to enjoy her eternal increase she’ll inherit in the celestial glory; and Sunbeam cannot be sealed as a resurrected being, for “in the resurrection there will be no marrying nor giving in marriage; for all questions of marital status must be settled before that time, under the authority of the Holy Priesthood, which holds the power to seal in marriage for both time and eternity.” (Jesus the Christ ch 31).

We first begin to resolve this by remembering that the first resurrection is a glory, not a time. So regardless of whether Sunbeam rises at Christ’s coming or the end of the earth it matters not. She receives a celestial body in the celestial glory in the morning of the first resurrection. President Joseph Fielding Smith further resolves this by reminding us to “keep clearly in our minds that we do not enter into exaltation until after the resurrection. We do not enter into exaltation in the spirit world…. [D]uring the Millennium – and that is the great purpose of the Millennium – we will go into the temples” (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 2, page 167). So Sunbeam is not resurrected with the masses when Christ comes, because she is still in the spirit world awaiting her temple work.

President Smith further resolves this by combining the Lord’s justice and mercy with the work of the Millennium. “We never make matches for the dead in the temples. The Lord will bless all those who are worthy of the blessings, and they will lose nothing. The work of the Millennium will be largely work for the dead who did not have an opportunity when living to obtain the blessings, but who would have accepted the blessings if they had lived. Justice demands this. We need not worry, therefore, because young men or young women die without being married. All who are worthy will be blessed just the same as if they had lived and obtained the blessings” (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 2, page 177).

So Sunbeam and other sisters like her will have the opportunity during the Millennium (while in the spirit world) to accept the sealing ordinance and the covenant of marriage. The power of this work for the dead is conveyed by President Joseph F. Smith, who saw the righteous dead organizing to teach vicarious ordinances to those who lacked them. Remember it was prompted by pondering on this verse in 1 Peter: “For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit” (4:6). With this organization in the spirit world, those who needed additional faith or works “were taught faith in God, repentance from sin, vicarious baptism for the remission of sins, the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, And all other principles of the gospel that were necessary for them to know in order to qualify themselves that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit” (D&C 138:33-34). When Sunbeam vicariously receives the sealing ordinance, it will be counted to her as though she had received it in the flesh the same as her married peers who also lived the celestial law.

 

Gramps

Why not polyandry in the Celestial Kingdom?

Why not polyandry in the Celestial Kingdom?

Question

Gramps,

The subject basically says it all. It doesn’t make sense to me that Heavenly Father would treat his daughters and sons differently from one another. Why is it that he would allow men to marry many women and not the other way around?  Or put them in a position of subservience to men?

Greg

 

Answer

Greg,

Let’s assume for the sake of your question that it is absolutely factual that men will have multiple wives in the Celestial kingdom. I presume this is the case, but I want to point out that there are many who do not believe this to be a foregone, doctrinal fact. And there are logical ways to explain plural marriage away as an eternal order. But, like I said…let’s take it as factual.

What is the purpose of plural marriage? That’s what it really comes down to. Right?

The only answer we have is found in the Book of Mormon. We read in Jacob 2:30:

“For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things.”

That’s pretty much all that’s given. We can certainly assume that part of the reason plural marriage was given to the early Saints was also to try them. But it’s not reasonable to assume that in every instance when plural marriage was practiced, that it was a trial. The examples we have in the Bible, in most cases, are cultural norms, and are accepted as such. The instantiation of plural marriage in the early Church was, decidedly, not the cultural norm. That makes all the difference in the world as to whether it is viewed as a trial.

Moreover, if applied to the Celestial Kingdom (remembering that we have already established an assumption for the sake of discussion that plural marriage will be part of existence there), then it would be entirely unreasonable to assume trial as a de facto component of it.

Any way you cut it, subservience is mentioned nowhere. I think it fairly safe to say that the concept of subservience when all therein are exalted to “inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths” who “pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever. Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them.” (D&C 132:19-20) doesn’t sound much like any level of subservience whatsoever.

So, once more, we’re back to the raising up of seed.

So answer me this: How would a wife having multiple husbands, either here in mortality or in the Celestial realm, result in the increased raising up of seed?

 

Ponder that, and I think you’ll have your answer.

 

Gramps

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