Mormons, I am confused about something

Ok, so the Mormon faith believes that we were all souls in heaven with God before we came to this world? I do have another question after this question, but I was going to wait and see if I was correct with my understanding of this.

yes, this is true. It’s called the pre-mortal existence, pre-existence, etc. We are all the spirit children of God the Father, including Jesus Christ and Satan, and lived with him before being born on the earth.

How do they explain allowing abortions in certain circumstances? If we are spirit children before we are conceived, why would God had made the mistake of letting the girl get pregnant in the first place with one of his spirit children if it was just going to be killed? No matter how they look at it, it does not make sense.

Well, I will admit that this one was a surprise. I thought you were setting us up for quite a different thing…after all, you are quite aware of our beliefs in this area.

Girly, our past conversations do not lead me to expect much, but…your claim that our belief in a pre-existence makes any thought of abortion in any circumstance a senseless one is illogical. It doesn’t make sense.

In fact, such a belief would make decisions to abort under circumstances more allowable, not less. Since we believe that our spirits existed before our conceptions, then we must believe that at sometime during the pregnancy that spirit must join the body of the child; body and spirit were not created together at the time of conception, as you evidently believe.

Well, who knows when this joining takes place? WE don’t. I go with ‘at conception’ because that’s the safest time. It can’t happen any earlier than that, after all. However, it COULD happen later. It wasn’t all THAT long ago that Catholics considered this occurrence to happen when the child first breathed, or at ‘quickening’ (when Mom feels the kid kick…)

So, if it COULD happen later, then an abortion that is performed before that event isn’t the ending of a human life, is it? The spirit destined for that body can simply wait for a new one–one that was not begun in violence, say…or one that might stand a chance of making it to birth without killing Mom and itself.

I am pointing this out because you haven’t followed the logic of your own argument to its obvious conclusion: a belief in pre-existence of spirits is the only thing that would ALLOW abortion in certain circumstances; it does not make the idea even more horrific.

Given our recent conversations, I predict that you are having conniption fits about now.

I am NOT claiming that the church teaches, or that I believe, that what I have just described is how it works. The church does not teach this, and we don’t know…and in the face of "we don’t know…’ it is far safer to behave as if spirit and body are irretrievably bound at conception, whether that is actually what happens or not.

It’s just that you obviously weren’t following your own line of argument very well, or you would not have brought it up.

As to “God Letting…”???

What part of 'free will" seems to be a problem?

We, as humans, take risks all the time. Every time we step out the door “we don’t know” what might happen to us during the day. I am not saying that this logic is the exact same but hopefully you can see the danger represented here. If we take risks throughout our day and lives what would be the difference between those risks and taking the risk of aborting a child that may or may not have a soul.

If one “doesn’t know,” they are free to do what they like because how could God judge someone for something they are ignorant about; the teaching is not being heard not because of anything human but because God has yet to reveal it.

Why limit abortions to just only cases of threatening the life of the mother or cases of incest and cases where the fetus is known to have severe defects? Why not have an abortion for convenience?

I know there are other teachings that offer specific cases of when to abort in the Mormon church but with a basic theology that doesn’t know when the soul is part of the body there is nothing to hold up those teachings.

And your point here is what? The Catholic Church has never allowed abortion, regardless of when the unborn was believed to be ensouled.

I think people tend to think of the Catholic history of discussion regarding ensoulment in light of the current abortion on demand issue. It seems to me it had more to do with the frequency of spontaneous abortions. Women are more likely(and frequently do,as I did alot) to abort in the first part of pregnancy, this is not a new development in human reproduction. People weren’t stupid and unobservant for the last 2000 years and living closer to human and animal reproduction they had an understanding of this. Just my opinion but I think the discussion of ensoulment had more to do with this physical reality than any idea about intentional abortion. And as Rebecca noted the Catholic Church has never allowed abortion, even when many believed ensoulment happened at the quickening.

Lamb of God Girly,
I hope you and your family are doing well. I had a painful case of food poisoning yesterday, all day. I couldn’t even get up. What a waste of a beautiful day!

It seems like your question here infers that God plans every pregnancy that ever happens, by the use of the words “God had made the mistake of letting the girl get pregnant…with one of his spirit children.”

I can see why one would have a concern about this, but I personally don’t think God plans every pregnancy that ever happens in the world. He set up the conditions to allow pregnancies to happen, and many women who end up not being able to have children question why God could be fair in that they can’t get pregnant when they are living their lives totally righteously. God allows things to happen related to childbirth that don’t make sense to us in terms of fairness. Adoption is a wonderful blessing for many families.

I hope you understand how strongly Mormons believe in agency. If a girl has been raped and she gets pregnant, her agency has been taken away on two counts–she has been forcibly attacked in a horrendous way, leading to a huge amount of fears and questioning “why me”–“why would God allow such a thing?” Secondly, for her to then be pregnant from that experience goes into a whole realm of new questions–if God is in charge of who gets pregnant and when, then why would He have “made” that happen? (He didn’t. He allowed it to happen as a result of a horrific, violent crime that He also allowed to happen.)

A girl in such a circumstance needs immediate counseling, and hopefully seeks it and receives some sense of comfort and strength to get through an extremely difficult period of time in her life. She is in crisis. Her life is in turmoil. Within that turmoil, she needs to be allowed the patience to grieve, the patience to heal (over a very long time), the patience to not feel like she has been singled out for punishment by God while she tries to understand why such a thing happened.

Amidst all that, I just don’t think it would be fair to that girl to have her think that an abortion would be sinful. I think it would be wonderful if she chose to carry the baby to term and put up with nine months of agony yet receive the kind and loving support of the community around her. But if she can’t bring herself to make that choice, given her situation, I think God is fully aware of her agony and He allows the full loop of consequences from the evilness of her attacker. The attacker bears the blame, completely. Christ atoned for even that sin, but their repentance needs to fully recognize that their crime caused horrific consequences for many people–their own soul, the girl’s entire life (very tough to get over), the girl’s family, and the baby.

Again, hopefully the girl feels enough emotional presence and self-respect to feel like she can carry the baby to term, but if she doesn’t feel like she can emotionally get through that, then “agency” has to be allowed without her feeling guilty about an unfortunate situation. The law of the land allows her to make either choice without feeling guilty. I think it is wisdom to allow her freely to make either choice, and God will understand. The spirit of that baby will be able to have a life within another body.

There is an agency called LDS Social Services within the LDS organization, that provides counseling and support in all of the many situations that deal with pregnancy issues, adoption issues, and many types of family counseling. Their services would be offered freely to such a girl and her family. Helping her feel God’s love in her life again would be their number one concern.

Not knowing is a simple fact of human life and theology in general. If we knew everything, there would be no need for faith…and we would indeed be God.

I was simply pointing out the fact that girly’s argument was irrational, that’s all.

There is another aspect of “don’t know.” If we truly do not know, then we have to behave as if the most conservative choice is the correct one, right?

After all, a good parent will not leave her baby in the car on a hot summer day while she runs into the store for just a second, will she?

Why not? After all, she doesn’t know that such an action will harm the child, does she? It might not be too hot, it’s possible that nobody will see the child unprotected and hurt him.

However, the consequences if she is wrong about that are too horrific for her to consider.

So…she takes the baby with her into the store. She might be wrong in that decision, too; after all, he could have been perfectly safe in the car. However, the consequences of her being wrong about THAT are, what…a live and healthy baby who is with her and in her care?

No, when we ‘don’t know,’ we make choices that will result in the least amount of harm. In the case of abortion, that means we assume that the spirit and body join up at conception until and unless something specific says that they don’t.

I believe that this is one of the reasons why, when a Mormon woman is in the position of requiring an abortion, after having been raped, or when she is in immediate danger of losing both her life and that of her child, the decision is made only AFTER a great deal of prayer.

Well, your St. Augustine differed…he wrote that a human soul cannot live in an unformed body, and that abortion is not murder if it is done before the fetus is fully formed (first trimester, evidently)

St. Jerome wrote that abortion doesn’t count as killing until the child is fully formed.

The “Apostolic Constitutions” (circa 380 AD) allowed abortion if it was done early enough in pregnancy. In it we find this: “Thou shalt not slay the child by causing abortion, nor kill that which is begotten. For everything that is shaped, and his received a soul from God, if slain, it shall be avenged, as being unjustly destroyed” This follows the standard view at the time that abortion is not a sin until AFTER the child gains a 'human shape."

Pope Innocent III(I know, I know…THAT Pope Innocent…but he was still in charge of the church) wrote that a monk who had arranged for his lover to have an abortion was not guilty of homicide because the fetus was not ‘animated.’

He’s the one who declared that the soul enters the body at the time of quickening…and abortion before that time was not murder.

St. Thomas Aquinas was also of the opinion that abortion before quickening was not murder.

Pope Sixtus V (1471-1484) threatened abortionists (and the women) with excommunication and the death penalty no matter what stage of gestation the fetus was at…but…
Pope Gregory XIV(1535-1591) reversed that and declared that the test was “quickening,” which he declared to be 116 days into the pregnancy.

In fact, the church has only been totally intolerant of abortion since 1884, with Leo XIII.

Before that, abortion, though sometimes seen as a sin which required absolution and penance, was NOT seen as murder until the child ‘quickened.’

…and the CoJCoLDS has never seen abortion as “ok” just because the child isn’t kicking hard enough to make Mom jump yet. The CoJCoLDS understands quite well what the decision to abort means, and that’s why we take it very, very, very seriously.

Well,never mind all that. I was simply responding to your claim that the Catholic church never “allowed” abortion.It quite clearly did. It was never an enthusiastic supporter of the idea, but that it has always had the attitude it has now? Not even close.

When I was a mormon, I was taught that the spirit child joined its body at the first breath, so if there was no breath upon birth (or abortion) the spirit child was not in jepardy so abortions were not looked on as morally wrong per se (it has been many years since I was a mormon though, so who knows how much has been changed), unlike the Catholic church where the taking of any human life has always been morally wrong, from conception to natural death.

There is a great tendency for ex-members of any faith to assume that if their memories about a certain church teaching do not match with the teaching itself, that it is the CHURCH that changed.

That’s not always so.

Perhaps you could read this.

“…such mistaken biological theories never changed the Church’s common conviction that abortion is gravely wrong at every stage. At the very least, early abortion was seen as attacking a being with a human destiny, being prepared by God to receive an immortal soul (cf. Jeremiah 1:5: “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you”).”

"… theories derived from Aristotle and others influenced the grading of penalties for abortion in Church law. Some canonical penalties were more severe for a direct abortion after the stage when the human soul was thought to be present. However, abortion at all stages continued to be seen as a grave moral evil. "

Parker, in your post you fail to recognize that “each and every human life has inherent dignity, and thus must be treated with the respect due to a human person. This is the foundation for the Church’s social doctrine, including its teachings on war, the use of capital punishment, euthanasia, health care, poverty and immigration. Conversely, to claim that some live human beings do not deserve respect or should not be treated as “persons” (based on changeable factors such as age, condition, location, or lack of mental or physical abilities) is to deny the very idea of inherent human rights. Such a claim undermines respect for the lives of many vulnerable people before and after birth.”

So while yes, rape is a heartbreaking and an unwanted circumstance, you fail to recognize that the life growing is a human life, that has an inherent right to live. God sees this dignity in all of us, including those who by no fault of their own have been injured or exist because of injury. If this were not so then there would be no reason to be against assisted suicide, or euthanasia, as certainly you understand many people suffer greatly as the result of sins perpetrated against them. Through no fault of their own they may be experiencing great suffering. No less than a girl who is suffering from the crime of rape. Suffering does not nullify God’s commandment to not kill.

Thanks Diana, but being an ex-mormon does not make me a liar or necessarily sadly mistaken about what I was taught while I was a mormon. You may not like what I said, but that does not make it untrue. I was only informing as to my knowledge, I had no hidden adgenda. And it is well documented that mormon doctrine has been changed from time to time.

No slight intended.

FWIW CarolinNC, I was taught the same thing.

Interesting that this article too quotes Thomas Aquinus and St. Augustine…but not the quotes that I included.

Here’s the problem we are running into, Rebecca. In another thread I am being told that Tradition is as important to you as written scripture is; that they go hand in hand and that one is no more important than the other. Therefore quotes from people like Thomas Aquinus and Augustine are as important to your doctrine as the Book of Luke is.

…and hey, don’t yell at me about that, I had no idea that this was so until the conversations I’ve been having over the last few days.

Ok, abortion has never been seen as a glorious idea, but then I’ve never claimed that. However, the attitude of the church toward abortion has changed; sometimes seeing it as murder at all stages of pregnancy, sometimes seeing is as a lesser sin even than practicing birth control, sometimes seeing it as allowable in some cases if the child isn’t ‘formed’ yet.

…and you have completely ignored the quotes I gave you from these very church fathers that show this controversy over the centuries. The fact is, the current church view of abortion has been effective for less than 123 years out of the over 1600 years that we have records of the Catholic church opinions on the matter. The church has been more lenient towards abortion over 15 times longer than it has been strict as it is now.

While I understand the position of the church now, and am certainly not going to argue that the church does NOT take the position you claim for it now, you WERE claiming that the position of the church has not changed.

It has.

I was not intending a slight. People’s memories can sometimes fail them, or…they were taught what they claim to have been taught, but by those who should not have taught this.

As to official church teaching regarding when the spirit enters the body…‘ensoulment?’

Brigham Young thought as the Catholics of his time did; it happened at ‘quickening.’

the message “The Origin of Man” (which was one of the letters from the church regarding evolution and our position on THAT) also says that the spirit enters the body sometime after conception and before birth.

Bruce R. McConkie thought that the spirit enters the child before birth, so that still born children would be resurrected.

Some church leaders did indeed believe that all three elements had to be present: “body, spirit and the breath of life,” i.e, the first breath.

In other words, there’s a bit of an argument about it; we don’t know. Therefore it is safer to assume that such ‘ensoulment’ happens earlier than later, seems to me.

So here’s the thing: yeah, you may well have been taught that the spirit enters the body when the baby first breathes. However, most of our church leaders think that this ‘ensoulment’ process happens earlier than that, and there hasn’t been an official declaration about it to settle it and make one or another position ‘official church doctrine.’

Rebecca J,
My comment was pertaining to one specific situation, not any other. I personally think the laws of the land should be much harsher dealing with those convicted of rape, and perhaps allow the girl significant compensatory damages. But I guess we differ as to our view of how merciful God will be in dealing with a girl who faced the kind of decision we are talking about. I think that the best decision she can make is to keep the baby, and seek the support of those around her to get through the emotional trauma and nine-month reminder of the horrific act against her. But I could never call it what you have called it, if she were to decide she couldn’t handle her situation. I’m talking about my own personal reaction. I just couldn’t look at that situation and tell such a girl that she would be guilty of breaking that commandment, nor would I tell her such a thing after the fact if she had made the decision on her own without counseling or seeking counsel. This is my personal feeling. It has to do with one kind of case, only. You can feel differently–that’s fine with me. I’m just being honest about my own feelings.

Parker, I believe it is through God’s mercy that we can seek his forgiveness.

I think that the best decision she can make is to keep the baby, and seek the support of those around her to get through the emotional trauma and nine-month reminder of the horrific act against her. But I could never call it what you have called it, if she were to decide she couldn’t handle her situation. I’m talking about my own personal reaction. I just couldn’t look at that situation and tell such a girl that she would be guilty of breaking that commandment, nor would I tell her such a thing after the fact if she had made the decision on her own without counseling or seeking counsel. This is my personal feeling. It has to do with one kind of case, only. You can feel differently–that’s fine with me. I’m just being honest about my own feelings.

I understand the emotions that a situation like this invokes. I am not without sympathy. However, we are called to follow God, not our emotions.

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