The Mormon Concept of a Pre-existence

I recently wrote a blog entry for IEET about the intersection of transhumanism and Mormonism.  One paragraph dealt with the Mormon version of the pre-existence:

Mormons, as part of their worldview (known as the ‘Plan of Salvation’), believe in a long state of ‘pre-existence’ for humans as ‘spirit children’, and this belief has historically been used to explain a variety of worldly inequities. For example, those who are less valiant in the pre-existence are somehow punished with a poorer station here on Earth. This Mormon belief seems more like a bad metaphor than doctrine I can relate to.

This comment engendered the following response from Peter Marlow:

Yes, Mormons believe in a “pre-existence” where we (all beings) each lived with God as spirits before coming to this earth to gain a physical body and experience mortality. We are here to learn to love God and one another the way God loves us, Jesus Christ being our perfect example. I believe God places each of us on this earth in certain stations and exposes us to certain experiences in order to best help us achieve our full potential, individually and collectively. I believe He is fully engaged in providing each of us, His children (whom I believe He loves with a presently incomprehensibly great love), with the best possible opportunities to learn and practice His love, regardless of how they may superficially appear to us.

You may have heard speculation from some that “those who are less valiant in the pre-existence are somehow punished with a poorer station here on Earth.” This belief runs counter to established LDS Church doctrine. You will certainly not find such teachings in the Standard Works (our scriptures). We all know of many very valiant people who had been born into extreme poverty. Indeed, Jesus was born among animals in a manger.

All of us, who are old enough, remember being told that one of the reasons that Blacks were not to be given the priesthood was because they were less valiant in the pre-existence.  So, at some point in Church history, there was a connection between premortal behavior and where we are placed on earth.

According to, the sprits in the pre-existence “were not all equally valiant, there being every degree of devotion to Christ and the Father among them. The most diligent were chosen to be rulers in the kingdom (Abr. 3:22-23).”  To me, this implies a continued belief in a relationship between behavior in the pre-existence and life here on earth.

Mormon friends who work with the mentally challenged have their own theory about the pre-existence:

These individuals [mentally challenged] were pre-ordained in the pre-existence to come to earth in a less than perfect state.  They made the choice or were “selected” as the most choice spirits in the pre-existence, because God knew they were already Celestial Kingdom bound, so this was their trial on earth:  to be less than perfect as a test for those of us who are here, i.e., how we react to them, how we provide service, how we judge. . .  When we worked on Sundays at the Developmental Center in American Fork [Utah] (formerly the training school), we were told that we were amongst members of the Celestial Kingdom, who are here for OUR benefit/test, not THEIRS.

This concept is a bit difficult for me to grasp.  I can’t understand the bifurcation of some individuals coming earth to be tested and other coming to be actors in a grand theatrical production.

It looks like the concept of a pre-existence continues to be a matter for much personal speculation.  I can’t help but think that many Mormons believe that gays are the way they are because of something that happened in the pre-existence.

This entry was posted in mormonism, Religion, Social Justice. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The Mormon Concept of a Pre-existence

  1. Sugel says:

    Mormons believe in more than just a creation-creator relationship with God. They believe that everyone is literally a son or daughter of God, who lived with Him in heaven before being born on earth. Jesus was the firstborn spirit, and occupied a special place in the premortal world and in God’s plan of salvation for mankind.

  2. Pingback: Sunday in Outer Blogness: Comedy of Errors Edition! | Main Street Plaza

  3. David says:

    The Mormonism theology derives from Plato and Stoic philosophy: “Before time began the soul was without a body, an archetype, the heavenly man pure in spirit in paradise, yet longing after the archetype, God. Some of the pure spirits descended into bodies and lost their purity”.

    This LDS-theology of Plato and the Stoics philosophy makes me wonder why Gods would make such stupid plan of descending into bodies and thereby losing their purity*), which happens when “following his stay in the spirit world, man comes on earth”? Are humans really the pre-existent eternally “intelligences”? Then, how come they are so evil? If they were intelligent enough, they would avoid such stupid plan that has caused so much suffering on earth.

    The Bible teaches: 1 Cor. 15:46-47: “However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second is man is from heaven.”
    Jesus teaches:
    “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.” (John 8:23, 24) Do Mormons believe Jesus is the only son of God?
    The answer is, no, they believe Jesus is the first born of many sons of God, and Satan is one among God’s sons, but the Bible teaches that Jesus is the only son. “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of THE ONLY SON OF GOD. (John 3:18) In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent HIS ONLY SON into the world, so that we might live through him. (1 John 4:9)

    God has told us: “Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me.” (Isa 43:10)

    Mormons tell that there are many Gods, but the Book of Mormon contradicts them: Alma 11:28-29 “Now Zeezrom said: “Is there more than one God?” And he answered, “No.” Notice what it reads: “more than one God”. It doesn’t read “more than one God for this Earth.” But if this was the question, and there were more than one God, then the answer would have been “Yes.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s