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Author Topic: How is gender eternal?  (Read 664 times)

Roper

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Re: How is gender eternal?
« Reply #15 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.
« Last Edit: July 09, 2019, 02:43:10 am by Roper »
 

Taalcon

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Re: How is gender eternal?
« Reply #16 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.
« Last Edit: July 09, 2019, 09:37:34 am by Taalcon »
 
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Roper

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Re: How is gender eternal?
« Reply #17 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.
« Last Edit: July 09, 2019, 09:29:04 am by Roper »
 

Taalcon

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Re: How is gender eternal?
« Reply #18 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'.
« Last Edit: July 09, 2019, 10:27:39 am by Taalcon »
 
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Roper

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Re: How is gender eternal?
« Reply #19 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.
 

Taalcon

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Re: How is gender eternal?
« Reply #20 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.
 
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beefche

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Re: How is gender eternal?
« Reply #21 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.
 
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Iggy

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Re: How is gender eternal?
« Reply #22 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.
 
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Roper

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Re: How is gender eternal?
« Reply #23 on: July 10, 2019, 08:33:16 pm »
I always love to hear from you, Beefche. Please make it more often  :)
 
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LMAshton

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Re: How is gender eternal?
« Reply #24 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.
Nauvoo Member #701 aka quidscribis, joined April 2003
 
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AndrewR

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Re: How is gender eternal?
« Reply #25 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?
Don't ask me, I only live here.
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Taalcon

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Re: How is gender eternal?
« Reply #26 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!)
« Last Edit: July 11, 2019, 01:08:46 pm by Taalcon »
 
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