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Author Topic: How is gender eternal?  (Read 591 times)

Roper

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How is gender eternal?
« 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.
 
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Taalcon

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Re: How is gender eternal?
« Reply #1 on: July 07, 2019, 03:01:37 pm »
Quote
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?
« Last Edit: July 07, 2019, 03:18:33 pm by Taalcon »
 
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dyany

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Re: How is gender eternal?
« Reply #2 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.
 
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Jason

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Re: How is gender eternal?
« Reply #3 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.
« Last Edit: July 07, 2019, 04:41:29 pm by Jason »
 
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N3uroTypical

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Re: How is gender eternal?
« Reply #4 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.
What-about-ism is pointless. I like to think most people's responses to such arguments would be, "Yup. That person, who happened to wear the same political jersey I do/did, was totally wrong on that, too."
-Taalcon
 
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Roper

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Re: How is gender eternal?
« Reply #5 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?
 
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Taalcon

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Re: How is gender eternal?
« Reply #6 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, 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.
 
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dyany

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Re: How is gender eternal?
« Reply #7 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. 
 
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Roper

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Re: How is gender eternal?
« Reply #8 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.
 
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cook

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Re: How is gender eternal?
« Reply #9 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.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2019, 08:41:54 am by cook »
 
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Taalcon

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Re: How is gender eternal?
« Reply #10 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.

« Last Edit: July 08, 2019, 09:22:45 am by Taalcon »
 
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AndrewR

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Re: How is gender eternal?
« Reply #11 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.

Don't ask me, I only live here.
Nauvoodle since March 2005 #1412
 
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Taalcon

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Re: How is gender eternal?
« Reply #12 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.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2019, 10:59:32 am by Taalcon »
 
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Hobbes

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Re: How is gender eternal?
« Reply #13 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.
 
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Jason

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Re: How is gender eternal?
« Reply #14 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.
 
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