Spiritual Libido

August 20, 2007    By: Jacob J @ 9:01 am   Category: Theology

I am always hearing this idea that the Word of Wisdom is important because our physical appetites will go with us to the spirit world, but we won’t be able to satisfy them since we are absent our physical bodies. This is offered as a reason we should not develop addictions to tobacco and recreational drugs. Apparently the spirit world will double as a giant rehab center with lots of people quitting cold-turkey.

It occurred to me while considering this idea that it would be very unfortunate if this turns out to be true for all physical appetites. Will we all be starving for food with no way to eat? Jamming Twinkies into our spirit mouths only to have them fly out the backs of our heads?

Will the half of the population with a strong libido have the same sex drive they had on Earth, but no longer the ability to satisfy it? If so, I imagine the spirit world will be a very crotchety place to hang out. Devoid of both chocolate and sex, pretty much everyone should find a way to be consistently frustrated.

So, should we look forward to a very irritable time in the spirit world, or is this whole thing about physical appetites going with us to the spirit world suspect in the first place? Can anyone think of any scriptures to bring to bear on the matter? What say you?


  1. There is purportedly a quote somewhere from either Joseph F. or Joseph Fielding that there is no ice cream in Heaven, so maybe… I’ve never found the quote though.

    I’ve never heard this physical appetites in the spirit world hypothesis before though. Sounds a bit loony. However, I have only been a member 9 years, so you never know.

    Comment by Matt W. — August 20, 2007 @ 9:26 am

  2. Wow, you have never heard this? I am shocked. Is there anyone else out there in Mormonism who has never heard this idea?

    Comment by Jacob J — August 20, 2007 @ 9:33 am

  3. If I recall correctly, the only real substantiation for this idea of carrying appetites is found in Alma where it says the same Spirit which possesses our bodies when we leave this world will have power to possess our bodies in that eternal world to come. Here’s the difference ( at least in my understanding):

    By examining why we smoke, or overeat, or have copious sex, we examine what drives us. If we’re driven by our body, we have a problem. The scriptures tell us we’re blessed if we hunger and thirst after righteousness, because we will be filled. Kind of a consider the lilies proposition, where we have to trust in God for everything. The appetites argument doesn’t hold up, but the spirit argument does. Are we driven by the spirit (hunger and thirst after righteousness), or the body (hunger and thirst after Twinkies and beer)?

    Comment by NJensen — August 20, 2007 @ 9:37 am

  4. That’s why we get old before we die. Libido’s slow down, in a lot of cases, to nothing. Death, then is no different than life in terms of a sex drive.

    Viagra is actually the work of evil men designing to restore appetites which will then make the next life seem unbearable :)

    Comment by Gilgamesh — August 20, 2007 @ 9:38 am

  5. If, according to 2 Ne 2:29, it is the will of the flesh that gives Satan power to captivate us through our bodily appetites, then the lack of a body should be quite a relief.

    And if we have been somewhat successful in becoming more spiritual in this life, if our spirit was alive and in charge of the flesh while on this earth, then the lack of a way to satisfy fleshly appetites in the spirit world won’t be much of an issue.

    But if everything about who we are here is all about satisfying our physical appetites, then the lack of a body would be very frustrating. Who would we be without it?

    Comment by C Jones — August 20, 2007 @ 9:57 am

  6. Maybe that is why we fast once a month. We are preparing for a super long fast in the spirit world.

    Comment by Jacob J — August 20, 2007 @ 10:04 am

  7. I believe that the Alma verse cited above is the source for this, and I believe it’s completely misinterpreted as such :)

    Comment by NItsav — August 20, 2007 @ 10:06 am

  8. I’ve had a related idea going through my head for a long time. I’ve wondered if the reason that having a body is such a great gift is that it makes possible physical sensation and its attendant pleasures. If we don’t have a body we won’t be able to experience those pleasures.

    As for being tormented by physical addictions when we are disembodied, our physical bodies are also responsible for many of our urges, so I imagine when we are disembodied we won’t have the urges caused by our body. We won’t be frustrated from being unable to gratify our urges to eat or have sex or smoke a cigarette since we won’t have those urges, but it will be a less happy experience than being embodied because we won’t be able to experience all those great physical pleasures like the smell and taste of roast chicken (only in times of famine, of course), or a hug from a loved one. Maybe we won’t be constantly frustrated, but we’ll remember how good it was to have a body and we’ll anxiously look forward to the resurrection.

    Probably one of the first things I do after the resurrection will be to cook up some chilli cheese dogs or something.

    Comment by Tom — August 20, 2007 @ 10:18 am

  9. And maybe the resurrection will be so great because we’ll have all the physical pleasures without the physical pains and without being susceptible to Satan.

    Comment by Tom — August 20, 2007 @ 10:20 am

  10. Just to stir the speculation pot a little more: How do we know spirits can’t prepare and eat spirit food or embrace each other (or more)? We are told that spirit is a form of matter after all. Just because we can’t touch spirits doesn’t mean they can’t touch each other…

    Comment by Geoff J — August 20, 2007 @ 10:26 am

  11. I don’t know. I’m trying to think of why having a physical body would be such a good thing if we can do all the good things we consider “physical” as disembodied spirits?

    Comment by Tom — August 20, 2007 @ 10:54 am

  12. There’s a near death experience book called Return from Tomorrow that’s popular with Mormons (the author sees a vision of something very like spirit prison, spirit paradise, and the three kingdoms of glory) and in it the author says that people with drug addictions or uncontrolled sexual impulses were in misery because of their inability to satisfy their cravings.

    If I wanted to distinguish with from the food thing, I’d say that maybe the point is that many addictions aren’t purely biological mechanisms but have become psychological addictions over time. I’d also point out that Mormons generally see even the righteous spirits as longing to get their bodies back, and maybe food and sex would be one reason.

    Comment by Adam Greenwood — August 20, 2007 @ 11:48 am

  13. I left out a sentence at the end of the first paragraph of my comment speculating that the book was the source of the idea Jacob J. cites.

    Comment by Adam Greenwood — August 20, 2007 @ 11:50 am

  14. President Brigham Young preaching at the funeral of Elder Thomas Williams (July 19, 1874)

    “When we contemplate the condition of man here upon the earth and understand that we are brought forth for the express purpose of preparing ourselves through our faithfulness to merit eternal life, we ask ourselves where we are going, what will be our condition, what will be the nature of our pursuits in a state of being in which we shall possess more vigor and a higher degree of intelligence than we possess here? Shall we have labor? Shall we have enjoyment in our labor? Shall we have any object of pursuit, or shall we sit and sing ourselves away to everlasting bliss? These are questions that arise in the minds of people, and they many times feel anxious to know something about the hereafter. . . . I would like to say to you, my friends and brethren, if we could see things as they are, and as we shall see and understand them, this dark shadow and valley is so trifling that we shall turn around and look upon it and think, when we have crossed it, why this is the greatest advantage of my whole existence, for I have passed from a state of sorrow, grief, mourning, woe, misery, pain, anguish and disappointment into a state of existence where I can enjoy life to the fullest extent as far as that can be done without a body. My spirit is set free, I thirst no more, I want to sleep no more, I hunger no more, I tire no more, I run, I walk, I labor, I go, I come, I do this, do that, whatever is required of me, nothing like pain or weariness, I am full of life, full of vigor, and I enjoy the presence of my Heavenly Father, by the power of His Spirit.” (Journal of Discourses 17:14.) (Roy W. Doxey, The Doctrine and Covenants and the Future [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954], 81 – 82.)

    After death the spirit looks upon the absence of its body as a type of bondage – D&C 138:50

    A fulness of joy can be obtained only when the spirit and the body are joined – D&C 93:33-35

    The Prophet Joseph Smith taught: “The devil has no body, and herein is his punishment.” (Robert J. Matthews, A Bible! A Bible! [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1990])

    Comment by Howard — August 20, 2007 @ 1:36 pm

  15. Probably one of the first things I do after the resurrection will be to cook up some chili cheese dogs or something.

    Not me! It’s sex and chocolate all the way. And I can’t decide which will come first.

    Comment by Behind the Infamous Veil (the blogger formerly known as Bored in Vernal) — August 20, 2007 @ 2:29 pm

  16. I will have to say that the book Adam talked about, Return From Tomorrow is the only time I’ve heard or read anything about this. Of course I’m not the theologian that the rest of the thang bloggers are.

    Now if you want to talk about chocolate….maybe I should just start eating as much chocolate as I can now so that I will be prepared for a long dry spell when I die. Or, if I eat tons and tons of chocolate now maybe I will get sick of it and it won’t matter when I die.

    Comment by Kristen J — August 20, 2007 @ 7:58 pm

  17. That’s the paradox, isn’t it? We came to live in physical bodies to somehow perfect our non-physical spirits. Yet everything that is a sin arises from the desires of these animal-derived vessels our spirits inhabit in this physical realm. How does overcoming animalistic physical sin help to perfect our spirits?

    I hope that on the other side of the veil my love for sport, for laughter, for crisp autumn days will continue. (And perhaps, they were present in the pre-mortal existence as well, hm?) But I can not know it will be. All one can suppose is that it will be more different and more wonderful than we can imagine.

    Comment by V the K — August 21, 2007 @ 5:53 am

  18. Mmmmm… chili dogs.

    Comment by V the K — August 21, 2007 @ 5:54 am

  19. Just sticking my head in the door here, but I think Melvin J. Ballard addressed this in his “The Three Degrees of Glory.” Sorry, not near my library so I can’t verify. Any help out there?

    [Admin: Behold the power of google: The Three Degrees of Glory by Melvin J. Ballard]

    Comment by Mondo Cool — August 21, 2007 @ 6:53 am

  20. Just study a little up on NDE and OBE literature (Near Death and Out of Body Experiences) of thousands (maybe millions) of people all around the world, especially research since the 1970s, and you’ll see all our appetites go on into the spirit world. From what I understand from the accounts of experiencers, astral sex is utterly overwhelming emotionally and spiritually.

    Comment by cadams — August 22, 2007 @ 9:42 am

  21. Someone already touched on this, but I would suspect purely physical appetites are in absentia. Addictions, however, have strong spiritual, emotional and mental aspects as well as purely physical ones. These aspects will still be with us after we die.

    Comment by SilverRain — August 22, 2007 @ 3:35 pm

  22. SilverRain,

    Thanks for chiming in. So, how do I distinguish between things that have spiritual/emotional/mental aspects and those that don’t? Does libido have emotional/mental aspects? If not, how can I tell that it doesn’t?

    Comment by Jacob J — August 22, 2007 @ 5:17 pm

  23. Umm . . . get rid of all your addictions, just to be safe? ;D

    Comment by SilverRain — August 22, 2007 @ 6:02 pm

  24. Oh . . . and I would say “yes” on the emotional/mental aspects of libido. Exceptions would be if someone has made choices that destroy that emotional bonding. Emotional bonding is actually a scientific theory. If you are interested in researching, it’s usually referred to as “pair-bonding” and is something that can be damaged through casual fulfillment of libido.

    Comment by SilverRain — August 22, 2007 @ 6:05 pm

  25. It’s a pleasure to find someone who can identify the issues so cealrly

    Comment by Indian — September 14, 2012 @ 6:37 pm