Will I be a D-cup in the Resurrection?

Confession time: I am a vain, vain man. At the same time, I take terrible care of myself and am not a particularly sharp dresser. So, you can imagine how deep my dissatisfaction runs. But all that is about to change: I am going to have cosmetic surgery. No, really — next week, Sumer and I are flying to Vancouver, where we will both have Lasik eye surgery, following which, we will be spectacle-free. Hurrah! Napoleon Dynamite becomes Dirk Benedict.

There are some practical benefits to having this type of procedure — no more glasses means that my vision, most likely, will be better than with lenses, including my peripheral vision; I’ll be able to see underwater; to run without the bouncing of the frames; to make out with hot girls (such as Sumer) without the annoying clunk sound of glasses-hitting-girl, or worse yet, the horrible clank of glasses-on-glasses. But at the heart of it all, it’s a vanity issue — no more four-eyes, which I’ve been since 4th grade (I remember it to this day, dancing to Disco Duck, woefully aware of my lot in life). I’ve been sensitive about my glasses for a long time, and so has Sumer.

My religion offers me little advice regarding the advisability of cosmetic surgery, whether it’s with or without any practical benefits. Is this surgery making my body more perfect? Will the incisions in my cornea be raised with me in the Resurrection? Alma has as good a description as anyone’s: “the spirit and the body shall be reunited again in its perfect form; both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame, even as we now are at this time…” But this doesn’t really tell us much about the nature of our resurrected forms. What is the “proper frame” for our bodies? We believe that our bodies will be made perfect — does that mean we all get that 20/20 vision we long for? Will we no longer be lactose-intolerant? Will we be taller, stronger or (as my title suggests) more well-proportioned? In other words, does the resurrection serve to correct things perceived subjectively as imperfections, or does the resurrection work to some external standard of perfection?

This issue isn’t as peripheral as it might sound, because our notions of a physical resurrection, together with LDS belief in a corporeal God, make our notions of heaven and perfection a little different than the average Christian’s. Can we conceive of a God that can’t eat spicy nachos or that is a little on the short side? Even worse, do our concepts of God’s perfection require him to be anglo and bearded — and if so, does our definition of perfection require us to be anglo? (and bearded — better get that Beard Card, ye BYU-ites!) Perhaps we need to be a little more disciplined in LDS culture in how we conceive of perfection, and steel ourselves for the possibility that perfection may not mean the absolute resolution of self-conceived imperfections. That’s the problem when someone else makes you perfect — you don’t get to decide when you’ve reached perfection! In the meantime, I’ll be doing a little weight training so that I can fill out those heavenly robes a little better.

Comments

  1. Why Vancouver? Is there some sweet deal I should be aware of?

    Great thoughts about the resurrection. Our teachings about the resurrection tell us a lot about what we think it means to be human: what is essential to the body (gender, age, race, height, “handicap”)? It is not far to then focus on a hierachy with these essences. I’m in the very very earliest stages of thinking about doing a dissertation on debates about the resurrection in early christianity (6 months from now I will have abandoned this idea…). Anyway, Tertullian said that resurrected beings can eat, but they can’t poop.

  2. Steve,

    It seems to me that the actual answers to your questions don’t really matter–but that our thoughts or belief might reveal a lot about us. I guess that is what you mean when you write that perfection may not mean the absolute resolution of self-conceived imperfections. Until we actually know, we get to imagine it how we want to and how we imagine perfection would naturally conform to personal bias.

    On the topic of cosmetic surgery, I havn’t overcome my middle-class prejudice against purely cosmetic surgery and wouldn’t have it done myself, but I do know lots of people who have had work done, some of them in my own family, and they all love the results. I guess in a perfect world, like the one I imagine the next life will be, we will have learned to value the gift of our physical bodies differently, but in our current, looks-obsessed world, I sympathize with a person who wants to trade his Aqualine nose for something else.

  3. The only way I’d have Lasik done is at a university medical center, with a doctor who is continuing to study the technique.

    There’s a lot of things that can go wrong, and if your doctor isn’t up on the latest info, your Lasik may do more harm than good.

  4. Steve, don’t listen to Measure. He probably thinks that the surgical instruments ought to be sterilized too.

  5. Great topic Steve, in a number of ways. I’ve often wondered what physical perfection means in terms of our resurrected bodies, for example:

    What about the physical handicaps that in this life greatly influence our emotions and psychology – “who we are” – like out of whack brain chemistry that creates severe depression, bipolar disorder or failure of impulse control? Who will people of mental illness be if their brains are different at resurrection -or aren’t?

    Is there an age that we will all be – will we all run around as 22 year olds – great grandparents and great grandchildren alike, or will we somehow look different to different people based on our relationship to them?

    A little more deeply, we know that the disciples, including Mary, did not recognize Christ when he first appeared to them as a resurrected being. I have always thought their lack of recognition was so great that it seemed to indicate more than that they didn’t recognize Jesus because they thought he was dead, he seems to have actually looked very different in his resurrected body. Why? How?

    I’m with Mathew on the middle class prejudice, but I feel particularly strong about it as a feminist. People may say they have breast implants, face lifts and tummy tucks “for themselves” but even if that is true, the aggregate effect is to create an entire (growing) group of people who don’t look like real women. (I’m ignoring men here, not because they don’t have plastic surgery but because I think some issues are distinct). Real breasts, for instance, don’t look anything like breast implants, but breast implants have become so common in some parts of this country that real breasts start to look strange – less good? Or what about shows like The Swan where each contestant returns with that same manufactured face? I think we are seriously flawed emotionally when we 1) spend so much time and resources on our looks to the neglect of other, more important things, and 2) care so much about our looks and have so little self-love that we have to physically alter ourselves in such an extreme way. (We all alter our bodies in life, so I recognize this as a classic slippery slope position, but I do draw a line between surgery for purely cosmetic reasons, wearing mascara and exercise).

  6. Maybe our eyes get immediate “heavenly lasik surgery” when we die. We then see all our brothers and sisters (and ourselves) as lovely regardless. Or Â…..maybe if we are good enough, we see beyond the outside shell and don’t even need the “heavenly lasik surgery”??

  7. I, too, have major qualms with cosmetic surgery, although I’ve never thought about Lasik as being cosmetic — it seems so much more functional.

    Maybe when Steve gets back his eyesight will be good enough to look at the BCC home page and realize he hasn’t linked to my blog.

  8. Heavenly lasik… is that how we “see as we are seen”?

    As for why Vancouver… it is less than half as expensive and my folks live out there. Plus, it’s GORGEOUS and is my favorite city in North America, NYC included.

    Christina, the idea that our resurrection will correct chemical imbalances and related behavioral irregularities is really interesting. Will genetic flaws also be changed? Will homosexuality (assuming it’s genetic) be “cured”? Will anger management problems, traceable to testosterone levels, disappear? I don’t think that the idea of the resurrection has really been explored in this light.

    It also has ramifications, I think, in terms of how we view human behavior and the role of repentance in this life — will the person who is chemically addicted truly find forgiveness and freedom until his/her body is changed in a twinkling?

  9. Also, very funny reference to Dirk Benedict. I used to worship him from his A-Team days. I wonder what he’s up to now.

  10. Sorry Davis… I’ll put it up now (been busy lately).

  11. From Steve, “Will homosexuality (assuming it’s genetic) be “cured”? “.

    Yikes–I rather think that we will be “cured” of thinking it is an affliction that needs to be cured.

  12. Steve, I didn’t mean that these things would be “corrected” — it is difficult to determine what is a flaw and what is not. And I think that the concept of forgiveness is affected by understanding our physical limitations. We each are ultimately responsible for our actions in this life, even though we are all handicapped by various things, behaviorally taught, genetically inherited, etc. I think we tend to forget the balance between these two things — shouldn’t we take responsbility for our own deeds – I am culpable for things I do when angry even if I have a greater-than-average proclivity for anger because my mother has a short temper and I have too much testosterone in my system- and at the same time suspend judgment about other people’s sins – we don’t know who was beaten as a child, ridiculed on the playground for wearing glasses, or suffering from bipolar disorder?

  13. Sharon, an excellent perspective.

    Of course, maybe then I am putting too much stock in the Resurrection’s ability to make us perfect — I’m sure that there will still be prejudices and intolerance after the Resurrection, despite our perfect bodies…

  14. Christina, I think you’re echoing my thinking here, which is that it’s tough to tell a) what’s a flaw and what’s not, and b) what’s a physical flaw vs. a ‘spiritual’ one. I would think that getting our minds around these two series of distinctions is a prerequisite to understanding the power of the Resurrection (as well as understanding the nature of repentance, which — as I see it — is a spiritual resurrection of sorts)

  15. To be made perfect—it means to not be homosexual any longer?

    But, I guess that could start a whole other email train. Is our sexual-orientation a determining factor in where we end up after life?

  16. “Is our sexual-orientation a determining factor in where we end up after life”

    That’s DEFINITELY another thread. Let’s keep it resurrection-related for now…. but an interesting question, to say the least. But, to clarify: I wasn’t trying to imply that being made perfect entails being made heterosexual.

  17. Doesn’t this conversation beg the question of whether “absolute beauty” exists? Whether that definition is what we see on a Cosmo cover remains to be seen, however, I personally tend to believe it does exist.

    When Nephi sees Mary (the mother of Christ) and says that she is more beautiful than any other, doesn’t that imply a comparison? Was Mary truly the closest anyone on this earth has been to physical perfection? Or is she his version of a beautiful person according to his traditions? I seem to recall Joseph Smith saying that Adam was the handsomest of all human beings. It’s a very interesting topic.

  18. Steve, thanks.

  19. Steve,

    Without your glasses, how will people be able to identify you as a geek?

    Don’t you think you should stick with truth in advertising?

    :)

  20. I’m such a hypocrite on this one. I think cosmetic surgery is wrong for all kinds of reasons–religious ones, feminist ones, economic ones… But I still know *exactly* what I’d want done if I won an extreme makeover. ugh.

  21. Dan Richards says:

    Steve–I hope you’re a D cup in the resurrection. There’s a very funny German short film this reminds me of…

  22. I think at least part of this has to consider what “perfecting” means. Let’s say that I’m Jimmy Durante, for instance, and that on the other side I’ve accepted the proxy baptism done for me, been sealed-by-proxy to my equally-converted wife, and am ready to get my perfected body.

    Would I be: a) delighted with the smaller, more aesthetically pleasing nose that will be my “perfected” nose; or,
    b) surprised to find that I have the exact same nose as I did on earth, but because it is now “perfected” it never stuffs up, catches cold, runs, bleeds, etc.

    I tend to think toward the latter. I can’t imagine God adopting 21st century standards of beauty in defining perfection. I think perfect eyes will be neither near-sighted, far-sighted, or have astigmatism. I don’t think we’ll all suddenly have Brad-Pitt-blue eyes.

  23. Remember- you get what you pay for. Probably you will do fine, I haven’t had any problems with my LASIK, but a friend had a corneal wrinkle that messed up his vision until he was re-worked. You should get your procedure done where you have access to follow-up treatment if necessary.
    Perhaps there could be a thread on why Mormons are so cheap….

  24. Oh boy, oh boy! Finally a place to bring up one of my favorite “when you get to heaven, you may not be in Kansas anymore” quotations. What do you all make of the following from Joseph Smith’s King Follett discourse:

    “But as the child dies, so will it rise from the dead, and be living in the burning of God and possessing all the intelligence of a God. It will never grow; it will be the child in its precise form as it was before it died out of your arms. Children dwell and exercise power, throne upon throne, dominion upon dominion, in the same form just as you laid them down. Eternity is full of thrones, upon which dwell thousands of children, reigning on thrones of glory, with not one cubit added to their stature.”

    Hum?

  25. Wow–I hope my seven-year-old doesn’t stumble on that. He’s already a tyrant!!

  26. Yeah, that King Follett quote is a really interesting one, and it makes me wonder whether perhaps the state of the resurrected being is a changeable one; that is, to the mother, a child remains a child, but that child grows and matures as any person should. Otherwise we’ve got some really funky stuff going on up in heaven.

  27. Christina,

    I am having difficulty parsing your post:

    I do draw a line between surgery for purely cosmetic reasons, wearing mascara and exercise

    I read that as lumping mascara with cosmetic surgery and approving exercise. While I am not a fan of mascara, this seems a bit extreme, no?

  28. I suspect that if we all had the ability to look like we wish that people would then emphasize differences.

    The question of beauty however is an interesting one since many aspects of what we consider attractive are tied to our genetics. The quesiton about beauty in the resurrection really hinges upon the question of how much of our brain will still be part of us. I’d hope that a lot is, but of course that is simply conjecture. Yet if it isn’t then in what sense will I still be me? Given the role the brain plays in who I am.

    If a exalted being (as opposed to just a resurrected being) has the power that the scriptures suggest they do, then we probably would have the abillity to change a lot of this. So I suppose it is just a matter of freedom. In which case one asks the obvious question: what is worse? Using technology to change what one looks like or using technology to change what one desires?

    The implication from the discussion is that somehow changing ones appearance is worse than changing ones desires. I don’t quite see why that is.

  29. John – sorry, that should have been a distinction between surgery, one the one hand, and more mild forms of modification, such as wearing makeup and exercise.

  30. Christina, that is too bad. I has hoping for some ammunition in my continuing war against mascara.

  31. I look forward to being the same “age” as my children in the hereafter. I think it helps parents to remember we are all co-eternal and all the same age.

    It is a bit weird and “leveling” ..but somehow fine!

  32. John, perhaps you need some group therapy for this mascara issue. I don’t think you’ll be forced to wear it in the hereafter (whatever you must do in this life) should you desire to be mascara free at that point.

  33. Christina, I deny that my attitude towards eyelash lenthening, thickening, and blackening merits therapy. Of course denial is the first sign of a problem…

    I think that in the Celestial Kingdom all sorts of attitudes towards makeup use and non-use will be tolerated. While I don’t know that I will be allowed into the Celestial Kingdom, I am sure that my lack of make-up will not be a problem if I happen to arrive there. Likewise, I would guess that if the members of KISS are there, they would be accepted in a spirit of love and fellowship.

  34. D. Fletcher says:

    I had my teeth fixed (veneers). Otherwise, I need to get rid of my gobble-gobble chin, and then I’ll be perfect. Well, except for the glasses.

    Well, maybe I could be taller…

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  36. Help me Dude, I think I’m lost….. I was searching for Elvis and somehow ended up in your blog, but you know I’m sure I saw him in a car lot yesterday, which is really strange because the last time I saw him was in the supermarket. No honest really, he was right there in front of me, next to the steaks singing “Love me Tender”. He said to me (his lip was only slightly curled) “Boy, you need to get yourself a San Diego cosmetic surgery doctor ,to fit into those blue suede shoes of yours. But Elvis said in the Ghetto nobody can afford a San Diego plastic surgery doctor. Dude I’m All Shook Up said Elvis. I think I’ll have me another cheeseburger. Then I’m gonna go round and see Michael Jackson and we’re gonna watch a waaaay cool make-over show featuring some Tijuana dentists on the TV in the back of my Hummer. And then he just walked out of the supermarket singing. . . “You give me love and consolation,
    You give me strength to carry on ” Strange day or what? :-)

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