I was asked to teach the Elder’s quorum Lesson yesterday. We were on lesson 42 of the manual which can be viewed here. Right off the bat there is a very interesting paragraph:
By 1843, although the Nauvoo Temple was not yet finished, the Prophet had announced the doctrine of salvation for the dead, and he had administered the temple endowment to a group of faithful Saints. But an important part of the sacred work of temples had yet to be put in place. On May 16, 1843, the Prophet traveled from Nauvoo to Ramus, Illinois, where he stayed at the home of his close friend Benjamin F. Johnson. That evening, he taught Brother and Sister Johnson and a few close friends about the “new and everlasting covenant of marriage.” He explained that this covenant was the “order of the priesthood” necessary to obtain the highest degree of the celestial kingdom. (See D&C 131:1–4.) He also taught that unless a man and a woman enter into the covenant of eternal marriage, “they will cease to increase when they die; that is, they will not have any children after the resurrection.” Those who do enter into this covenant and remain faithful “will continue to increase and have children in the celestial glory.” (HC 5:391)
I have been told a few times in blog debates over spirit birth that Joseph Smith never taught anything about spirit birth, and I have been a little surprised by that. But this quotation (From History of the Church) is pretty interesting and may bring some evidence about his thoughts on the topic. The money line in this quote is ‘they will not have any children after the resurrection’.
So, if we assume that Joseph did teach something along these lines, and that it was recorded properly. What are we to make of such after-resurrection child bearing by exalted, sealed married couples? I am not sure there are very many possibilities:
1 – This was Joseph’s opinion – and he was wrong. (Not very satisfying, especially given D&C 131)
2 – Exalted couples giving birth to …. resurrected, exalted beings? (Not very satisfying either. Seems a short circuit of the Plan of Salvation.)
3 – Exalted couples giving birth to spirit body offspring. (This sounds more like it.)
Now, I realize that the quote from above speaks only to the eternal future, and not directly to the eternal past. But given some statements from the KFD, would we not suppose that the same pattern also went on before?
Does this quote not provide some evidence of Joseph teaching something along the lines of spirit birth?