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A Strange Rationale for Infant Death . . .


consiglieri

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After discussing Abraham's attempted sacrifice of his son Isaac in Gospel Doctrine class last Sunday, I had an elderly member of the class (whom I will call Brother Jones) come up to me afterward and share the following story:

_____________________

Brother Jones' son had a baby who was very sick, and at the age of 11 1/2 months, Brother Jones gave the baby a blessing in which he gave the baby the decision of whether he would stay alive or whether he would pass on.

When the baby passed on, Brother Jones' son was very upset, wanting to know why God would do this to him and his child.

Brother Jones told him that it wasn't God who took the baby; the baby had the choice; and the baby chose to pass on.

Don't blame it on God, it was the baby's decision.

____________________

I was struck by this story, and was wondering if anybody has ever encountered this type of scenario before, and/or what you think of this situation.

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

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That's a very, very odd story. I've never heard anything like it.

It seems to argue that even though babies are very limited in their physical abilities, somehow their spirits are fully mature and are able to make hugely important decisions. Yet, they still aren't "accountable" until they're 8 years old...?

At the very least, the implications of the story are very disturbing, since they're saying the child willfully ended their life, which is generally frowned on in the Church.

It's also an odd situation where someone could unintentionally set up a self-fulfilling prophecy through the wording in a blessing.

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At the very least, the implications of the story are very disturbing, since they're saying the child willfully ended their life, which is generally frowned on in the Church.

I hope I may be forgiven for not pursuing the theological implications of such a blessing with Brother Jones, who was the grandfather who gave the blessing, and who told me as part and parcel of the story that his son, the baby's father, "Just couldn't get his head around it."

Seriously.

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

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After discussing Abraham's attempted sacrifice of his son Isaac in Gospel Doctrine class last Sunday, I had an elderly member of the class (whom I will call Brother Jones) come up to me afterward and share the following story:

_____________________

Brother Jones' son had a baby who was very sick, and at the age of 11 1/2 months, Brother Jones gave the baby a blessing in which he gave the baby the decision of whether he would stay alive or whether he would pass on.

When the baby passed on, Brother Jones' son was very upset, wanting to know why God would do this to him and his child.

Brother Jones told him that it wasn't God who took the baby; the baby had the choice; and the baby chose to pass on.

Don't blame it on God, it was the baby's decision.

____________________

I was struck by this story, and was wondering if anybody has ever encountered this type of scenario before, and/or what you think of this situation.

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

Paul Hoskisson of the Maxwell Institute/BYU's Religious Education program tells a story of Wilfred Woodruff and his wife Phoebe that relates to your question. You can read it here. (The piece begins on the second page, right after the bolded words BYU Wellness in the left column.) After telling the story of how Elder Woodruff raised Phoebe from the dead, Hoskisson writes the following:

As this story illustrates, whether Phoebe was healed or not did not depend on what her husband wanted or how positively he tried. Rather, his ability to heal his wife depended on what she wanted. The choice to live out her mortal life with her husband or to join her friends and relatives in the spirit world was hers to make, not his. Not healing her earlier was just as much an act of faith as bringing her back from the dead.

I'm not advocating one way or the other for the good Brother Jones's view, other than to say that he's not alone in holding it.

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Actually I have given a blessing (to an adult) that basically said that they could choose according to their desires (whether to pass on or to live.) So apparently sometime God gives some the choice.

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Actually I have given a blessing (to an adult) that basically said that they could choose according to their desires (whether to pass on or to live.) So apparently sometime God gives some the choice.

Not to put it too bluntly, LB, but this sounds like a cop-out.

First you give a blessing where you are right no matter what happens, and then you ascribe it to God.

I think this is called hedging your bets.

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

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I guess i don't see what's so controversial about the what the brother said.

There's a belief in the church that the veil is not placed over our souls at birth but that it's a gradual thing which sometimes slowly blocks our memories , so i don't believe the notion that an infant could be aware enough to make a choice between life and death and the belief that children are not accountable until 8 years old to be necessarily contradictory.

The idea that some people could choose to continue to live after they have fulfilled the specific mission that God sent them to earth to do also doesn't seem that odd to me i guess.

:P

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Not to put it too bluntly, LB, but this sounds like a cop-out.

First you give a blessing where you are right no matter what happens, and then you ascribe it to God.

I think this is called hedging your bets.

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

If it was the blessing God wanted him to give though, does it matter that some people might call it a cop-out?

:P

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If it was the blessing God wanted him to give though, does it matter that some people might call it a cop-out?

:P

I don't want to put myself in a position to judge the inspiration of another's blessing. I will just say this doesn't strike me as the purpose of the Priesthood.

I don't think it takes a blessing to give the blessee the choice of whether to stay or go.

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

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I don't want to put myself in a position to judge the inspiration of another's blessing. I will just say this doesn't strike me as the purpose of the Priesthood.

I don't think it takes a blessing to give the blessee the choice of whether to stay or go.

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

You won't say it's wrong, but you don't think it's right?

Is that a way of hedging your bets?

:P

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That's a very, very odd story. I've never heard anything like it.

It seems to argue that even though babies are very limited in their physical abilities, somehow their spirits are fully mature and are able to make hugely important decisions. Yet, they still aren't "accountable" until they're 8 years old...?

At the very least, the implications of the story are very disturbing, since they're saying the child willfully ended their life, which is generally frowned on in the Church.

It's also an odd situation where someone could unintentionally set up a self-fulfilling prophecy through the wording in a blessing.

It has been taught by church leaders(sorry in a hurry and don't have time to look it up)that babies have adult spirits.

Many NDO experiences relate having been given a choice to go or stay.

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I don't want to put myself in a position to judge the inspiration of another's blessing. I will just say this doesn't strike me as the purpose of the Priesthood.

I don't think it takes a blessing to give the blessee the choice of whether to stay or go.

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

A priesthood holder may be asked to give a blessing of healing while the ill may need a blessing of comfort. The Lord gives us what we need. Perhaps in the situation Lightbearer described, the dying person needed to feel comfortable with the decision to depart.

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Not to put it too bluntly, LB, but this sounds like a cop-out.

First you give a blessing where you are right no matter what happens, and then you ascribe it to God.

I think this is called hedging your bets.

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

I don't think so. I think that sometimes when praying you receive impressions and know what you ought to ask--at least I have. I assume that is also the way it is for those called on to use their priesthood to give blessings.

Also, it seems from near-death experiences that some are given a choice, to stay or go, so I don't find the story or Lightbearer's comments unreasonable.

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Not to put it too bluntly, LB, but this sounds like a cop-out.

First you give a blessing where you are right no matter what happens, and then you ascribe it to God.

I think this is called hedging your bets.

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

Have you not watched Cipher in the Snow? I thought it was pretty clear in that story that the boy just didn't want to live anymore.

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Perhaps the child was only required to taste mortality before going off to fufill their mission in the afterlife. You know, with the endless individuals that have ever walked the earth, I don't doubt that many situations have come up that perhaps even defy established doctrine. I bet somewhere, there is a little child who has the choice to live in a defective body, or be given the choice to accept a new body but perhaps give up some of the other blessings they would have recieved. Also, just because one would be given that choice doesn't mean it's open to all. Indeed God is fair in that He is not fair. There will always be some who look as if they "beat the system". They get chances that no ordinary person would ever get. God knows our needs, and if we will it, He will give us the chance to accept those blessings.

When it comes down to the fate of an individual soul, there are some things that even established doctrine can't understand.

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Isn't the definition of "choosing not to stay" suicide?

I would say that if the angels who guard the gates and welcome you there are authorized to allow either then it is either not classified as suicide or else suicide in that case is acceptable. I prefer the first.

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My mother told me that when she prayed when they thought I was going to be a miscarriage, that she received the strong impression that I was given a choice on whether to 'live or die' and that I accepted it because she wanted me to live....

When one talks about the accountability of a child, they are not just talking about their spirit, but their physical aspect as well and it may be that the spirit alone is quite capable of making that type of judgment for itself just as we were fully capable of choosing whether to follow the Lord's plan or not, but it's the whole trying to both 'walk and chew gum' at the same time of mortal life that places children in a less advantageous position...in terms of clear judgment that is.

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A priesthood holder may be asked to give a blessing of healing while the ill may need a blessing of comfort.

Well, clearly it was little comfort to the father of this baby.

Regarding priesthood blessings in general...

It's difficult for me to imagine an omniscient, omnipotent deity waiting for a priesthood holder to pronounce a blessing before deciding whether to heal or take a person who is sick or dying. The same goes for healing requests in lay prayers or temple prayers. It seems bizarre to think that a god would actually change his mind concerning whether someone should be healed if the right person with the right credentials just asks him to. And if prayers and blessings cannot change the fate that God has already decided upon for a person, they are pointless. Their only value would be either placebo or comfort.

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Well, clearly it was little comfort to the father of this baby.

Regarding priesthood blessings in general...

It's difficult for me to imagine an omniscient, omnipotent deity waiting for a priesthood holder to pronounce a blessing before deciding whether to heal or take a person who is sick or dying. The same goes for healing requests in lay prayers or temple prayers. It seems bizarre to think that a god would actually change his mind concerning whether someone should be healed if the right person with the right credentials just asks him to. And if prayers and blessings cannot change the fate that God has already decided upon for a person, they are pointless. Their only value would be either placebo or comfort.

If you look at the story of Lot, perhaps the plea for intervention isn't supposed to change the pre-determined outcome. perhaps it's supposed to change us.

edit: Just wanted to point out that I said the blessing of comfort was for the ill, not bystanders, however emotionally involved.

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