Eternal Increase: The LDS Doctrine of Celestial Procreation
By Bill McKeever
Closely associated with the LDS doctrine of temple marriage is the doctrine of eternal increase. LDS leaders have defined this teaching as the ability for Mormon couples who have achieved celestial exaltation to procreate throughout eternity.
Tenth LDS President Joseph Fielding Smith (1876-1972), in volume 4 of his book, Answers to Gospel Questions, (p.197), stated: "Those who are married in the temple for all time and eternity obtain the blessing of eternal lives. I put stress on eternal lives. Eternal life is God's life, that is, to be like him. Eternal lives means eternal increase--the continuation, as the revelation says, of the seeds forever. To be married outside of the temple is for time only."
He also wrote, the ability to procreate was limited only to those who receive a celestial body, "Some will gain celestial bodies with all the powers of exaltation and eternal increase" (Doctrines of Salvation 2:287).
LDS Apostle Melvin J. Ballard (1873-1939) wrote, "What do we mean by endless or eternal increase? We mean that through the righteousness and faithfulness of men and women who keep the commandments of God they will come forth with celestial bodies, fitted and prepared to enter into their great, high and eternal glory in the celestial kingdom of God; and unto them, through their preparation, there will come children, who will be spirit children. I don't think that is very difficult to comprehend and understand" (Three Degrees of Glory, p.10).
In essence, the Mormon couple hopes to continue a process that began well into eternity past. Just as the Mormon Elohim had to produce spirit children who would eventually come to earth to inhabit a mortal tabernacle, so too, Mormon couples hope to be able to produce spirit children that will eventually take on human flesh and inhabit the world they will rule. Brigham Young [1801-1877] taught, "God has made His children like Himself to stand erect, and has endowed them with intelligence and power and dominion over all His works, and given them the same attributes which He himself possesses. He created man, as we create our children; for there is no other process of creation in heaven, on the earth, in the earth, or under the earth, or in all the eternities, that is, that were, or that ever will be." (Journal of Discourses 11:122-123).
In the words of LDS Apostle Bruce R. McConkie (1915-1985), "Exalted parents are to their children as our Eternal Parents are to us. Eternal increase, a continuation of the seeds forever and ever, eternal lives -- these comprise the eternal family of those who gain eternal life. For them new earths are created, and thus the on-rolling purposes of the Gods of Heaven go forward from eternity to eternity" (The Millennial Messiah, p.23).
On page 264 of the same book, McConkie went on to say, "Every person married in the temple for time and for all eternity has sealed upon him, conditioned upon his faithfulness, all of the blessings of the ancient patriarchs, including the crowning promise and assurance of eternal increase, which means, literally, a posterity as numerous as the dust particles of the earth."
While such a concept might appear pleasing to many males, I think it is important to look at it through the eyes of the female. Since the emphasis seems to be on increase, it would be reasonable to assume that populating the planet is a high priority. Therefore, the woman's role will entail producing as many spirit-children as necessary in order to see this goal come to fruition. Would this not mean that the goddess wife would have to look forward to an eternity of one pregnancy after another? If, as McConkie has stated, their posterity is to be as numerous as dust particles of the earth, we can easily imagine her going through literally billions of pregnancies and births throughout eternity. Once that world is full, another is formed and the process begins all over again. Said LDS Apostle Orson Pratt (1811-1881):
"As soon as each God has begotten many millions of male and female spirits, and his Heavenly inheritance becomes too small, to comfortably accommodate his great family, he, in connection with his sons, organizes a new world, after a similar order to the one which we now inhabit, where he sends both the male and female spirits to inhabit tabernacles of flesh and bones" (The Seer, p. 37).
For this reason LDS leaders have not hidden the fact that there are humans, like us, living on other worlds. According to Joseph Fielding Smith, "We are not the only people that the Lord has created. We have brothers and sisters on other earths. They look like us because they, too, are the children of God and were created in his image, for they are also his offspring" (Doctrines of Salvation 1:62). Unless the Mormon Elohim is a relatively new God, Smith's conclusion would have to be plausible from an LDS mindset. It would have to be conceivable that this planet is not his first.
A person can't help but wonder what happens back on the "full" earth. Since the very fact that it is full means there is no more room for any more of God's offspring, does that mean all of the inhabitants all of a sudden become sterile? If that be the case, would the inability to sexually reproduce not undermine a major doctrine of Mormonism, that being a prohibition against birth control?
It boggles the mind to think of how many spirit offspring the Mormon God must produce on a daily basis in order to keep up with the "mortal tabernacles" currently being created. It is estimated that by the year 2050 the world's population will surpass 9 billion people. If Mormonism is true, this makes for a very sexually active God!
For a Viewpoint on Mormonism broadcast on this issue, see here.