Current debate concerning abortion wonders whether we have an identity at conception, at first heartbeat, or at birth. Many wonder whether religion has any place in human decision-making. People are questioning if “morality” should be a relative term directed by tolerance that would have us discard judgment altogether. These discussions could be resolved if we all knew we are sons and daughters of God, eternal beings with divine potential.
Elaine S. Dalton has served for five years as the General Young Women’s President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often mistakenly called the Mormon Church). This is a five-year term of voluntary service fraught with responsibility, service guided by personal revelation from God. It’s a huge job. Especially in times when the world is at such odds with religious beliefs. The Young Women of the Church are taught to be faithful, loving, service-oriented, pure and chaste. At the beginning of every Sunday young women’s meeting, they recite a theme, which begins, “We are daughters of our Heavenly Father, who loves us, and we love Him.” This is the truth Mormons wish to share with the world. We are sons and daughters of God, and we are eternal beings.
Mormon missionaries teach the “Plan of Salvation” to people who are seeking Christ and trying to find out who they are. The Plan of Salvation teaches that we have always existed. We were individual “intelligences” before God the Father made our spiritual bodies before this earth and our mortality. In our pre-mortal state, we dwelt with Him as His literal spirit-children. We were intensely interested in the creation of this earth as our future home. In order to learn to become like our Father, we were taught of the benefits of mortality on earth. Mortality is a place to learn, to live by faith, and to use our free agency to make choices. We are also here to form relationships with eternal potential.
Because opposition is an indispensable aspect of free choice, we knew we would sometimes make bad choices. God promised us a Savior who would take upon Himself our sins and also overcome physical and spiritual death brought upon the world by the fall of Adam and Eve. All of us supported Jesus Christ, through whom all the worlds were made, as our Savior. Those who did not, chose to follow Lucifer and were cast out of heaven. Their progress stopped, and they never will gain mortal or immortal bodies.
All of us were born on earth with the Light of Christ. Our natural spiritual intuition helps us to know right from wrong. As we draw closer to Christ, it burns more brightly, but as we turn away, it begins to fade. The Holy Ghost connects us even more with Our Father in Heaven. Those who are saved into God’s presence after their mortal journey will continue to grow spiritually, until they become like God, one with Christ.
Because of this plan and our own eternal history, we have identity even before we are conceived. We have identity, divine identity, even after we pass from this life and for eternity. When we find out who we are, we also learn that we were unique before we came to earth. Each of us was asked to perform specific acts of service during our mortal lives. We have spiritual gifts to help us with things with eternal importance for our families and for God’s work. Communing with God through the Holy Ghost helps us to find out what our earthly callings are.
Once a person finds out that he or she is an eternal being whom God loves like a father and his children, his or her view of life changes immensely. We are no longer completely defined by the family or culture we were born to on earth. Stereotypes, and other negative opinions, no longer need to burden us. Our Father in Heaven talks to us and we can receive revelation from Him that can guide us back into His presence to inherit eternal glory. Then we can continue to progress in knowledge, talent, power, and service for eternity. We can become like Him.
Said Sister Dalton of the Mormon Young Women she meets:
It is not only an affirmation of our identity—who we are—but also an acknowledgment of whose we are. We are daughters of an exalted being!
In every country and on every continent, I have met confident, articulate young women, filled with light, refined by hard work and trial, possessing pure and simple faith. They are virtuous. They are covenant keepers who “stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places.”2 They know who they are and that they have a significant role to play in building the kingdom of God.
May we all discover our own role in God’s eternal plan. May we discover our eternal worth and our Father in Heaven’s love for us each as His individual children.