The Church often touts itself as the only church that has the answers to where we came from, why we are here, and where we are going. For those old enough, you may remembers the 13 min film called “Man’s Search For Happiness” I watched this as a kid dozens of times. It was the film shown in the Temple visitor’s centers from the mid 1960s through the 1980’s. I can still here the narrator say “Who am I?”, “Where did I come from?”, and “Where am I going?” With direct revelation through a living prophet, it should be easy to have the answers to life’s difficult questions.

Today is the first in a series of posts (spread over several months) that will look at questions that need answers, but so far have not been answered, much to the detriment of Church members. Now these are not trivial questions like can God create a rock so large that He cannot lift it, but questions that that have profound impact on members, yet we have no answers, or we have contradictory answers.

Today’s question is: “Why are some people born with disabilities that make life so hard, sometimes ending in premature death?” There is no official answer in the scriptures or First President pronouncements. But this hasn’t stopped our leaders from telling us what they think, and then the members running with it as doctrine. The answers fall on both sides of the question: Is it s blessing or a curse? Thankfully, the “blessing” category is more prevalent in todays Church.

The first story we have all heard is that a child with a sever disability, especially those that die before the age of eight, is that they were so noble and righteous in the pre-mortal life that they volunteered to come to earth with the disability, and then God took them early so they didn’t need to suffer a mortal life. This is not official doctrine, but I’m sure you all have heard it many times. This is meant to bring comfort to the parents and caregivers of a disabled child/person.

On the other side of the coin, we have pronouncements that are quite hurtful. Below are a few that are new to me, and can come across as just plain mean.

The privilege of obtaining a mortal body on this earth is seemingly so priceless that those in the spirit world, even though unfaithful or not valiant, were undoubtedly permitted to take mortal bodies although under penalty of racial or physical or nationalistic limitations.”

Harold B. Lee, Decisions for Successful Living, pp. 165

There is a reason why one man is born black and with other disadvantages, while another is born white with great advantages. The reason is that we once had an estate before we came here, and were obedient; more or less, to the laws that were given us there. Those who were faithful in all things there received greater blessings here, and those who were not faithful received less”

Prophet Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation 1:61

While the two quotes above where mainly written to justify banning Blacks from the priesthood/temple blessings, it seems the authors couldn’t help themselves, and had to throw disabilities in there also, using the words “physical limitations” and “other disadvantages”. I wonder if this was suppose to make Black people feel better knowing their skin color was a disability like spina bifida?

It appears that these disabilities are among the physical ‘Handicaps’ that a less valiant spirit earns as a result of pre-mortal conduct described in a 1951 First Presidency Statement below:

The position of the Church regarding the Negro may be understood when another doctrine of the Church is kept in mind; namely, that the conduct of spirits in the pre-mortal existence has some determining effect upon the conditions and circumstances under which these spirits take on mortality, and that while the details of the principle have not been made known, the principle itself indicates that the coming to this earth and taking on mortality is a privilege that is given to those who maintain their first estate; and that the worth of the principle is so great that spirits are willing to come to earth and take on bodies no matter what the handicap may be as to the kind of bodies they are to secure;”

Official statement of the First Presidency to BYU President Ernest L. Wilkinson, dated August 17, 1951, quoted in Hyrum L. Andrus, Doctrinal Commentary on the Pearl of Great Price, 1967, pp. 406- 407

This is a real issue with parents of disabled children, and parents that lose children to illness. With a church lead by a Prophet, why couldn’t he just ask? I’ll help him out with the words to use for his next prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, I have studied this out in my mind, and have come to the conclusion that children born with disabilities is a completely random occurrence of our mortal existence, and that it has nothing to do with their conduct in the pre-earth life, nor anything to do with the conduct of the parents. If thou will confirm this, I have my pen and note pad at my bedside ready to write then thou are ready. In the name of thy Son, even the Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.

Why do you think that God has seen fit to reveal that children of gay couples can’t get baptized, and then change His mind, yet has chose not to answer this? Are the Q15 not asking the right questions? Has this question ever been asked?

Image by Dean Moriarty from Pixabay