Why be married?

August 12, 2008    By: Matt W. @ 12:10 pm   Category: Life

So I have to teach the Young Men a lesson this Sunday on choosing an Eternal Companion, and while I was going through the lesson, I noticed a sort of lacunae.

Why do we want to get married?

The only thing the manual provides is that old chestnut “Men can’t be exalted without being married”.

There are basically two problems with this:

1. Doesn’t that sound like the reason to be married is nothing more than the selfish desire to be “exalted”? Isn’t there more to marriage than that?

2. Spencer W. Kimball said “we promise you that insofar as eternity is concerned, no soul will be deprived of rich and high and eternal blessings for anything which that person could not help, that the Lord never fails in his promises, and that every righteous person will receive eventually all to which the person is entitled and which he or she has not forfeited through any fault of his or her own” and while some argue he only meant the women, that’s stupid. (ie- God is no respector of persons, black, white, male, female, bond, free, etc.)

A few other hypothetical reasons and their issues:

1. Nookie- Yes I could possibly get away in a class of 14-17 yo just saying marriage gives you permission to have nookie and nookie is fun, but in our nookie saturated society, the pedastel is too high already, and anyone in a real marriage knows it’s not all about nookie. (especially with the gaping reality that yes it is easy and possible to have nookie without being married!)

2. D&C 131 also mentions this “eternal increase” of having children, but it was Mormon who said that being full of Charity meant all little children were alike unto him (and he said this to his son, basically telling his son he loved everybody elses’ kids as much as him). And we are eternal self-existent beings who our Father in Heaven adopted. So this goes into why the male famale eternal partnership is required to make such an adoption real. (Eric N. can sling Vivaporous stones, and Geoff J. has that Erastus Snow quote he can throw out, but my only response is “Why? Why? Why?”)

3. The Marriage/Family relationship is the closest we have to practicing the divine relationship in this life with God and others. It is a relationship where we are supposed to be completely open and giving of ourselves to another. This sounds great, but is probably only true of marriage back to about 1970 something. Just look back a few generations to when women didn’t have any idea how much money there husbands made, etc. I guess we could say we’ve received further light and knowledge, but It’s hard to say.

4. To protect the fundamental rights of children to the protection and care of their biological parents. But this brings up questions of why we want to have children and isn’t marriage more than having children? I mean, how do I face my childless sister with such an answer? What about after the children all grow up and move out? And what about adoption and the eternal scheme of things? Isn’t our marriage for eternity more than biological pragmatism?

So I’m stumped, any help?

83 Comments »

  1. How about “it is not good that man should be alone”?

    Comment by JimD — August 12, 2008 @ 12:30 pm

  2. First, because the marriage relationship is the only place where they are going to learn how truly love someone despite their faults and be loved by someone despite theirs. Do they really want to be all alone when they are old and grey and familyless? That’s the path I see a lot of people on. Not only will they not have an opportunity to be comforted but they will not have the opportunity to comfort.

    Second: It is not selfish to become one with someone else and devote yourself to trying to make them happy; it is a commandment though.

    Third: It is not selfish to desire exaltation: a state of exaltation puts you in a position that allows you do the greatest good with what you have for yourself, your family and ultimately all mankind.

    Fourth: If life is a schooling experience, then marriage is the ultimate classroom.

    You might as well ask, “Why do anything hard that is ultimately going to lead to great and pleasurable rewards that we could never get in any other situation? Why get out of bed in the morning?” Because life is great, and marriage is great, and it will bring you and others joy, and that is the purpose of life.

    Comment by M. Ryan Taylor — August 12, 2008 @ 1:09 pm

  3. I’ve been married for 30 years and here are some reasons why I’m glad about it:
    1. I met a woman 32 years ago who I adored being with and 32 yrs later I still get excited when I hear her car drive into the driveway. Why wouldn’t I want to me married?
    2. I looked forward to raising children and now, 30 yrs. later I still like them and they like me. Why wouldn’t I want to be married?
    3. I recently ran into an old friend from my young adult years. He never got married. Not trying to sound mean here – but, in so many ways he is still a young adult. Why wouldn’t I want to be married?

    Comment by Hal — August 12, 2008 @ 1:09 pm

  4. Being loved and loving someone.

    Building a life with someone.

    Raising kids who in turn become parents.

    Learning how to sacrifice for someone else.

    Comment by Steve Graham — August 12, 2008 @ 1:17 pm

  5. How about, so they don’t have to go through this?

    Comment by LRC — August 12, 2008 @ 2:23 pm

  6. I’ve always loved Wendell Berry’s thoughts on marriage. I don’t have time right now to look up which book and essay I’m remembering, but google gave this (possibly copyright violation) treasure.

    The Country of Marriage

    I’d never read the poem before but find it simply lovely. I really, truly would not suggest using it for adolescent boys, but it’s beautiful for mature people.

    Comment by Anon since I don't normally comment on NCT — August 12, 2008 @ 2:28 pm

  7. Cuz you love your partner and want to spend the rest of your life with them.

    Comment by berrykat — August 12, 2008 @ 4:12 pm

  8. Jim D: Joseph Smith said the same sociality which exists here will exist in heaven, but coupled with eternal glory, so while it is true it is not good to be alone, marriage isn’t the only out for that.

    M Ryan Taylor:
    Only marriage can teach you how to love someone despite their faults? What about siblings, or neighbors or friends? What about parents? Do people who never marry, like the apostle Paul, have a lesser ability to love?

    Your second and third points are very good ones, but exaltation, as pointed out in my post does not necassarily require marriage, but perhaps it does require a desire to be married. Or rather, perhaps it is more accurate to say a desire to be married correlates closely with a desire to love others unselfishly. I’ll have to think about that further.

    Hal: I’m glad your relaionship with your wife is so good.I too feel very fortunoate to have my wife, but it’s not quite the theological foundational reason for marriage I was looking for. perhaps I am missing the mark and digging too deep? I dunno.

    Steve Graham: We can love people we are not married to. I have a life built with my friends and family. People raise kids outside of marriage all the time (admittedly often with less than steller results). And the biggest lesson in Sacrifice I ever had was my mission, not my marriage.

    LRC: that’s cold.

    anon: Welcome to NCT. I’ll have to look for Wendell Berry

    berrykat: This is challenging, because you are basically saying you love them (which means what? you are physically attracted to them? You find them intellectually interesting? what?) but you fear they will leave you, so you bind them with a social contract between you, them, the people, and God, to ensure your continued exclusive rights to them. The problem here is in the US,51% of marriages end in divorce, s the best you can be doing is to express your hope and intent of staying with them, and they with you.

    I guess the question becomes why is it our instinct and desire to be exclusively paired with a single partner? Is it to do with the children? If so, that’s a biological reason, and not an eternal one. What is the eternal reason to be married?

    Comment by Matt W. — August 12, 2008 @ 4:50 pm

  9. This is going to sound hokey (but that’s never stopped me before). The song “One” by U2 is the best song about marriage ever written.

    Marriage is about learning to forgive—something we’ll have to know how to do if we want to become as HF. It’s about being selfless. It’s about investing yourself in someone else and being responsible with the investment they’ve made in you.

    Comment by Susan M — August 12, 2008 @ 5:01 pm

  10. The eternal reason to be married is because to do what Gods do requires a male and female God. Why is that so mystifying?

    Comment by Hal — August 12, 2008 @ 5:07 pm

  11. Can the word “nookie” be spoken aloud at church?

    Comment by danithew — August 12, 2008 @ 5:18 pm

  12. OK. Here it is. From Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community by Wendell Berry:

    Lovers must not, like usurers, live for themselves alone. They must finally turn from their gaze at one another back toward the community. If they had only themselves to consider, lovers would not need to marry, but they must think of others and of other things. They say their vows to the community as much as to one another, and the community gathers around them to hear and to wish them well, on their behalf and its own. It gathers around them because it understands how necessary, how joyful, and how fearful this joining is. These lovers, pledging themselves to one another “until death,” are giving themselves away, and they are joined by this as no law or contract could join them. Lovers, then, “die” into their union with one another as a soul “dies” into its union with God. And so here, at the very heart of community life, we find not something to sell as in the public market but this momentous giving. If the community cannot protect this giving, it can protect nothing…

    Comment by Anon since I don't normally comment on NCT — August 12, 2008 @ 5:24 pm

  13. There are a lot of good reasons and some not-so good ones to get married, but I can’t think of any that are overwhelmingly indisputable and that no one can argue with. That, at least, you’ve managed to demonstrate.

    Comment by Confutus — August 12, 2008 @ 5:46 pm

  14. Anon: that really is beautiful. Thank you. That’s going in my lesson, whether the boys like it or not.

    Confutus: You make a good point. Perhaps the reason for marriage is somewhat like the reason for life. It is really existential and tailored to the individual. There isn’t one “one size fits all” easy answer.

    danithew: In Church I’d probably just say sex or “boinking”, but for the sensitive ears of NCT, I was trying to tone it down.

    Hal: I guess one man’s mystery is another’s oyster, but It’s still mystifying to me.

    Susan M: Maybe I’ll play One as part of my lesson. Depends on how much time I have. I am already going to show this and this.

    Comment by Matt W. — August 12, 2008 @ 7:44 pm

  15. “What about siblings, or neighbors or friends? What about parents? Do people who never marry, like the apostle Paul, have a lesser ability to love?”

    Absolutely, of course there are different levels of love. When Paul disagrees with his missionary companions he can choose to leave them and go off with someone else. That’s not really supposed to happen within marriage; you’re supposed to learn to deal with problems and I’m glad for it.

    If marriage didn’t have things to teach us then it wouldn’t be necessary. I’m sure God has the power to do away with the sexes altogether and have us reproduce by spreading spores.

    Comment by M Ryan Taylor — August 12, 2008 @ 7:54 pm

  16. “Doesn’t that sound like the reason to be married is nothing more than the selfish desire to be “exalted”? Isn’t there more to marriage than that?”

    Can’t you then argue that the reason to be good, patient, kind, charitable, etc. is just a selfish desire to be saved/exalted?

    I personally think that marriage and family life is the best way in this life for the masses to develop Christlike attributes.

    Comment by gomez — August 12, 2008 @ 11:54 pm

  17. Sling Viviporous stones?

    Comment by Eric Nielson — August 13, 2008 @ 4:22 am

  18. I may have stones, but I have no intention of slinging them.

    Comment by Eric Nielson — August 13, 2008 @ 4:33 am

  19. gomez: I guess I have to take that on faith. Perhaps “best” is okay, as long as we don’t say the “only” way.

    Eric Nielsen: Vivaporous Godly relations which require sealing pokes a solid whole in my reasoning, so I was just giving you some cred, brother.

    Comment by Matt W. — August 13, 2008 @ 6:49 am

  20. Why should you get married?

    Because your life (at least mine—I guess I shouldn’t speak for anyone else) is consistently happier than not. I have been a fairly happy man these past three years of marriage. These past three years have certainly been better than the previous three years. Your lonelier when you are single. You can’t rest your shoulder on someone who you have opened up yourself to. You also fulfill your instinctual desire to be needed. Your spouse will need you, and you will be there. Marriage isn’t fancy. But it is lasting.

    Comment by Dan — August 13, 2008 @ 7:01 am

  21. I suspect that if the soul desire of a man and a woman who marry is purely for exaltation purposes then they wouldnt really get on and they would need seperate beds. And one big bed for procreation.

    Comment by Martin K — August 13, 2008 @ 7:26 am

  22. Lol

    Comment by Martin K — August 13, 2008 @ 7:26 am

  23. How nice, but if you’re planning on using that quote, you might want to have a very simple explanation of his use of the term “die.”

    Also, speaking of death, if you’re addressing this subject to young men, you could let them know that men are statistically healthier and live longer if they’re married.

    Comment by Anon since I don't normally comment on NCT — August 13, 2008 @ 7:44 am

  24. I guess one stone might be slung at your whopper statement in hypothetical #2 where you say:

    And we are eternal self-existent beings who our Father in Heaven adopted

    This seems a little self-assured. I don’t see this clearly spelled out in scripture nor in the words of modern day prophets. There is some support for this in Mosiah 5:17 and similar verses, so I accept that some might have that view. But if you cruise mormon.org or TTTF of the Proc what you usually get is things like ‘begotten sons and daughters of Heavenly Parents’ or words to that effect. Which I think is more consistent with scripture and typical Mormon doctrine and beliefs.

    Comment by Eric Nielson — August 13, 2008 @ 8:32 am

  25. The Proclamation actually uses lower case to describe our heavenly parents. That may or may not be significant.

    Comment by gomez — August 13, 2008 @ 9:01 am

  26. Dan: I guess I am in part openly wondering at the seeming paradox between the Christian Ideal of selflessness and the Christian Ideal of marriage, which, if only for happiness sake, is selfish. Maybe the idea of selflessness is overstated?

    Anon: I haven’t gotten my mind around the die concept here perfectly, but the imagery is beautiful. I think sometimes waxing poetic is better left undefined.

    Eric: I take your stone gladly friend. It is deserved, and you, of course, may be correct.

    gomez: elaborate, I don’t get it.

    Something I just thought of is that marriage is more an act of Faith, not just in God, but in the other person, that they will be true to you for all time. The sealing ordinance is a formal contract designed to increase faith and trust. It is a covenant.

    Comment by Matt W. — August 13, 2008 @ 9:45 am

  27. Eric,

    I think it is a matter of semantics even for you. You are a fan of the BH Roberts beginningless intelligence->spirit->physical body theory right? Well even in that model it could be said that “we are eternal self-existent beings who our Father in Heaven adopted”. That is because even in that model our minds/intelligences are eternal and self-existent. Sure, that model assumes two physically resurrected beings got together and mysteriously had a “spirit baby”. But surely even that process involved the exalted couple choosing the eternal mind/intelligence who would inhabit the new spirit body right? Or are you of the belief that intelligences enter spirit bodies completely at random? If they did choose the intelligences rather than randomly get one then that is a form of adoption isn’t it?

    (For those reading along — I think the whole idea of viviparous spirit birth is untenable…)

    Comment by Geoff J — August 13, 2008 @ 10:20 am

  28. But the point in this post is that the exalted couple is married.

    Having a spirit baby need not be any more mysterious than having a mortal baby.

    I don’t care much rather the pecking order of spirit birth is random or not. I guess if I had to choose I would probably pick non-random. Sure this would imply the spirit of adoption. But the important thing is maintaining the parent/child relationship in an offspringy way. And maintaining the meaningfulness of eternal marriage and family. And gender as an important part of our eternal identity and purpose.

    Comment by Eric Nielson — August 13, 2008 @ 11:29 am

  29. Ok, I can see that point Eric.

    I would dispute that “having a spirit baby need not be any more mysterious than having a mortal baby” because mortals with physical bodies reproduce after their own kind (as in we have mortal children with physical bodies) whereas you are claiming exalted people with physical bodies do not reproduce after their own kind (as in they allegedly have children who do not have physical bodies). But we have discussed this elsewhere so I will leave it alone here.

    Comment by Geoff J — August 13, 2008 @ 12:06 pm

  30. Matt W, an old mission friend thought it was very significant that “heavenly parents” was lower case. He thought that the brethren were implicitly teaching we were born spirit children of gods (lower case) and subsequently adopted into the family of the Father; and that the promise of eternal increase means the faithful will have the opportunity of providing spirit children for Christ when he becomes a Father to the next generation. That’s a lot to read into missing capitalization but #24 reminded me of the idea.

    Comment by gomez — August 13, 2008 @ 2:24 pm

  31. (I’ve not had time to read the comments yet – my apologies if someone’s already discussed this)

    It seems to me that if there isn’t an essential spirit gender and if there isn’t a spirit birth then the whole theology of marriage and resurrection in LDS theology doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. After all one good reason for marriage is because there are two spiritual sexes and the sexes are necessary in some way analogous to sexuality here. That is it is a necessary part of eternal progression.

    If eternal progression is just organization without any necessity to it then it seems hard to say that gender is essential let alone marriage.

    Comment by Clark — August 13, 2008 @ 3:06 pm

  32. Haven’t read the comments, but to respond to the original…

    “Why do we want to get married?”

    Because marriage is the closest we can get to attempting perichoresis in mortality.

    If you want to be like God, you’re going to have to learn that particular trick, right? So, best get started now.

    Comment by Seth R. — August 13, 2008 @ 10:21 pm

  33. Outstanding Clark!

    Comment by Eric Nielson — August 14, 2008 @ 4:19 am

  34. There is a new and interesting article on Marriage at lds org here.

    Comment by Eric Nielson — August 14, 2008 @ 11:42 am

  35. I am not sure you should be too excited about Clark’s #31 Eric. It could be seen as a knock against the the idea that gender is essential. In other words I thought he was pointing out the possibility that “the whole theology of marriage and resurrection in LDS theology doesn’t make a whole lot of sense”.

    Comment by Geoff J — August 14, 2008 @ 3:02 pm

  36. As a follow up to my #35 I think Clark is wrong in #31. I see no reason why we should not assume that gender is essential and yet we are all beginningless spirits just as Joseph Smith taught/implied (as in there is no such thing as spirit birth). I have discussed that possibility here and here.

    Comment by Geoff J — August 14, 2008 @ 3:17 pm

  37. Geoff, I need to reread those two posts. (Sometimes I’ve just been too busy to read what everyone is talking about) The key problem is the point of gender. That is why would there be essential gender. To say it’s possible misses the question of why.

    Of course one could object and say something just are and that we need not appeal to some function for structures. However I’ll convince I’m skeptical of this if it applies to a fairly significant difference like gender.

    An other problem is that even if there were essential gender it doesn’t follow that marriage is important unless there were some essential purpose.

    Comment by Clark — August 14, 2008 @ 3:47 pm

  38. Clark, maybe I am missing your point. If gender is beginningless and binary there need not be a “why”. It just is. You only need a reason for gender existing if it was created at some point.

    Comment by Geoff J — August 14, 2008 @ 5:46 pm

  39. Well I did note that as a possible response.

    My response would be, what is gender then? If it is a difference (as it must be) what difference does it make? And what is it about this difference that marriage provides a function for. Those are key answers the traditional view can answer easily but which the non-spirit birth position seems to have a difficult time with.

    Comment by clark — August 14, 2008 @ 9:34 pm

  40. My response would be, what is gender then?

    Yeah, good question. I don’t know the answer. But I am fairly confident that it is much more than complementary anatomy as we usually think of it here. One could easily assume there is some important and eternal yin-yang relationship though and admit that we don’t have details beyond that. None of that requires copulation or viviparous birth. If you are saying that having sex and then having children is the only possible explanation for why relationships between males and females are important/essential in the eternities I would say you are thinking way too narrowly.

    Comment by Geoff J — August 14, 2008 @ 11:11 pm

  41. 1. Doesn’t that sound like the reason to be married is nothing more than the selfish desire to be “exalted”? Isn’t there more to marriage than that?

    No. No more so than being baptized, or keeping any other commandment, is a selfish desire to be exalted. I’ll allow it could be – depending upon one’s motives. But, it doesn’t have to be. In a way, Lucifer certainly can’t be accused of a selfish desire to be exalted because… he didn’t keep his 1st estate, a condition which was necessary to receive exaltation.

    #8.

    I guess the question becomes why is it our instinct and desire to be exclusively paired with a single partner? Is it to do with the children? If so, that’s a biological reason, and not an eternal one. What is the eternal reason to be married?

    Is biology always exclusive of eternity?
    For me, the eternal reason is: God requires it and has not revealed all the reasons for it. But, when all knowledge comes, I’d rather be on the side that was obedient w/o full rationale than those who decided to wait until they knew all there was to know about marriage before diving in.

    Comment by mondo cool — August 14, 2008 @ 11:36 pm

  42. Geoff (35)

    I thought Clarks comment was outstanding not because I thought he was taking sides in this debate. He points out in a very concise way that those who oppose the idea of spirit birth have things to explain as well. I was also excited that it was Clark who said it. If I were to have said it, it would not have been said as clearly and concisely, it would also have been easier to dismiss.

    Geoff (40)

    None of that denies copulation and spirit birth either. And any essential yin/yang relationship would apply quite well even if copulation and viviporous birth were part of that relationship. I do not see how a belief in spirit birth would deny these things or be any more narrow than anything else.

    Comment by Eric Nielson — August 15, 2008 @ 5:40 am

  43. Eric,

    If it makes you feel better, I thought it was pretty easy to dismiss Clark’s reasoning as being flimsy in #31 too so it is not just you (grin).

    Also, I realize that nothing in #40 refutes the existence of spirit birth but that was not the purpose of my comment #40. Rather the purpose of #40 was to show there are innumerable possibilities that Clark was not considering. As we have discussed in the past, there are plenty of other arguments against literal spirit birth highlighted by the fact that Joseph Smith said spirits have no beginning.

    Comment by Geoff J — August 15, 2008 @ 8:56 am

  44. Ok, after having gone back over some previous threads last night (and worrying that I have gotten dumber over time, since I seemed a lot smarter on those threads, and don’t remember them at all) I have a pretty solid Hypothesis for a partial answer.

    Marriage is a covenant between a husband and a wife, the people at large, God, and any potential future children of the husband and wife. It is designed to instill faith and trust in that indwelling relationship and is basically necasarry for the celestial kingdom because being in one indwelling relationship is the beginning point for being in an indwelling relationship with everyone in the celestial kingdom. Jesus did not need to be married to be exalted because he was in an indwelling relationship already with God the Father. (Not sure why he was capable of this and we aren’t, but working on that) I am following blakes reasoning on this, coupled with the idea that we can’t be in perfect relationship with everyone without first being in a perfect relationship with someone.

    Gender essentialism and Gender Eternalism come into play due to the neccesity of both male and female images to be the pattern that one would hold to for us to be adopted into the family of our father in heaven. (This is ad hoc, but thought I’d throw it out for thoughts.)

    In any event it is not selfish (as many noted) to want to be in an indwelling relationship, it is actually the ultimate form of giving, as one gives everything.

    Thoughts?

    Comment by Matt W. — August 15, 2008 @ 9:19 am

  45. Yes Geoff, you are an equal opportunity dismisser. You are actually quite good at it.

    And my point in 42 is that those possibilities are likely not exclusive but additive or cumulative.

    Comment by Eric Nielson — August 15, 2008 @ 9:39 am

  46. But I am fairly confident that it is much more than complementary anatomy as we usually think of it here.

    If you’re confident about this what grounds your confidence? That is why do you think this way? (And on what basis do we call it gender if it isn’t really gender)

    Comment by Clark — August 15, 2008 @ 9:40 am

  47. To add I’m not saying skeptics about eternal sexuality can’t offer other explanations. However it seems to me that there is a lot to explain which they typically haven’t. (And I say that not having yet had time to read those links you posted)

    Now just to aid folks in that position I’d say the most fruitful approach to take, if you are going that way, it the old Jewish, Gnostic and Platonic ideas that a soul was originally hermaphrodite and was split asunder to make two souls that must rejoin in order to make a full soul. Now this often has more of a mystic vibe to it and is probably best seen in modern terms in Jungian psychology. That is the idea that there are fundamentally different ways of viewing the world that are essentially male and female.

    The problem I have with this view if anyone choses to pursue it is that one must explain why, in LDS terms, God would split a soul. Once again what is the purpose?

    Secondly there is the problem that the qualities often associated with each sex are often overstated. i.e. women aren’t as different from men as traditionally claimed – the claimed differences are typically due to sexism in our culture. Secondly even Jung has a subconscious feminine in the psychology of the masculine so things don’t work on more Platonic or in the more Freudian materialistic twist on Platonic categories.

    Finally there is the big problem that the traditional differences are still grounded in sex. (Always a big problem for Platonic moves that try to get away from the accidents of the flesh which is what I think a move away from sexuality in resurrected beings does – it’s a kind of denial of materialism while maintaining materialism)

    Comment by Clark — August 15, 2008 @ 9:48 am

  48. Clark,

    I simply see no reason to believe that our spirits/minds/intelligences have always been housed in bodies (spirit or otherwise) with the the same anatomy that we have now. If you have evidence that male spirits have had male genitalia for all eternity that would be useful in this conversation. Further, if someone who believed in the tri-partite model of eternity wanted to claim that pre-spirit male “intelligences” have always had penises I would be interested in the evidence supporting such an argument. I simply don’t see any compelling reason why I should assume those things are true. Maybe you could enlighten me on why we should assume that is true.

    Comment by Geoff J — August 15, 2008 @ 9:51 am

  49. if you are going that way, it the old Jewish, Gnostic and Platonic ideas that a soul was originally hermaphrodite

    See this post on that in a Mormon context.

    Comment by Geoff J — August 15, 2008 @ 9:54 am

  50. Note I’m not talking about anatomy but rather function. A significant difference.

    Comment by Clark — August 15, 2008 @ 11:14 am

  51. OK, that might have been too enigmatic a statement.

    The problem in both Freud-like psychology (including Jung) as well as Platonism in general is that it is a kind of abstraction from more common phenomena. Thus my critique was that even as they abstract away from the material there is that material tie. So, to talk about the more Platonic religious movements, there is a strong sexual component even if matter itself is denigrated. You can see this is Plato proper where eros (sexuality) is moved from lust for bodies to a kind of intellectual lust. (This is in several dialogues but obviously the Symposium is where it is best known) This then becomes common in mysticism but my point is that it is still a sexual drive.

    My point about function vs. anatomy is thus to say that sex is still sex even if it doesn’t involve the particular anatomy of our current bodies. The issue is less the anatomy than the particular drive towards sexuality. (i.e. union for creation and the fundamental ‘drive’ for this)

    One could consider many ways this could instantiate without thinking of mammalian sexuality.

    Comment by Clark — August 15, 2008 @ 11:19 am

  52. To add, the ultimate argument is just that if gender is essential and really is gender then it has to be of the same type as gender here. To say that gender just means there’s a fundamental difference between pre-mortal souls unrelated to anything else is just to deny that it is really gender.

    Comment by Clark — August 15, 2008 @ 11:22 am

  53. Sorry, one more thing related to the link you provided (which I did read). The divided soul approach sees the analogy to sex as the desire for ones other half. That is sex drive disconnected from the drive for creation. This seems wrong but even if one accepts it then gender isn’t essential and eternal. Rather gender is temporary and overcome by a mystic union. The desire isn’t a desire for an other through which creation happens. Rather the desire is for the other only because of a lack in oneself. (Freud and Jung go crazy here – but it clearly isn’t gender)

    So I think if one takes the proclamation seriously (as well as the historic views on deification in Mormonism) then union isn’t an essential union at all. Rather it is much closer to our common relationships here.

    Comment by Clark — August 15, 2008 @ 11:25 am

  54. I agree with Clark again. This really doesn’t need to be anatomically correct. For me, a recent reason to assume eternal gender is from the proclamation.

    I also feel that if we give on spirit birth and/or eternal marriage and eternal families that this leads to a mystic vibe as Clark suggests. I think this is sort of where Matt is trying to go with his Blake like indwelling in 44.

    I prefer the more concrete, practical, traditional, materialst Mormon view of resurrection and eternal marriage.

    Comment by Eric Nielson — August 15, 2008 @ 11:37 am

  55. Clark: i.e. union for creation and the fundamental ‘drive’ for this

    This assumption is begging the question. If there is no spirit birth then any eternal pull between the sexes would not be for spirit creation. But there could be two beginningless sexes in the absence of spirit birth.

    If you are implying that the lack of ability to procreate sexually makes gender not gender then you have some explaining to do to barren men and women here.

    You are right of course that the ideas discussed in the “One Flesh” post I linked to are based on the assumption that gender is not eternal and essential (and personal identity is also not eternal and essential if one takes the fission/fusion aspect literally).

    Comment by Geoff J — August 15, 2008 @ 11:38 am

  56. Geoff, the drives of the biology don’t particularly care if the function works, for any reason. The biological process involves many steps and subprocesses. I’m certainly not adopting an Aquinas like view of sex in terms of ends.

    I don’t think I’m begging the question but rather raising the question. The point is that gender is quite different from mystical eros. That was what I was trying to get across. The question is how those who deny sex can rescue gender. In other words I’m raising the questions they have to answer.

    Comment by Clark — August 15, 2008 @ 12:58 pm

  57. To be clear it seems there are two views of eros here.

    One is the mystical/Platonic one where one is driven towards filling a lack to return to a proper place.

    One is a more quasi-biological drive where one is driven towards an other in order to create something new.

    Those are two very different views. The question is how the former could be called gender.

    Let me also add, in order to cut off the Aquinas like objection in terms of function and ends. If we are dealing with omnipotent or nearly omnipotent beings then one has to be careful. But as I said, what is at stake is the drive and not whether the drive is successful. (Which is largely irrelevant in terms of present materialism and problematic given omnipotent beings)

    Comment by Clark — August 15, 2008 @ 1:02 pm

  58. The question is how those who deny sex can rescue gender. In other words I’m raising the questions they have to answer.

    Well then that doesn’t apply to my position in this discussion. I am claiming that there is a possibility that sex (as in maleness and femaleness) is eternal but that does not in any way entail that there is such a thing as spirit birth.

    Your original position as I understood it was that there must be spirit birth if maleness and femaleness are eternal. I see no justification for that argument.

    Is that not what you are arguing?

    If you are simply saying “Gee, if there is no spirit birth I wonder why males and females would be better together than apart”, then my answer is “I dunno, but that is an interesting question” and then we might take turns guessing about it like others have done here and elsewhere.

    Comment by Geoff J — August 15, 2008 @ 1:44 pm

  59. Eric:

    I also feel that if we give on spirit birth and/or eternal marriage and eternal families that this leads to a mystic vibe as Clark suggests. I think this is sort of where Matt is trying to go with his Blake like indwelling in 44.

    I am not giving up on eternal marriage or eternal families, I am merely stating an hypothesis of how this might work. I think our views are pretty close, I just don’t think we are going to have sexual intercourse to have spirit babies. I think such an idea is very problematic. If that is what you mean by spirit birth, than I’m against it. I am down with the idea of a change of state -ie “I was not a child of God, but now I am a child of God” But I term that adoption. I do not know what all that entails. I confess that immediately and openly. I just don’t think it entails a spirit mother who is pregnant for 9 months, or any of the things we associate with a mortal physical body. I mean, the physical human body does so many things based on an instinctive desire to survive or to procreate. Evolution explains this easily. It stands to reason that our eternal characteristics would not be simply designed around concepts of genetic survival. Maybe I am making a false assumption there, but that’s what i am working with.

    Comment by Matt W. — August 15, 2008 @ 2:36 pm

  60. Geoff J: I giess the big obstacle Clark and you are running into is one I have struggled with. If maleness and femaleness in the eternal since doesn’t boil down to the bits of us that evolution has provided for procreation, then what is maleness and femaleness. I am even more stumped on this than I am on the marriage issue, but I don’t have to teach a lesson on it sunday…

    Comment by Matt W. — August 15, 2008 @ 2:40 pm

  61. By sex I mean something analogous to sex here. Not simply some pleasurable act.

    Comment by Clark — August 16, 2008 @ 11:26 am

  62. Right, that’s what I mean in #58 too Clark. So again I ask:

    Your original position as I understood it was that there must be spirit birth if maleness and femaleness are eternal. I see no justification for that argument.

    Is that not what you are arguing starting in #31?

    Comment by Geoff J — August 16, 2008 @ 2:15 pm

  63. Note I’m not saying it’s a strong argument for something being wrong rather I’m saying it is a big gap that a plausible answer seems needed. That’s why I said it raises questions. I personally haven’t seen a plausible answer. (And no, “that’s just the way it is” isn’t very plausible)

    Comment by Clark — August 16, 2008 @ 3:07 pm

  64. Wow. So much digression. Let’s reel in here shall we? Genesis. God created male and female so they wouldn’t be alone. A man (or woman) leaves his parents and cleaves unto his wife (or husband) and they become one. If God thinks it essential, then maybe it’s our job to have faith in it, work at it, prepare for it, even if we don’t know why. Do you ever ask your children to do something that will benefit them even though they don’t understand the why? Same thing. Some things you just don’t get an answer to. All this other stuff is fascinating to think about. But sometimes we just don’t know why. Can you not accept that sometimes God says “Because”?

    Comment by robynsky — August 16, 2008 @ 3:25 pm

  65. robynsky,

    So your message for a blog devoted to theological discussion and speculation is – shut up and wait for God to explain it to you later.

    That’s not exactly a winning message. Why do you even bother coming here if the only thing you’re going to say is “don’t speculate, God will tell you when He’s ready?”

    Comment by Seth R. — August 16, 2008 @ 6:33 pm

  66. Robynsky, to put it more softly, no one here is saying we are getting divirced or anything, we’re just enjoying a good discussion on a complex issue.

    Comment by matt W. — August 16, 2008 @ 9:56 pm

  67. I cant believe the extent of this comment blog. Its simple, you find a true love, keep the commandments always, and repent if needed. Then exaltation will unfold as a natural result…………………..

    Comment by Martin k — August 17, 2008 @ 2:08 pm

  68. And in the meantime, id recommend pizza as a great dish for couples to share.

    Comment by Martin k — August 17, 2008 @ 2:09 pm

  69. Martin K, but what is a “True Love”? If Love and Marriage were clearly understood and defined, we wouldn’t have issues with SSM in places like California.

    Comment by Matt W. — August 17, 2008 @ 6:46 pm

  70. It is interesting isn’t it? I think there should be more discussion of where a heavenly mother or mothers fit into all this. If I am to be glorified with at least one woman, then she must have a prominent role as a Goddess by my side, no? Surely we are not to be glorified with the opposite sex just to claim them as a glorious trophy. I would also like to know explicitly why sex isn’t theologically sound for glorified beings. Surely we can see past mortal pregnancies. I can even see a glimpse of the possibilities when we hear or learn of sextuplets being born to one woman, and they are all healthy. As a perfect Goddess, could we not conceive of a woman bearing (pardon the terminology) litters instead of single babies? And what of the verse in Genesis that puts a curse on eve? Does that not entail a drawn out pregnancy?
    Also, I would like to add that I just plain want sex in heaven. I mean, one reason I choose good over evil is my ability to see a perfectly glorified wife that I get to be intimate with whenever I want, cause guess what? I never get tired!
    Thank you for allowing me some time on here. I feel I am among some great thinkers and I always think twice before I post.

    Comment by Dallin Skelton — August 17, 2008 @ 9:41 pm

  71. I forgot one thing in my post:

    To avoid being redirected to another post which talks about whether there is spirit birth or not, let me argue for sex in a limited scope.

    What if we were to look at sex as more of an end rather than a means? What if it is true that we somehow adopt intelligences, or spirits into our family through our Godly power or what not and sex is just there to be enjoyed by two perfected beings? On earth is it not the climax (forgive the vocabulary) of a relationship? Does a couple not feel closest when being intimate? I dare put forth the notion that this may be an avenue to look into. If there is no vivaporous (sp?) birthing of children in the heavens, then please, let there still be that wonderful union between the sexes!

    Comment by Dallin Skelton — August 17, 2008 @ 9:55 pm

  72. oi vey

    Comment by Matt W. — August 17, 2008 @ 9:58 pm

  73. and I mean that in the nicest way…

    Comment by Matt W. — August 17, 2008 @ 10:12 pm

  74. Dude, Dallin. I can hardly describe how much your comments creeped me out. (You come off as a bit of a perv with a hint of misogyny thrown in to make the overall effect more pungent. Of course I mean that in the nicest possible way…)

    Comment by Geoff J — August 18, 2008 @ 9:02 am

  75. I am sorry. I don’t want to be seen in that light. I just saw one implication of what one of the arguments was. I am simple minded, yes. I do see all major arguments and understand them though. I was just trying to uncover some implications to what some of those arguments are getting at. I guess I am also surprised at the reactions to my comments. But I grew up, like most, with the idea in my head that once glorified with my wife with perfect bodies…..
    I blame my parents then….!

    Comment by Dallske — August 18, 2008 @ 9:21 am

  76. Id like to get married on a beach. And i want my wife to be called barbarella.

    Comment by Martin k — August 18, 2008 @ 9:36 am

  77. Dallske,

    I thought your comment was mostly on track. I do think it is interesting that traditionally (classic theism) the divine life has been characterized as being totally “other” to our experience. I think this is what Eric was talking about with the mystic vs. the concrete in #54. Mormonism has traditionally gone for a much more literalistic view with heaven being an extention of the kind of existence we are used to here on earth (D&C 130:2). I think this still leads us to the discussion about the origin and eternal role of gender that has been going on here, however.

    P.S. Saying you can’t wait to have sex with your wife “whenever you want” sounds oppressive and coupled with telling us about your tireless libido it comes off as a bit creppy. I think the other parts of your comment would have gone over better without that (even if they are still controversial).

    Comment by Jacob J — August 18, 2008 @ 1:35 pm

  78. Nicely done Jacob.

    Comment by Eric Nielson — August 18, 2008 @ 2:05 pm

  79. I see where you are coming from on my creepy comment. I didn’t realize it until now, for I was trying to get a point across on what ‘immortality and eternal life’ will do for us. I do feel quite ashamed for not putting more effort into refining my comment before posting it. I don’t really want to be labeled as a perv or creep just because I was trying to get a point across. Either way, I will probably go back to be mostly a reader and not a poster on here. Thanks again for putting up with me.

    Comment by Dallske — August 18, 2008 @ 2:54 pm

  80. Dallske,

    Don’t be scared off, we are harsh to commenters but it usually wears off once we get to know you and see where you are coming from. It is easy to write things and have them come across differently then you intended; I know I have had my share of comments like that. Don’t sweat it.

    Comment by Jacob J — August 18, 2008 @ 4:46 pm

  81. I find it disgustingly, hideously, self indulgently, and most pathetically ignorant of people when they try and put a young couple off getting married. If they are in love, and are prepared also financially, then the doubters should have there mouths sellotaped up and not invited to the wedding. No, the doubters can walk down the street collecting dog crap.

    Comment by Martin k — August 20, 2008 @ 3:25 am

  82. Of course, ‘prepared financially’ is relative. Maybe I am jumping the gun, but this statement is often an excuse for putting off children, so I am sensitive to those words and find it also selfish and hideous.

    Comment by Dallske — August 20, 2008 @ 8:36 am

  83. Marriage Age Among LDS Church Members Climbing

    Comment by Jacob J — August 20, 2008 @ 11:02 am

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