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Church Service Related => Doctrines & Scholarship => Topic started by: Roper on July 07, 2019, 01:28:55 pm

Title: How is gender eternal?
Post by: Roper on July 07, 2019, 01:28:55 pm
A few months back, we had a discussion about "The Family: A Proclamation to the World." In particular, we talked about this passage: "Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose." In that discussion, Taalcon said, "just because gender is eternal doesn't mean we understand everything about gender."  That idea stuck with me, and I've occasionally pondered what that could mean.  Here is one of my thoughts:

Each of us have characteristics inherited from a combination of genetic material from a mother and a father. Regardless of how our external physical features manifest, there is "femaleness" and "maleness" in each of us. Nobody is purely male or purely female. Even a clone has genetic material duplicated from the original, which was both male and female. I imagine the same pattern exists in our spirits--we have inherited characteristics from both of our heavenly parents. It's interesting that the proclamation doesn't say, "Exclusive gender..." or "Physical gender characteristics..."

I don't know how this way of understanding gender applies to our current social state of seeming fluidity when it comes to gender. For me, at least, my understanding has become less focused on the physical manifestations of certain chromosomes and more focused on how gender is an essential characteristic of eternal identity and purpose.
Title: Re: How is gender eternal?
Post by: Taalcon on July 07, 2019, 03:01:37 pm
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I imagine the same pattern exists in our spirits--we have inherited characteristics from both of our heavenly parents.

 It complicates things if you consider the possibility of Joseph Smith's view that our spirits are co-eternal uncreated/generated who were found and adopted by our more advanced Covenant Parents.

How do you believe your thoughts could adapt to someone (like me) with that perspective?
Title: Re: How is gender eternal?
Post by: dyany on July 07, 2019, 03:51:56 pm
It is an interesting thought especially if you take in the eastern Asian concepts of Yin and Yang.  They are both opposites and constantly part of each other/morphing into the other.  Western thought tends to see things (including yin/yang) as more black and white and distinct, but they aren't as simplistic, separate, and well-defined as we want to believe.
Title: Re: How is gender eternal?
Post by: Jason on July 07, 2019, 04:38:49 pm
Do our current physical bodies look exactly like our pre-mortal bodies? Absolutely not. Our more modern science on genetics screams that that would eliminate all forms of free will, as every birth would have been predestined to happen, including all rapes, early deaths that led to second marriages, and marriages.

If exact genetic inheritance is not pre-determined, then can a single 50/50 genetic trait, like XX or XY chromosomes be pre-determined? Does that allow enough wiggle room for the spirits to arrive in an appropriate body?

This does not explain the variable levels of genetic expressions, with more or less expression of male and female traits. Are those traditional traits even due to gender? Does your spirit choose a body that relates to its spirit's level of male vs femaleness? Is that even a thing? As this would increase the number of genes that must be chosen for each particular spirit, this would again start getting into predetermined bodies for each specific spirit.

I can believe XX vs XY might be predetermined, but not much further than that. It is likely that gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender/etc is strongly due to variable expression of different genes during different stages of development. If it is genetic, and it is not predetermined, then is that something that will go away in the afterlife when our bodies are made perfect? Is variable penetration of gene expression even something that defines a perfect body? Will there be gay people in heaven?

I do not think anything has been revealed on that subject, so we currently just live based on our best understanding, which includes treating others as we would wish to be treated.
Title: Re: How is gender eternal?
Post by: N3uroTypical on July 07, 2019, 06:14:09 pm
I'm several years into a 20 year bet with an atheist buddy of mine.  He claims, with the worldwide cultural shift towards accepting same sex marriages, that the church will eventually allow same sex marriage in the temple.  His reasoning, is that the pressures of a worldwide church to continue growing mandates that policy follow such dramatic cultural shifts, at least to some extent.  The way he sees it, you can't grow if nobody joins your church, and when the whole world accepts same-sex marriage and you don't, nobody will want to join.

I figure he's up in the night, and at the end of the 20 year bet, sealings between husband and wife will still be between one male husband and one female wife. 

At the 20 year mark, whoever is wrong has to put on a pink tutu and sing "I'm a little teapot". 

Little does my buddy know that I tipped the scales in my favor.  If I wake up in 20 years and discover my church allows same-sex sealings, then putting on a pink tutu probably won't be that hard of a thing.
Title: Re: How is gender eternal?
Post by: Roper on July 07, 2019, 10:13:46 pm
It complicates things if you consider the possibility of Joseph Smith's view that our spirits are co-eternal uncreated/generated who were found and adopted by our more advanced Covenant Parents. How do you believe your thoughts could adapt to someone (like me) with that perspective?

My understanding is that we as "intelligences" are co-eternal, and that we were given spirit bodies by our Heavenly parents. In that sense, I imagine that our Heavenly parents added spiritual characteristics, which weren't a part of us before, to our eternal existence, just as our earthly parents added physical characteristics, which weren't part of us before, to our eternal existence.

I believe that part (if not most) of inheritance is the "nurture" part of the nature/nurture aspects of who we are. Our Heavenly and Earthly parents gave us an inheritance in the things they taught us.

Example:  My dad was the youngest of nine children. When he started high school, all of his siblings had already moved out. His father had become an alcoholic. As a teenager, my dad cared for his mother as her health steadily declined. She died before my dad graduated. My dad taught me patience and compassion. My mom's ancestors were Mormon pioneers who crossed the plains with handcarts. She grew up in poverty and in a social environment often characterized by persecution. My mom taught me endurance, self-reliance, and to be critical of social power. Those parts of my inheritance are tied to my understanding of gender. I expect patience and compassion to be expressed in masculinity. I expect endurance and self-reliance and skepticism to be expressed in femininity.  I am perplexed when traditional social gender roles seem to discourage expressions by those respective genders.

I don't know how exactly all this fits with our understanding of gender, eternity, and inheritance, apart from the acknowledgement that we seem to be hardwired to understand the world through a gender-categorizing lens. Even many of our languages in the world express gender. I keep coming back to the question: How (or maybe why) is gender an essential characteristic of individual identity and purpose?
Title: Re: How is gender eternal?
Post by: Taalcon on July 07, 2019, 10:33:53 pm
It complicates things if you consider the possibility of Joseph Smith's view that our spirits are co-eternal uncreated/generated who were found and adopted by our more advanced Covenant Parents. How do you believe your thoughts could adapt to someone (like me) with that perspective?

My understanding is that we as "intelligences" are co-eternal, and that we were given spirit bodies by our Heavenly parents. In that sense, I imagine that our Heavenly parents added spiritual characteristics, which weren't a part of us before, to our eternal existence, just as our earthly parents added physical characteristics, which weren't part of us before, to our eternal existence.

You might find  this blog post interesting (https://bycommonconsent.com/2009/04/15/tripartite-existentialism/), which is a highly condensed history of where that idea came from. FWIW.

There's a lot of reasons that intelligence->Spirit Body->Physical Body model doesn't resonate with me, chiefly because it's a solution in need of a problem.
Title: Re: How is gender eternal?
Post by: dyany on July 07, 2019, 11:16:33 pm
It complicates things if you consider the possibility of Joseph Smith's view that our spirits are co-eternal uncreated/generated who were found and adopted by our more advanced Covenant Parents. How do you believe your thoughts could adapt to someone (like me) with that perspective?

My understanding is that we as "intelligences" are co-eternal, and that we were given spirit bodies by our Heavenly parents. In that sense, I imagine that our Heavenly parents added spiritual characteristics, which weren't a part of us before, to our eternal existence, just as our earthly parents added physical characteristics, which weren't part of us before, to our eternal existence.

I believe that part (if not most) of inheritance is the "nurture" part of the nature/nurture aspects of who we are. Our Heavenly and Earthly parents gave us an inheritance in the things they taught us.

According to how I read the Proclamation on the Family, our gender is also eternal.  "Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose."  That being said, and as you put in your example with your parents, the traits our society assigns to gender are not essential or eternal.  Something like "pink isn't really a female color and blue isn't male" is obvious.  But other things like "dresses vs. pants is a utterly non-gender-defined choice" and "women don't need to be the ones to stay home with the kids" are less inherent to the X/Y chromosomes than some people like to admit. 
Title: Re: How is gender eternal?
Post by: Roper on July 08, 2019, 12:22:51 am
Thanks for the link, Taalcon. "Intelligence exists upon a selfexistent principle–is a spirit from age to age & no creation about it." In this statement, Joseph Smith didn't seem to differentiate between intelligence and spirit. That distinction came later. It's a conundrum, to be sure--deciding which concepts are worthy of doctrinal evolution and which should remain unchanged from Joseph's interpretation.
Title: Re: How is gender eternal?
Post by: cook on July 08, 2019, 01:04:10 am
This is purely just random thoughts about the matter, not based on anything. I don't believe our mortal genes have anything to do with our spirits, the real me. I believe perhaps the other way around in a way is possible, at times, in ways, our spirits may gain "dominion" over our genes  (thinking about my experiences with tourette's for example, for which they believe genes play a part.)

At the same time I don't feel things are just random. My dad has some interesting experiences and one point he sometimes wonders about relating to those experiences, is if he just sneaked out of the pre -mortal existence too early - I don't feel that is possible, that God would not notice and that the way of spirits entering bodies wouldn't be done in some orderly manner. But I don't really believe either that we have been able to choose exactly to which family we will be born. God may have had his plan, though.

In the last years I've had had experiences that have made me think we really don't understand motherhood as an eternal power. I have always believed we don't understand priesthood as an eternal power. I don't think we can really understand eternal gender either. We think of it as female - male thing based on our physical appearances. I think it is tied to motherhood and priesthood, the powers and identity and purpose.

But I do believe they are distinct and one is either one, not something in between.

That's because most my life I have felt more masculine than feminine. Not in a transgender way, but in many ways I have not felt I fit the cultural female mode, in my many interests and regarding issued of looks. Though I don't think anyone would have thought so but has taken me a as a rather feminine. Anyway, with all that even confusion and irritation at times, especially as a teenager, I was always very certain that my spirit - the real me - is a "woman" to it's core, much more than my cultural self felt. There was never a question about that.

I find it interesting, but of course it is only my experience.
Title: Re: How is gender eternal?
Post by: Taalcon on July 08, 2019, 09:19:47 am
Thanks for the link, Taalcon. "Intelligence exists upon a selfexistent principle–is a spirit from age to age & no creation about it." In this statement, Joseph Smith didn't seem to differentiate between intelligence and spirit. That distinction came later. It's a conundrum, to be sure--deciding which concepts are worthy of doctrinal evolution and which should remain unchanged from Joseph's interpretation.

It is complicated.  There's a few different popular doctrinal ideas where it's fascinating to see how they developed, why, and through what source. This is one where its particularly interesting, because it came out of problem where there was seen a need to choose between Joseph and Brigham, who had completely contradictory views on cosmology. A new was found to harmonize by creating a whole new idea - the idea of a state BEFORE a spirit. This would allow Brigham's strong teaching that Spirits comes as the offspring as Sexual Reproduction between Exalted Beings position.

Which in itself is ... weird. Brigham's ideas on these went through evolution of their own, and at their final most developed stage ... mostly became abandoned and actually disavowed by later leaders.

The logic that seems most popular is that Exalted Beings With Perfected Physical Bodies have a Physical Reproduction that leads to ... children who do not have physical bodies?

Brigham's other idea was that humanity was created by the exalted Michael (the Son of Jehovah, who was the Son of Elohim), who with one of his Exalted Wives, partook of 'earthy fruit' that charged his body with earthy materials that allowed them to be an Adam and an Eve, and for their offspring to be born corrupted with this earthy/mortal materials, and that at the end of their mortal missions, they didn't die, but returned to their exalted states.

An adapted version of this (still VERY popular among some circles, including some of our current Apostolic leadership) suggests that the Immortal Bodies of Adam and Eve were the physical sexual biological offspring of Elohim and a Wife, and the Fruit is what made them go from immortal (like the bodies of their biological parents) to mortal.

Each of those stories (all of which involve viviparous spirit birth at some point) when explored and examined, and taken to their logical conclusions become extremely messy, and in many cases inconsistent and out of order with OTHER doctrinal and other developments that have a much more ... solid pedigree.

What is the most fascinating and strange about all this is that in all of the canonized depictions of the initial creation of a human man, whether in scripture or in Temple Drama, the only depicted participants - the Heavenly Parents - are Divine Men. It's sort of bizarre to me that with the modern focus of gender roles, the constant reinforcement of how the plan of salvation MUST 100% be centered on the Eternal Pairing of Man and Woman - The prototypical creation story of a human body in our texts and ordinances does not involve a Man and a Woman.

I bring all of this up, because it is VERY much linked with the current Church discourse involving "Gender" and the regular and common explanations given of "WHY" Gender is essential.

(While it may initially seem unrelated, It also plays EXTREMELY into the issue of why some are willing to accept the evolution of the bodies of animals, but absolutely not HUMANS, because they have a strong requirement of belief, tied in with so many other things, that humanity was BIRTHED into existence as part of the eternal pattern of things.)

Tied in with the recognition that one of the most prominent principles in scripture is that of absolutely every promise and blessing we receive is through accepting heir-ship through Covenant Adoption (We are children of Abraham through adoption, we are adopted into a Tribe of Israel, when we participate in Priesthood Covenants, we become the heirs of Moses and Aaron, we are said to be Adopted by Jesus Christ and become his sons and daughters, etc), I am constantly amazed that so many find the idea that our initial entry into this Divine Family was by our spirits' adoption by our Covenant Parents as a non-starter.

We adopted our son. I am not his biological father. But I am also not just metaphorically his father. I am literally his father. I've raised him from the moment he was born, along with my wife - my covenant partner. We are sealed together by Covenant. And this resonates and taught me in a powerful way that there are other options out there that would make our relationship to our Heavenly Parents no less real, no less sacred, and no less exalting, even if the biological element was taken out of the picture.

This is one part of why "There Are Two Genders Because Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father Biologically Made Our Spirits And/Or Bodies, And We Need Two Genders Because Exaltation Involves You Biologically Making Your Eternal Offspring's Spirits And/Or Bodies." does not resonate with me, and feels so ... off. It's why policies and rhetoric and treatment of others based on these assumptions feels very, very wrong.

But what if the first part of Exaltation is more like a Mission, where you and your companion go off to seek those who may be prepared to develop into the next stage of Eternity, and to find them, love them, and to adopt them by covenant into your Family (sort of like how Baptism works?)?

I'm not willing to close the door on all the powerful possibilities that exist, and the implications that would trickle down from them.

Title: Re: How is gender eternal?
Post by: AndrewR on July 08, 2019, 10:24:41 am
"There's a lot of reasons that intelligence->Spirit Body->Physical Body model doesn't resonate with me, chiefly because it's a solution in need of a problem."

One of the most interesting elements of a forum like this - with essentially active members - is that we can discuss things in a way that does not impinge on our "church life".

I am completely the opposite of what Taalcon has written. The " intelligence->Spirit Body->Physical Body " absolutely resonates with me. Maybe that's a difference that comes from life-long indoctrination. I don't know.

But that we are eternal beings, who had no means of progressing, and have been given that opportunity by Heavenly Parents who "created" a Spirit Body for us and then a plan to have an eternal physical body just makes sense.

I do not hold with the idea of physical relationship being the means of creation. But more along the lines of Cook's thinking. That exalted "male" and exalted "female" together have a combined power to give Spirit Bodies to Inteligences.

Title: Re: How is gender eternal?
Post by: Taalcon on July 08, 2019, 10:49:27 am
But that we are eternal beings, who had no means of progressing, and have been given that opportunity by Heavenly Parents who "created" a Spirit Body for us and then a plan to have an eternal physical body just makes sense.

It's interesting, because I think that if you remove that specific note from your statement, it's a complete idea that we are in full agreement about.

"we are eternal beings, who had no means of progressing, and have been given that opportunity by Heavenly Parents"

I don't really get the need for a new kind of actual individual "body" (whatever we're even meaning at this point) to be manufactured between our eternal selves, and these flesh bodies that were chosen for us to learn from and join with here.

The kind of spirit Body that would make sense is if we thought of it in the same way we call the Church the Body of Christ, where we are all members(body parts). And this happens when we are baptized, one symbol of which is a new birth. Giving an 'intelligence' a 'body' means, essentially, baptizing them into a member of the family.

We were alone, until we were adopted, and became a meaningful part of a Family. Body parts of a united purpose. Not bodies, but parts of a body. Holy Spirits. One of the Elohim.
Title: Re: How is gender eternal?
Post by: Hobbes on July 08, 2019, 12:47:04 pm
It solves the problem that I probably wouldn't have joined the Church without that general three step process being proposed. The problem it solved for me was free will. How the process actually functions (i.e. how "Intelligence" or "Spirit Material" would be come spirit bodies) was never of high importance to me, but the existence of something prior to God was crucial. The solution of already fully existen spirits that are then brought into this plan without some intermediary step (i.e. without being former or born by God) would probably have solved it too, but that wasn't proposed to me by any other religion/doctrine or LDS members at the time.
Title: Re: How is gender eternal?
Post by: Jason on July 08, 2019, 04:58:00 pm
I wonder how much of "eternal" spirits and intelligences can be explained by physics. There was no time prior to the big bang. There was also no space. Did this happen inside of a black hole of another universe? Is there a way to observe our universe from the other one. In that case they might be able to observe the entire history of the universe in one instant. The history of it can be stored on the area of the event horizon. Time slows down next to massive objects, which could also help explain the Book of Abraham. Are spirits dark matter? Perhaps. That is more refined matter that cannot be discerned by our regular eyes. But joining that dark matter with our "normal" matter might be part of our progression.
Title: Re: How is gender eternal?
Post by: Roper on July 09, 2019, 02:07:46 am
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What is the most fascinating and strange about all this is that in all of the canonized depictions of the initial creation of a human man, whether in scripture or in Temple Drama, the only depicted participants - the Heavenly Parents - are Divine Men. It's sort of bizarre to me that with the modern focus of gender roles, the constant reinforcement of how the plan of salvation MUST 100% be centered on the Eternal Pairing of Man and Woman - The prototypical creation story of a human body in our texts and ordinances does not involve a Man and a Woman.
I don't think that the lack of an explicit depiction is sufficient evidence to claim the negative.

"Elohim" is plural. When Jehovah addresses Elohim, why do we assume He's only reporting to one person? Because only one person answers? Because only one person is depicted in dramatization?

"God" is used as plural often in the scriptures as a common way to express what we sometimes call the Godhead.

God states that he created male and female in "our" (God's) image. Why do we assume that He only meant Himself and Jehovah? Because they're the only voices we hear? Could others be present? Does "our" include gods not present?

Why would a male God claim to have created female children in the image of a male?

I believe there is sufficient reasoning to support the idea of heavenly parents--male and female--who are Gods--Kings and Queens, Priests and Priestesses. To me, that is the model which makes the most sense as a Heavenly pattern for earthly creation.

Adoption:  Absolutely no problem with everything you have proposed. I don't think it has to be an exclusive proposition: Bachelor God adopting all spirits as children OR Heavenly parents creating (by whatever means) spirit children. I think the best conclusion is that while we may have a preference, we don't know for sure. My own understanding is that Heavenly parents (or covenant parents, if that works better) are male and female and can both procreate (no idea about the mechanics, here) AND adopt, with children who gain inheritance regardless of being "born" in the covenant or adopted in the covenant.

Edit: Another thought about the Proclamation on the Family: "All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose." I don't know how to interpret that beyond the plain reading. I can't reconcile heavenly parents as male only with children who are male and female created in their image. I can't reconcile male only Gods with the doctrine that gender is eternal and that male and female children will become like God.
Title: Re: How is gender eternal?
Post by: Taalcon on July 09, 2019, 07:31:00 am
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God states that he created male and female in "our" (God's) image. Why do we assume that He only meant Himself and Jehovah? Because they're the only voices we hear? Could others be present? Does "our" include gods not present?

Oh, I'm not making any argument based on that particular observation, or the presentation. I was only noting how odd the juxtaposition of what is so often SAID, with the complete lack of divine female representation in those events in the prototypical texts/presentations.

My thoughts re: Divine Adoptionism always have generally involved at its source a divine partnership involved in guiding The Family. I sort of love the image of equally advanced intelligences finding themselves in the Eternities, and agreeing and finding joy in working together to improve the state of those around them together.

Two finding each other, realizing that the potential was there to be others like them with the same potential for joy, and determining together to work to make it so.

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God states that he created male and female in "our" (God's) image.

Going a little off topic, and I'm reticent to go here because I don't want to add confusion to look like I'm arguing for a doctrinal/historical point that I am not, but I DO think we tend to go a little overboard when insisting on the nitty gritty definition of 'image' as 'someone who physically is made up like'. That's not what the original text was talking about, and I get why that emphasis/interpretation has been made, but it doesn't really work with how the word/usage is used.

The idea is that the emergence of humanity in the Story of Earth was something new, something god-like in a way the animals were not. This new 'thing' was to be the lord of this new domain as the gods were in the divine realms. The image was qualitative. And this also coexists with the understanding that the view of a full divine pantheon being addressed/announced with the plurality (not our unique 3 active participants) was absolutely in view. In Genesis 1, humanity in general, the pinacle of creation, were made as one unit to be the gods of the earth.

The Genesis 2 version - originally a separate Garden story - takes a different approach, where the idea of humans as gods is NOT the ideal outcome. Here, Man is made first, THEN all the animals, but Man isn't satisfied or find them as compatible, until "a side part" is taken out from the man and a woman is made. (It's been suggested this gives the explanation to the ancient audience why a certain reproductive-assistant bone found in other mammals is not found in humans - it was taken to generate the woman!)

As theology developed, the story adapts to better describe the new information, and teaching intended to be told. The story is not the source of the information, the story is what was  used to try to communicate the work in progress of what has been learned, or to put an end to the asking of a question.

For example, in Genesis 2, Eve is absolutely presented as The Person Who Did Wrong, And God Is Angry With. Everything about the story points what Adam and Eve did was a Bad Thing. This is the explanation for Why Life Is Hard. It's THE point of the story. The story as presented in Genesis makes no sense with the "Oh, but it was good, actually" perspective we have now.

It is all part of its purpose in explaining/put an end to questions people were asking in that specific context, like why women hurt in pregnancy while most animals don't have appearance of as much pain and screaming, etc.  (it's a punishment humans earned and animals didn't) why snakes don't have legs and are such a nuisance to humans (a generational curse inherited from the Primal Serpent, of course!), and Why do Men Have To Be The Ones Be In Charge Of Everything. (Because things were ideal until the woman took the initiative and didn't submit)

We know different things now, BUT THAT'S OKAY! It actually illustrates how the story still works today, but we have some more existential questions than that audience did, and we also have some better answers to some of those questions than could possibly have been proposed. The questions are not the same, and so the meaning of the story will not be the same.

Our version of the story today is a NEW story, using the same props, general outline, and characters in sometimes new roles. It's the "Less Gritty Reboot". We have new questions, adjusted inspired  understandings and assumptions, and as we've learned something about the purpose of our origins, the story of origins was adapted to represent and address the enhanced understanding. Our Creation Stories today address questions never even contemplated in the earlier versions of the stories.

The story of Genesis should be read in the context of Genesis. If Latter-day understanding is brought to the story, it creates a New Story, with New Meaning. And the New Story should be explored in light of the New Context and questions being asked. And that's exactly what we should expect.

Sometimes, a lot of good new wine goes into the adaptation of the new presentation of the story with some of the old wineskin still hanging on for dear life. Or maybe sometime it's us doing the hanging on.

That's why we should EXPECT adjustments to the Presentation of the Creation Drama as we learn more. It is a vessel used to communicate the current expression of understanding currently had of answers to the questions being asked, not the ultimate source of those answers.

I love a God that uses stories already embedded to a degree in a society and inspires community leaders to adjust and adapt those stories to push along learning, and to remain relevant by suggesting new questions that they can address..

Humans are creative, and tell stories that resonate. God uses those stories as an opening and a foundation to build upon to teach, "after the manner of their language, that they might come to understanding." - it allows communities to grow together AS a community.

And as I see part of the role of the Church in 'gathering' as a gathering of truths, as our stories grow to incorporate more and more universal truths, more and more will the Church be able to resonate with and draw those from other communities who grew and developed with their own unique stories that communicated truths presented in a distinct direction from the Israelite presentation. Because for those open to truth, their stories and their understanding of them have been adapting, too.
Title: Re: How is gender eternal?
Post by: Roper on July 09, 2019, 09:25:54 am
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I sort of love the image of equally advanced intelligences finding themselves in the Eternities, and agreeing and finding joy in working together to improve the state of those around them together.
That's a beautiful image. I like it a lot better than the image of a vengeful God or a removed God.

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I DO think we tend to go a little overboard when insisting on the nitty gritty definition of 'image' as 'someone who physically is made up like'. That's not what the original text was talking about, and I get why that emphasis/interpretation has been made, but it doesn't really work with how the word/usage is used.
An image is a representation of the original. While that may include concepts such as divine potential and the possibility of equality in other areas, it also includes physical likeness. That's one of the most important doctrinal lessons we learn from Joseph Smith's first vision. How should we understand the concept of "image" in creation if it doesn't include having a body of flesh and bone? No wonder there was/is so much confusion over the creation narrative in Genesis if "image" excludes the concept of physical likeness. To me, that relegates us to shadows on the wall of Plato's cave.
Title: Re: How is gender eternal?
Post by: Taalcon on July 09, 2019, 10:16:34 am
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That's one of the most important doctrinal lessons we learn from Joseph Smith's first vision. How should we understand the concept of "image" in creation if it doesn't include having a body of flesh and bone?

It's interesting how you phrase "that we learn", because that experience didn't initially teach that to Joseph himself, because he still held to the idea that God's body was a personage of spirit, while the son, who was incarnated,was the unique one with a body of flesh and bone. (See the 1835 Lectures on Faith, the"Doctrine" of the "Doctrine and Covenants" - likely not written by, but approved and utilized by Joseph).

This is extremely relevant, because it shows that even sacred experiences are interpreted in the light of understanding brought to it.

Later, Joseph reinterpreted and understood his vision in new light based on further experiences and thoughts and development that was had. It became a New Story. But as Joseph walked out of the grove, he didn't suddenly believe God the Father had a body of Flesh and Bone.

Tied to that the idea that vision experiences are often presented with imagery that would resonate with us (was it Elder Bednar who suggested that sometimes the Holy Ghost would present a message in a dream using the image of an ancestor or someone known so we would be more receptive to it?) - visions are not necessarily (always) a window into objective visual reality, but another communication method whereby ideas are presented to us, "after the manner of our language".

I don't think Nephi is presented as having a substantially different vision than Lehi. It was the same, but they brought different contexts, assumptions, 'raw material' and questions to it, and therefore came away with different takeaways.

That's what I see the Temple Presentation is - it's a communal vision made concrete that we all experience as one. And I believe in most cases, visions are like the Temple videos, using a cast representing individuals and people. Except the presentation of the cast is drawn from the repository of our brains. If you have a mental image of what Jesus looks like, and you see Jesus in a vision, I wouldn't be surprised if he looked exactly like you envisioned him. That wouldn't confirm he looked like just Del Parson painted him, it would be used as a way for you to be receptive to the message, and recognizing the source of the message.

As was presented earlier before, the suggestion that pre-mortal and post-mortal spirits are visually and corporeally mirrors of our mortal physical appearance is SUPER problematic to me on a lot of levels.

It goes back to what was said in the beginning - there's so much we don't know. And we tend to think we know far more than we really do.

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How should we understand the concept of "image" in creation if it doesn't include having a body of flesh and bone?

While I don't discount that this may be a part of its application, limiting it to be the primary and/or only intended/received meaning of the story as originally told severely limits the insight we can get from the text.

Genesis 1 is telling a story of order and organization that directly parallels the layout and structure of the Israelite Temple, with humanity's arrival being presented as the installation of the King/High Priest. Genesis 1 isn't interested in physical origins, it is interested in organization and order. It's the story of a company being set up, and then installing the CEO, who will govern Down There like We do Up Here. On earth as it is in the heavens. Man will be the Parallel on Earth to the Divine in the Heavens. The image. It's not about what they look like, it's about their role in the order of creation.

Genesis 2, on the other hand, is far more concerned explaining the origins of the mundane conditions of the world 'how things got to where they are now, and how I should feel about it'.
Title: Re: How is gender eternal?
Post by: Roper on July 09, 2019, 08:16:35 pm
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While I don't discount that this may be a part of its application, limiting it to be the primary and/or only intended/received meaning of the story as originally told severely limits the insight we can get from the text.
Agreed. We can neither exclude it nor make it exclusive. "Image" has incredibly rich...well...imagery.  ;)

I'm really enjoying and learning from this discussion. I have one concern: I think we (myself included) need to be careful about advocating for a literal or plain meaning understanding of one prophet's teaching while advocating for an expansive or possibility-rich understanding of another prophet's teaching. We need to be careful about suggesting that one prophet is authoritative while another is speculative. That looks like confirmation bias. I think we should always accept that trying to understand by seeking and even anticipating further light and knowledge is the path God would have us follow. The crude way of saying it is, "Current revelation trumps previous revelation," but I don't like the word "trump" for a number of reasons  ;) and it's not a competition. The process is much more considerate, deliberate, and nuanced than that.
Title: Re: How is gender eternal?
Post by: Taalcon on July 09, 2019, 10:10:38 pm
Sometimes I have a hard time realizing when I cross the line over from passionately explaining why something resonates personally and strongly with me .... to appearing to express why "YOU" also should feel that way. It probably also doesn't help when I also explain my thought process - in detail - as to why another perspective really does NOT work for me. I try to consciously couch my language so I'm not, shall we say, 'proselyting', but I understand how it can sometimes come across. Thanks for the check.
Title: Re: How is gender eternal?
Post by: beefche on July 10, 2019, 12:43:05 pm
I'm really grateful to all of you who take the time to explain your beliefs, thoughts, impressions, etc. I'm not a deep thinker. So, I'm grateful to you who are because you help me see where I can improve in my question asking/thinking. And as an FYI, I don't feel that any one here goes overboard in the preaching dept. This forum has so many varied experiences that I think we all realize that one person's passion/firm belief isn't condemnation of another's opposite passion/firm belief.
Title: Re: How is gender eternal?
Post by: Iggy on July 10, 2019, 01:53:25 pm
I'm really grateful to all of you who take the time to explain your beliefs, thoughts, impressions, etc. I'm not a deep thinker. So, I'm grateful to you who are because you help me see where I can improve in my question asking/thinking. And as an FYI, I don't feel that any one here goes overboard in the preaching dept. This forum has so many varied experiences that I think we all realize that one person's passion/firm belief isn't condemnation of another's opposite passion/firm belief.

I want to second all that Beefche said. I belong to three LDS based forums, and this one is by far the most stellar of them all. In responses to me, in reading and learning from all of you Even when I get a wee bit chastised, it is done with gentle love and I appreciate that.
Title: Re: How is gender eternal?
Post by: Roper on July 10, 2019, 08:33:16 pm
I always love to hear from you, Beefche. Please make it more often  :)
Title: Re: How is gender eternal?
Post by: LMAshton on July 11, 2019, 02:35:01 am
Taalcon, I don't think I've ever read anything you've written that came across as "Listen to me! I'm right!". It always comes across to me as "This is what I think and experience, and this is what works for me." It's not pushy.

I appreciate your concern, and that shows your thoughtfulness, but I think you're fine.

And yes, like Beefche and Iggy say, that goes for pretty much everyone else here, too. I don't feel like I'm being told what to think by anyone.
Title: Re: How is gender eternal?
Post by: AndrewR on July 11, 2019, 11:36:36 am
As a child, of about ten, I would lie in bed and try to think about what living forever would mean. I could grasp this in terms of earth life only. So I thought of all the things I had not done, and probably would not in my life. Also I thought of all the places I would probably never visit. I could only comprehend living forever in terms of being able to keep doing things I hadn't done.

Turns out that actually Eternal Life seems to be doing what you have already done over and over again.

Forty-three years later I still can not grasp what it means. I have to frame it in what I believe, and hope that it is really worth it - because not progressing and hanging about in the Terrestrial Kingdom doesn't seem that bad - doing things I never got to do.

But, Exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom - that's sounds like a lot of work. And it never ends, or does it? One Eternal Round - what does that mean?
Title: Re: How is gender eternal?
Post by: Taalcon on July 11, 2019, 01:06:29 pm
I think, like the Atonement, we don't have all the context to understand what it is or will be, and so, just like with the Atonement, we have to settle for finding the best suggestions that communicate what it will be like.

And sometimes, being able to express something that it is not like can actually help. "I don't know what it is, but it must not be like ____".

(The Book of Mormon teaches us to ponder and ask if things are not true as a path to learning what is true!)