Terms and names to help the non-Mormon understand this Mormon teaching about God
|LDS: Mormon Church (latter-day saints)||BY: Brigham Young - prophet mid 1800's|
|Joseph F. Smith - Prophet early 1900's||JoD: Journal of Discourses (official published teachings in the 1800's)|
|Elohim: Name of God the father - A resurrected being from another planet who through eternal progression became a god, our god. He is married for eternity.||The Seer: Church magazine 1800's|
|James Talmage: Mormon apostle early 1900's||JFS: Joseph Fielding Smith: another Mormon prophet 1900's|
|Deseret News: Mormon owned newspaper in SLC||Orson Pratt: Mormon apostle 1800's|
|Ezra Taft Benson: Mormon prophet 1980's||Harold B. Lee: Mormon prophet 1970's|
|Eternal Progression: Eventually become a god as Elohim and live as eternal families.||Gordon B. Hinckley: Current prophet (as of this writing Jan. 2005)|
|Holy Ghost: Does not have a physical body as Elohim and Jesus have physical bodies. The Holy Ghost will some day get a physical body.|
In addition to the clear, consistent teachings from Mormon leaders on this subject
for more than 120 years, I have found a few pertinent quotes on this subject
from two LDS Institute lesson manuals, which is a church-directed education
system designed primarily for college-age Mormons. One is "The Life and
Teachings of Jesus," copyrighted 1976, and the other is "Achieving a Celestial
Marriage," copyrighted 1974. I took both of these courses as a young returned
missionary in 1977-78.
The first idea introduced is that sex isn't "dirty," but is God's manner of
reproduction as well as man's. Since man was created in the image of God,
sexuality is also part of that image. That is why sex and sexuality is so
sacred and emphasized in Mormon theology.
Caps mine for emphasis:
The divine origin of the natural endowment
"Two exciting elements of mortality, both God-given, are worthy of our
consideration. The first is that we receive a body that is physical, tangible,
one that has feelings and powers not yet enjoyed by a spirit. This body is to
facilitate our progress toward becoming like our Heavenly Father. Keep in mind
that this 'gift' was created in the EXACT LIKENESS OF HIM WHOSE CHILDREN WE
ARE. The second element is that some powers given to us through our bodies are
inherently of God, and ARE UNIQUE TO HIS ORDER OF LIFE. Our natural feelings
concerning the power to 'reproduce after our own kind' are holy and desirable.
All we have and are, so far as our natural state is concerned, is good, for it
is of God.......The powers to reproduce, then, are good, and cannot be
considered evil......."(Achieving a Celestial Marriage, p. 17).
Luke 1:35 says, speaking of Mary, "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the
power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that holy thing
which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God."
Some Mormon leaders have interpreted this verse to mean that for Mary, a human,
to be able to 'withstand the presence of God,' that the Holy Ghost had to come
"The Holy Ghost is the messenger of the Father and the Son. Mortal beings
could not endure the presence of the Father without the Spirit overshadowing
them, and that was the mission of the Holy Ghost, but not to beget the Son of
God, THAT WAS THE BUSINESS OF THE FATHER. Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten
Son of God the Father in the flesh, and in holding to this doctrine President
Brigham Young is in perfect accord with the teachings in the Bible."
(Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, vol. 5, p. 128).
Here is the statement of BY's that JFS supports:
"When the Virgin Mary conceived the child Jesus, the Father had begotten him in
his own likeness. He was not begotten by the Holy Ghost. And who is the
Father? He is the first of the human family; and when he (Christ) took a
tabernacle, it was begotten by his Father in Heaven, AFTER THE SAME MANNER as
the tabernacles of Cain, Abel, and the rest of the sons and daughters of Adam
and Eve. Jesus, our elder brother, was begotten in the flesh by the same
character that was in the garden of Eden, and who is our Father in Heaven."
(JoD 1:50-51, also "Answers", vol. 5, p. 121).
To illustrate more clearly that BY meant that Christ's conception was actual
physical sex, here is another of his statements:
"The birth of our Savior was as natural as are the births of our children; it
was the result of NATURAL ACTION. He partook of FLESH AND BLOOD--was begotten
of his father, as we were of our fathers." (JoD, vol. 8, p. 115).
Here are a few more quotes from the 1962 Gospel Doctrine Sunday School Lesson
Manual "Gospel Living in the Home," p. 16-17:
"Jesus Christ is the Son of Elohim both as spiritual and bodily OFFSPRING; that
is to say, Elohim is LITERALLY the Father of the spirit of Jesus Christ and
also of the BODY in which Jesus Christ performed his mission in the flesh..."
(as quoted from 'The Articles of Faith' by James E. Talmage, p. 466).
"We are told in the scriptures that Jesus Christ is the only begotten son of
God in the flesh....how are children begotten? I answer, just as Jesus was
begotten of his Father. The Christian denominations believe that Christ was
begotten not of God, but of the spirit that overshadowed his mother. THIS IS
NONSENSE. Why will they not believe the Father when He says that Jesus Christ
is His Only Begotten Son? Why will they try to EXPLAIN THIS TRUTH AWAY and
make mystery of it?" (as quoted from Joseph F. Smith, 'Box Elder Times,' Sep.
"When the time came that His first-born, the Saviour, should come into the
world and take a tabernacle, the Father came himself and favored that Spirit
with a tabernacle instead of letting any other man do it. The Saviour was
begotten by the Father of His spirit, by the same being who is the Father of
our spirits, AND THAT IS ALL THE ORGANIC DIFFERENCE BETWEEN JESUS CHRIST AND
YOU AND ME." (as quoted from 'Discourses of Brigham Young," 1925 edition, p.
"The Holy Ghost came upon Mary, her conception was under that influence, even
of the spirit of life; our Father in Heaven was the Father of the Son of
Mary....." (as quoted from Joseph Fielding Smith, 'Man: His Origin and
Destiny), p. 345.)
To allay any repugnancy from members on the idea of God having actual physical
relations with the human Mary, some leaders pitched the idea that Mary was one
of God's polygamous "celestial wives":
"The fleshly body of Jesus required a Mother as well as a Father. Therefore,
the Father and Mother of Jesus, according to the flesh, must have been
associated in the capacity of husband and wife; hence the Virgin Mary must have
been, for the time being, the lawful wife of God the Father: we use the term
lawful wife, because it would be blasphemous in the highest degree to say that
He overshadowed her or begat the Savior unlawfully........He had a lawful right
to overshadow the Virgin Mary IN THE CAPACITY OF A HUSBAND, and beget a
Son.......Whether God the Father gave Mary to Joseph for time only, or for time
and eternity, we are not informed. It may be that He only gave her to be the
wife of Joseph while in this
mortal state, and that He intended after the resurrection to again take her as
one of his own wives to raise up immortal spirits in eternity."
Apostle Orson Pratt, "The Seer," Oct. 1853, p. 158).
Pratt's statement is supported by one from Brigham Young: "The man Joseph, the
husband of Mary, did not, that we know of, have more than one wife, but Mary
the wife of Joseph had another husband." (Deseret News, Oct. 10, 1866).
The same idea is repeated in "The Life and Teachings of Jesus", 1974, p. 29:
"Joseph was a mortal soul in premortality to be blessed with the signal honor
of coming to earth and acting as THE LEGAL GUARDIAN OF THE SON OF THE ETERNAL
FATHER IN THE FLESH."
And another statement from this same 1974 lesson manual, distributed to tens of
thousands of LDS Institute students: "She, (Mary), heavy with child, traveled
all that distance on mule-back, guarded and protected as one about to give
birth to A HALF-DEITY. No other man in the history of this world of ours has
ever had such an ancestry--God the Father on the one hand and Mary the Virgin
on the other."
I repeat a quote from Ezra Taft Benson from 1988, published while he was
president of the LDS church: "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
proclaims that Jesus Christ is the Son of God in THE MOST LITERAL SENSE. The
body in which He performed His mission in the flesh was SIRED by that same Holy
Being we worship as God, our Eternal Father." (Teachings of ET Benson, p. 6).
Someone wrote here on ARM that the idea of God having sex with Mary was
'repugnant', etc. When the entire scope of the theology is laid out, it should
not be repugnant to Mormons at all, as it ties in completely with the doctrines
of pre-existence, eternal marriage, deification, plural marriage, etc. With
the abundance of consistent statements on the subject, from a plethora of LDS
leaders over the years, it's difficult to dismiss the concept as mere
'speculation.' The quote from Harold B. Lee that someone
furnished is the only one I have seen saying that Mormons should not
'speculate' about it. Lee did not deny the concept; he merely advised not to
discuss it. And as I quote above, church-dispensed lesson manuals have taught
the same idea since Lee's 1972 death.
True, none of these quotes say specifically that God and Mary had sex in
clinical terms, but in my opinion, considering the quotes in totality, it's
naive to deny the implication. It has only been a few decades since pregnancy
was described with code terms such as 'expecting,' 'with child', or 'in a
family way.' LDS leaders were clearly following the etiquette of their day by
not using the actual term 'sexual intercourse'.
Considering the volume of this consistent teaching, in my opinion, Mormons who
do NOT agree with this teaching are the ones who are 'speculating.'
The only reason I can fathom as to why Mormons are now denying or backpedaling
from this teaching is that it doesn't comport with the LDS church's continual
efforts to rid itself of its quaint, unique doctrines, in order to gain
increased acceptance from the rest of the Christian world, and in turn, gain
But my opinion is that if this teaching is dumped, then it cuts the heart out
of the basic Mormon plan of salvation and 'eternal progression', and Mormonism
will eventually become just another Protestant denomination.
Time will tell.
I think it's also ironic that Gordon B. Hinckley, in a recent General Conference, said
"We must not compromise on our doctrines," when that appears to be exactly what
the LDS church is doing.