I overheard a couple of Mormons talking the other day. One of them said: “We are the lucky ones, we were born into The Church, we have been able to live with the fullness of the Gospel for our entire lives! It’s our duty to share that love with the world.”
To which the other replied: “It’s not luck. I believe we choose where we will be born and what trials we will face in the preexistence. I believe we even select the time and method of our own death.”
For those who are unfamiliar with Mormon theology, they believe our souls were born to spirit parents long before we were born to physical parents. They call this time before physical birth the “preexistence.”
I wasn’t part of the conversation but I still had to hold in my laughter. I could just imagine God talking to their unborn soul and asking: “Would you like to be born into the One True Church and live with the fullness of the gospel or would you prefer to be born into a false religion and raised to THINK you were born into the One True Church?”
How would you know the difference once you were born?
And what about picking your trials in advance? How does that work with freewill? If you “choose” to be raised by abusive parents, does that mean your parents didn’t have the freewill to choose any other action? What about people who are raped in this life? Did they choose that? Did the rapist have any choice in the matter?
The whole idea reeks of victim blaming. (I’m sorry your life sucks, but you picked it.) It seems like a way for people living comfortably to ignore those who are not as comfortable without feeling guilty. After all, if a child is born into a poor family and dies of starvation that’s okay – they selected those trials and that death.
I don’t think Mormons realize how sadistic this belief makes their God. Does he hand you a checklist with different ways you can suffer and require you to select a specific number of experiences? “Please select at least 50 painful experiences from List A and 150 mild irritants from List B.”
Some people suffer extreme pain and even torture in this life, why would anyone VOLUNTEER for that ahead of time? Imagine the spirits in heaven talking with each other: “You can choose to be killed by being burned alive when you are 14 or you can live until you 80 and die peacefully in your sleep. I’m so torn, I don’t know which to choose. Living to 80 would be so cool, but I wonder what fire feels like when it burns your flesh?”
Other Christian denominations don’t claim you pick your method of death or your trials – and whether or not you are born into the right religion is usually considered a matter of luck — of course, if you don’t get it right before you die God will still torture you forever… so God doesn’t look much nicer according to that theology.
Oh well, people believe crazy things.