The Doctrine of Premortality (Pre-existence)

Understanding the gospel of Jesus Christ is made easier if we believe and understand the doctrine that we lived before we were born. I’ve found that most people find it easy to accept this idea because of their faith in life after death. Life before birth, and life after death are companion doctrines. To my knowledge LDS are the only Christian church to teach the doctrine of premortality.

The doctrine of premortality teaches that we were born as spirit children to heavenly parents. In the premortal world of spirits we grew into adult spirits. We experienced many things there that prepared us to come to this life where a veil of forgetfulness is placed over our memory so we can learn to walk by faith while in mortal life.

Following are a few key points related to this doctrine:

1. Mankind are the sons and daughters of God (D&C 76:24).

2. Jesus Christ is the first born of God’s spirit children (1 Colossians 1:13-19, D&C 93:21).

3. We were instructed and prepared for life on earth while in premortality (D&C 138:56).

4. There was a “war” in heaven over the plan of salvation. Lucifer sought to take away the agency of man. (Revelation 12:7, Moses 4:3).

5. Those who followed Lucifer (satan) became evil spirits and will never have a body. (Moses 4:3, Mosiah 3:6).

6. Some were foreordained to be God’s prophets and leaders (Abraham 3:22-23).

7. “Privileges” in this life result from our faithfulness in premortality (Alma 13:3-5).

8. Life on earth is designed to accomplish two things: 1) give us experience, 2) try us to determine our future reward (D&C 76:43).

9. Everyone born into earth-life is innocent (D&C 93:38).

10. God’s purpose is to help each of His children become perfect, even as He is (Moses 1:39, Matt 5:48).

Adam, our progenitor, “the first man,” was, like Christ, a preexistent spirit, and like Christ he took upon him an appropriate body, the body of a man, and so became a “living soul.” The doctrine of the pre-existence revealed so plainly, particularly in latter days-pours a wonderful flood of light upon the otherwise mysterious problem of man’s origin. It shows that man, as a spirit, was begotten and born of heavenly parents, and reared to maturity in the eternal mansions of the Father, prior to coming upon the earth in a temporal body to undergo an experience in mortality. It teaches that all men existed in the spirit before any man existed in the flesh, and that all who have inhabited the earth since Adam have taken bodies and become souls in like manner.

Jesus, however, is the firstborn among all the sons of God-the first begotten in the spirit, and the only begotten in the flesh. He is our elder brother, and we, like Him, are in the image of God. All men and women are in the similitude of the universal Father and Mother, and are literally the sons and daughters of Deity.

Joseph F. Smith, John R. Winder, Anthon H. Lund,
First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (As quoted in Encyclopedia of Mormonism [Macmillan, 1992], vol. 4, pp. 1668, 1670).

Since “all men and women are in [that] similitude,” obviously there were both male and female spirits in heaven. Elder James E. Talmage wrote:

We affirm as reasonable, scriptural, and true, the eternity of sex among the children of God. The distinction between male and female is no condition peculiar to the relatively brief period of mortal life. It was an essential characteristic of our pre-existent condition, even as it shall continue after death, in both disembodied and resurrected states… (”The Eternity of Sex,” Millennial Star, 24 August 1922, p. 530.)


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