Born That Way
For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be forever and ever… (Mosiah 3:19)
A Natural, Corrupted Existence
We knew in the premortal existence that our mortal bodies would be subject to the corruption of a fallen world, and we chose to subject our spirits to the prison of a mortal body separated from God.
Born into an imperfect, mortal, world, we become natural as our spirits become inhabitants of physical bodies, physical bodies that are “subject to sin, disease, all types of suffering, and ultimately death.”
We are born that way. Corruptible, mortal, natural. The Fall caused a separation from God, placing us, in our mortal condition, in opposition to God, in a sense enemies to Him, unable to return to His presence in our present state of being.
A Paradoxical Plan?
The prophets and apostles have given us counsel and instruction about what God intended for our mortal bodies. They have taught that the most significant and glorious purpose of our bodies is to create life. President Boyd K. Packer spelled it out for us,
The gift of mortal life and the capacity to kindle other lives is a supernal blessing. Through the righteous exercise of this power, as in nothing else, we may come close to our Father in Heaven and experience a fullness of joy. This power is not an incidental part of the plan of happiness. It is the key—the very key.
The gift of mortal life and the capacity to create life is not incidental – it is, rather the very key of God’s plan.
Just as the prophets teach us that the capacity to create life is the very key of God’s plan, so do the scriptures teach us about the importance of the Fall of Adam,
And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen [been cut off from the presence of God], but he would have remained in the Garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created. …
And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.
But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.
Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.
These two keys to the plan of salvation, the Fall of Adam and procreative power, seem to be paradoxical. If not for the Fall of Adam, we would not have the power to create life, but because of the Fall of Adam, our bodies are imperfect, sometimes unable to create life.
If the very key of God’s plan is to have and give life, then it seems that we should all have access to this key. But what about those who are, due to their imperfect mortal bodies, unable to give life?
What about those who were born sterile or infertile? Those who struggle with infertility have no choice in the matter. They were born that way – unable to exercise the very key of our existence. If men and women are commanded to “multiply and replenish the earth”, and the power to create life is “the very key” to the plan of happiness, why aren’t we all born with the ability to reproduce?
What about those who are not even attracted to members of the opposite sex, with whom sexual intimacy is required in order to create life? There is evidence that many people who experience these feelings are indeed born that way. They were born with these feelings that seem to keep them from being able to fulfill God’s commandments. Why aren’t we all born with a natural urge to be sexually intimate with the opposite sex, which intimacy was divinely designated to create life?
What about those who may have the desire to be intimate with a member of the opposite sex, but not to reproduce or raise children? There is recent evidence that women who don’t have a desire to have children may have been born that way. Some women may be naturally disinclined to bear and raise children. Why aren’t we all born with a natural urge to “multiply and replenish the earth”?
These are only a few examples of physical imperfections that seem to keep us from following God’s plan. There are other natural conditions, allowed by the Fall, that seem to suggest we were born with an inability to keep the commandments of God: mental disabilities, personality disorders, physical disabilities and malformations, genetic diseases, the list seems infinite. These mortal conditions can seem to hinder us from keeping any number of God’s commandments, including missionary work and making temple covenants.
Did God intend for us to be in opposition to Him? Does being born natural, corruptible, contradict God’s plan for us?
A Way is Provided
We knew that if we accepted God’s plan for us that would mean eventually inhabiting imperfect, corruptible bodies. While I do not believe that God purposefully created broken, weak bodies for us, I do think the natural conditions of this world were an important part of the Fall. The imperfections of our physical, mortal bodies and the connected suffering provides a way for us to experience trials and heartache, an important part of our eternal progression.
I believe the Savior gave us some insight into this part of the plan when He taught His disciples in response to their question about the blind man, “Who did sin, this man or his parents?” The Savior answered,
Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.
The man’s blindness was not a result of sin, but a natural condition of the Fall. Being born as natural men and women doesn’t not contradict God’s plan for us, but is a consequence of the Fall and is necessary for our spiritual progression. The scriptures teach us that there must be “opposition in all things” so that righteousness and holiness – or God’s plan – can be brought to pass.
While in our mortal, corruptible, and imperfect state, it can be easy for us to feel as though we were created in opposition to God. However, Mosiah chapter 3 verse 19 teaches us how to overcome the limitations of our physical bodies and become unified with God, not only regardless of our natural condition, but through it. Man is unable to dwell with God,
… unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things [including the physical imperfections of this life] which the Lord seeth fit to inflict [or allows to be inflicted] upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father. (emphasis and parentheticals added)
By the grace of God, through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, it is possible to become a saint – to become the way God wants us to be – and to overcome the way we were born, to overcome the weakness inherent in a physical, mortal, corruptible body.
Satan’s lie is that because we are born as natural, corruptible beings we are defined by our imperfect, mortal state. He tries to convince us that we will be, or were meant to be, that way forever. But the scriptures teach us that we can and must experience a second birth, a spiritual rebirth.
Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. 1 Peter 1:23
all mankind must … be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state Mosiah 27:25
The Atonement of Jesus Christ allows us to be reborn in this life, spiritually overcoming the nature of our mortal bodies. The Atonement also allows us to be reborn in the resurrection, physically overcoming the nature of our mortal bodies.
Our spiritual progression is never limited by the way we were born.
God’s plan is not flawed. It is not paradoxical. His plan is perfect. He has promised us that He “will not suffer [us] to be tempted above that [we] are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that [we] may be able to bear it.” We can, through the glorious Atonement of Jesus Christ, overcome the way we were born. We may not be changed in this life, but we will “be able to bear it.” And we will someday stand new, incorruptible, restored to a perfect state.
- How have you been able to use the atonement of Jesus Christ to overcome the way you were born?
- Does having your own weaknesses compel you to be compassionate?
- How do you have compassion on your brothers and sisters who, like you, have mortal weakness?