Q: Is it a true Mormon belief that when a Mormon dies they get their own planet, and the bigger their family the better their planet is?
Ok, so a dear friend of mine asked me this question and I have to thank her, because in all honesty, I was prepared to answer this question in two words:
But the truth is, as I sat thinking about it, I realized (somewhat embarrassedly):
Oh man, we kind of do believe that…
So the short answer is, “kind of yes” to the first part, and *”no” to the second part.
*The number of children a couple has is not any kind of reflection of their “worthiness” or “righteousness,” and is a really sensitive topic for many, especially those with fertility difficulties. We aren’t encouraged to have a butt load of kids (or any number of kids for that matter) simply for the sake of having a butt load of kids (contrary to popular belief), and are actually counseled that the number of children a couple decides to have is a personal and private decision.
But let’s break this down:
Statements HAVE Been Made Affirming The Possibility of Creating Worlds in the Eternities
It’s not surprising so many non-Mos are curious about the idea of Mormons getting their own planet when, historically, a shade of this idea has, in a sense, been taught over and over again by latter day prophets and apostles:
“The time will come when some of these boys, through their faithfulness to the gospel, will progress and develop in knowledge, intelligence and power, in future eternities, until they shall be able to go out into space where there is unorganized matter and call together the necessary elements, and through their knowledge of and control over the laws and powers of nature, to organize matter into worlds on which their posterity may dwell, and over which they shall rule as gods” –Lorenzo Snow (1814-1901), 5th President of LDS Church
“The Father has promised us that through our faithfulness we shall be blessed with the fulness of his kingdom. In other words we will have the privilege of becoming like him. To become like him we must have all the powers of godhood; thus a man and his wife when glorified will have spirit children. who eventually will go on an earth like this one we are on and pass through the same kind of experiences, being subject to mortal conditions, and if faithful, then they also will receive the fulness of exaltation and partake of the same blessings. There is no end to this development; it will go on forever. We will become gods and have jurisdiction over worlds, and these worlds will be peopled by our own offspring. We will have an endless eternity for this.” —Joseph Fielding Smith (1876-1972), 10th President of LDS Church
“The Lord created you and me for the purpose of becoming Gods like Himself; when we have been proved in our present capacity, and been faithful with all things He puts into our possession. We are created, we are born for the express purpose of growing up from the low estate of manhood, to become Gods like unto our Father in heaven. That is the truth about it, just as it is. The Lord has organized mankind for the express purpose of increasing in that intelligence and truth, which is with God, until he is capable of creating worlds on worlds, and becoming Gods, even the sons of God.”–Brigham Young (1801-1877), 2nd President of the LDS Church
What Does This Mean?
So what does all this world business mean for the average Mormon?
To be honest, not a whole lot. At least not the worlds part.
I hadn’t EVER thought of “owning a planet” in the eternities, and I have a creeping suspicion a majority of Mormons haven’t either.
This isn’t the kind of thing that is taught from the pulpit, and is–in the grandest sense of the word–something most would consider to be an abstract possibility in the life to come.
Is it fun to think about on occasion? Sure.
Is that what motivates me to spend three hours in church every Sunday? Absolutely not.
While there’s a lot to understand in each of the aforementioned quotes that goes waaaaaaay beyond the scope of basic Mormon beliefs, in essence, they touch on certain core LDS doctrine which include:
- We believe each and every human being is a literal child of God (which is why we refer to God as Heavenly Father), therefore;
- Each and every human being is born with a divine nature, thus making it possible to become like our Heavenly Father
This understanding totally changes the way one looks at the people around them; realizing that we are literally spiritual brothers and sisters encourages increased patience, compassion and love. Recognizing the divine potential in ourselves and others fosters a sense of grace, self-confidence, and hope.
While we aren’t told exactly what “becoming like God” means, we clearly do believe that:
- We are capable of eternal progress
- We are capable of sharing in the creative power (ie: The Creation–see Genesis) used by Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ
- We are capable of living with our families forever
In essence, we don’t believe we will “own a planet” like some kind of weird sci-fi Star Wars/ET plot, and we aren’t motivated to live our lives so that we could “rule” over someone/something else.
We do believe that while we don’t know exactly what eternity will be like,
“Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” –1 Corinthians 2:9
And we are motivated by the example of Jesus Christ, who did His Father’s will not because He wanted the glory, but because He loved Him and wanted to be like Him.
Why This Idea Isn’t Really That Weird
If you are anything other than Atheist, I would assume you believe–to some degree–that our existence continues in some capacity after death.
If you really stop to consider what that would look like, every concept of “after-life” seems somewhat insane when considered from our limited, mortal perspective.
I mean, seriously, what WILL we all be doing for eternity? As in FOREVER…and EVER…and EVER…
<cue creepy twins from The Shining>
So whether your heaven looks like concourses of harp-playing angels or people playing post-mortem Sim City, we’ve got to be doing something, and I would think it would most likely be something productive; or what else is the point of all this???
I personally love the thought that we have the potential to continue to progress, in this life and the next. That our spirits existed with God before we were born into mortality; that this life is merely a testing-ground, a necessary learning-laboratory on our way to something even greater: eternal life.
Like I said before, most Mormons don’t even pretend to have any inkling of what things will be like in the eternities. But we do very much believe that, by nature of being our parent, our Father in Heaven wants us to grow and develop to become like Him, that we might share in all that He has.
Think of it this way…
As a parent, the inexpressible love I have for my children causes me to hope that they will have all that I have and more; that they will obtain every good thing; that they will achieve every desire and goal and dream that they have.
I can’t help but think of Matthew 7:11:
If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
Therefore we wholeheartedly believe the message given in Doctrine and Covenants 84:37-38:
And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him.
I love this quote:
The desire to nurture the divinity in His children is one of God’s attributes that most inspires, motivates, and humbles members of the [LDS] Church. God’s loving parentage and guidance can help each willing, obedient child of God receive of His fulness and of His glory.
Have any more information on this topic? Feel free to share.
Not Mormon? What does the after-life look like in your faith?