Men are that they might have joy?

January 30, 2007    By: Geoff J @ 4:56 pm   Category: Theology

I have a question for you all. Do you think 2 Nephi 2:25 qualifies as a metaphysical claim about our eternal souls? Here is the well known verse:

Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.

What I mean is, how broadly does the statement “men are, that they might have joy” apply? Is our very purpose for existing to have joy? Does this apply only to mortal persons? Does it apply to our reportedly beginningless and endless spirits/intelligences/minds?* Is joy our ultimate goal in the eternities or is it just a proximate goal?

I personally like to assume that joy is our final goal and that progressing toward greater joy is what eternal progression means. My assumption is that the two great commandments encapsulate the recipe to attaining that joy in the short term and the long term:

36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

What do you think?

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* There is some debate about the nature of spirits/intelligences. Some people in the church think spirits and intelligences are the same thing and are beginningless. Others hold that intelligences are beginningless pre-spirits and that our spirits do have a beginning. Others hold that only the parts that make up our spirits/intelligences are beginningless. I have given up on guessing on this question for now…

45 Comments »

  1. We love our neighbors by serving them. And aren’t we actually the most happy when we are serving others?

    Comment by John — January 30, 2007 @ 7:59 pm

  2. That’s pretty much my working theory John. This post is to see if there are major problems with reading 2 Nephi 2:25 as a statement about the purpose/aim/goal of our existence in the universe.

    Comment by Geoff J — January 30, 2007 @ 8:15 pm

  3. I once looked at the footnote for joy in this verse and it says “Man, Potential to Become like Heavenly Father”. I take that to mean that our purpose on earth is to live so that we can eventually attain that joy that HF has in the eternities. I don’t think this verse necessarily applies to our mortal life. I think people sometimes take it that way and say we are always supposed to be happy and have joy, but that’s not always going to happen. Life happens. I believe that we can have happiness and joy in our mortal life, but only when we are exalted, will we receive the fullness of joy.

    Comment by Jamie J — January 30, 2007 @ 8:48 pm

  4. Joy = Serve = Work = Glory???

    “This is My work and my glory…”, who serves more than God?

    Comment by Daylan — January 30, 2007 @ 9:12 pm

  5. Christian hedonism: “God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in him.” (>>)

    Comment by Aaron Shafovaloff — January 30, 2007 @ 11:52 pm

  6. I don’t want to sound TOO critical, but here it goes anyways:

    The only reason why the the verse gets away with such a grand and sweeping claim (the purpose of life, no less!) is that it doesn’t really say anything at all. Nobody has any clue what he could have meant since the most straight forward interpretation (some form of hedonism) quickly leads to absurdities.

    Thus we see people saying that joy is the same as love, serve, work, glory, man’s divine potential, etc. Let’s face it, joy does not mean any of these things. The ambiguity of the verse not only serves to avoid pretty much any and all criticism, but also thereby lends itself to abuse as well.

    Take for example the case of my old bishop. When I stopped believing in God and my then wife came to him for support his response was not to recommend counseling, but rather that she should leave me because God wants her to have joy in this life and her being married to a non-believer did not bring her joy. Of course he also counseled personal prayer, but beyond that his only other advice was divorce.

    Personally, I think that it would might be better to just not quote this verse at all in the context of proving one point or another.

    My 2 cents.

    Comment by Jeff G — January 30, 2007 @ 11:56 pm

  7. Jeff G,

    Which absurditites quickly follow from “some form of hedonism”?

    Comment by Jacob J — January 31, 2007 @ 12:41 am

  8. Jeff: I tmeans that our ultimate purpose isn’t to suffer. Our ultimate purpose isn’t to sacrifice our well being and happiness. How is that absurd? Perhaps your take on this scripture is a bit jaundiced by the results of your bishop’s advice? If your wife reasonably believed that she could not find joy in the marriage given her life’s purposes then perhaps it was good counsel? That’s why this scripture isn’t absurd and has great meaning — I don’t have to sacrifice the joy of my life to achieve it for someone else.

    Comment by Blake — January 31, 2007 @ 1:25 am

  9. I’d always thought hedonism equaled pleasure, and that Joy equaled happiness. Since Happiness does not equal pleasure, I am somewhat confused here.

    While some see this differently, I see Epicureanism and Hedonism as two different things.

    Comment by Matt W. — January 31, 2007 @ 8:33 am

  10. Matt,

    By what criterion do you equate joy with happiness rather than pleasure? Why can’t these all be the same, or, as is more likely the case, all three be different emotions?

    Let me illustrate the ambiguity of the passage with a few more unanswered questions?

    Whose joy are we talking about? My own, or mankind’s?
    What joy are we talking about? In this life or the next or both?
    How is such a form of hedonism different from the kind which is embraced by the atheist?
    While joy certainly plays a role in the enviable life, what role does it play in the admirable life?
    Is joy an end in itself or a mean to another end or both?
    What is wrong with an artificially contrived and sustained, yet highly exquisite form of joy?
    Are all goods really supposed to reduce to joy?
    What, exactly, is joy? What makes this particular emotion more important or meaningful than any other emotion experienced in its proper context?

    Getting to Blake’s point (which is actually a rather good one), it seems that the joy account can be manipulated to serve any ends. It simply needs to be asserted that whatever sacrifices, sufferings, etc. you make are supposed to be done “joyfully”. In other words, you can say that pretty much anything is either joyful or supposed to be so. Indeed, judging from fast and testimony meeting sometimes its not hard to see that quite a few people actually DO do this.

    Comment by Jeff G — January 31, 2007 @ 10:39 am

  11. By what criterion do you equate joy with happiness rather than pleasure? My understanding of the English language.

    Why can’t these all be the same, or, as is more likely the case, all three be different emotions? I can not define a difference between Joy and Happiness. I can define the difference between pleasure and happiness, as there are things that give pleasure (sex, drugs, rock and roll) but not happiness. I guess for me, the difference in happiness and pleasure is perhaps an issue of duration and endurance. Happiness is enduring.

    Let me illustrate the ambiguity of the passage with a few more unanswered questions?
    Sure.

    Whose joy are we talking about? My own, or mankind’s? From my reading, I’d say both can be inferred without taking damage to the meaning and value of the text. Thus this ambiguity does nothing to devalue the passge.

    What joy are we talking about? In this life or the next or both? I’d say my previous answer is adequate here as well. I’ll add though, that I think we can infer both as no line is drawn between the two and we have coroberhating statements from Modern prophets to back such an idea up: “Happiness is the object and design of our existance.”

    How is such a form of hedonism different from the kind which is embraced by the atheist? Hedonism is your label here, and I believe you and I mean two different things by it. Anyway, the difference in joy for a believer and an atheist is a matter of duration. But I am not sure how this adds ambiguity to the text, since personal affiliation is not addressed at all within the text under discussion.

    While joy certainly plays a role in the enviable life, what role does it play in the admirable life? I am not sure I understand your terminology here, but since I do not feel there is a durational end to existance, and believe in God, I’d say Joy is the end result of the admirable life, based on my beliefs, easily enough. Perhaps the issue here is one of where you are starting out, rather than where you are ending up.

    Is joy an end in itself or a mean to another end or both? an end, at least in the text, for sure. An end in my belief as well.

    What is wrong with an artificially contrived and sustained, yet highly exquisite form of joy?I feel this question assumes a level of understanding I may not have. I think this confuses Happiness and Pleasure, however.

    Are all goods really supposed to reduce to joy? By my defintion of Joy, I guess I would answer yes. Though I’d say Goods add up to Joy, rather than reduce to joy.

    What, exactly, is joy? Joy or happiness is an overarching catchall for the ideal state of being.

    What makes this particular emotion more important or meaningful than any other emotion experienced in its proper context? Joy or Happiness is a state of being, and contains withing it all positive emotions over a long term duration. It is a total, not just a component in the equation.

    All of this is sort of stream of consciousness, but I hope I am somewhat clear.

    Comment by Matt W. — January 31, 2007 @ 11:17 am

  12. I was kidding as to the the “sex, drugs, and rock and roll” statement, but I think you know what I mean.

    Comment by Matt W. — January 31, 2007 @ 11:19 am

  13. I always took Lehi here to be saying that mortality and thus the purpose of Adam’s fall is to bring us joy. i.e. it will make us happier. I’m not sure one ought take it as espousing something like Utilitarianism (maximizing happiness) as the ground of our existence nor the basis of the good.

    I’d add that, contra Jeff, I’m not sure this entails hedonism either. Matt’s point is good. Happiness != pleasure. As to whether there is a distinction between happiness and joy I’ll leave that alone for now. If, as I think is the case, Lehi is being vague it’s probably not that helpful to draw our distinctions that carefully.

    In the context though I think it important. So I think Blake is right contra Jeff. If nothing else having creation be man centered rather than God centered, as some theologies have it, is hugely significant. God is focused on making us happier. He isn’t focused on getting a bunch of free agents to praise him.

    While perhaps that seems less significant to us, I suspect that for Joseph Smith and others it was pretty important. I won’t speculate as to why Lehi brings it up relative to his children at his death. But it may well be that the kids weren’t too happy with life and were wondering why God was doing all this. (Witness even Jacob’s rather existential depression)

    Comment by Clark — January 31, 2007 @ 11:46 am

  14. Aaron,

    Interesting comment about John Piper’s Christian hedonism concept. Since I know you are decidedly anti-Mormon does your drive-by comment imply that you are anti John Piper as well?

    As for the idea of Christian Hedonism — it seems like it might be a case of serious mislabeling to me because I am not sure he is promoting what I would call hedonism at all. From the wiki:

    Critics claim that a pursuit of one’s own pleasure (hedonism) is by definition selfishness, and a pursuit to give others pleasure is actually altruism, and that Piper’s philosophy is therefore mislabeled or the definition confused with regard to the meaning of the word hedonism.

    If he is promoting altruism and saying altruism will bring us happiness then I have no objections whatsoever to his ideas…

    Comment by Geoff J — January 31, 2007 @ 2:56 pm

  15. Jeff,

    I certainly won’t disagree that 2 Nephi 2:25 could be misapplied; most any scriptural passage can be misapplied — but I think I created barriers to prevent that in this post.

    The idea I have is that Joy (not pleasure) is the ultimate end of our existence and the means to attaining that end is found in the two great commandments (and the subordinate commandments as well). Of course believing this and acting on it requires some Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. But that is the first principle of gospel so that is not a real issue for believing saints.

    I think Matt did a nice job responding to your questions too. At least his quick answers are similar to the quick answers I had in mind.

    Comment by Geoff J — January 31, 2007 @ 3:05 pm

  16. Clark: I’m not sure one ought take it as espousing something like Utilitarianism (maximizing happiness) as the ground of our existence nor the basis of the good.

    Ok… so you’re not sure we should do that. Does that mean you think we shouldn’t do it? If so, why?

    Comment by Geoff J — January 31, 2007 @ 3:06 pm

  17. Regarding the general Hedonism charge — My take is that Jesus is our great exemplar so unless you want to call Jesus the Great Hedonist then we can’t say we ought to espouse a hedonistic ideology. Rather, my take is that Jesus followed the First and Second great commandments perfectly — certainly better than any other person ever will on earth — and by so doing marked the path for us to attain the greatest possible joy. I think it is not a stretch to claim that despite his pain there was no person who attained greater joy in this life (and certainly upon his glorious resurrection) than Jesus did. But of course he was not living a life of constant ease and pleasure. I’m suggesting that perhaps his call was for us to follow him to that joy he experienced, and he experienced it only through loving and serving God and loving and serving other people.

    Comment by Geoff J — January 31, 2007 @ 3:15 pm

  18. Geoff (#16), my problems with utilitarianism largely arise out of how it could be done in practice. I know that to identify the good doesn’t entail being able to discern the good. But we do require it of God. So the calculus I find very problematic. I also find the idea that the good is based purely on happiness to be problematic – but I’ll not get into that objection.

    My point vis a vis Lehi though is that it just doesn’t appear to be clear enough to espouse some metaphysical or ethical theory. So to draw that from the text entails going beyond what the text means.

    It seems to me that the “men are” is about mortal existence and says we ought have joy. In other words it is a command to be joyful and not necessarily a claim about existence itself or ethics.

    Comment by Clark — January 31, 2007 @ 4:02 pm

  19. Clark,

    You are obviously correct in pointing to the larger context of 2 Ne 2, and I like your previous conjecture about the significance of (Lehi’s son) Jacob’s difficult life as a context for the dicussion of joy. As the first verse in the chapter says:

    And now, Jacob, I speak unto you: thou art my first-born in the days of my tribulation in the wilderness. And behold, in thy childhood thou hast suffered afflictions and much sorrow, because of the rudeness of thy brethren. (2 Ne. 2:1)

    However, I think you are ignoring a bit of the context in the following statement:

    It seems to me that the “men are” is about mortal existence and says we ought have joy. In other words it is a command to be joyful and not necessarily a claim about existence itself or ethics.

    The next two verses after the “men are that they might have joy” statement puts joy/misery in an eternal context. Notice verse 27 particularly:

    27 Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.

    To my understanding, the central doctrine of 2Ne2 is the crucial role of agency with the atonement described as enabling that agency. Thus, “the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever.” Once free, we are able to choose eternal happiness or eternal misery, so I don’t think it is any stretch to say that Lehi is talking about joy as a fundamental goal of humankind, with the plan of salvation being designed to make that goal attainable.

    Comment by Jacob J — January 31, 2007 @ 4:37 pm

  20. Clark: I also find the idea that the good is based purely on happiness to be problematic – but I’ll not get into that objection.

    Hmmm… I don’t think I am saying “good is based purely on happiness”. Rather I am saying that happiness (joy) is the result of doing (and being) good in the eternities.

    my problems with utilitarianism largely arise out of how it could be done in practice

    I think this is a valid complaint and I agree with it. I think in practice Blake has the right idea with his deontological agape theory (aka the Law of Love). But it is useful for me to see the Big Picture in somewhat consequentialist terms wherein joy is the ultimate goal for all people and in the long run that is what influences God’s earthly intervention. (I don’t know how else to explain the Laban incident.) But in daily practice I agree with Blake that we should put faith in some set of rules to follow to achieve that goal of longterm joy — in our case we have a set of rules endorsed and taught by Jesus that I think suffice quite nicely.

    Comment by Geoff J — January 31, 2007 @ 6:37 pm

  21. But if one adopts utilitarianism then to be good is to maximize happinesses. Now if one says more happiness (although not necessarily maximal happiness – consider God’s sadness at lost children) results form being good I have no trouble.

    I’ll be discussing Blake’s theory as I go through his book. (I hope to have an other discussion later tonight)

    Comment by Clark — January 31, 2007 @ 9:02 pm

  22. Are men and women created to have joy?

    Yes.

    Are men and women created to have sorrow?

    Yes.

    For the proof of this, we need look no further than our ideal role model and ultimate goal: to acheive the character of God the Father.

    Is God happy?

    Yes.

    Is God sad?

    Yes.

    And we can expect to be the same way in the hereafter.

    Comment by Seth R. — February 1, 2007 @ 7:26 am

  23. Geoff wrote: “I am saying that happiness (joy) is the result of doing (and being) good in the eternities.”

    I think that joy is defined more by contrast than by “doing good.” We all experience some degree of joy as we choose the right, but only because we first experience a degree of misery inherent in the mortal condition; i.e., we’re all sinners. So in this sense, joy is a product of mortal existence, and getting back to your original question, I see it as a proximate goal for this reason. I see it more as a sense of relief from misery that comes from recognizing what the alternative (of eternal death) would have been like.

    To have greater joy, one would have to have greater misery to contrast it with. It may be that as we become more like God, we also have greater awareness and hence capacity to be miserable, in the sense of sorrow at the pains others experience, or a greater realization of how dire the alternative is, which I suppose is what Seth was getting at; but I suspect that joy isn’t the best term for what eternal progression means.

    Lehi emphasized that we cannot have joy if we don’t know misery. This whole chapter explains to Jacob why his childhood afflictions would be valuable for him. It appears from the scriptures, as well as from our personal experience, that the greatest joy accrues to those who know the greatest misery.

    E.g., “Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy. Alma 36:21

    Comment by Jonathan N — February 1, 2007 @ 7:57 am

  24. I agree with what some others are pointing out. We are her now, because in our previous (pre-mortal) state we could never experience true joy, because we had no true sorrow.

    So, I think twofold here. One, we were put here to learn what joy is and two, we strive to continue on the right path so that we might experience even fuller joy in the next life.

    Comment by cew-smoke — February 1, 2007 @ 10:00 pm

  25. In the garden of eden, Satan tempted Adam and Eve with the fruit, with the promise that they would know good AND evil like the Gods… and understand that everything has its opposite.. pleasure AND pain, virtue AND vice, light and dark, good and evil. Later on Eve says to Adam after she gets him to partake of the fruit, “It is better for us to pass through the sorrow that we might know the joy.” She clearly understood after she partake of the fruit that by knowing the dark, we can also feel the light. That by knowing sorrow, we can know what joy is. As someone else pointed out above, we can not know joy without first knowing what it ISN’T. And that is the purpose of mortality, to be tested by trials that teach us of what eternal life ISN’T and to learn from our experiences. More joy can be felt when we have truly experienced more sorrow. I believe that this scripture in 2 Nephi is talking about both mortality and immortality… that our ultimate destiny is to be like God, to have full joy and exaltation…but in order to get there, we must feel the sadness, defeat, sorrow and sin in order to fully enjoy the glory of God and the fullness of joy hereafter. But in this process on earth which can at times be quite painful and anything but joyful, we are given moments and opportunities {even if only for seconds} of glimpses of eternity through the small joyful experiences that we have.
    And that glimpse helps us to desire to be with GOd… to have eternal joy.

    Comment by Stephanie — February 4, 2007 @ 12:12 am

  26. I agree with what some others are pointing out. We are her now, because in our previous (pre-mortal) state we could never experience true joy, because we had no true sorrow.

    The quote above seems to be the basic premise of the last four comments on this thread. I appreciate the comments on this. However, I think the claim that we could not experience joy or sorrow as spirits is completely untenable.

    Did we have free will as pre-mortal spirits? Did we know and love others? If the answer to these questions is yes then we could and did experience joy and sorrow as spirits because personal relationships among free-willed people entail joy and sorrow. What is it about having a physical body that would change that fact?

    Comment by Geoff J — February 4, 2007 @ 1:08 pm

  27. I think the important and most functional word is “MIGHT”.

    The simple statement means seems to point that we are that we might have joy… We might not too. 50/50 chance, maybe more to the might not side if you are married.

    Comment by Jake — February 5, 2007 @ 11:18 pm

  28. I think Jamie L (#3) was spot on. Lehi is not referencing joy with sorrow. He is referencing joy with the fall of Adam. What happened with the fall of Adam that had not occurred in all the history of the earth prior to that time? The second death was introduced. Adam introduced the second death in order to initiate the plan of salvation.. Without it there is no plan.

    I believe Adam and Eve had earthly parents and were created as we all are. However, prior to Adam’s existence there was no way for humans to regain the Celestial kingdom. It was closed to them. It wasn’t until Adam and Eve fell and by that act introduced the second death that the possibility of exaltation became available to all God’s children. Thus Adam fell that man might be. The term ‘man’ has a special reference to those beings for whom both deaths are a reality. The reason for the introduction of the second death, occasioned by Adam’s fall, the reason for the creation of ‘man’ is to allow the children of God to gain the opportunity to obtain exaltation (joy). Lehi was reminding his son of the reason why we are here on earth and why we must endure the experiences that come our way.

    Adam’s fall created that being for whom the second death is a reality. And, the purpose for the creation of such a being is to open the way by which His children may now obtain joy (exaltation). That being is designated by the term ‘man’.

    Rich

    Comment by Rich K — February 7, 2007 @ 12:12 am

  29. Geoff,

    I think you are right on both accounts. The reference, “men are that they might have joy”, applied in the premortal existence, it applies now on earth and it will continue to apply after we leave this mortal existence. This begs the question then, Why are there so many unhappy people in the world if we are here to have “joy”??? I believe it has to do with the way we think and percieve things. A person living in poverty (by another persons standards) can still have “joy” in this life. On the other hand a person with financial security can be miserable in this life. We can see evidence of this all around us.

    Pres. Ezra Taft Benson— once stated that,

    “Thouhgts lead to acts, acts lead to habits, habits lead to character and character will determine our eternal destiny”

    Our thoughts can design who we will become and seek in this life.

    “all that we are is the result of what we have thought” —Buddha

    I believe that in order for us to have a hope attaining joy in the after life we need to master attaining joy in this life. There is something to be said about the power of positive thinking… So whatever physical, financial, social, geographical or mental state we may be in at the present we have the ability to have “joy”

    “Whatever you think you can or you can’t either way you are right”
    —Henry Ford

    I beleive that we are here on this earth to have Joy and to seek this state of being in preparing to meet our maker. Having said this though I am not suggesting that we will never experience misery or pain but that we need to keep thoughts in harmony with the way we would like to feel and become. We should not “sink in the depths of despair” in times of trouble. Or wallow in the depths of sin. This is not what our Heavenly Father would want us to do. He would rather we made a speedy recovery and get back up on our feet and fight becoming stronger as a result. I also beleive that Joy does not come by chance or accident but rather chosen. Visit this site—http://www.thesecret.tv

    Just my 2 cents. Dave.

    Comment by David Bradley — February 17, 2007 @ 2:20 pm

  30. Ummm… What’s the dealio with that site you linked to Dave? “The Secret”? Looks like a movie trailer but smells like a scam…

    Comment by Geoff J — February 17, 2007 @ 3:34 pm

  31. sorry Geoff. didn’t realize they made you pay to watch it. I’ve watched the film from downloading it off of a file sharing program for free. Any program like bitcomet, azerious, utorrent or others will allow you to download movies. The search engine I used was mininova. The size of the file is approx 700mgbts to fit on a vcd.

    Anyway this way of thinking really hit home for me and if you get the chance to view the film or get your hands on a copy of the book you can’t help be affected.

    let me know if you need help with the file sharing thing if interested. Dave.

    Comment by David Bradley — February 18, 2007 @ 6:34 am

  32. Dave – this is out of context. But your last message giving the instructions on how to download movies for free using various software programs is called stealing. If you are watching movies for free that you are supposed to be paying for, it is wrong. You must purchase The Secret DVD to watch it. It is a violation of others’ right to profit from their work – intellectual stealing. Please do not profer this information out to this community.

    Comment by Ruth — April 10, 2007 @ 9:36 am

  33. Once one can accept that there is no other way to live, there is no other means to return to our father in Heaven, once we can shune off the natural man. Then and only then can we have joy. Joy comes through our obedience and faith.

    For me personally, my joy is knowing that nothing revolves, nothing evolves, nothing exhist with out our father’s consent and planning. Knowing that he as a great plan for us, understanding that he wants us to return, he is waiting for us. Allows me to hav joy in that security.

    Comment by Micah — September 14, 2007 @ 7:37 am

  34. There is a difference in Happiness and joy..the rest of that scripture is and I HAVE come so that they may have it more abundantly. The joy that Christ brings does not mean we will be in a happy state continually, but we will have PEACE in the midst of our trials and life in general…like Paul said in Phillipians 4, we will learn to be content (happy) in all situations because our joy does not come from the world, but from a personal realationship with JESUS CHRIST.

    Comment by Jannie — December 15, 2007 @ 10:09 pm

  35. I’d like to simply add that no one wants to live for eternity in a state of unhappiness. In fact, the Father exists in a state of eternal “burning” in that his joy is so powerful, and perfect, that is consumes Him. Of course this is not something one can describe in mere terms. Our goal, then, is to find joy and peace as we work out our salvation and exaltation. Of course, this life (and some portion of the hereafter) is a time of trial during which we will suffer, but the suffering comes from our own sin and from the temptations that beset us. The work we do to overcome, however, is the tool by which we move toward true perfection and enlightenment and then, on that perfect day, we shall know pure, perfect joy and then our work becomes to help others receive it as well, just like the Father.

    Comment by Daniel Todd — August 14, 2008 @ 1:14 pm

  36. It appears that I am way behind the eight ball on this thread considering we’re nearing the end of 2009 but I wanted to add in some things that have come to mind as I’ve been reading on this page.

    First, it has been stated a few times that happiness comes from a relationship with our Savior. While I absolutely believe this to be true, I do not believe this to be the only or even predominant way to be happy. I believe (and this is my own opinion, no scriptural evidence to back this up) that happiness comes from the discovery and application of truth. I believe that any discovery which leads in a progressive direction generates happiness. Another way to say it is that progression itself is the ultimate source of happiness. I don’t think that it requires a spiritual or religious view of any type to achieve this happiness. It could be financial, social, physical, etc. Despite this belief, I do agree that achieving ultimate joy (which is actually a progression in and of itself because it is a journey that we will take throughout eternity) requires a relationship with our Father in Heaven and our Savior…which leads me to my next point:

    Joy and happiness are not the same thing. Seth R. in your post you state that men are that they might have joy and sorrow. You also ask if God experiences happiness and sadness. To address your first point, I believe that sorrow is a step to happiness. It is a means of progression. To use a cliche, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Perhaps that could be translated to, “What doesn’t kill you makes you more happy.” Anyway, I believe this because sorrow in my life has been the catalyst by which change occurs. The economist Milton Friedman stated, “Only a crisis, real or perceived, produces real change.” I think that, although it was intended towards government/politics, this is applicable in our lives.

    Here is where the diffence between happiness and joy comes into play. Joy and sadness are not antonyms in the way that happiness and sadness are. I believe that joy and sadness can coexist where as happiness, in its denotation, and sadness cannot. I believe that God feels a sense of eternal joy born out of His own progression and the progression of His children. I also believe that he feels sad about the mistakes and decisions that we make but that the sadness doesn’t override the joy he has established. I think He also has a perspective that we don’t. He is able to see the result of the sorrows that we experience and so sees the happiness (joy) that will result from those experiences.

    Hopefully this doesn’t appear to be rambling (although that’s what it is ;)). Please respond if you have any agreeances or discrepancies. I’d love to hear your point of view.

    Comment by Taylor — August 24, 2009 @ 3:48 pm

  37. “there is some debate about the nature of spirits/intelligences”.

    I think there is nothing but debate on this matter. So much has been written on these matters, but there seems to be little agreement or understanding of how these pre-earthlife components interacted and related to each other: light, truth, light of Christ, intelligence, spirit, spirit matter, pure matter, organized, etc.

    Joseph Fielding Smith once said, “Some of our writers have endeavored to explain what an intelligence is, but to do so is futile, for we have never been given any insight into this matter beyond what the Lord has fragmentarily revealed. We know, however, that there is something called intelligence which always existed. It is the real eternal part of man, which was not created or made. This intelligence combined with the spirit constitutes a spiritual identity or individual.” ( Progress of Man, p. 11.)

    Personally the more I’ve read what has been revealed over the last 180 years, the more I’m convinced that most of the confusion comes from semantic differences from one Prophet to the next, and perhaps a little too literal interpretation of some of the terms that others have used. Intelligence, for example, can mean so many things, and when you read what different prophets have written on the issue it’s quite apparent that they use the term differently from one to the next. I suppose if it were truly important than the Lord would insist that they be more consistent and defined when they discuss these matters. It does however as a topic seem to easily lend itself to gospel hobbyism and so perhaps it’s a good thing, and no doubt God would know best, that we’re not given more fodder than we can currently manage.

    Comment by davea0511 — January 5, 2011 @ 1:26 am

  38. In my opinion, if you took the time to think out some detailed and highly complex response to this conversation, you just wasted your time. the greatest aspect of this scripture is that it simply is. it offers no apology or explanation, but is straightforward and honest, much like Christ himself. “Men are, that they might have joy.” we exist, that we might obtain the happiness we all seek.
    Philosophies, intelligences, and pretty much everything else that popped up in this discussion are almost completely irrelevant. It’s better to leave the thinking to god, and go off in pursuit of joy instead.

    Comment by Josh — October 27, 2012 @ 10:13 pm

  39. Snort!

    “It’s better to leave the thinking to god”

    What a ridiculous thing to say. Thanks for the chuckle.

    Comment by Geoff J — October 27, 2012 @ 10:44 pm

  40. Not a ridiculous thing at all, actually. There are a multitude of scriptural examples to back my philosophy. It is important to internalize and to ponder a scripture, to find out how it applies to one’s life. However, the lord consistently refers to his dislike of hypocrites, who spend large amounts of time analyzing scripture and not much time living them.

    Comment by Josh — October 27, 2012 @ 10:52 pm

  41. Hey if not thinking brings you joy then do that. After all, men are that they might have joy. However, the not thinking recipe is not a universal path to joy for all people. Some people have to think hard about and ponder and discuss the nature of God and the Universe to have joy. So those folks (many of whom have participated here in the past) should do that. Thinking is not synonymous with hypocrisy.

    Comment by Geoff J — October 27, 2012 @ 11:10 pm

  42. Josh, did I read that right that you have a philosophy?

    Comment by Jacob J — October 27, 2012 @ 11:37 pm

  43. Haha, I’m actually closer to Josh on this one. No doubt, he has no problem (in principle) with people like us who enjoy hashing out these issues, but I think he’s right to suggest that the scriptures do not unequivocally praise what we have been doing.

    Comment by Jeff G — October 28, 2012 @ 6:16 pm

  44. Yea, but I’m used to it. The scriptures unequivocally praise very little of what I do.

    Comment by Jacob J — October 28, 2012 @ 8:45 pm

  45. Haha. Touché!

    Comment by Jeff G — October 28, 2012 @ 9:17 pm

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