My Mormon Conversion Part II: Suffering

See the last post for the disclaimer.  In this mini-disclaimer I have to add that I am jealous of the little laminated pictures of Calvin (of Hobbes fame) that he used to explain the LDS take on Salvation History. I may steal and adapt the concept for future use.

So this is the Big Picture, according to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, as I understand it:

God the embodied Father, and his son Jesus created a whole lot of human souls.  But since the Father wanted them to learn and grow and experience things (like he did), he sent them to earth. The first to cross the veil and receive bodies were Adam and Eve.  God told them not to eat the fruit, but he really wanted them to, so that they could experience joy and sorrow, and all ranges of emotion.  So, they did eat it and now get to experience all those things: like sickness, death, hard work, etc.  Then God sent Jesus, who atoned for our sins on the Cross.  So now, when we die, our souls wait in a place whose name alludes me.  But while we are in the Waiting Place, we can still choose for or against God.  Finally, there will be a Judgement at the Second Coming and based on that we will be sent to one of three kingdoms, the highest of which is a place where you are yourself a god and spend eternity with your family.

So, for today I will look just at pre existent souls and Eden, in light of my own experience.  I know there is an undercurrent of the belief in pre-existent souls in popular culture, usually manifesting itself in a sentiment like, “I’m so glad you chose me to be your mom.”  This is flawed on many levels.  First, why would a loving God send souls completely in his presence and basking in the Beatific Vision to Earth??  Why would you want to leave heaven to go “learn and grow”? Second, what good would it be for God to create children who die in the womb, or ones who die as infants? They didn’t get to “learn and grow”.  That would kind of make their lives a mistake.  But if we look at each conception as the creation of a new human life- body and soul- then, yes, it makes at least some kind of sense.  That person now exists for eternity. 

Plus, if we were initially souls, and just dropped into our bodies to experience things, why is the dropping out of them so traumatic? Because we are body-and-soul!  The two together make up a human! They were never meant to be torn apart!

Which leads me to Eden.  I clarified with them the part about God really secretly wanting Adam and Eve to eat the fruit, because it sounded so bizarre to me.  Would any of you parents tell your kid not to do something that  you knew they’d do just so you could punish them? That would be a sick and vindictive God! Further, the idea that the suffering we undergo in this life is God’s way of letting us “experience things,” or “learn and grow”? Now, I will be the first to admit that tremendous sorrow has amazing fruit.  But I take great comfort in the fact that God never meant for death or sickness to enter the world.  I can say with confidence to any suffering parent, “God never wanted your baby to die. That’s not how it was supposed to be.”  Yes, he knew we would fall.  Yes, his solution to the problem of sin is so much better than if we had never sinned.  But make no mistake: God is not pleased with sin and its effects.  That’s why he went so far as to send us himself-his only Son- to fix the problem.

If the effects of sin are just “learning and growing”, then why do we need a Savior? Why would God need to redeem us from something that he intended us to have in the first place? It just doesn’t make sense.

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