In recently reading one of your excellent answers regarding polygamy, you mentioned that the asker must have “sufficient faith and spiritual maturity to receive an answer.” I think I have a handle on the idea of faith, and how it increases by exercising it, but can you explain a bit more about spiritual maturity? How would you define or describe it? How would one increase or achieve it? Thank you.
This is a fantastic question. Simply put, “spiritual maturity” is “exhibiting mature behavior when dealing with spiritual matters.” So, the primary question is “How do we define maturity?”
Obviously, the legal definitions of maturity don’t matter. What are the definitions that would apply to spirituality?
President Spencer W. Kimball said:
Two years make a tremendous difference in the life of a young man. He goes out a boy and comes back a man. He goes out immature, he comes back mature and strong, gracious, and a worker and willing to serve. He goes back to college in most cases and there he will make higher grades than he ever made before, because he has purpose in his life. He is already enjoying purpose, and now he has a new purpose. Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, 590–91
So, one part of spiritual maturity is having a purpose or sense of vision, a mission in life. Applied to spirituality, this means that we know where we’re going, we know our end goal. Anything that gets in the way of it, is just an obstacle we need to get around.
To further define this (it can go on for a long while). I’d recommend that you read two more Conference addresses.
I’m an Adult Now, by Marvin J. Ashton (GC, Apr 1987)
Meaning of Maturity, by Derek A Cuthbert (GC, Oct 1982)
Then to answer your second question (how do we develop it?)
President Gordon B. Hinckley said:
Each of us, with discipline and effort, has the capacity to control his thoughts and his actions. This is part of the process of developing spiritual, physical, and emotional maturity. — Gordon B. Hinckley; Reverence and Morality, General Conference, Apr. 1987