Late-night Doctrinal Discussions

300px-Acinonyx_jubatus_-Southern_Namibia-8I’m in the final semester of an MBA program at Oregon’s Willamette University. I took a job in California a couple months ago. That means I’ve got a killer commute to class. All that to say that my time for deep, theosophical discourse with my wife is limited to the occasional late-night discussion when we both really should be sleeping.

Generally these discussions rehash the well-worn topics that have occupied our philosophical speculations over six years of marriage. This last week, though, I was caught flatfooted by an entirely new and vitally important doctrinal disagreement inspired by Geoff J’s post on cosmetic surgery: how much power do resurrected beings have over their appearance? Lacking any divinely inspired guidance on this matter, we swam deeply in the sea of groundless speculation. My highly nuanced and sophisticated argument was that, hey, if you’re a god, then of course you can make yourself look however you want. I mean, come on, you’re a god! Her subtly devious defense was that Amulek teaches that we will be restored to our “perfect frame”, which implies that each of us has an eternally unchangeable perfect state which we achieve in our resurrected bodies.

So I throw the question out to the wisdom of the bloggernacle — am I going to be 5′ 10″ for all eternity? Are those teeth-whitening strips going to come in handy on the other side? And is there a divine Weight Watchers out there, for any angels, gods, or spirits-of-men-made-perfect that need to “tighten up” a little bit?

17 comments for “Late-night Doctrinal Discussions

  1. June 13, 2010 at 10:43 pm

    and what age will we look? If by being restored to our “perfect frame” means how we looked at some point in our mortal life, is our “perfect frame” in eternal perspective when we were 8? 18? 88? What about those whose entire earth life was in a mortal body with a major disfigurement (ok, so I know the answer to that last one… just throwing it out for discussion’s sake) :-)q

  2. WVS
    June 13, 2010 at 10:54 pm

    Here you go, Brigham Young: “I will tell you what. You will find that all those evil traditions and affections or passions that haunt the mind in this life will all be done away in the resurrection. You will find then that any man who gets a glory and exaltation will be so beautiful than any woman will be willing to have him if it was right and whenever it is right for the woman to go there, she will be willing to go. For all those evils will vanish to which we are subject in this life.”

    So you see, Dane. You’re going to be hott. Maybe.

  3. bryanp
    June 14, 2010 at 12:08 am

    Remember when Samuel the prophet had to find another after the Lord rejected Saul? Saul looked upon Eliab, one of the sons of Jesse, and said “Surely the Lords’s anointed is before him. The Lord said to Samuel, “Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature…”. He said, “for the Lord seeth not as a man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”

    When Abinadi was quoting Isaiah 53 in Mosiah Chapter 14 verse 3, he said of the Savior “he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him there is not beauty that we should desire him.” Meaning, that he is not pleasing in appearance or attractive. The Hebrew interpretation in Isaiah 53 verse 2 when he said “there is no apparent beauty that we should desire him means, it is not because of his appearance that we desire him.”

    Lastly, we need to ask ourselves, what is it that makes a God a God. What makes a God a God is their perfection in the attributes of such things as love, kindness, mercy, justice and so on. Think upon what President Kimball said,

    “One cannot know God nor understand his works or plans unless he follows the laws which govern God and his works and his plans.”
    Spencer W. Kimball, “Absolute Truth,” Tambuli, Jul 1979, 1

    I’m not so sure a God is going to be so concerned about every hair being in place and being 6′ tall. Many people in this life are quickly impressed by appearance and look no further. They miss out.

  4. buraianto
    June 14, 2010 at 1:02 am

    We can change our appearance, even if only in small ways. (Bigger breasts, larger chins, different hair color, butt implants, nose jobs, etc.)

    If we can do it, why can’t God, only better?

  5. Ginger
    June 14, 2010 at 6:34 am

    You know how Christ and HF look the same in the temple video? Alma 5:19 “the image of God engraven upon [our] countenances”

    I totally think we are all going to look just like them. I can’t wait for my beard. ;-D

  6. James Olsen
    June 14, 2010 at 8:09 am

    Do you think that WVS’s Brigham Young quote (#2) concerning our no longer having “all those evil traditions and affections or passions” means you won’t be able to (or want to) have such glorious, idle, trivial speculation?

  7. Bob
    June 14, 2010 at 8:15 am

    I want to look good for me___I want a new body.

  8. bryanp
    June 14, 2010 at 8:22 am

    Ginger #5
    Good one Ginger. A little warped humor goes a long way. I’m not sure about the beard. Too itchy.

  9. Adam Greenwood
    June 14, 2010 at 8:47 am

    I think for each of us there is a perfection that perfectly embodies what it is to be a man or a woman with our particular experience and ancestry. Barring that, we’ll all look the same.

  10. Raymond Takashi Swenson
    June 14, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    “No matter what your past has been, you have a spotless future. … guard that future and remember that when the Judge shall summon [you], he will not look [you] over for medals, for diplomas, for honors, but for scars, and … that there be no stains between the scars.”
    —Elder Hugh B. Brown (1883–1975)
    (Improvement Era, Dec. 1969, 95).

    The fact that the Savior bears the scars of his crucifixion as evidence of his love for us, while he himself declared to the Nephites that he is perfect, makes me wonder whether the physical record of our mortal trials will not remain with us, and make us more beautiful or handsome in the eyes of those who recognize love and sacrifice.

    If the feet of those who publish the good news of salvation are beautiful, no matter the bunions from wearying walks, perhaps the character we have developed in a lifetime of faith in God and devotion to our spouses will make us admirable and desirable in their eyes. The age lines, and the smile lines, acquired over the first few decades of a joint eternity, could be beauty marks.

  11. June 14, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    “The fact that the Savior bears the scars of his crucifixion as evidence of his love for us”

    The scriptures nowhere describe them as ‘scars.’ They are wounds, which to my mind says that rather than representing a reminder of a past act, they are a symbol that the Savior’s atonement is ongoing. Whether the Savior will still have wounds in his hands when he has finished his work, I do not know.

  12. Dane Laverty
    June 14, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    WVS, thanks — here’s to hoping ;)

    bryanp, our temples (intended as types of heaven) incline me to think that visual beauty has some kind of eternal relevance.

    Adam, I’d never considered that distinction between scars and wounds (scars being wounds that have healed). Thanks for that little insight.

  13. June 14, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    I’ve thought on this too, lol.

    My theory is that I will NOT be 5’8″ forever because my scoliosis will be corrected and when something is straight rather than curved it will appear taller.

    I also have this theory that our “perfect frame” implies that it will be our body as it would have looked if we had not been subject to the frailties and deleterious effects of living and we will think as things should have been without the effects of a telestial world. If this is true, then perhaps white teeth, body fat, acne scars, webbed toes, etc all they way it should have been.

    Another theory that I have toyed with is that we might lose some of the characteristics that appear in our bodies to be from evolution: our appendices (appendixes?), body hair, coccyx, etc.

    I know that one of my requests will be to be hairless from the neck down. Shaved legs just feel better and I’d love to not have to deal with it ever again.

  14. Steve
    June 15, 2010 at 11:04 am

    Maybe Plato was right, and there really is an objectively optimal standard of bodily “perfection,” independent of any person’s flawed opinions or tastes. If so, then I imagine the “perfect frame” referred to by Amulek is this “optimal” form, rather than the exact form our bodies take in mortality.

    Or maybe that’s a load of baloney.

  15. June 15, 2010 at 11:31 am

    Steve, I’m not sure what “perfection” in the abstract could even mean. Can something be “perfect” outside of some task or use for which it is perfect? If so, what does that look like?

  16. AD
    June 15, 2010 at 8:03 pm

    I thought about this as well. Didn’t Joseph Smith once say that he had seen the twelve in a vision and that they all looked exactly the same? That’s also how he described the Father and the Son, that only through the Spirit could you tell them apart. All of which is very interesting and raises all sorts of questions.

    Maybe we don’t really have a form, I mean, (and I’ve raised this point with my wife who thinks I’m crazy for doing so…) think about the genetic traits we pass down to our offspring. Our children inherit our appearance as we do our parent’s. It’s obvious that I have my mother’s eyes and my dad’s hair. Now, at one point, we were organized into family units. I assume this was after the great council in heaven. So there was a point in time when we hadn’t been organized into families, we were just spirit brothers and sisters. So either we were organized as families according to how we looked – which would be ridiculous – or our appearance changed after the fact, in which case our appearance is mutable and can change according to the need. Im more inclined to believe the latter, that we really were and are more or less formless entities and we only have this appearance because the situation (i.e. – our family ‘assignments’) call for it. I also happen to believe that that extends into the role of our assigned sex, not that I believe that we will be sexless beings after (or rather, asexual) but that we were at one point and we were given a gender according to specific traits we had, but that’s another crazy discussion which my wife cringes at every time i bring up :)

  17. AlexG
    June 16, 2010 at 8:42 am

    When Patrick Stewart took on the role as Captain Picard, someone asked Gene Roddenberry why was that on the 24th century there wasn’t a cure for male baldness. His reply mimics what I think the Saviour might say: “In the 24th century, no one will care if you’re bald or not.”

    I’m completely aware of the restoration even unto the last hair, however, I believe that the Saviour will have more pressing issues to judge us than physical appearance. Height, weight, whiteness of teeth will be irrelevant. But I believe we will be at our peak for the eternities. Joseph Smith once told a member who complained about his plain looking wife that he didn’t knew how glorious she would look in the eternities.

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