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We are always pleased to find common ground within our LDS faith and other religions. And there is much common ground when it comes to honoring marriage and teaching family values, such as honesty, caring for others, and worshiping God, to name a few.
But now and then there comes into view a few significant and vitally important differences. This became evident a few weeks ago when we wrote an article for FamilyShare.com. This is an excellent site that is dedicated to strengthening marriage and family. Because all content has to be appropriate for all faiths without teaching any particular religion’s doctrine, sometimes we feel a bit hand-cuffed in the writing. Still we are able to share principles that strengthen marriage and family and we are honored to be among their writers.
Many are the times we yearn to quote our prophets to prove a point or to make it clearer. We’ve always preferred that kind of freedom in our writing. This was the case when writing books for the national market. We remember the day when, after five years of publication, we were able to retrieve publishing rights to our book Married for Better, Not Worse. It contained many valuable truths to strengthen marriage, but lacked the backup of these truths with words from our scriptures and our Church leaders.
Covenant Communications then asked us if we would flesh out the book with a new version that would include the very quotes we yearned to use. That was our dream come true. Thus our book Love That Lasts: 14 Secrets to a more joyful, passionate, and fulfilling marriage was born. It has filled a need for Latter-day Saints and is still being published by Covenant, for which we are deeply grateful.
Now back to our FamilyShare article experience. We thought it would be fun to write an article on what a newborn baby might tell his or her parents if he or she could talk. You can read the short article here. It’s titled “10 things your baby would say if only she/he could talk”.
The first point we wanted your baby to make—and to proclaim loud and clear—was that there is a God. Your baby would tell you that He lives and he/she knows it to be true because of just being there with Him before coming to this world.
Then we were struck with the thought that we better do a little searching to see if other religions believe this doctrine of a preexistence. Most of them claim that we are all children of God, so we had made an assumption. Big mistake. When we researched it, we were surprised to find that only The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Christian Scientists, (at least in this report) believe in the pre-existence of mankind. Most Christian religions seem to believe in the pre-existence of Jesus Christ, but not of man. All but ours and one other claim that man came into excistence for the first time at mortal birth.
Some people believe in a pre-existence even though their church may not teach it. For example. English poet William Wordsworth made his personal belief clear in “Intimations of immortality from recollections of early childhood”. Most of us are familiar with his words:
Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting
The soul that rises with us, our life’s star
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar;
Not in entire forgetfulness
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God who is our home:
Wordsworth got it right. But knowing we had to respect doctrine of other religions we had a conundrum. How could we best say what we wanted to say without turning off readers of other faiths? After all, we were trying to teach a truth here. So we did a little rewording and, under the heading “God is real”, we had “your baby” say:
“I can’t figure out why so many people say there is no God. He ushered me into this life. I am His child — everyone is. And here’s the best part: He loves all of us more than anyone can imagine. Because of that, I know He watches over us while we’re here, even when we turn away from Him. Maybe especially then. He’s our Father, who just happens to live in heaven.”
The article was posted and received a few thousand views. It was picked up by another popular online news site. But here’s the punch-in-the-stomach: They took off the first point, “God is real”. Even though we had toned it down to be more to the liking of most religions, it apparently didn’t pass muster in their eyes. So sad. Once again we realized how blessed we are to have the Book of Mormon and the words of our living prophets who testify of eternal truths, including a pre mortal life.
On LDS.org we find under the category of Premortal Life, doctrine with scriptures that prove we existed before this life. Here are a few:
- Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee: Jer. 1:4–5;
- We are all his offspring: Acts 17:28;
- God chose us before the foundation of the world: Eph. 1:3–4;
- They were called and prepared from the foundation of the world: Alma 13:3;
- Man was also in the beginning with God: D&C 93:29; ( Hel. 14:17; D&C 49:17;)
- Noble spirits were chosen in the beginning to be rulers in the Church: D&C 138:53–55;
- Many received their first lessons in the world of spirits: D&C 138:56;
We wanted “the baby” in our article to be able to tell these truths to his or her parents. We can only imagine the truths that come with these little ones who so recently left the spirit world. We think they are bursting with the desire to tell us of things as they really are in “that other world” where our spirits came from before being born. But, of course, they cannot speak. However, they don’t need to. We have prophets and scriptures galore that testify of these truths. And what a blessing that is!
It reminds us of the story we heard a young returned missionary tell. He said he and his companion had been rejected by a contact, but decided to try one more time. On this last effort the man gruffly said, “OK. You have 3 minutes to convince me that your religion is different than anybody else’s.” The missionary said he was so pleased when he heard this because he had practiced this very situation many times in the MTC.
He said, “I knew what to say. That 3 minutes turned into an hour discussion and an invitation to return. He wanted to know more.” The differences are significantly important. We have a church led by a prophet of God, a church that has the holy priesthood directing it through revelation, scriptures that give a second witness of Jesus Christ and an explanation of God’s plan of happiness for all mankind, and so much more.
We are so blessed to have the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ available to us today. This doesn’t make us any better than anyone else. All people are loved by our Heavenly Father. They are all His children—our brothers and sisters. This being the case, we love them, too. That’s why we yearn to share the precious truths of His restored Church with them. With all our hearts we rejoice that we have these truths to share. Thankfully, there are avenues such as this where we can freely express our beliefs.
[To learn more about Gary and Joy Lundberg’s books, articles, and Skype presentations visit their website here]