Exhausted Heaven

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Mette Ivie Harrison is a well-known mystery and young-adult novelist and frequent BCC guest.  She is the author of The Book of Laman, and the forthcoming The Book of Abish, published by BCC Press.

Sometimes Mormons joke about the reality of what heaven looks like, especially for women.  I suspect this is doctrine that the institutional church may be turning away from (like the doctrine of ruling planets that makes us just look really weird to other Christians), but the idea that heaven will just be a continuation of all the work women do now is, well, exhausting.  In heaven, women will have billions and billions of children, as if gestation happens there as it does here on earth.  Women will continue to do visiting teaching (at least that’s what my last Relief Society President said).  They will continue to make a lovely home for their husbands and their already birthed children, grandchildren, and so on.  There will be no rest or respite in heaven, at least not for women.

Here’s what I have to say about this: one of the best things about moving away from traditional Mormon beliefs has been rejecting exhausted heaven.  I don’t believe in that heaven anymore, and it doesn’t have power me when other people tell me that it’s “true.” Though honestly, I must say, it’s mostly men who are the ones who say it’s true, because they didn’t live it.  Most women shake their heads and refuse to say anything good about it (though there are still a few who tell you that it’s “the best time in your life.”  That’s mostly, I suspect, because they hated the teenager stage when their kids made choices of their own once in a while.)

I can’t believe that God, even the Mormon patriarchal God, has no idea what it’s like to be a woman with young children, very little money, and to be constantly sleep deprived.  It doesn’t make me holy.  It makes me cranky, short-tempered, and unable to truly minister to anyone else, let alone to be a good mother to my children.  It ruins your sex life for years.  It makes it hard to think that anyone who gives you an extra job is better than a sadist.  It makes you angry and jealous of every woman who has it better than you do or who is in a different stage of life.  It is the opposite of the heaven I would want.

My idea of heaven would be more like sitting at home and video-chatting my kids and other family members.  Occasional visits with friends at restaurants where someone else is cooking.  Also, TV shows I love always being available despite Netflix changes.  Snacks and chocolate that never make me fat.  The ability to get an exercise high for as long as I want without being exhausted or getting injured as I age.  The taste of food when I’m really, really hungry, without the pain of actually being hungry.  Books everywhere.  And some kind of device that would allow me to download the good ideas I have immediately, without having to type them in somewhere.

Hmm, come to think of it, that heavenly life looks surprisingly like my life right now. After almost all my children are grown up and have become wonderful adults who love me and remain connected to me, no matter what their relationship to the church has become.  I’m old, which is a pain, but I’d trade all the injuries I’m dealing with for never having to change a dirty diaper again.  And I really wasn’t that resentful of diapers per se, just the constant never-ending list of chores and the judgment of everyone around me that somehow I wasn’t good enough because my house was always a mess.

I don’t want exhausted heaven.  I want a heaven of joyous connection where the work doesn’t have to be transferred to someone else.  I’m afraid that I fear that Mormon men don’t consider who is doing the work in heaven, so their vision is a little different from mine.  Yet another reason that I think we need some more women (and POC and queer folx and non-binary and trans friends, too) in the higher echelons, working on changing the doctrine so that heaven feels more like something I’d sign up for in a heartbeat, instead of something that I think to myself—maybe if I work a little less hard here, I can also work a little less hard there and end up in the Terrestial Kingdom.

If no one wants to go to the highest levels of the Celestial Kingdom, or no women do, maybe we should rethink it?

*Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Comments

  1. melodynew says:

    This is perfect. And Amen! (Also, if we believe the creation story in the bible and/or LDS temple endowment, we womenfolk don’t need to worry about heaven. Only men live and work there.)

  2. Hope Wiltfong says:

    Love this. You echo my feelings exactly.

  3. It’s pretty easy to read Section 76 as all about men (“just men made perfect”), Section 132 adding women sealed to those men “by the Holy Spirit of promise,” and Section 137 adding children who die before the age of accountability. Taken all together, it’s a picture of a celestial kingdom that might work for straight patriarchal men (although it doesn’t work for me), but everyone else deserves a larger vision.

  4. One day my mortal sojourn will end. All of it. And while everyone at church is so enamored with eternal family, my experience is that family is a very mixed bag. If it all ended and only the faint memory of my sacrifices and efforts for my family remained in my living/mortal children along with the memory of my failings… That would be okay.

    Sometimes oblivion is more comfort than the idea of being stuck as a mommy and wife for eternity.

  5. Dog Spirit says:

    It was incredibly freeing to me when I embraced the fact that I would prefer the Terrestrial kingdom, and by a long shot. Basically every fear about Mormon doctrine re: women disappears if you get to go to normal Christian heaven with Jesus, who is the god I liked anyway. Phew!

  6. Fairchild says:

    Yup. This. I’ve already told my husband that if the CK is like that then I’ll be hanging out with the Wiccans a la “Mists of Avalon” and he can come visit me. I have no interest in that version of Mormon heaven. Of course, I no longer worry about getting into the CK anyway. I figure I’ll be happy wherever I end up.

  7. Amen. Eternal posterity sounds great to men and we are hoping that babies are made the same way in heaven that they are made here on earth. Billions and billions of babies and multiple partners sounds great when it is framed that way to your average guy. I know what your thinking sisters, I am glad that my husband has never thought that way. Short answer, yes he has.

    I would say this is the biggest hole in our theology. The slogan of “forever families” pulls at your heart strings until you get down to the details. If you throw in what was taught during the polygamy defending days, women like my wife shutter at the thought of Mormon Heaven.

  8. Jonathan Cavender says:

    C. S. Lewis quite famously said that, in the Final Judgment, it will not be us begging Christ to allow us to stay and Him demanding we leave — it will be Him begging us to stay, and us insisting to leave. Ultimately Heaven is a fullness of joy, but we must become the type of people that appreciate and want the joy on offer there, because otherwise it will be misery.

    Look at what our Father does (or what the Savior does). He spends His eternity serving, working, and actively involved in the progression of His children (the ultimate sea-horse Father, one could say). And it is this that is His work and His glory — with all of His omnipotence, this is what He chooses because He understands that it is this that will bring Him (and those He loves) joy.

    Now that isn’t to dispute what you are saying (except you limiting it by gender, which I think is silly [as if men don’t work in Heaven — source?] and needlessly antagonistic). Put me in Heavenly Father’s shoes right now, and I would probably find His life extraordinarily exhausting. I remember how tiring it was being a missionary at times, and don’t even mention being a General Authority (can you imagine being an Apostle — 12 hour days, 6 days a week for the rest of your life and a substantial part of that time being spent in meetings [yikes!] with no hope of it ending during your lifetime?). So I think we all get what you are saying in this post about the idea of Heaven being daunting.

    But the solution isn’t to abandon the idea of Heaven — it is to recognize that we are current fallen creatures. Yes, an eternity of service to a bunch of wicked and ungrateful children (such as we are) doesn’t sound like a fullness of joy, but that has more to do with who we are now and not the true nature of things or who we are (hopefully!) to become. Christ’s Grace can change our nature, when we allow it to, so we become the type of people who will WANT that Heaven. It will make us fit for that Heaven. It will sanctify and change us until the idea of an eternity of service to others for no purpose except charity and the opportunity fills us with joy.

    Like you, I am not there — far from it. But this is the change of heart that we all need — Heaven doesn’t need to change to fit us, we need to change to be fit for Heaven.

  9. “I’m afraid that I fear that Mormon men don’t consider who is doing the work in heaven, so their vision is a little different from mine.” No need to generalize. Check out Samuel Taylor’s “Heaven Knows Why!” His fictional Mormon men in heaven also seem to have a repeat of work (and ecclesiastical climbing) that they really don’t care for in this life.

    I suspect early Mormon theological speculation along the lines of gestation of spirit children happening in the celestial kingdom as it does here was partly driven by a serious lack of imagination and the same selective literalistic bent many religionists have. Unfortunately, people generally are just not that good at disentangling speculation from revelation. And Mormons are not particularly quick or good at identifying and abandoning the speculations of their GAs. I’ve even wondered if Mark Twain’s “Letters from the Earth” should be required reading for freshman GAs.

    If Mette gets to the highest degree of the celestial kingdom, I fully expect she’ll adopt rather than gestate spirit children and that they will be the kind of friends she wants to spend time with or, if/when they don’t act that way, she’ll have hordes of resurrected ministering angels who were boy babies who died before the age of 8 to deal with them so she won’t have to. See “In The Heavens Are Parents Single?” : Report No. 1 by the Committee On Celestial Demographics in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol. 17, No. 1, Spring 1984.

    With that Committee, I’m not so sure that the sum of Sections 76 + 132 + 137 even works for straight patriarchal men if they think it through without the impetus of an authoritarian personality. Those guys might benefit from reading Taylor’s “Heaven Knows Why!”.

    Imagine what could be done with a quadruple combination of Twain, Taylor, Kirby, and Kimball (J. Golden, that is)!

  10. Almost all the negatives you are describing seem to me to be obviously physical things that would be limited to the imperfect nature of life on earth. The whole point of exaltation in my understanding is to have perfect, immortal bodies that are not limited the way we are now. I generally go with the idea that everyone is free to believe what they want, but I extend a call to repentance for anyone who believes anything anywhere close to the limited view of the exhaustion heaven you describe. It is blasphemous and heretical and extremely short sighted to think a kingdom of glory would look anything like our life now on earth.

  11. Jonathan Cavender – If your idea of Heaven is eternal, exhausting work, then I’m sure you can be accommodated. Until then, the “you’ll be happy with it when you get there” and “others have it worse in this life” (with a dash of “reverse sexism!”) isn’t helpful or hopeful to anyone.

    Dear Mette Harrison – I’m slightly curious as to your journey in deciding to drop Ivie (my mother figured she’d been one longer than the other), but as to your post, I find it wonderful. To often we choose to ignore the number of scriptures that talk about entering into the rest of our Lord (etc) in favor of “Heaven will be exhaustively busy, so better give all your time to it now to get used to it”. Rest does not mean from our sins and infirmities; it implies that returning to not-rest.

  12. Carolyn says:

    @Don: So D&C 130 is blasphemous? “And that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory.”

    And Alma 34? “For that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world.”

    Plus a bajillion general authority quotes. It’s not hard to get from there to “women will be eternal servants raising up eternal posterity.”

  13. Looks like it took a full two hours for the “not all men” crew to come in and tell us women what it feels like to be a woman. Thanks for clearing it rirgt up for me. As a single woman I can only hope to be assigned to spend all eternity with someone as wise and understanding as one of you. Blessings.

  14. I love Jana Riess’ April 1, 2015 post, ‘Author returns, exhausted, after 3 hours in Mormon heaven.’

    https://religionnews.com/2015/04/01/author-returns-exhausted-3-hours-mormon-heaven/

  15. Mandy, BS. While there are several who indicated “not all men” beginning with Chris, apparently at less than two hours. Not one of them can be fairly read to be telling women what it feels like to be a woman. Blessings.

  16. Even as a guy, I’ve sometimes felt overwhelmed by a supposed future of endless employment, and prefer to consider art-making to be the nature of heavenly labor.

  17. We Mormons tend to think we know a lot more than we do. If other faiths know nothing about the hereafter, then we know next to nothing. Let’s just hope the idea of birthing billions of spirit children is based on sheer fantasy.

  18. Isn’t agency wonderful!

  19. I think it was wilford woodruff or Brigham young that had a vision of heaven and encountered Joseph smith who was rushing by saying he didn’t have time to visit. There was too much work to do. The thought of being like a relief society pres or bishop for eternity sounds horrifying. My idea of heaven is a cottage on a beach filled with books and Netflix with my kids having cottages nearby. But I haven’t heard anything remotely like that talked about in conference, darn.

  20. Katie M. says:

    I’ve always thought LDS heaven sounded rather undesirable, but it sounded almost unequally unenjoyable for both men and women alike; the way I’ve heard it described has made it sound like it’s endless work for both sexes. The ironic thing is that we have arguably one of the toughest religions to live on earth, and then our heaven offers no respite; “Work hard now, so you can work hard later!” It’s not the most compelling sales pitch.

    Latter-Day Saints often say that a heaven of rest, “just sitting on a cloud playing a harp,” would be way too boring. But boredom is a function of mortal time, and cannot exist in its absence. I think people who think a heaven without work would be boring having an unimaginative view of the eternities, and an entirely impoverished view of Deity. If you think it would get boring to worship God forever, you worship a very shrunken and uninspiring God.

  21. Katie M, Mark Twain didn’t much like the singing and harp-playing version either. From “Letters from Earth”:

    “In man’s heaven everybody sings! The man who did not sing on earth sings there; the man who could not sing on earth is able to do it there. The universal singing is not casual, not occasional, not relieved by intervals of quiet; it goes on, all day long, and every day, during a stretch of twelve hours. And everybody stays; whereas in the earth the place would be empty in two hours. The singing is of hymns alone. Nay, it is of one hymn alone. The words are always the same, in number they are only about a dozen, there is no rhyme, there is no poetry: ‘Hosannah, hosannah, hosannah, Lord God of Sabaoth, ‘rah! ‘rah! ‘rah! siss! — boom! … a-a-ah!’

    Meantime, every person is playing on a harp — those millions and millions! — whereas not more than twenty in the thousand of them could play an instrument in the earth, or ever wanted to.

    Consider the deafening hurricane of sound — millions and millions of voices screaming at once and millions and millions of harps gritting their teeth at the same time! I ask you: is it hideous, is it odious, is it horrible?”

    Notes: Maybe Twain had a premonition of 2-hour church!
    I used to have to leave priesthood meeting for the singing. In my ward the brethren could sing east Indian quarter tones without knowing it and could stay in 40 different keys from beginning to end of the hymn. It was unbearable — reminded me of Kirby’s libelous comment on LDS hymn singing (sounds like a herd of anaesthetized cows). I suspect that won’t happen in anyone’s heaven except for special occasions limited to the tone-deaf who like it. (Oh, that reminds me — even a tone-deaf guy in our priesthood meeting said the singing was an insult to God.) I’m sure there are in the hereafter other forms of worship that are not boring. I’ve experenced some here — many involving music even. BTW, and a propos of nothing: there are 3 harps in my house – 4 if you count the Scandinavian door harp. Cheers.

    BTW, I’m with Wally on the hereafter: “we know next to nothing” about it.

  22. I’ve been struggling with this. Doesn’t it make me a bad person if I’m not sure that I want to do what God does forever? I mean, I’m not even sure what it is that God does. Or why He wants to. My good friend reassures me that what matters is my relationship with Him, and He’s not going to force me to do stuff I don’t like in the eternities. But I feel like if I want to do anything less than the fullness He offers me, then I will just be a disappointment to Him.

    I hope that God will help me become the best version of myself. I hope He will help me want what He wants for me; but I hope that won’t involve taking away my favorite things about myself.

  23. Mike Hunt says:

    >search “resurrect”
    >0 results
    Into the trash it goes

  24. nobody, really says:

    Don, I call you to repentance for thinking that you have the authority to call anyone to repentance.

    I’ve had the sad misfortune of knowing your type, and I only regret that there is no longer a High Priests Group where you can go sit on Sunday and discuss the average body temperature of resurrected beings. I only hope that somebody keeps you away from the young men, where you might chastise them for being without a necktie, or (gasp!) wearing a shirt that ain’t strictly white.

  25. Sally, the person who saw Joseph Smith after his death was referring to all the work Joseph needed to accomplish prior to the second coming of Christ, not to his life after the resurrection.
    We really know nothing about life as a resurrected being. I conceive it as being happy, surrounded by loving, kind and thoughtful people who want to help others to get there as well. But without the limits of our fallen bodies and so without physical exhaustion. If there are trillions of babies, maybe they are born as spirit children with adult spirit bodies. Because they have no physical body, the gestation is instantaneous. Maybe I spend my days teaching them about the design of a zebra and about the love of a man and a woman. Maybe I can ski and swim with the whales. Maybe the lions come to visit my home. Maybe I design a new dinosaur with my sons and daughters.
    Maybe I visit friends and relatives in the lower kingdoms, teaching them the principles of progression and watching them slowly understand and incorporate these new ways of seeing into their lives. After all, Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball both speculated that people might be able to advance from kingdom to kingdom. Why imagine a place you do not want to be? It seems like you are borrowing discouragement.

  26. I have always had more or less the same idea of heaven, which is
    -Gliding around in a really great caftan
    -it smells like orange blossoms
    -fresh baked bread
    That’s my idea of a reward, and I’d like to think that if that’s all I want to do, They will let me.

  27. Great post. I have had similar feelings keep me up late at night. I imagine that just as humans make God in their own image, we do the same with heaven. Our heaven reflects a heaven envisioned by white, American men in the nineteenth century. It reflects their concerns and their ideas about prosperity.and abundance. I calm my existential shakes by reminding myself that we don’t really know all that much about heaven, and, as Swinburne said, “Even the weariest river winds somewhere safe to sea”.

  28. Sometimes I have moments when parenting my small child and not-so-small child that are just full of joy. Sometimes I have moments at work, or in a church calling, when I’m totally on, when I’m making connections and getting stuff done, and it’s amazing.

    More often, it’s drudgery in one way or another. Today I’ve got a bit of a cold, and haven’t quite slept enough, and both working and looking after my children’s needs is a chore and one which I’m doing a bit grudgingly in both cases.

    It seems to me that we can’t understand much about heaven (I always think of C.S. Lewis, since he’s been brought up, making the analogy of a small boy, when told about how pleasurable sex was to a grown-up, asking whether one generally ate chocolates during it, and on being told no, would simply think “well, it can’t be that great since you don’t eat chocolates during it.”) but it seems to me that heaven might combine the parts of work that really are joy with the parts of rest that are joy in a different way. But what do I know. (Hopefully there are no colds in heaven, though! And maybe a transfigured body would have more energy and not need to sleep…)

  29. Angela C says:

    Great post, Mette. Like others, I long ago decided Terrestrial sounded a mile better than Celestial. The only thing I found appealing about Celestial was continuing to learn new things, but now that we have the internet, we can do that here on earth. So I dunno.

    All the comments sound a lot like “My heaven can beat up your heaven.” I particularly enjoy the ones where people are using words like “blasphemy” and calling others to repentance. Dial it down there, buddy. You’re beating people up over stuff none of us has a clue about.

  30. Mr. Schmidt says:

    @Katie M – “The ironic thing is that we have arguably one of the toughest religions to live on earth, and then our heaven offers no respite; “Work hard now, so you can work hard later!” It’s not the most compelling sales pitch.”

    Unless heaven is filled with lawyers who are partners in the heavenly law firm….

  31. The most clear scriptures on exaltation in my understanding have it congruent with charity/love… so perhaps the real substance of our existence there that we might have an inkling of has less to do with what we do and more to do with who we have become; loving beings. An antithetical comparison to hell might be useful as an inverse symmetry. Dostoyevsky had his Father Zosima character state that the definition of hell is the suffering that comes from having lost the ability to love. The form that we take in CK will take will have flesh and bones and glory, but the most essential feature will be love WRIT LARGE. Everything else is just politics. Maybe we would do better to hang 1 Corinthians 13 on our walls instead of a proclamation that is not even canonical and despite its best intentions does not know the difference between a chromosome and a mid brain, or even an allele in how it attempts to frame eternal gender identity.

  32. I agree with this to an extent. I actually love being pregnant and having babies. I find toddlers charming, if a lot of work. I still have them, so I can weigh in. If I could permanently keep my littles little, I would in a heartbeat. There are a lot of hard things people do that can feel rewarding. The idea of running a half marathon seems tortuous to me, but I can imagine someone likes it when they say it is.

    The housecleaning, though? That’s for the birds. I would love to just be able to enjoy children without cleaning and cooking. If I could afford to, I would outsource that in a heartbeat. Luckily, I have a husband as involved with the children and housecleaning as I am, when he’s home. In fact, he may actually do more housework than I do because his tolerance for mess and chaos is much lower. I am a terrible housewife, but a pretty okay mom.

    As my youngest of 6 is getting older, and I know that we are stretched too thin to have a 7th or more, I am somewhat comforted that this might not be the end of being a mother to small children. It’s okay if it is, I am sure I will like heaven.

    When I hear or read about polygamy, that’s what I call sad-woman’s heaven. I wouldn’t want to do all of that without my equal partner shouldering the burdens of child-rearing, as well as celebrating the smart, cute things they do together. That seems all of the work and none of the joy to me. Luckily, I reject polygamy as a Celestial principle. I also reject the idea that we are going to be working hard in Heaven. Perhaps for some people work is pleasure, but I like a lot of quiet leisure time. I shutdown emotionally when I am too busy and have to spend too much time around other adults.

    My husband and I agree that being a God to a whole planet sounds exhausting and unfulfilling, so I think I will reject that, too.

  33. I remeber a conversation I had where it was brought up why on the other side of the veil someone wouldn’t do all in their power (and they have an eternity to work on it) to reach the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom. I replied with a thought which I think is relevant. Maybe the different degress of glory are a lot like professions; and being in the highest degree is like being an astrophysicist. Some people might see the job\responsibility and think “That’s not for me” and be more happy in a lower degree than in the highest. But some people find it to be a very natural fit for them.

  34. My pat. blessing answers this for me. It says if ever I consider opting for a lesser kingdom than the CK, that I need to remember I’m the offspring of Deity and as such that is where I belong.
    It says not to consider giving up my diamond for something less. Whatever the CK is, we’ll like being there if we’re that type of person.

  35. This OP really resonated with me, but not because of the physical exhaustion aspects. Mormon heaven leaves me with a heavy heart when I think about the pain of watching those we love (our children) suffer. And as a woman, not only would I have to watch them go through incredible suffering, but I would not be able to comfort them in any way and they would not even know that I exist. Add to this the possibility of polygamy, and I am really not keen on the idea.

  36. Loursat says:

    Lona Gynt, thank you for your comment.

    Love should be our lodestar. Rest is good, but love impels us to do more than simply rest. Love gives purpose and sweetness to the work of helping others. Love makes our suffering inevitable, for love makes us feel others’ pain. But love also makes our suffering bearable, because only love endures. God is love.

    The tokens of earthly achievement are poor models for our ideas of heaven. That includes the tokens of achievement in the church—things like having a marriage, or having children, or having priestly power. The things that truly point the way to heaven are the experiences that transcend the world, those few things that manifest the heavenly presence on earth. The transcendent thing that is most immediately accessible to every person—regardless of position, authority, wealth, or privilege—is love. All of us can have a taste of heaven, here and now, if we love.

  37. I see a couple options parallels for spiritual gestation.
    Flowers and fruits springing forth spontaneously, as in prefall garden of eden. So virtually immediate reproduction as desired — and I’d submit that if you’re the kind of person that would not desire to bring new souls into existence, I hope you eventually progress to a more exalted perspective.

    And next, there’s the monthly female cycle. I think of the consistent cycle of an egg, as symbolic for the regular intervals of possible creation. How long that takes, no idea of course.

  38. Julia, I remember reading a book written by a BYU professor whose child had gone astray. He and his wife were really suffering over it. Then he spoke to a colleague who asked him if he believed God suffered so when viewing his children. The professor said no, he did not. Then his colleague asked him why he thought that. After some consideration, he answered because God knew the end from the beginning. If this path eventually brought this child home, having learned the lessons, then the pain was worth it because the child could then experience greater joy than he could have before this experience. And who would cheat his child of that joy?
    One of the ideas I find sadly lacking here is a desire to live with our heavenly parents. Is that not what made all this suffering worthwhile, coming home to parents we loved and still love?

  39. Honey, schedule a weekend away with your husband. You are taking things too literally.
    There is no dust in Heaven. You do not get physically exhausted. Creating planets is easy because matter obeys your voice command. And you have billions of years to raise those spirit children, many of whom are great and perhaps all of whom will someday become great.
    Of course there are beach vacations. Better still, your body looks good when you go swimming and the sharks will not attack you. Libraries abound. So do organs and pianos and every other instrument. What is not to look forward to.

  40. Loursat, yes, heaven… Like this life is joy, it is also suffering, because it involves love. No one chose for it to be that way, it just is what it is.

  41. LucyL. I agree, that is what makes our diff worth it… coming home. But I think the larger truth is brutal. Heaven is suffering, Enoch’s vision shows us why God suffers, it is because so many who our Heavenly Parents love, won’t love but hate their own flesh, there is just no getting around it. Knowing the end from the beginning does not necessarily provide a balm. There is joy in those who learn to love. God can’t change this dynamic because they can’t change the implicit nature of what love is, so as we learn to forgive our Earthly parents for what they cannot do, likewise we can give Heavenly Father and Mother a break, they are doing their best, and their whole deal is to give each of us every opportunity without forcing us, the more power one has, the more one has to let go in order not to be tyrannical, but I believe Heaven must hurt like Hell, we will just be better at it, more patient.

  42. Ryan Mullen says:

    “You are taking things too literally. … Creating planets is easy because matter obeys your voice command.” Who is taking things too literally?

    “We Mormons tend to think we know a lot more than we do.” Amen.

    As for the OP, thank you. I oscillate between thinking of heaven as work and thinking of heaven as a reward. Either one sounds unbearable when stretched to eternity.

  43. I don’t believe Christ suffered, gave up his life, and rose from the grave so that men and women could be raised to a life of endless exhaustion and unhappiness. Nor do I worry about what it will be like there. I’d rather spend the energy trying to be a better person here.

  44. What doctrine of heaven do we actually have and what is speculative folklore? Why would there be dirty diapers in Heaven? Who is wearing them, people with spirit bodies? Where are you getting these ideas?

  45. Jennifer says:

    Lona Gynt, to go out on a limb here. I do not believe heaven hurts, at least not often. I am wondering if you are projecting current pain you are feeling into the future. And I am wondering if the current pain you are feeling is caused by a problem with neurotransmitters. I only say that because I have witnessed it in several friends.
    It is difficult, sometimes impossible, to feel happy when you lack certain ones in sufficient quantity. And some wonderful new research is very promising because for some people this can be either cured or greatly helped with a change in the microbes in your intestines, which create the molecules your body uses to make these neurotransmitters. You might contact your doctor to see if you should be tested. We love you and want you to feel happy both in this life and the future one.

  46. I guess I am confused. Where exactly can I read this doctrine of heaven that the institutional church preaches? I have been a Latter Day Saint woman for over 50 years and never heard this preached or read it in the hundreds of LDS books I own. Sounds like just speculation.

  47. If we do not create worlds with our words, how are they created?

  48. Jennifer. Thank you for your comment and kind concern. I do think Heaven hurts, it must, because God is Love, if exaltation is to be like God, then we will love, we cannot love without suffering, because as those we love choose to hate instead of love, they choose suffering. God is aware of all of this and suffers, the scriptures say God weeps, out of compassion. 1/3 choosing the irretrievable path of predation in premortal life and choosing the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth into emptiness would be enough sorrwow to make heaven hurt like hell, even if ensconced in glory. 🎶love hurts🎶 On a personal level, it is sweet for you to watch out for me, a stranger, but my comment arises from a deficiency in Theodicy rather than a need for serotonin reuptake inhibition. 🙂

  49. In Nauvoo JS started teaching about God being an exalted man and started teaching at least Eliza about a heavenly mother. Exaltation can only be reached by the combination of at least one man and any number of women. Our theology teaches that gender is an eternal and essential characteristic, that each gender has roles, and that we are literal begotten sons and daughters of heavenly parents. It is in the proclamation, but the direct teaching of what the OP is concerned with is not stressed as much now as it was in the early days of the church. When you would go to the temple you would receive a lecture at the veil and you were told that Adam had begotten all of his spirit children before he came down to earth and then he took one of his wives and came down to earth to create physical bodies for them. Orson Pratt was calculating how many wives it would take to populate a world.

    Some people hear things at church and take it very literal, some don’t pay attention enough to let it bother them, and some are just able to say I don’t believe that and carry on with their lives. For the people who want to know the details and take everything church leaders have said as very literal, these teachings can be very hard to cope with.

    I love to think of what my ideal heaven would be. I would like to go up there and hang out for a couple hundred years and golf a lot. Then I would like to be reborn here on earth in completely different circumstances. Then return and have remembrance of all my prior lives, catch up with old acquaintances, and repeat that process for a couple thousand years. That’s as far as I’ve been able to process.

    This post is getting long, but I love that JS saw us as eternal with God. He did not believe in a spirit birth as far as I know. He said that God found himself in a better state and out of love and compassion wanted to help us progress. This gives me hope that whatever it is, it is good. It also gives me hope that God is good at math and wouldn’t have gone through the trouble if it was to only help out a few of the most elect. If God sends me to hell, I’m just going to ask him why he didn’t just leave me floating around in complete ignorance. Why did You wake me up if You knew the chances of me “making it to heaven” is low? I refuse to believe such nonsense.

  50. I think it would be wonderful to continue visiting teaching in Heaven. But then I like my Church friends and enjoy spending time with them.
    I also enjoy making a home, which is partially about keeping a place clean and partially about creating a welcoming environment.
    What I do not believe is that heaven will be is drudgery or exhaustion.
    Are you projecting your unhappiness with mortal limitations into an immortal future? I do not believe we can imagine how wonderful it will be. And I think Satan wants us to stew about ways it could be bad so we lose sight of the promises of God. I want to focus on the wonderful promises such as no more separation through death, no more illness and pain, people forgiven for their sins and those sins forgotten, endless opportunities to learn and help others, and overcoming the temptations of Satan.

  51. Zach,
    “. It also gives me hope that God is good at math and wouldn’t have gone through the trouble if it was to only help out a few of the most elect. ”

    Well stated, I tend to be a near universalist, which is the vibe and the grace and even the roots of Mormonism, however… it does give me pause to consider that the math is not too complicated to consider that 1/3 have already been lost to the premortal challenges, I am sure Heavenly Parents can count high enough to know each of them, and as for us the rest of us, how high do they have to count in order to feel oceans of sorrow for a loss? The answer is one.

  52. Math Nerd says:

    that 1/3 have already been lost to the premortal challenges

    The textual support for this concept is not as solid as it may initially appear. “Third part” isn’t necessarily a fractional third. Lots of ways to slice a pie into three pieces without them actually being equal.

  53. Math Nerd, true… never thought of it that way before, it might have been just Lucifer and the teeth-gnasher trio. Still… too many.

  54. Zach, I have lived long enough to see role definitions expand to the point of being basically pointless and not restrictive. Women serve in militaries. Women serve as doctors, lawyers and Indian chiefs. Women serve where ever they want.
    So, for me, women in heaven will do what gives them joy. I personally intend to dance.

  55. I’m pretty disheartened by some of the “hopeful” posters here. I’ve been the traditionalist who fulfilled all their callings, served in every capacity I could, didn’t drink Coke, never watched TV on the Sabbath, stayed faithfully married, raised children, etc. And it broke me. I suck at marriage. I have an incredible spouse, but I find marriage only tolerable far too much of the time, and excruciatingly painful too often. I love my children, but their heartache is my heartache. I love lifting others up, but its a bottomless pit of need and sorrow out there. And even if the sorrow is whisked away up there (which we’ll have to play ostrich to “heaven weeping” to do), we’re promised the work of progression never ends – and my experience with progression is that it comes at a soul crushing cost. There have been many times when I have prayed and the good Lord has lessened my burdens, but there have been other times when my prayers seemed flung into the empty abyss, dragging me down behind them, as the Divine withheld their salvific hand. In those moments, it was nice that such a saving hand was cast out to Peter, but where was mine?

    So for you “hopeful” commenters trying to fart rainbows into the dark and dreariness that others have expressed, I appreciate the desire to share your opinion of the doctrine but when it comes to mourning with those that mourn, and comforting those that stand in need of comfort, you suck at it. Christ himself reached a point where he was ready to hang it all up as well, and even though he pressed forward, he too cried out in desperate loneliness. In my dark moments of despair, what made a difference for me was not empty doctrine, but the love of friends – women and men far more righteous than me who demonstrated their hope by sharing my burdens with me, not by telling me I was missing the point. Christ didn’t lecture Peter as he sunk into the water. He extended his arm and gave Peter confidence. Then when the fear and heartache passed, he could correct him.

    For me heaven will be wandering through the outdoors with those good women and men who know how to enjoy the silence when it is time to be quiet, to laugh when it is time to laugh, and on hopefully rare occasion, mourn when it is time to mourn. It will not be interminable meetings and insufferable Pharisees. Other than that, I’ve let go of my hope in heaven and instead placed my hope that Christ suffered as he did because I would find the outcome worthwhile.

  56. What’s God’s work? He told us through Moses and Joseph — worlds without number. Creations without number. Earths without number. Adams and Eves without number.

    It’s the past. And certainly the future. Why assume that children who become like their parents find purpose and joy in anything other than what their parents are?

    To know your destiny, come to know God, know his past, and know your future.

  57. Arganoil says:

    Hanna, I think you are the closest to the Truth of what heaven will be. As we all have very different ways to be and experience living this earthly life with each a distinct mission and purpose. So will heaven be different for each of us. Marriage will be nothing like on earth, that would be boring. Gender is – even here on earth – on a continuum, and gender roles already don’ t make a lot of sense to be so distinct.
    Heaven will be a perfect fit for us personally – surrounded by the people we love – and we continue to evolve in our own unique way.
    I even don’t believe anymore the Kingdoms will be separately closed up to eachother. Also a continuum where progression is still possible for everyone – eternity is otherwise a mighty long time to do nothing. Just like the spirit world is basically right here on earth around us. Only separated by our eyes that cannot see.

  58. Mrmis2@g says:

    “Christ didn’t lecture Peter…”

    The disciples went and woke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” “You of little faith,” Jesus replied, “why are you so afraid?”

    But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

    Is it not answers you’re looking for? Should we just say we love you, but you lack faith? Notice jesus didn’t get preachy or lovey. Just helped them as he was capable and said they needed to cowboy up. Or grow some faithballs.

    So, next time you’re having a hard time, the disciple Christ like thing you’re looking for is someone to mow your lawn (we can’t walk on water for you), and tell you that you lack faith. I personally think some blog theology answers aren’t so bad in comparison, but seriously I’m happy to mow your lawn or something.

    Let’s not forget, plenty of religious people were happy to have Jesus put to death because that didn’t like how he critiqued their faith, or lack thereof.

  59. Harold hecuba says:

    It’s clear the goal of posts like these are to derail people’s testimonies. They are dissatisfied with what they think the afterlife will be like so they think that everyone else has to feel that way.

  60. Broken, I am sorry you are suffering as you seem to be. I do not think anyone here is trying to “fart rainbows” as you put it. I believe hope is essential and that is why you see hopeful posts. What could be more soul sucking than imagining the life after this as an endless repeat of this life’s drudgery? That is, I believe, what they were commenting on.
    And just so you know you are not alone in both trying to follow all the commandments and still suffering, I too tried to live all the commandments with exactness but my temple marriage ended in divorce following my husband’s multiple adulteries and threats of physical violence. We were never able to conceive children so I find myself old, alone and financially in bad shape. He got his girlfriend pregnant while still married to me and then had the missionaries teach and baptize her as soon as he married her two weeks after the divorce. He spent the rest of his life trying to destroy my reputation. And went on to become a millionaire and be called to serve in a bishopric. I look forward to heaven. Hell is here. So yes, I chose hope and images of happiness please me. And people writing about how they dread being a visiting teacher and making a good home to welcome family and friends for eternity strikes me as the height of absurdity.

  61. pamelaweste says:

    Gail, I’m so sorry for your suffering. Thank you for sharing. I’m glad you have hope even after all you’ve been through.

  62. Gail, I’m so sorry you have suffered such sorrow and pain. And I’m grateful for the examples of faithfulness and hope from you and others like you. What does concern me is how quick we are to judge others’ experiences and then to correct on the basis of our misjudgment. I’ve often been envious of the faith of those who can look past what are very real complexities in prophetic announcements and scriptures to maintain a simple, hopeful vision of the afterlife. That is not my gift. And to be beaten, so matter how softly nor well intentioned, by quotations or corrections of more of the same very much reminds me of the penchant of American tourists to raise one’s voice when they are not understood by local speakers of a foreign language. All would be better served if the tourist took the time to learn the local’s language and customs, to understand the person in their context, and then to respond as appropriate. I look forward to you finding the faithful companionship and healing you deserve.

  63. Julia brought up my biggest issue with this whole thing. It’s not JUST that I (along with my many sister wives) spend all eternity birthing endless babies. It’s that I’m birthing babies who will be, essentially, snatched away from me at the moment of their birth. After all, OUR Heavenly Mother isn’t permitted by Her/Their husband to have any kind of relationship with us so why should I be any different?
    I’m planning on starting a book club with all my heavenly sister wives. I think the first order of business will be to read Lysistrata.

  64. Maryanne says:

    Joni, I believe the time we spend away from our Heavenly Mother is small, just the 80 or so years of mortality. I also believe the time we spend with her being taught in the spirit world could be millions of years, since that is the time frame the creation of world seems to have taken.
    Broken, hope is a choice. Have you spoken with a doctor. You might be suffering a low level depression.

  65. Joseph Stanford says:

    If you really want to contemplate whether eternity of any sort is remotely comprehensible or could be in any sense tolerable, I recommend the book, “A Short Stay in Hell,” by Steven Peck.

  66. I believe the author is projecting the limitations of mortality into immortality. I do not believe immortal beings are exhausted. Work and rest from work, yes. But exhausted, no. I also believe much of the discouragement Satan would gave us feel comes because we fail at hope. For many years I wondered why hope was placed in the triad of faith, hope and charity. Faith was power that moved us forward, that in the end allowed us to move mountains and create worlds. Charity, a spiritual gift that we could seek but ultimately had to be bestowed upon us, changed our relationship to everyone around us. How could simple hope belong in this group?
    Now I see that when our faith is insufficient to battle all the forces that challenge us and charity comes up against the real evil in people, it is hope that gets us through. We may not know, but we can hang on with hope. Perhaps it is good that these questions are raised so we can answer with more hopeful responses. I had no idea so many mothers thought eternity would be spoiled if they had the chance to raise children again.

  67. The scriptures (and my teachers, crazy as some of them were) have never told me that the celestial kingdom consists of eternal pregnancy and housework and exhaustion. We have been promised a fulness of joy — the company of our friends and family — and work to do. I don’t think we know much else at all, and I don’t see why physical processes we have here would carry over into eternity. I’m looking forward to learning everything there is to know, and understanding so much more. Otherwise, I refuse to worry about something I know so little about.

    It’s possible I had a bit of an advantage, having a lot of wackadoodle teachers and very sensible parents. Never thought about that before.

  68. Dog Spirit says:

    My goodness, do I really see comments suggesting that some of the people who find Mormon heaven unappealing need to see a doctor for depression? That kind of suggestion belongs to close friends, not internet strangers who would just as soon beat up the poster with pillowcase full of old Ensigns. My neurotransmitters are fine, and, sorry to shock you, I still find it undesirable to be a polygamous wife unable to comfort my suffering children. Thankfully, Jesus comes through for a body, and doesn’t spout any of that nonsense when it’s his turn to talk.

  69. Dog Spirit, I am sorry you see an honest expression of caring for someone else’s pain as inappropriate. I do not. I think it is kind to show concern.
    I am reading much anguish in these responses, some of which seem to be caused by people overlaying the joy the scriptures promise us with modern feminist angst that women have ever suffered any unfairness in life and therefore it must remain that way for eternity.
    Where do people get the idea that God is snatching little children from their mothers? Are the women posting here ever going to be able to let their children leave home for college or missions or marriage? Will those also be viewed as the works of an evil God, leaving their children comfortless because they cannot learn to find help other than through their mother’s direct intervention? I find the logic inexplicable. Talk about helicopter parenting.

  70. SisterStacey says:

    Honestly, my idea of heaven is a planet I can decorate myself and have all the wild cats, regular cats, and other wild animals I’ve always wanted as pets. Maybe a man… probably not.

  71. “I find the logic inexplicable”

    Ummm… The logic you laid out is not the logic that is under discussion. It’s more along the lines of Heavenly Mother (and only Heavenly Mother) being absent from our lives/worship here on earth. I’m find with disagreeing with that, but to link that pain to helicopter parenting is somewhat insulting.

  72. ReTX,
    Read the responses carefully. Some of the women are stating they have decided they do not want to live in their idea of what Mormon heaven will be, in the future, because they will be unable to directly comfort their mortal suffering children then. It has nothing to do with the lack of knowing more about Heavenly Mother in their own lives now. They are projecting the current angst of mortality into an immortal future and then feeling justified in rejecting the promises of God concerning the joy we are to expect there. I feel they are choosing to listen to Satan’s lies.
    I love my Heavenly Mother, but find the implied idea that Heavenly Father is preventing her from comforting us here, presumably because of some patriarchal priesthood evil disposition to separate her from her children and leaving them weeping alone and her bereft of their presence, to be absurd. As I do with the idea that I need my Heavenly Mother hovering over my life here because I cannot leave her and my Heavenly Father for the length of a mortal lifespan in order to progress. I will be happy to be welcomed home by both of them but I do not need them moving into my dorm room with me as I attend this college we call life. It is hard, sometimes almost impossibly so. But it is needful for our progression. We are seeking to become like our Heavenly Parents. That requires painful growth. And separation so that we can grow.

  73. My mother-in-law passed away in January. It’s been a tough ordeal for my father-in-law, esp. the last month of her life. One of their oldest and dearest LDS friends (they both are converts) is one of the Q12, and he came to visit the house a couple of weeks before she passed. He gave my father-in-law a blessing and then told him “Don’t expect her to be hanging around in Spirit too much; she’ll be too busy”.

    My general question is – I’m OK with heavenly assignments and such, but do you get vacations? Can I travel to see all of the places I’d missed in real life?

  74. Queuno, many years ago in a life after death book I read, one of the people wrote about being able to visit any time and place on this earth. Up to you whether you think the story is accurate.
    I do think we will get vacations. I believe the problem right now is that people in the spirit world are very busy preparing for the Second Coming. No vacations for a while. Joseph Smith when he appeared to one of the prophets said he could not stop to talk because he had too much to do.

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