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Moral concerns regarding the doctrine of the preexistence


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To those that don't know my background I'm an LCSW, and spend my days working with those that have mental health and substance abuse problems. Something that has bothered me more and more is that many people who have problems were born into an environment where they had considerable handicaps (such as abuse, use of drugs etc.) I know that we often hear stories of people who overcome this and lead good happy loves, however in my observation this isn't always the case. 

I guess my question to you guys is this: how humane is the doctrine of preexistence? Of course it isn't like the doctrine of predestination, which I feel is much worse, however I'm starting to struggle with the idea of spirits being deliberately sent into situations where unimaginable pain and suffering are present

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16 minutes ago, The Nehor said:

Since the whole plan is based on one man/God coming here and suffering even more unimaginable pain and suffering I think we can conclude God thinks it worth it.

premortality also comes with the suggestion that we volunteered for this process. One small mercy is that life may be nasty and brutish but it is, at least, short.

That is a good point!

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18 minutes ago, boblloyd91 said:

I guess my question to you guys is this: how humane is the doctrine of preexistence? Of course it isn't like the doctrine of predestination, which I feel is much worse, however I'm starting to struggle with the idea of spirits being deliberately sent into situations where unimaginable pain and suffering are present

I would say that these spirits also present us with challenges in that we are suppose to care for and succor them without mimicking Satan's plan which would force people to do it and remove our ability to choose to help or not, and to what extent.  Everywhere you turn there are challenges and people suffering, all designed to prepare us for Godhood, even these spirits.

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2 minutes ago, BCSpace said:

I would say that these spirits also present us with challenges in that we are suppose to care for and succor them without mimicking Satan's plan which would force people to do it and remove our ability to choose to help or not, and to what extent.  Everywhere you turn there are challenges and people suffering, all designed to prepare us for Godhood, even these spirits.

On the one hand I see what you're saying, but I guess I can't seem to wrap my head around someone placed in a situation where they are ordained to be a project for those who are more fortunate. Again I appreciate your thoughts. I guess my paradigm is very negative right now

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Is there any other way?

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14 minutes ago, boblloyd91 said:

On the one hand I see what you're saying, but I guess I can't seem to wrap my head around someone placed in a situation where they are ordained to be a project for those who are more fortunate. Again I appreciate your thoughts. I guess my paradigm is very negative right now

I prefer that to a doctrine without preexistance, that basically says that God created the children in these circumstances.  Preexistance gives the assurance that God looked at a situation and found spirits who are strong enough and brave enough to at least have a chance.  In addition, we know that God will judge fairly, which includes allowances made for really bad circumstances.

 

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I wonder about people born in say the 1920's, grew up in say eastern europe with or without a belief in God, lived through the depression among other bad things and then maybe or maybe didn't die during WW2 or the holocaust. Would they leave this life with a disbelief in God or a negative view of God or what happens with their attitudes in the next life? if I lived through through that time I don't know if I would have a favourable view of God as you'd see horror everywhere. This describes to a certain extent my dad and his folks and I know at least my dad has certain attitudes and I can't says I blame him or others, I hope he changes but i doubt it'll happen here

Edited by Duncan
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1 hour ago, boblloyd91 said:

To those that don't know my background I'm an LCSW, and spend my days working with those that have mental health and substance abuse problems. Something that has bothered me more and more is that many people who have problems were born into an environment where they had considerable handicaps (such as abuse, use of drugs etc.) I know that we often hear stories of people who overcome this and lead good happy loves, however in my observation this isn't always the case. 

I guess my question to you guys is this: how humane is the doctrine of preexistence? Of course it isn't like the doctrine of predestination, which I feel is much worse, however I'm starting to struggle with the idea of spirits being deliberately sent into situations where unimaginable pain and suffering are present

I think humans are often too prone to only focus on the moment; this very instant.  If there is pain right now then the universe must be out of kilter.  God's plan is an eternal one and there is an acknowledgement that this mortal existence will be painful.  Some of us live truly horrible lives in atrocious conditions, but the world goes on as if nothing has ever happened.

For me I don't get too caught up in the conversation that we are where we are because of what happened in the preexistence.  I focus on the fact that God knows each of us and understands our trials, pains, and sufferings.  Through it all he is infinitely fair - he purpose is not to see us fail or to lose out on blessings.  His objective is that each of us know ultimate joy by being in his presence.  

God knows us and he understands and knows the truths we learn and the truths we live in this life.  I think we will all be surprised by who is found in the Celestial Kingdom and who is not.  That widow that no one noticed will be there and the people who were admired by many will not.  

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Just now, Storm Rider said:

I think humans are often too prone to only focus on the moment; this very instant.  If there is pain right now then the universe must be out of kilter.  God's plan is an eternal one and there is an acknowledgement that this mortal existence will be painful.  Some of us live truly horrible lives in atrocious conditions, but the world goes on as if nothing has ever happened.

For me I don't get too caught up in the conversation that we are where we are because of what happened in the preexistence.  I focus on the fact that God knows each of us and understands our trials, pains, and sufferings.  Through it all he is infinitely fair - he purpose is not to see us fail or to lose out on blessings.  His objective is that each of us know ultimate joy by being in his presence.  

God knows us and he understands and knows the truths we learn and the truths we live in this life.  I think we will all be surprised by who is found in the Celestial Kingdom and who is not.  That widow that no one noticed will be there and the people who were admired by many will not.  

what do you think about foreordination? It would seem that certain people are born in certain places to be in certain leadership callings like the majority of apostles and prophets being born in Utah

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I am not clear what difference having a preexistence has to do with the fact that life is miserable. The full purpose of mortality is not entirely clear, but a large part of it is to endure the human experience. Yes there are some with debilitating disabilities, but there are others born in poverty, others born in the bronze age, others born as women in the middle east. Some are born to succor, others are born to be succored. I don't know why some live to be 9 years of age in circumstances full of potential, and others live to be 99 years as a slave. I do know that we are bond by time which is a mortal handicap. Time is relative and as we suffer through it in this life, 5 years of illness can be a very long time. We have such a limited grasp of the nature of the universe that any attempt to explain it is futile. 

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2 hours ago, boblloyd91 said:

On the one hand I see what you're saying, but I guess I can't seem to wrap my head around someone placed in a situation where they are ordained to be a project for those who are more fortunate. Again I appreciate your thoughts. I guess my paradigm is very negative right now

We are all projects for each other, those who need service, and those who render service.  From mewling infants who are totally dependent upon us, to those who were born with handicaps of some sort.  We must always hark back to Jesus' assertion that the fault is not the parents' sin, nor that of the disabled (blind, lame, etc.).  Even for paleolithic cave man, service was rendered to the old and disabled.  Love was manifest the same as it is today.  Moreover, many of those who are disabled make important contributions to society -- as in the case of Stephen Hawking.  For Mormons who wish to go on a mission, despite their handicaps, there is a formal LDS mission using Skype on Mormon.org, etc. -- and they have a higher baptism rate than the normal door-to-door missionaries.

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4 hours ago, boblloyd91 said:

On the one hand I see what you're saying, but I guess I can't seem to wrap my head around someone placed in a situation where they are ordained to be a project for those who are more fortunate. Again I appreciate your thoughts. I guess my paradigm is very negative right now

God takes EVERYTHING into consideration including degree of difficulty.

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To tell you the truth, I have become more and more leary of the whole Mormon concept of the plan of salvation that I was taught as a kid.  The church places such importance in missionary work and converting people to the gospel, yet such a very very very small number of Gods children ever join the church  The vast majority of people go through their lives as if the gospel has never been restored.  And then they die.  Of course Mormon doctrine states that they will THEN be taught the gospel and can accept or reject it at that time.  But by then, what is the point.  If this earth life was meant to be a testing period and the vast majority was completely unaware that they were taking some kind of test, then how could they possibly get the benefit of what the purpose of their life was all about.  

And that doesn't even address the fact that the majority of people don't even know anything about Christ, yet the purpose of this life is to become more like Him.  Aren't 99.9% of the people on earth missing the whole point of why they are here?  Most have no goal of what they must do to get where they want to be?  It just seems like a huge effort to create this earth and all these spirit children and allow them to come to earth and then getting a .01% return on that investment.  And that doesn't even take into consideration that not all members of the church are going to get much out of the church except possible condemnation for not living up to what they were taught.  

And to make it even more difficult, the church is saddled with so much baggage that it makes accepting the gospel even more difficult.  It is not like the teachings draw out the best in man.  Discriminating against blacks, living polygamy, treating gays badly etc.  Then you have all of the church history issues.  Joseph peeping into a hat to receive the Book of Mormon that are written on gold tablets that he doesn't even need to look at.  Translating Egyptian mummy documents telling everyone they are written by the hand of Abraham himself, yet they neither contain any content that was translated nor does the age of the scrolls match up with when Abraham was suppose to live.  If people are suppose to find the true church, God seems to have put every stumbling block in the way of anyone that might be searching. For the same reason many members have no interested in learning more about Jeffery Warren are all the same reasons why the majority of people have no interest in learning more about the church.  Frankly it just sounds a bit nuts.  No wonder so few find the church. For the first time in my life, I am beginning to understand why a third of the host of heaven didn't buy into this plan.  It has some major flaws.  

I am not trying to question anyone's faith.  But I am beginning to question how the church can possibly be of any importance to the children of God when so few ever even get to the point to ask God about this plan.  At what point would anyone define this plan as being successful if it's success is pretty much solely dependent on what happens after everyone dies.  

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9 hours ago, boblloyd91 said:

I'm starting to struggle with the idea of spirits being deliberately sent into situations where unimaginable pain and suffering are present

These pains are all absorbed in the Atonement, which by virtue of bringing mercy and justice together also resolves all mercilessness and injustice. You mentioned the "stories of people who overcome this and lead good happy lives," and such opportunity abounds in the afterlife as well through the virtues of Christ.

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8 hours ago, Duncan said:

what do you think about foreordination? It would seem that certain people are born in certain places to be in certain leadership callings like the majority of apostles and prophets being born in Utah

Hello Duncan,

I believe that some individuals are foreordained to serve in certain capacities; however, whether they do or not is up to the individual and their willingness.  I suspect many have chosen not to in their mortal existence just as many have chosen to serve.

Additionally, I do not believe that leadership equals special righteousness or holiness.  It only means they are worthy to serve and are willing to do so.  Leaders are also judged on the manner they serve; their potential culpability is far greater than those who serve in less responsible positions or who don't serve at all.  For this reason alone I think we owe leaders both respect and forgiveness of any of their shortcomings.

Lastly, exaltation has nothing to do with leadership positions.  What I have found in the scriptures teaches us that it is the way we each treat our fellowman on a daily basis that will demonstrate the quality of our heart and our commitment to serving God.  Who did we feed when they were hungry, when thirsty gave them to drink, when they were naked we clothed them, when they were sick we cared for them, when they were in prison we visited them - this is the individual who knows and loves the Savior.   

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3 hours ago, california boy said:

To tell you the truth, I have become more and more leary of the whole Mormon concept of the plan of salvation that I was taught as a kid.  The church places such importance in missionary work and converting people to the gospel, yet such a very very very small number of Gods children ever join the church  The vast majority of people go through their lives as if the gospel has never been restored.  And then they die.  Of course Mormon doctrine states that they will THEN be taught the gospel and can accept or reject it at that time.  But by then, what is the point.  If this earth life was meant to be a testing period and the vast majority was completely unaware that they were taking some kind of test, then how could they possibly get the benefit of what the purpose of their life was all about.  

And that doesn't even address the fact that the majority of people don't even know anything about Christ, yet the purpose of this life is to become more like Him.  Aren't 99.9% of the people on earth missing the whole point of why they are here?  Most have no goal of what they must do to get where they want to be?  It just seems like a huge effort to create this earth and all these spirit children and allow them to come to earth and then getting a .01% return on that investment.  And that doesn't even take into consideration that not all members of the church are going to get much out of the church except possible condemnation for not living up to what they were taught.  

And to make it even more difficult, the church is saddled with so much baggage that it makes accepting the gospel even more difficult.  It is not like the teachings draw out the best in man.  Discriminating against blacks, living polygamy, treating gays badly etc.  Then you have all of the church history issues.  Joseph peeping into a hat to receive the Book of Mormon that are written on gold tablets that he doesn't even need to look at.  Translating Egyptian mummy documents telling everyone they are written by the hand of Abraham himself, yet they neither contain any content that was translated nor does the age of the scrolls match up with when Abraham was suppose to live.  If people are suppose to find the true church, God seems to have put every stumbling block in the way of anyone that might be searching. For the same reason many members have no interested in learning more about Jeffery Warren are all the same reasons why the majority of people have no interest in learning more about the church.  Frankly it just sounds a bit nuts.  No wonder so few find the church. For the first time in my life, I am beginning to understand why a third of the host of heaven didn't buy into this plan.  It has some major flaws.  

I am not trying to question anyone's faith.  But I am beginning to question how the church can possibly be of any importance to the children of God when so few ever even get to the point to ask God about this plan.  At what point would anyone define this plan as being successful if it's success is pretty much solely dependent on what happens after everyone dies.  

Without a hereafter faith doesn't make much sense.

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2 hours ago, Kevin Christensen said:

If you assume that it's all about the church, and that everything meaningful happens not only in this life, but in the church, you can run into this kind of mayhem.  I personally take comfort from noticing that Joseph Smith approaches things from an entirely different perspective:

See History of the Church 4:595

And those interested in more than a twitter level of thought in the Pre-existence concept should read Givens's When Souls Had Wings.

FWIW

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

 

Quote

 

Alma 29: Yea, and I know that good and evil have come before all men; he that knoweth not good from evil is blameless; but he that knoweth good and evil, to him it is given according to his desires, whether he desireth good or evil, life or death, joy or remorse of conscience. Now, seeing that I know these things, why should I desire more than to perform the work to which I have been called? Why should I desire that I were an angel, that I could speak unto all the ends of the earth? For behold, the Lord doth grant unto all nations, of their own nation and tongue, to teach his word, yea, in wisdom, all that he seeth fit that they should have; therefore we see that the Lord doth counsel in wisdom, according to that which is just and true.

2 Nephi 31: For my soul delighteth in plainness; for after this manner doth the Lord God work among the children of men. For the Lord God giveth light unto the understanding; for he speaketh unto men according to their language, unto their understanding.

 

The Book of Mormon is helpful in resolving this conflict.

Edited by Bernard Gui
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17 hours ago, boblloyd91 said:

I guess my question to you guys is this: how humane is the doctrine of preexistence? Of course it isn't like the doctrine of predestination, which I feel is much worse, however I'm starting to struggle with the idea of spirits being deliberately sent into situations where unimaginable pain and suffering are present

I don't have all the answers on this, and I don't pretend to.

But I will say this.
Is it any more wrong for this life to reflect our pre-earth actions than it is for the next life to reflect our actions here?

Our actions here will have a direct impact on our post-mortal resurrection.  And not all of those situations will be happy and free of suffering.
D&C 76 is clear on this.
I don't see that this life should be any different based on our actions and choices in the pre-mortal existence.

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Mortals have different views of what is bad than our Heavenly Parents.   God set up the process for births.  He's spent a fair amount of effort trying to get mortals to produce children within the bonds of a stable marriage, and communities not to fight among themselves or against others,and to help mortals control their appetites and passions.    And any spirit who enters a body that He doesn't make directly, and cannot stop mortals from producing in less than what He things each child deserves, still has all the tools that child will need to return to Him with honor, including the atonement whether or not he/she has ever heard of it, conscience, the ability to see beauty and become something good in the midst of terrible pain and suffering.  

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The part of the "plan" that appeals the most to me is the part where we all agreed to it.  It wasn't forced on us by divine will- we chose it. Life on this earth is hard.  It's messy and painful and full of wonderful and terrible things.  The natural world is rough. I never could stand to watch "nature" movies in all of their gory, food chain- battling glory, but that's life.  I believe I agreed to it, and frankly, I don't think I'd have it any other way.  The part of the "plan" that appeals to me the least is the part where the righteous female spends eternity giving birth to spirit children who may or more likely will not come back to her.  I don't spend a lot of time worrying about it, but if that's what exaltation is for women, I pass. :)

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7 hours ago, Kevin Christensen said:

If you assume that it's all about the church, and that everything meaningful happens not only in this life, but in the church, you can run into this kind of mayhem.  I personally take comfort from noticing that Joseph Smith approaches things from an entirely different perspective:

See History of the Church 4:595

And those interested in more than a twitter level of thought in the Pre-existence concept should read Givens's When Souls Had Wings.

FWIW

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

So sad that this is the level of understanding of adult members of the church who have allegedly studied the gospel 

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14 hours ago, california boy said:

To tell you the truth, I have become more and more leary of the whole Mormon concept of the plan of salvation that I was taught as a kid.  The church places such importance in missionary work and converting people to the gospel, yet such a very very very small number of Gods children ever join the church  The vast majority of people go through their lives as if the gospel has never been restored.  And then they die.  Of course Mormon doctrine states that they will THEN be taught the gospel and can accept or reject it at that time.  But by then, what is the point.  If this earth life was meant to be a testing period and the vast majority was completely unaware that they were taking some kind of test, then how could they possibly get the benefit of what the purpose of their life was all about.  

And that doesn't even address the fact that the majority of people don't even know anything about Christ, yet the purpose of this life is to become more like Him.  Aren't 99.9% of the people on earth missing the whole point of why they are here?  Most have no goal of what they must do to get where they want to be?  It just seems like a huge effort to create this earth and all these spirit children and allow them to come to earth and then getting a .01% return on that investment.  And that doesn't even take into consideration that not all members of the church are going to get much out of the church except possible condemnation for not living up to what they were taught.  

And to make it even more difficult, the church is saddled with so much baggage that it makes accepting the gospel even more difficult.  It is not like the teachings draw out the best in man.  Discriminating against blacks, living polygamy, treating gays badly etc.  Then you have all of the church history issues.  Joseph peeping into a hat to receive the Book of Mormon that are written on gold tablets that he doesn't even need to look at.  Translating Egyptian mummy documents telling everyone they are written by the hand of Abraham himself, yet they neither contain any content that was translated nor does the age of the scrolls match up with when Abraham was suppose to live.  If people are suppose to find the true church, God seems to have put every stumbling block in the way of anyone that might be searching. For the same reason many members have no interested in learning more about Jeffery Warren are all the same reasons why the majority of people have no interest in learning more about the church.  Frankly it just sounds a bit nuts.  No wonder so few find the church. For the first time in my life, I am beginning to understand why a third of the host of heaven didn't buy into this plan.  It has some major flaws.  

I am not trying to question anyone's faith.  But I am beginning to question how the church can possibly be of any importance to the children of God when so few ever even get to the point to ask God about this plan.  At what point would anyone define this plan as being successful if it's success is pretty much solely dependent on what happens after everyone dies.  

The actual LDS belief is that all will have a chance to hear the gospel if not here, on the other side, and virtually all will accept it and have a fair chance at the Celestial Kingdom.

That is a central part of the actual Plan of Salvation as opposed to your version

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22 hours ago, Bernard Gui said:

Is there any other way?

There is no other way!

But we are promised it will be fair and made right in the end, in God's plan

Speculating on the details of how God pulls that off is pretty irrelevant.  Either we trust in God or we don't.

If God does not make it fair, it is all over anyway, and God is actually Satan. This is about FAITH not a scientific understanding of the Machine of Universal Justice and how the gears work.

So what's the question again? ;)

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