Premortal Choices and Mortal Effects
By Ken K. Gourdin
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints accepts as literal the idea expressed in such scriptures as Jeremiah 1:5 (KJV), in which the Lord tells Jeremiah, “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations”; and in the book of Job Chapter 38, Verse 7, in which we learn that the sons of God shouted for joy when He laid the foundation of the Earth.
Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe that spirits possess free will, just as humans possess free will here in mortality. As such, we had the opportunity to make choices. And just as they do here, they affected our position relative to God and relative to each other in the premortal life. However, knowledge about how individual premortal choices affect mortal circumstances, along with other knowledge and memory of premortal life, has been withheld from us so that we may learn to walk by faith here in mortality. When another poster at Mormon Dialogue and Discussion expressed reservations about the prospect that our choices in premortality may affect our circumstances here in mortality, I responded:
It’s one thing to say, as a general proposition, that our choices in the premortal life had an impact on the circumstances into which we were born in mortality, and it’s quite another to say that specific Choice X resulted in specific Circumstance Y. Insofar as I know, apart from occasional, unwise speculation on the part of individual leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that does not rise to the level of official doctrine because it has never been presented to the First Presidency, to the [Quorum of the] Twelve [Apostles], and to the membership of the Church, which then have been asked to sustain it as such, the Church of Jesus Christ has never said that there is any causal link between any specific Choice X and Circumstance Y, respectively.
Suffice it to say that this is the Second Act: we lack knowledge of what happened in the First Act (premortality) because that knowledge has, as I said, been withheld so as to enable us to walk by faith. And we lack knowledge of what will happen in the postmortal Third Act because it hasn’t happened yet. There are more than a few questions I have about how my own premortal choices may have affected my circumstances here in mortality: I eagerly await the answers when God feels I am ready for them and when He, in his infinite wisdom, chooses to reveal them to me.