Warning: This blog post has anatomically correct terminology and discussions of sexuality in the context of marriage. To any singles reading, please click here
Hi Sam…I have a question…
A couple of years back I was chatting with a friend and seasoned priesthood leader and somehow we came to talk about eternal marriages and the status in the eternal world of those who do not qualify for the highest degree of glory…
My friend says "Well, I am not sure what will happen to the sexual organs of those who do not enter the celestial marriage, if they will not be a part of their bodies any longer or what, but one thing I do know for sure, they will not be able to use them".
That statement has made me think a lot. Yes, we all hope to attain the highest glory, but still, some won't.
In the pre-existence we all held our first estate when we chose to side with Christ, and by doing this we were unconditionally promised the blessings of a physical body. With that in mind it feels a little bit like going backwards on our earned blessings if we would no longer be able to use this precious body to its full extent.
In general terms, I have always had within me the idea that most of us, when all is said and done and we receive our resurrected bodies, we will be in a better, happier, and more glorious place than this mortal life, even if we don't make it all the way to the highest glory.
But how would it be possible to feel happy and fulfilled for all eternity without physical intimacy in our lives.. this very key ingredient in a happy life that we already got to use and learned to love here on earth?
Is it possible that we are missing an important point here? Could it be that the key difference between the highest glory and those below is the ability to have eternal offspring, and that even at the lesser glory, physical intimacy will be a part of our lives...?
The first statement you made that caught my attention was - "the key difference between the highest glory and those below it is the ability to have eternal offspring, and that even at the lesser glory; physical intimacy will be a part of our lives."
I believe that this statement is a correct one, and there is doctrine and scriptures that support that belief.
Your friend's statement that we might have body parts but will not be able to use them, I believe, is partially right and partially wrong.
The whole physical body is earned by all who come to mortality
Let's start with Alma 40:23 -
"The soul shall be restored to the body, and the body to the soul; yea, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame."
Forgive me if this sounds patronizing (this is not my intention), but Alma did not say penises or vaginas or breasts or any other sexual organs would be excluded from the resurrection of the body. I can find no scriptural account of a body part being taken away in the resurrection as a result of unrighteousness, or that any body part would not be functional in the eternities.
On the contrary, if everything is restored in the resurrection to its “proper and perfect frame”, I believe it’s safe to say it will function as it should – perfectly; completely.
Therefore, body functions such as sexual intercourse, ejaculation, and orgasm may all be available to those who inhabit lower kingdoms, and for eternity.
Some members may feel cheated by this possibility or say, "Why would a righteous God allow people who should be punished to find comfort in fornicating in their kingdoms, where they’ll never carry the responsibilities of marriage, and never get diseases, and never die?"
The ability to have children will stay with God in the next life
There is doctrine that talks about eternal increase, meaning the ability to have children. This power would only be available to those who are entrusted with it, and they gain that trust by making and keeping covenants in the temple:
"In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees; and in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood (meaning the new or everlasting covenant of marriage); and if he does not, he cannot obtain it.
He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase."
You asked the question, "But how would it be possible to feel happy and fulfilled for all eternity without physical intimacy in our lives.. this very key ingredient in a happy life…"
The Lord has a great and generous love for all his children, not just those who will join him in his kingdom someday.
He wants all his children to be happy wherever they choose to be, and He sorrows for those who cannot.
Those who go to lower kingdoms will not be able to marry. They will not be able to have children. If what Alma taught about the restoration of the body is accurate, they likely will be able to have sex. So that is how your friend is partly right, and partly incorrect.
Even the lowest level of the Telestial Kingdom will be nicer than anything we can imagine here on Earth, but the Terrestrial and Telestial Kingdoms will not be an eternal Club Med. People can’t sin without any consequences, even though from our temporal perspective, it may seem that way.
To be jealous of those who seem to commit sin with no consequences is to fail to see the latent consequences of unrighteous choices. For those who sin and are momentarily happy, we should be happy that they're happy, but sorrowful that their happiness cannot last.
Wickedness never was happiness; misery always follows, sooner or later.
Elder Holland expresses the Lord’s thoughts concerning our envy of others:
“’Why should you be jealous because I choose to be kind?’Brothers and sisters, there are going to be times in our lives when someone else gets an unexpected blessing or receives some special recognition. May I plead with us not to be hurt-and certainly not to feel envious-when good fortune comes to another person? We are not diminished when someone else is added upon. We are not in a race against each other to see who is the wealthiest or the most talented or the most beautiful or even the most blessed. The race we are reallyin is the race against sin, and surely envy is one of the most universal of those.Furthermore, envy is a mistake that just keeps on giving. Obviously we suffer a little when some misfortune befalls us, but envy requires us to suffer all good fortune that befalls everyone we know! What a bright prospect that is-downing another quart of pickle juice every time anyone around you has a happy moment!"
I believe this includes those who appear happy in sin.
"Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb."
Eternal ‘Barbie dolls’?
Your question is one I've heard suggested in other places online, and even growing up in the church, with some pretty creative answers. I've heard some members speculate that those in other kingdoms other than the Celestial Kingdom will become 'eternal Barbie dolls' with only smooth places where their sexual organs used to be, thus being deprived of the ability to have sex for all eternity.
Those who hold to this belief are subscribing to something more mainstream Christianity in nature than LDS gospel-oriented. The religious beliefs of a God with 'no body, parts, or passions' and that we will shed these sinful bodies and be free of them someday feeds into that idea that the body is somehow disposable or a necessary evil while we fulfill our purpose on earth. This is not LDS doctrine at all, and contradicts the scriptural teachings of resurrection.
The body is vital to our ability to experience a fulness of joy, now and forever, and everyone who has earned a body will be resurrected and have the full use of that gift forever.
The next world will be different than mortality, with different consequences
Consequences will also continue through eternity, but the physical consequences will change. There will be no more physical death or physical pain. Everyone will likely be happy and comfortable with the kingdom they inherit at first. The scriptures suggest, however, that emotional and spiritual pain and suffering will in some ways continue.
As previously mentioned, those who inherit the lower kingdoms will live in worlds with no children. The people in the Terrestrial and Telestial Kingdoms will learn all they can learn, and do all they can do. A time will come when there is nothing new under the sun anymore.
There will be no one new to tell their stories to who haven't heard them already. All the songs will become old. There will be no one new to teach and no continued progression at all… only repetition of the same old thing, over and over, for eternity.
Which would you choose? Celibacy or Promiscuity?
Those who enter the Celestial kingdom, but choose not to enter into the
covenant of marriage (when the opportunity is given), will be ministers to those who do. They will not have sex, because they cannot break the law of chastity and live with Father in Heaven. These will only progress themselves so far until they are perfect.
But, they will be privileged to live in a world with new spirit children around them, and they will benefit from the progression of others - for eternity. They will always have someone new to tell their stories to, and teach, and watch over and care for peripherally.
Those who enter the highest level of the Celestial Kingdom will retain their marriage under the Lord’s covenant and stay faithful to those covenants. They will have sex that will be perfect physically, emotionally and spiritually. They will have spirit children to teach, to raise, to watch and pray for, to encourage, and to create new connections with and watch that newness over and over again.
Those children will be as numerous as the sands of the sea and as long as there are new minds to teach, to raise, and to care for, there will be variety, and progression, and caring, and growing, forever and ever.
Can you see why the Lord values the fruit of procreation so much? Can you see why sex is so important to control and protect?
My understanding from these scriptures is that children are the key to a life worth living forever. We should aim to live where the children will live – with Heavenly Father in His kingdom.
Sex does not equal happiness all by itself.
Having sex can be as far from being happy as having lots of money means you're wealthy. There's more to wealth (and sex) than just the material possession of it. There's also the joy that can only come from the righteous utilization of it.
There are lots of people out there who have sexual addictions. They are getting plenty of sex, but it brings them misery and only produces destruction and heartache all around them. Many others enter into loving consensual sexual relationships of one type or another, but unless they live according to the principles of the gospel, knowingly or unknowingly, their relationships turn out hellish and miserable, and sometimes end even when the sex itself is good. Intimacy is more than just friction on membranes.
The joy we get from sex comes through the increase we obtain from it - building a relationship that will last through the eternities and having children and watching them grow.
Even if a couple is unable to have children in this life, this ability will be given them in the eternities if they honor their covenants and do the best they can.
A lower-kingdom view of sex and children
It's very ironic that the world looks at children as an unfortunate by-product of sex, and that all the happiness and satisfaction comes from the sex itself. In the Lord's view, this is reasoning turned on its head.
To illustrate, Elder Dallin H. Oaks recently taught:
"We remember our Savior's teaching as He placed a little child before His followers and declared:'And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea'(Matthew 18:5-6).A Harvard law professor describes the current law and attitude toward marriage and divorce: 'The [current] American story about marriage, as told in the law and in much popular literature, goes something like this: marriage is a relationship that exists primarily for the fulfillment of the individual spouses. If it ceases to perform this function, no one is to blame and either spouse may terminate it at will. . Children hardly appear in the story; at most they are rather shadowy characters in the background.'
Elder Oaks goes on to explain how the secular world's view is an evil tradition. This attitude is not consistent with the lifestyle of celestial beings.
Some gifts are freely given, and some are earned
Before God will entrust us with the power of producing spirit children in the eternities, he has to know he can trust us to be creators and not destroyers with the fountains of life in this world.
One of my favorite analogies is of sex being like fire. Restricting fire to a fireplace and not letting that fire get out of control has the ability to do many wonderful things for us. It can warm us, cook our food, help us create glass and metal, even produce power to light our home and run machines. This is how those who inherit the Celestial Kingdom will live and have sex and create.
Fire can also be used to destroy, which will be reflected in the attitudes and beliefs and misery-producing habits of those who will inherit the lower kingdoms. Imagine a person who felt that keeping fire in the fireplace was too restrictive and developed the habit of only using it to spray fire everywhere they went. He/she would burn their home, the people around them, and their world.
Sex is the same. If we are a loose cannon and inclined to use it freely and with wild abandon on whomever or whatever we cross paths with, why would God want to entrust us with that sacred power to create spirit children after this life?
“…that same sociality which exists among us now…”
We will obtain the kingdom where we are the most comfortable, and at the level we can be trusted. When we are resurrected, we will not magically become holy and spiritual beings instantly just because we lived in the culture of the Church.
We will be the same as we have lived our lives here on Earth. We may be able to have sex, but it will not automatically equal joy, peace or happiness. That is, unless we’ve learned how to create those kinds of relationships by applying the principles of the gospel to our lives. We cannot escape the consequences that come from abusing the sacred gift of sex.
After our resurrection, we will still be able to experience misery that comes from hurt feelings, sexual abuses, and emotional abuse. We will still experience the self-hatred, disappointment and loneliness that comes with an inability to stay faithful to our relationship commitments.
We avoid that and obtain the joy and happiness of procreation by showing the Lord we can be entrusted with it. We are entrusted with it in the eternities by applying the Atonement, repenting frequently, making and keeping covenants, and keeping sex in the bounds the Lord has set.
Prepare now to live a Celestial life…
Whatever kingdom we inherit is our choice and contingent on how we exercise our agency. We can share the gospel and encourage others who live differently to repent, but we can be most effective by showing an example of how to live in a Celestial manner.
We do this by thinking and living the way that God does and asking ourselves “What would Jesus Christ do?”
Instead of worrying about what will happen to those who will someday inherit lower kingdoms (whoever they may be - hopefully as few as possible), it would be better for us to spend our time creating marital and sexual happiness in our marriages, so that all who see us will know the happiness and the joy that can come from living the gospel, no matter what our circumstances.
 Doctrine and Covenants (D&C)131, italics added
 Moses 7: 26-37
 Matthew 22:30
 D&C 132:19, 29-32, D&C 131:1-4
 Alma 41
 Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Laborers in the Vineyard", April 2012 General Conference
 Psalm 37:1-2
 Alma 42:23
 1 Corinthians 15:26
 Joseph Smith-Matthew 50-55
 Moroni 8
 A taste of this can be found in the Book of Ecclesiastes, especially chapters one and two.
 D&C 132: 16-20
 D&C 132:18
 Moses 1:39
 Genesis 17: 1-7
 Matt. 18:3
 See Dr. David Schnarch "Passionate Marriage" pg. 83, and also D&C 130: 20 - 21
 Handbook 2: Administering the Church (2010), 1.3.3.; found at www.lds.org
 Dallin H. Oaks, “Protect the Children”, General Conference, Oct 2012, italics added
 “Some have come to think of activity in the Church as the ultimate goal. Therein lies a danger. It is possible to be active in the Church and less active in the gospel. Let me stress: activity in the Church is a highly desirable goal; however, it is insufficient. Activity in the Church is an outward indication of our spiritual desire. If we attend our meetings, hold and fulfill Church responsibilities, and serve others, it is publicly observed.
By contrast, the things of the gospel are usually less visible and more difficult to measure, but they are of greater eternal importance. For example, how much faith do we really have? How repentant are we? How meaningful are the ordinances in our lives? How focused are we on our covenants?
I repeat: we need the gospel and the Church. In fact, the purpose of the Church is to help us live the gospel.
– Donald L. Hallstrom, “Converted to His Gospel Through His Church”,April 2012 Gen Conference
 D&C 130: 2 and Alma 41:4