A few months ago I posted a rant on facebook (usually a cause for regret) that actually turned into an interesting, respectful discussion (until my cousin showed up near the end) about how much God micromanages our lives. I had expressed my thought that I felt it was God’s will for me to not have more children, yet several smart wonderful friends shared thoughts along these lines:

OK, actually now I’m going to disagree with Kristine. I don’t think whether or not you have kids is God’s will. I think it’s biology in almost 100% of the cases. Otherwise, let’s be real here, God actually WANTED every teen mother, rape victim, incest victim, abusive person, etc., to have babies. He WANTED it. He WILLED it. And that’s a bag full of bogus.

God wants you to have tacos tomorrow for lunch
God doesn’t want us to be late, so he helps us find our keys

It continued for a while back and forth along these lines:

I’m kind of a deist, transhumanist Mormon. I think God set up the world, gave us agency, and in almost all cases he just lets us go with it, for better or worse. I think he intervenes rarely and particularly.

Each child comes to earth when they are supposed to. I believe it’s 100% Gods will and intervention when you came to earth. He works with imperfect people so sometimes the child comes thru less than desirable circumstances. If children were just born willy nilly than how could he have an individual plan for each of us?

I love the idea that children are in their families because of God’s will and when I look around my safe, affluent, Midwestern community it feels that way. But when I read and learn about the billion people in India, Asia and Africa that are living in poverty and worse, I can’t believe that is God’s will.

I do believe each person comes when they are supposed to. Not on exact days but I believe I was born to earth now for a reason, and not in the Middle Ages. I do believe God has an individual plan for me, because I am His daughter. God knows what we are going to do, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have to make the choices. As to the people who are born in terrible circumstances or places, I don’t have an answer to that. I don’t doubt that God loves them but I don’t understand why.

[that thinking] disincetivizes those who should be doing good to help and serve. If someone was born into poverty or abuse that God WILLED, then who are we to set it “right”? It was right already…right?

And here is where the miracle happens: I was actually convinced to change my perspective based on something someone posted on facebook! Well, in reality I was given new perspectives that still have me questioning what I really believe.

i deserve it
I know this isn’t what she said, but it kind of feels like this approach

I thought the subject was over until a family member who had taken a “God manages everything” side of the discussion brought it up with me later, and over the last several months we’ve talked a lot about her testimony of God knowing and being in control.

I asked her how she manages to reconcile the abused and downtrodden, the 7 year old girls who are caught in sex trafficking rings, etc. She agrees that those situations are caused by the free agency of others; but firmly believes that the reason she’s been so blessed and was born into the church and has such a strong testimony now is because she was so valiant in the premortal realm.

On one hand I get why she thinks that way:

  1. She was raised during a time that her Church leaders frequently taught people are favored in this life because of their valiance in the premortal realm
  2. There’s Abraham 3:22-23: “and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones….these will I make my rulers”
  3. Our own Gospel Topics–Foreordination: “foreordination came as a result of righteousness in the premortal existence”

But on the other hand I had a visceral negative reaction to that explanation, and I think it’s because it’s just a little bit too close to the reasons we gave for withholding priesthood and temple blessings from black men and women.

Personally I think I just hit the privilege jackpot: I’m white, I live in a 1st world country, I enjoy (comparatively) economic riches, I have the gospel of Jesus Christ in my life, etc. I don’t know exactly why I was given these privileges, but I think it’s pretty random; and because of that I am under much more responsibility than everyone else to see and relieve their suffering. I believe I’ll be judged much more harshly for my choices because I had so much more opportunity. I know that where much is given much is required; but that doesn’t answer the “valiance” question, does it?

What if the poor, oppressed masses were actually more valiant? I believe those who still need to accept the Gospel will do so (spirit prison yall) and many of these people will easily reach exaltation; especially with such humble hearts.

How can I believe valiance in the last life brings privileges in this life without believing that those who are suffering the worst here and now deserve it?

Does God answer prayers to help find keys or stop me from having more children because it’s His will? I still believe God sent me here to do certain things that only I can accomplish (foreordination). Can I believe God has an individual plan for me when so many other people’s plans include horrific abuses I would never survive intact? Are plans assigned randomly or are they a result of our prior valiance? I don’t think I can believe the valiance bit without also believing the least among us deserve it – and I just can’t make that leap.

What do you think?