Spirits In The Mormon ChurchSpirits have three forms in life or existence Mormons believe: Spirits: (1) pre-existence, (2) in the human body while alive and upon this earth and (3) in life after death. Spirits: All persons on earth have had a pre-existence and will have an after death existence. In order to go to heaven, a pre-existent spirit must enter a human body and live on earth before that can occur. The highest level of heaven is celestial to which all Mormons in the Mormon church aspire. They must perform righteous duties throughout their lives while upon earth to get there. Some of the duties that will lead to the highest level of heaven include: serving on a two-year mission, serving in all callings, i.e. as a ward bishop, or other priesthood callings. A women must marry a worthy priesthood holder in a temple and perform her duties and callings at home and in the church. This is why in the days of polygamy, young girls often would readily marry an older man as long as he held one of these high offices even if he already had several other wives, since this would assure them a place in the highest level of heaven. Women had no ways of their own to reach heaven except as a servant and had to be sealed to a husband to insure their admittance into the celestial kingdom. Even today, Mormon women often push their husbands to take on high church positions, temple assignments or other duties, so they may be “pulled through” to higher levels of heaven with their husbands.
Spirits and The Mormon Latter-Day Saints Church is written about in further detail in the scholarly book The Mormon Conspiracy
Turner adds: “One underlying belief of the Saints is this: They are now living a mortal existence which was preceded by an existence in the spirit world and which will be followed by life in the spirit world. During this mortal life, a person may be able to improve his status in the spirit world, or he may be able to worsen it. Where some Christian sects have a doctrine of pre-ordination, i. e., that all events of a person’s life are established in heaven before his birth, the Mormons have a doctrine of ‘free agency.’ They hold that a soul in its mortal existence is continually confronted with choices and that it is completely free to pick among the alternatives. Thus the mortal has a chance to better his soul in the spirit world, to enhance his exaltation to the celestial kingdom which follows life on earth.
“A certain broad code of conduct is set out to govern the Saint in his mortal existence. The sum of this is that he must always strive for betterment.” 1
With the teaching by the leaders of the Mormon Church that pre-existent spirits are waiting for a chance to have a human body, pressure is put on female members to bear children in order to provide these pre-existent spirits with the opportunity to have human bodies in order to fulfill the requirement that they live a mortal life in order to advance into the celestial kingdom. Utah, with a large majority of Mormons, has the highest birth rate of any state in the nation. According to Mormon theology, woman’s primary purpose in life is to bear and raise children. This is partially based upon the need to provide a mortal life for pre-existent spirits. This Mormon concept is deeply rooted in Mormon history as shown by the following that appeared in M’Clure’s Magazine in 1911 “: ...unless they come to earth, reborn, these souls are doomed to an eternal life as homeless spirits....Every woman is constantly surrounded by thousands, millions of them, pleading for an opportunity to get into the world.” 2
Spirits waiting to enter mortal existence was another one of Joseph Smith’s creations arising from his remarkable imagination. The idea, no doubt, had the ulterior motive of increasing membership in his church by encouraging members to have large families. This desire of Smith to expand the membership of his church has resulted in great burdens being placed upon young married women, who need this time to gain an education or training for a vocation that would improve their economic positions in life. Instead, they are tied down to bearing and raising more children.
This belief in spirits and emphasis on motherly duties resulting from the Mormon teachings has retarded women in their freedom and advancement. Modern society in the United States has generally accepted the equality of men and women. If a couple wishes to have children, then the male has the same responsibility for rearing the children as the female member. Today’s woman has as much right to a career as a man and home responsibilities should be shared. The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), defeated in 1982, was considered by the leadership of the LDS church as a threat to male control of their church and they fought vigorously for its defeat. The tactics that the Mormon Church used in this defeat are vividly described in Sonia Johnson’s book From Housewife to Heretic. Johnson was one member of the Mormon Church, who believed very strongly in the Equal Rights Amendment and was a leader in a national movement to obtain enough votes to obtain two-thirds majority of the states to insure its passage. As a result of her involvement in this national movement, she was excommunicated from the church.
1 Wallace Turner, The Mormon Establishment, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company , 1966, 40
(Excerpt from THE MORMON ESTABLISHMENT by Wallace Turner. Copyright © 1966 by Wallace Turner. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.)