Mormons and Body

Mormons and Body


Tom Burnett

May 2005

Preface- I write this because of a statement in Leon Kass’ book, Life, Liberty and the Defense of Dignity. He says that some consider bodies to be mere impediments to the free exercise of our wills. That reminded me of how integral bodies are to spirit and mind in the Latter-day Saint way of thinking. I thought how valuable it would be to the cloning and bio-engineering debates if more of the participants had respect for the body that comes from a proper understanding of our bodies and their purposes.

I write this as a reminder to myself of the thoroughness of our teaching on the subject, to arm myself for the arguments that are arising from bio-engineering enthusiasts and libertarians. (And I count myself quite libertarian, so I infer no calumny generally.) Mormons have a unique perspective on the role of the human body, and it would be helpful for more people to know it.

This is mostly to be read by Latter-day Saints. It is not a conversion tract, though if my non-LDS friends found startlingly fresh and arresting ideas in these this assemblage of some of our teachings and were interested in them, to the point of inquiring further about LDS teachings and practices, it would make me happy. I am all for people embracing the truth, and I think these teachings spring from the revealed teachings of the gospel which is the well of truth. I am for conversion!

I have not referenced the source of all my statements. They come from scriptures: the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, The Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. They also come from teachings of the prophets of the current era, the Ensign magazine, and The Family: A Proclamation the World. I have re-phrased some things. Some statements are my interpretation. I hope I have gotten things right and expressed them correctly.

This is a collage, not a finely-tuned essay.


My body is a temple

That needs the greatest care.

It must be pure and holy

To house my spirit there.

These words to a children’s song sung in Primary in my youth tell much. Our bodies are sacred. They house our spirits. We ought to keep them clean and pure.

What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” This scripture gives further reason for care of our bodies. Not only does our body house our own spirit, but the spirit of God. We are to glorify God by the way we use our bodies.

We expect bodily redemption at the time of resurrection. “The bodies and the spirits of men will be restored one to the other; and it is by the power of the resurrection of the Holy One of Israel.” The spirit and body, when reunited, will be in a perfect form, never again to be divided. This is requisite to receiving a fulness of joy. “Our flesh must waste away and die, nevertheless, in our bodies we shall see God.”

I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The body without the spirit is dead.”

It was appointed unto man to die.”

There is a death of the body, and a death of the spirit, ( due to disobedience), but the body and the spirit are restored, “to itself again”. Latter-day Saints uphold the spirit-body duality. Our scriptures say the spirit and the body are the soul of man. At the time of resurrection, bodies and spirits “will be restored to one another”, to a oneness, a wholeness. “The spirit and the body is restored to itself again.” The word “itself” indicates an amalgam. One without the other is incomplete, as the man without the woman is incomplete.

We remember Jesus’ slain body when partaking of bread and water in our Sacrament meeting services. Jesus’ body looks like his spirit. Showing himself to the Brother of Jared, (B.C. 1500-2500), reveals that the spiritual body, of Jesus Christ, prior to his birth, looked like the physical body his spirit would inhabit during those dusty days in Judea. (Jesus was the God who spoke to prophets in the Old Testament era.).

The spirit and the body are the soul of man.”

The Father has a body of Flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones.”

The Gods put man’s spirit into the body which they had formed.”

From scriptures we learn that God has a face, feet, fingers, “back parts”, mouth, voice, an image, a form, a glorious body, a Son who looks so much like him that when you’ve seen one, you’ve seen the other, and that people look like Him. These are attributes mentioned in the Bible. In other scriptures we learn that He has eyes, and a body as tangible as man’s.

Prophets have seen God and Jesus Christ, pre-mortal or post-resurrection. They include Nephi, Jacob, Moses, Paul, Stephen, Enoch, The Brother of Jared, and Abraham. Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon saw Jesus Christ in the Kirtland Temple. Joseph Smith saw the Father and the Son when only fourteen years of age.

Mormons believe that God has a body, that Jesus Christ had a body, and that Jesus Christ still has his body, glorified and perfected. Every Christian believes that Jesus Christ had a body, but it is unclear to me what most Christians believe about his current bodily status. We will be resurrected as He was, will have our body back as He does.

From aeons past humans were spirit beings with spiritual substance, form and shape, identity and gender. This spirit resembles our body. God prepared the earth for us to have a place to obtain bodies. Our purpose on earth is, in simplified form, to obtain bodies so that our experiences and choices will teach us. We are to obey God and love him. We are on probation. The body is the instrument for this phase, our violin for the concert.

Bodies are a precious endowment. Spirit children of Heavenly Father who in the premortal council opted to follow Satan and who were cast out of heaven with him, do not get the opportunity to have bodies. They crave a body and are willing to possess even swine in order to be embodied.

We learn to subdue the body. “We are not compelled to yield to every carnal urge.” We fast. We corral our sexual drive and employ it to its proper ends. We feel pain and fatigue. We know ecstasy through our bodies. We taste, view, speak, move about, sense, hear, long for and procreate because we have bodies.

Jesus came to earth to experience all these things, too. By suffering more than man can suffer, he became able to succor us in our infirmities, and became an impeccable advocate with us before the Father.

We expect to have our bodies throughout eternity, celestial bodies with glory like that of the sun. Bodies will be perfected and glorified so as not to decline, wear out, run down and decay as they do in their present embodiment. They will be like God’s body. This is part of becoming like God.

We are the offspring of heavenly parents, two of them. “The plan of happiness requires the righteous union of male and female, man and woman, husband and wife.” We become parents and have offspring as man and woman; offspring is of two complementary bodies. This is not to be done solo. Children owe each parent equally for their begetting. Difference creates a unified one. It would be improper to clone because all of the attributes of the offspring are drawn from a solitary source. The heavenly pattern calls for male-female union to produce offspring.

It is possible to use the potent force which is the sexual drive, improperly, simply for sport, not for unity and procreation. So doing is merely careless philandering. Mormons believe in carefully stewarding this power, the capacity to bear children. Part of the reason is that conjugal union is the way the spirit children of Heavenly Father come into this earth life phase.

We declare the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed.” Surrogate motherhood would defy this counsel. Latter-day Saints consider themselves accountable to God for their use of the procreative power. It is to be employed only in marriage. Members who stray are subject to church discipline.

A man is incomplete without a wife and a woman without her husband. To inherit the greatest reward in heaven requires marriage, and marriage covenants to be honored. These covenants are between the mortal parties, but in the sight of God and made to Him as well. Righteous, redeemed men and women will dwell in the presence of God as couples, with their posterity. Everyone will have a body. Singleness will not suffice to qualify one for this supernal, celestial place.

Mormons believe in modesty, in keeping the body covered to a greater extent than current clothing styles call for. Girls’ swimsuits are to be one-piece. Prom dresses are to be less revealing of bosom and thigh than many of the dresses readily available. Boys are to wear clothes that do not call attention to their reproductive organs. In all these things, Mormons are tempted to follow the styles of the world. Some resist better than others.

Foods are to be selected for the care they take of the body. Grains, vegetables and fruits are highly recommended. Sparing use of meat, even avoidance of meat except in times of winter or famine, is taught. Gluttony should be avoided. Tobacco use, alcohol use and drug use are prohibited.

Tattoos and excessive body piercing are disrespectful of the body and are discouraged.

Mormons abhor abortion, incest, rape, bestiality and homosexuality.

The same sociality that exists among us here will exist among us there, except that it will be coupled with eternal glory.” This scripture shows that families, friendships and social relations will exist in the next life.

Having a body is necessary to eternal progression.

The ceremonies of baptism, ordination to the priesthood, the temple endowment and sealing to a spouse are to be performed in this earthly phase, in our bodies. For people unable to receive these covenanting ceremonies due to incidents of birth or location where they could not know of and accept them, living proxies act for them. That is why we build temples. They are places where the living, and the deceased through proxies, receive most of these covenant ceremonies.

Though the following practises are not spoken of in the church, it should follow from the above that they would be abhorent. Thank heaven they are yet abhorent in society, too.


mutilation of corpses




sperm donation




2 Responses

  1. Perfect pages… tnx

  2. What is your view of postumous conversion? Or looking into a hat for revelations? Personally, I think that “Big Love” is a masterpiece that addresses many things besides extreme factional religions. I too came from a strong religious background, but I also spent 20 years as a strong admirer of Ayn Rand. Even atheists can have weird, cult-like, groups. Reason, a respect for science, a strong dose of skepticism, and not taking yourself too seriously are the only antidotes against getting trapped in self-delusion.

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