MMTP: Baby Birthing Edition

Your Monday Mid-day Theological Poll:

Why is someone born in the covenant?

Please explain your reasons why below.

Comments

  1. Alma 13, Abraham 3. And a belief that God does not act out of randomness. I do not believe it is as simple as you present, of course. My vote was more a vote against randomness as it was a vote for ‘worthiness’.

  2. I said random factors because I think most things are random, but I wouldn’t discount the worthiness thing entirely–except that I’m fairly certain I was among the least worthy in the pre-mortal life, yet I was born in the covenant. So yeah, random factors.

  3. I vote random factors. For me that’s a vote against “The Saturday’s Warrior Doctrine.”

  4. The contrarian in me says —

    If you believe that the Lord sends each baby to a certain family as part of a grand plan, then consider this: Perhaps some who are born in the covenant were so unworthy in the pre-mortal life that the Lord knew they could only make it through mortal life if they were handed the gospel on a plate.

  5. Scott B says:

    As the only of my siblings to be BIC, I take the view that those who ROCK are BIC, and the rest of ya’ll are just haters.

  6. I did not vote. I think there need to be more options.

  7. Do we even know why someone is NOT born in the covenant?

  8. Scott B says:

    Daniel, please refer to #5 above.

  9. I think the answer here can be summed up be the following:

    Could Be

    You could be born in the covenant because of pre-mortal worthiness

    You could be not BIC because the Lord needed a member to be converted in say Russia in a particular city.

    You could be Martin Luther or a founding father who needed to be in a particular place to further the work of the Lord

    ETC ETC

  10. Peter LLC says:

    those who ROCK are BIC

    This.

  11. I voted random. It also seems random to me whether or not someone is considered born in the covenant.

  12. I think that while there is agency, there was planning done in the heavens. I do not think that we were sent willy nilly to whenever or wherever on earth. That said, I believe there are also many righteous and worthy people who were not born under the covenant.

    But I am one who believes in foreordination, and that many were foreordained to certain tasks. Some of these would require living in a certain time and/or place. For one who was foreordained to a priesthood calling, there has to be some leeway into entering the Church (Alma 13).

  13. I couldn’t vote. I really like what #9 BBEll says. I think that it is God who is the one in charge of it all. Anyways – at some point EVERYONE will have this blessing – so in the long run, it doesn’t really matter. We are all given different talents and blessings (including BIC) and we have different expectations from the Lord.

    Kind of a crazy – space-doctrine-speculativ-ish poll, don’t you think?

  14. Gilgamesh says:

    Having met and been duly impressed with the emotional and spiritual strength of many converts, I vote for my being BIC as due to my unworthiness. I don’t think I ever would have made it into the church had I not already been there when I was born. I don’t think I would have been strong enough. As a BIC member, I had a head start so I feel I was given a cheat that I don’t take for granted.

  15. John C. <3 false dichotomies

  16. I would remind everyone here that Joseph Smith was NOT BIC. Just FYI.

  17. I’m not sure where I picked this up but have always believed that our “status” in this life was a result of our pre-mortal life in the same way that our choices in this life will determine our “post-mortal” glory. Is this incorrect?

    Of course with the blessing of being born in the covenant comes the responsibilities associated with that blessing. Perhaps some chose to not accept that responsibility.

  18. Mark Brown says:

    Nor Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, Lorenzo Snow.

    In our time, neither was Pres. Hunter, Russell M. Nelson, Richard G. Scott, David A. Bednar, just off the top of my head. There are undoubtedly lots of others, too.

  19. I feel a need to point out that I didn’t put a value on worthiness. One could have a lot or a little and that would still be a factor.

  20. I have very little doctrinal basis for this, but it’s my feeling that the Lord puts us in circumstances that maximize our chances of successfully returning to Him (allowing for free agency, of course). Following that reasoning, I guess I believe that some people are born in or out of the covenant based on their individual strengths and weaknesses and how the Lord thinks they can best succeed.

  21. Scott B says:

    >Of course with the blessing of being born in the covenant comes the responsibilities associated with that blessing. Perhaps some chose to not accept that responsibility.

    This is not unlike Peter Parker’s recognition that, as Spider Man, he had a great responsibility to protect the citizens of New York. We all saw the pain and misery in his life during the middle of the second movie where he “chose to not accept that responsibility.”

  22. L,

    #20,

    I have very little doctrinal basis for this, but it’s my feeling that the Lord puts us in circumstances that maximize our chances of successfully returning to Him (allowing for free agency, of course).

    Who knows. It may be completely random. It may be that we’re tied to those who are our families here (seeing how many similarities there are between brothers and sisters). Or that could just be an indication of the nature of nurture. We only know that a select few were given certain tasks of great import, at least that’s what we get from one source, the Book of Abraham.

    Jim,

    #17,

    I’m not sure where I picked this up but have always believed that our “status” in this life was a result of our pre-mortal life in the same way that our choices in this life will determine our “post-mortal” glory. Is this incorrect?

    Um yeah. That would be incorrect

  23. Of course with the blessing of being born in the covenant comes the responsibilities associated with that blessing. Perhaps some chose to not accept that responsibility.

    Being “Born” in the covenant brings no such responsibility! My daughter (BIC) has no additional responsibility I didn’t have (non-BIC). The responsibility only comes when one chooses of his or her own free will to join that covenant through baptism. Before that, no one is under any responsibility inherited in being born into anything, except what people create in their “Imagined Communities.”

  24. pwaldrop2 says:

    I haven’t answered the poll. . .I think that the answer is probably not either. . .not necessarily random but not necessarily because of personal worthiness. I think it may have more to do with one’s need or ability that worthiness. . .

  25. re: 22
    If I read Spencer W. Kimball correctly, my comment (17) that you seem to scoff at is not entirely without basis:

    “The Lord clearly outlined the plan and its conditions and benefits. … Agency would be given man so that he could make his own choices.”

    “Life was to be in three segments or estates: pre-mortal, mortal, and immortal. … Performance in one estate would vitally affect the succeeding estate or estates. If a person kept his first estate, he would be permitted the second or the mortal life as a further period of trial and experience. If he magnified his second estate, his earth experience, eternal life would await him.”
    from Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, chapter 1

  26. re: 23, true Daniel- of course a child has not made covenants and therefore bears no responsibility. But I think the expectation is pretty clear that a child BIC will eventually make covenants and have those responsibilities. At least that is the plan, I believe…

  27. Not so much “random factors” as other factors, rejecting the exclusivity of “pre-mortal worthiness”. What those other factors are, I have no clue, but a portion may have been random.

  28. Jim,
    That says nothing about our status here on earth, just that we get to come to earth. On that note, your own definition of what constitutes a good or bad status on earth is quite possibly completely different to the Lord.

  29. “Um yeah. That would be incorrect.”

    Thus saith Daniel.

  30. mmiles, the way I read the quote from President Kimball the emphasis is on “performance” that “vitally affects” succeeding estates. In other words, although I don’t want to minimize the choice to keep our first estate and to accept Heavenly Father’s plan, I have the impression that the concept applies to more than just that choice alone.

  31. Jim,
    It may very well affect our estate here. You don’t know in what way though. Neither do I. It may be that the most “worthy” spirits were sent to Africa or India to live and die in a state of poverty, waiting for people in the US to prove their worthiness to God by helping them.
    I am simply saying we have no way of knowing. It is arrogant to assume otherwise.

  32. This will surprise nobody, but I find the whole question absurd. There were teachings in the past that some spirits were born to particular places as a judgment of their pre-mortal performance. (Just as we will be judged, so we were judged when we ventured into mortality…) To me, such a thought flies in the face of the most fundamental doctrines of the LDS Church–and the doctrines which distinguish us from other religions: All are born innocent. God is no respecter of persons.

    We messed up a few years back and confused cultural perceptions with religious dogma, and then validated some speculations that spirits housed in dark bodies were under some kind of a curse and were born to a particular lineage to be marked for their premortal “worthiness” or lack of it. That kind of thinking (and I mean a whole KIND of thinking) is antithetical to the gospel.

  33. Jim,

    #25,

    Performance in one estate would vitally affect the succeeding estate or estates. If a person kept his first estate, he would be permitted the second or the mortal life as a further period of trial and experience.

    That quote from Kimball mentions nothing about why people are born where they are. The only thing he mentions as a prerequisite for being born in this world, at least in the quote you share, is “if a person kept his first estate.” On that prerequisite accomplished, “he would be permitted the second or the mortal life” according to Kimball.

    To believe BIC’s are in any way shape or form extra special stinks of pride, and it is particularly infuriating to non-BICs. It makes an assumption that those not BIC somehow deserve the pain and suffering and inequality of life they were born into. Did I deserve having an abusive father? Did I deserve being born in poor Communist run Romania instead of in a nice comfy home in Utah?

    Nobody born in this world comes here “deserving” of the inequalities this life has to offer. Not the poor Iraqi child born in a nasty brutish war zone. Not the malnourished African kid born with AIDS. The argument that our valor in the pre-existence decided where we were born today would mean either one of two things.

    1. Those born in safe environments are reaping the rewards of their pre-mortal valor, and those born in terrible conditions are being punished for not being valorous enough.

    2. Those born in terrible conditions are the ones who had the valor in the pre-mortal existence and are born in these tough conditions because the ones who weren’t so valorous would never make it in this world unless they were born in pampered societies with all the comforts of life.

    Pick your poison.

  34. Starfoxy says:

    Well, my question would be to what extent are our spirits limited to certain types of bodies? The proclamation on the family indicates that female spirits go to female bodies, and male spirits to male bodies. So is a conception rigged to make a body for a specific spirit, or does the spirit have to choose between some prefabricated bodies that are a good match? I’m inclined to believe that the genetic material parents are able to provide has more to do with what spirits go to which families than premortal righteousness or whether the parents are sealed or not.

  35. I never said that our pre-mortal experience determined if we would be born in the covenant or born in any other situation. I merely pointed out that the idea of making choices and being blessed for those choices seems to apply not only to our mortal but also to our pre-mortal life.

    As someone else commented, we have to trust that a loving Heavenly Father knows what is best for his children.

  36. I think it is possible that someone could be BIC because of something they did before this life. However I think 99% of the time it’s just luck and our parents exercising their agency.

  37. Starfoxy,
    Around the globe an equal ratio of boys and girls are conceived, regardless of the covenant status of the parents.

  38. Margaret Young said, “I find the whole question absurd.”
    Thank you, Margaret, for saying what I was thinking, but ever so much better than I could have.

  39. How can we believe our choices in this life will affect our state in the next and not believe our choices in the last don’t affect our state in this? If you didn’t keep your first estate, you wouldn’t even be here. There’s got to be cause-and-effect connectivity between the pre-mortal, mortal, and post mortal existences.

    I only use this as an argument against complete randomness. Just because the cause-and-effect would exist doesn’t mean we’d be able to see it (eg., really righteous people could be given really challenging circumstances).

    LDS doctrine seems primarily directed at shaping perspective which in turn influences priorities and choices. Personally, I prefer the perspective that I’m special to God and that to some extent, He shaped my circumstances to my benefit. To me, that’s a comfort and motivates me. I could see how someone else might feel better thinking they simply got the luck of the draw.

  40. Jim,

    I merely pointed out that the idea of making choices and being blessed for those choices seems to apply not only to our mortal but also to our pre-mortal life.

    Right, but the only given blessing stated clearly at this point is entrance into the Second Estate. We don’t have a hierarchy of the level of valor one spirit had that would dictate what the circumstance would be of his or her birth here on earth. It’s not given anywhere, and because of the complexity of this planet, it probably isn’t.

    Because of free choice, little can actually be planned. I could at this moment go out and impregnate a woman outside of my marriage. It’s not planned. It’s not part of the normal path. If God knew that I would do that and had a particular spirit prepared for that birth, that would mean my choice to take that act wasn’t really my own, because it was predestined. This world is a stage that isn’t staged. We all have a part to play but without pre-given lines.

  41. Daniel, this is the ages old argument that “fore-knowledge” = “predestination”. God has everything continually before Him. He knows it all. That doesn’t mean you don’t get to choose.

    There are times I know exactly what my toddler’s going to do. Just ’cause I know, doesn’t mean he isn’t making his own choice.

  42. Even so, Martin, that doesn’t give us any indication as to why God would put the particular spirit He chooses to put in that hypothetical scenario.

  43. Left Field says:

    Doesn’t the sealing ordinance provide exactly the same status and blessings as being born in the covenant? Then why are we talking about birth in the covenant as a “blessing”? There are two ways children are connected to their parents and it makes no difference whatsoever which one applies. In fact, I find it quite offensive to suggest that children sealed in the temple have some lower status compared with those born in the covenant.

    We might as well ask:

    Why is someone baptized in a font instead of in a natural body of water?

    A. Worthiness in the pre-mortal life
    B. Random factors

    Clearly the blessings of being baptized in a font are available only to the worthy, and those people therefore assume responsibilities not expected from the unworthy hoard that have to settle for being baptized outdoors.

  44. For those that voted for spirits being born in the covenant at random, how do you reconcile this with statements that many of the most valiant spirits have been reserved for these latter days, or do you not believe such statements? I realize that this does not specifically mean that valiant spirits are born in the covenant, but it does seem to show some correlation between our pre-mortal spirits and our earthly circumstances.

    God’s ways are not our ways. I believe there are reasons for the way things happen, but we obviously don’t always understand those reasons with our limited perspective.

  45. Jim,

    For those that voted for spirits being born in the covenant at random, how do you reconcile this with statements that many of the most valiant spirits have been reserved for these latter days, or do you not believe such statements?

    Heh, those statements are given by people born in the latter days! Of course they’re gonna think that spirits born in the latter days are more valiant! :)

    I realize that this does not specifically mean that valiant spirits are born in the covenant, but it does seem to show some correlation between our pre-mortal spirits and our earthly circumstances.

    It still doesn’t. What it shows, in terms of planning when a spirit is released into this world, is that God thinks some spirits will be better able to deal with the latter days than others. This speaks nothing of the level of valiant behavior in the premortal existence.

    I think the placement of spirits in this world has more to do with the characteristics and personality traits each individual spirit showed. But then again, even that may not explain the why. For example, how many Mozart-like talents have there been in the world in history that did NOT luck out and have the opportunity that Mozart did to excel at his talents? There are so many variables that affect the path a person takes in life, both from their own choices and from the choices of others.

    I still lean on the inclusion of spirits into this world, generally, at random, and not specific enough so that we each fit into that “right spot.” Because I don’t think there ever was or is a right spot. The history of this world is a hybrid between what God wants out of us, and our own choices and the effects of those choices on others. Take a Japanese kid that just happened to be born the day before the Americans drop the nuclear bomb on Hiroshima. He’s toast. Literally. Did God put him in that spot to be burnt up the day after he was born?

    I think that God gave us the privilege of one of his powers, that of procreation. That power of procreation requires a spirit, no matter what! I have no idea how the process works, and why spirits go where they go. But I do know that there is no instance of a pregnancy that did NOT include a spirit (or maybe that’s what stillborns are… there’s an interesting thought…. anyhoo. God follows the laws of nature he set up. To give birth a spirit is required no matter the combination of male and female that create that new soul. How the spirits God created get tied to the bodies they do is still a mystery.

  46. I voted random factors simply because you’ll never convince me that worthiness in the pre-mortal life would condemn someone from not being born in the covenant; which isn’t the only way you could read the statement, but y’all know we come here just to get our feathers ruffled because we can.

    Essentially, I think we’re placed in the families we’re most capable to thrive in, to contribute to in a meaningful way, and to learn the lessons we need in order to obtain the greatest glory possible. That, to me, sounds more like something a loving Heavenly Father would do.

  47. mondo cool says:

    Didn’t vote either because I believe the conditions of our births are based on merit and choice.

  48. Mark D. says:

    I you changed “random factors” to “assorted” or “various” factors, I would have voted for the latter. I doubt anything so significant was done arbitrarily or at random.

  49. Part of the reason I voted for random was the issue of children being destined for certain families. If there is no such thing as “soul mates”, then how could there be children waiting for a specific set of parents?

  50. John Taber says:

    My wife wasn’t born in the covenant, but she was placed with adoptive parents at three days and sealed to them a little over a year later. I know she sent down to be placed with those parents. This was made all the more manifest last summer when we helped her parents get sealed to their parents.

  51. TrevorM says:

    I voted random because pre-existant worthiness is a doctrine that I find distasteful without a great deal of explanation behind it. I am not surprised that this was a common answer, for precisely that reason.

  52. I think it’s mostly random, but if it deviates from randomness it’s toward everyone being born in the circumstances that are most conducive to their own development, whatever that may be. I wouldn’t have done well BIC, I don’t believe. That’s probably why I wasn’t.

  53. I don’t think it is a worthiness factor at all. My best friend was born to an abusive, alcoholic mother. It wasn’t until she was taken away from her home and eventually ended up living with an LDS family who introduced her to the gospel. Her patriarchal blessing talks about her great righteousness in the pre-existance and all the blessings awaiting her in this life. So no, I think the worthiness idea is completely wrong. I think each of us have different tasks in this life. Where we are born helps us accomplish those tasks.

  54. re: 53
    Is it possible though that your friend’s valiant spirit was sent to this home to help break the cycle of alcoholism and abuse in at least part of that family? In other words, perhaps a less valiant spirit may have continued the cycle of alcoholism for many more generations.

    We may never fully understand in this life why people are born into the situations that they are….

  55. What is the definition of “valiant” in the pre-mortal existence? What is “less valiant?” What is “more valiant?” What are the parameters to define those characteristics?

  56. re: 55
    I would think that pre-mortal “valiance” is not much different than earthly valiance. The comment in #53 stated that the friend’s patriarchal blessing described “great righteousness in the pre-existance,” and this sounded like “valiant” to me. Valiant- worthy, brave, courageous, excellent, strength.

    It seems clear that we had agency before this life, so I think it is safe to conclude that spirits were valiant to varying degrees.

  57. Jim,

    Until you can figure out what those degrees of valiance are, there’s no point in making a point that those degrees of valiance have any bearing on where or when a spirit is placed here on earth.

  58. Thought provoking commnets all. I cannot vote for either option. I do not believe in randomness, nor do I believe in valiancy in the Pre-existance. Thsi is one of the mysteries of God and we will not know the answer in this life. Leaders in the past have speculated, and that is where they get themselves into trouble. I like what Margaret #32 has said best.

    Daniel # 45 Intellegent comment, but what you said about stillborn children was hurtful. SO if anyone has made it this far and Daniel”s comment is cutting your heart open please follow me to: http://www.millennialstar.org/2009/02/25/tears-in-heaven-a-lds-perspective-on-stillborn-and-miscarried-babies/

  59. I didn’t vote. I do think the conditions of our birth are related to our premortal choices. I don’t think worthiness=BIC. I feel strongly some “valiant” people may have chosen harsh situations here..or challenging ones. Sometimes children BIC are in more difficult situations than those in starving Africa.

  60. JA Benson,

    My apologies. That comment was made without consideration to the pains parents have to endure with stillborns. It was more of a throwaway thought. I’m sorry if it was offensive.

  61. Babies are born in the covenant because their parents were sealed in the temple. Duh. :)

    The Literalist strikes again!

  62. re: 57
    Daniel, I believe there are too many factors surrounding our birth to say that one is born in the covenant due to worthiness alone.

    Like Eric N said in #1, I do not believe that God acts out of randomness. Given that His work and glory is to bring about the eternal life of His children, I don’t think He leaves much to chance. Because we don’t understand the “why” for everything doesn’t mean that there isn’t a very valid reason for it.

    My main point, I guess, is that we really cannot answer why someone is born in the covenant while someone else is not. But, based on various scriptures and teachings of prophets, I think we can safely say that many spirits were prepared to come to earth at a certain time to perform a certain work. See D&C 138:53-56, for example.

  63. Huston FTW. Awesome.

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