Gender, Sex and The Eternal Human Soul


What is the value of our soul? Can a real and purposeful life be established without knowing something about the eternal principles or laws by which we exist?
What is the human soul?  Many define it in different ways but it usually has something to do with an eternal aspect of our existence.  My theological understanding defines it with some specificity.  The soul is the spirit united with a body.  At present it is the eternal nature of our personhood or our spirit united with this physical mortal body. Unique to LDS teachings that come from living prophets, is that we understand that the spirits of all men and women are the literal offspring of God, not a creature creation like a pawn or robot made out of nothing as currently taught in mainstream orthodox theology. 
This essay assumes the reader has some interest or belief that spiritual matters are important. It contains my opinions and experience and is based on some of the things I have learned from being married for almost four decades, raising eight children, counseling with others as an ecclesiastical leader and reading and attending educational and leadership seminars and other life experiences.  I will cover some of my observations and understandings that I have had over my lifetime being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. My opinions of course are my own and not to be construed as anything else on behalf of the church.
We are here for an eternal purpose which entails the necessity of a physical mortality and a body such as we have. This time on earth is a testing period for our soul. Part of the test is to see how we will respect the soul, which includes the body, our own and that of others. Avoiding obsessive behaviors through this process of life is one of its great challenges.

Our personal eternal growth can only happen when the body and spirit are subjected to challenges and stresses. Although it may not seem like it the oppositions, illnesses and aging we face in life strengthen us in ways we may not comprehend.  We go to school to learn, we exercise to get strong. These and many more obstacles are faced as we seek to become better at the things we choose to pursue.

When we die, the body and spirit are separated for a time. Because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ the spirit and the elements of the body will be united together again. This time the body will be perfected and glorified to varying degrees according to the person’s willingness to learn eternal principles and follow them. 
The ability to choose, sometimes called free will or moral agency comes because the most basic eternal element of our personality or intelligence was not made or created.  It has always existed. For this reason we each have a will independent from God. Think of it as eternal light, truth or energy. God did not create it but through his power and eternal plan he brings us to a state of existence capable of learning, living and forming relationships and acting on our own eternal will. Without hovering over us as it is here on earth, we act as we choose without force or influence other than our exposure to truth and error, in other words, exposure to the knowledge of good and evil.
I will also define sin as opposition to an eternal principle of some law that is everlasting and unchanging.  Sex is an eternal principle based on the fact that the powers of creation are established in two genders. There is also an eternal opposition to this. These are the eternal truths that have always existed. Commandments are based on these eternal laws and sin is the violation of an eternal principle.   
We can take the law of gravity as a principle we all should understand.  If you jump from a high place and fall to a hard place this would be like the act of sinning.  That would be compared to breaking the law. Such an act could kill you physically. It doesn’t mean you can’t do it. You can also conform to the law by understanding it and using a parachute or net or other methods that allow flight or a soft landing.  The laws of physics can't be broken and violation of them always has consequences.
Violation of eternal principles causes the spirit to become dead or desensitized and a loss of spiritual capacity or death can occur. In such a state a soul is unprepared and therefore not able to stand in the presence of God. This lack of preparation can be reversed in almost every case under certain conditions.

The eternal nature of the consequences of sin have been overcome so that we don’t have to suffer the negative effects if we repent or change.  Our Savior, Jesus Christ allows this change to occur and for our spirit to heal, to gain or regain the desire and willingness to learn eternal principles and follow them. This frees us in the most profound way to receive what God desires to give us.
Even if we don't know these principles we still find something to identify with and formulate a purpose for our life.  If not then people become depressed or despondent and at times end their life. 
What cosmic significance do we have if any at all in comparison to infinite space that is filled with distances and dimensions beyond human comprehension?
For most of us our body demonstrates miraculous capacities for having experience and for healing when damaged. When subjected to opposition through exercise the body will break down muscle tissue and with proper nutrition become stronger.  Some people become obsessed with this process. In coming to earth our spirit is exposed to opposition in many forms.  Through this life which is a step in our eternal journey we learn things and become stronger as well.

Our intelligence, whatever level we each might possess allows us the element of self-determination. Our intelligence is a self-existent form of light and truth, an eternal spark of energy of some kind.  It was not it created out of nothingness as taught by certain theological philosophies of man.
What are the philosophical, theological or scientific aspects to it? Do they collaborate or conflict?  Do people even consider these or are they stuck in the mire of their own cognitive dissonance?
While infinite space surrounds us, we can still find an opportunity to discover something of a closeness and intimacy between souls that can seem as profound as the expanse around us. 
The true nature of this intimacy can easily escape our understanding and its proper application to happiness.  Many teach and promote philosophies based on a few years of advanced education and some decades of experience. Such are the philosophies of men and their opinions.
Our unique journey of life is obviously about self discovery and making choices. It starts out in the simplistic innocence of a life waiting to be developed. A human baby is a helpless creature. How did that life come about?  Was it the result of a union of two people committed to giving that new life every opportunity to learn and grow within the bounds of protective guidance?  Or was it an act of selfish indulgence or of ignorant experimentation? As billions of people will die and be replaced over the next hundred years, under what circumstances will they be introduced to the world?

Prior to joining the church, I like most people wondered about my identity as a person. The deeper questions of where did I come from, why am I here have been part of my personal internal dialogue for as long as I can remember.  I have had my struggles with self-esteem. Most if not all will.  It is a part of life, learning and becoming.

When I was in junior high I came across a book written by a doctor about everything you wanted to know about sex but were afraid to ask. That was pretty much the title of it.  While I don’t remember many of the specifics, it basically told about many of the perverted things and escapades people would do to find sexual arousal and sensations that were bizarre and often dangerous.  It beckons the question: How do we all eventually decide the manner in which we are going to be aroused and fulfill sexual sensations?
While I understood the ideas of what the book was about I was never inclined to implement any of the things I read.  Fortunately the consequences of many of those acts were also explained. A few years later I joined the  Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints which played a formidible role in the development of my attitudes after that. 
Even then I had a strong sense that these ideas, practices and acts in the book had no benefit for me.  Reading it came about from curiosity.  From that experience I gained an insight that many times people may be curious about something and if they act on curiosity they may find themselves in a place that is difficult to move away from.  This is how fetishes, perverse ideas and any ideas for that matter develop if one continues to think about them. 
What is it about sex that makes it a topic of both avoided conversation in homes and between couples and overly demonstrated as fantasy and acted it out in public media venues?  How is it that anger develops and that what may have started as a loving attraction to another person becomes a hotbed of contention and discord leading to many of the social ills we face today? After my mother died I witnessed some of this in my dad's subsequent relationships and marriages.
How do we establish the attitudes and practices that allow us to enjoy the intimacy that heightens our most powerful bodily sensations?  They also allow us to create life and bond to each other and to the children of our creation?  If love, trust and respect are at the core of a relationship its chance for success is higher.  Such is not the case in relationships built on selfish foundations and indulgences.
Because of the principle of agency, known to some as free will or our freedom to choose, people can think that there are somehow new frontiers of sexuality as a philosophical choice.  They may think that in the modern world they will become acceptable to God if enough people are accepting of such ideas. These philosophies of men and women drive many sexual related ideologies.
God has however established both the process and the guidelines for success in this endeavor of relationships based on lasting intamacy. I have observed personally how those counsels and commandments can bless a person.  Commitment to complete fidelity in marriage is preceded by respect for the powers that create life.  How will you measure your life when it comes to your opportunity to create and develop lasting intimacy?  
There are a multitude of philosophies regarding sex, love and relationships as i mentioned.  They are for the most part the philosophies of men and women with peer group acceptance that have somehow found a prominent presence in society. They have been developers of the dialogues that take place on this subject. Their credentials are those given by other men and women, not from God.
Some children have a childhood of joy and happiness and others of abuse and neglect. What will determine which it is.  In whatever manner it goes, it becomes a complex time as adolescence shapes our experience as we mature into adults.  From there it can grow into either a life of primary happiness interspersed with some challenges or a life of constant challenges. For this reason I have the opinion that parenting is the most important endeavor undertaken in life.

From what I have observed, most of us will be exposed to some kind of trauma, abuse  or experience that is negative regarding sex and sexuality.  It is part of the opposition that will likely happen as we live in the fallen world.
In the modern society in which we find ourselves it is difficult to raise a child with a good self esteem let alone with a healthy sexual identity.  Many false ideologies exist regarding body dynamics. Even if a parent could teach a child perfect principles, the outcome would still be uncertain as the encounters of the child will always be subject to the agency or freedom of choice of the child and the amorality of society.  Because life is a learning experience, humans don't really have any right to judge another for where they are in their respective journey. 
Sexual abuse, promiscuity and every form of sexual aberration has always been with the human condition. Opposition exists in all things in life. The pursuit of pleasure without restraint or so called sexual liberty, not only with the opposite sex but with whomever and whatever a person might choose are options that either willingly or unwillingly become the stimulus for our minds and the bodies capacity for sexuality. 
Sexual preference has been proclaimed by many to be their choice and others say they were born with what they feel towards a particular gender. The idea that a person was born attracted to those of the same gender is a claim that seems to be asserted when the adherents have some prohibition in their basic moral upbringing that would tell them that what they are doing is against that moral precept.
Developing our sexual attractions is something that takes place for our whole life.  It will change as we age or undergo other physical and mental challenges.  We will all be tempted to act outside of our stated norm if we have one.  How is it that decades after marriage people divorce or profess same sex attraction?  They weren’t born this way.  Their thoughts and exposure to ideas that they ultimately acted on developed them.
God did ordain the union of men and women? If he is the giver of the gift and establishes of its purposes then it becomes our choice to follow it or not.  Marriage was instituted for the purpose of organizing the power to create life and providing joy in in the partnership of marriage.  Any sexual act outside of this authorized union hurts us spiritually, damns us, stops our progress with and degrades the eternal purpose of the union.
Cultural norms have for millennia, for the most part have supported the development of relationships that would build society through the creation of new life.  Happiness was sought through sexual expression of men and woman and this attitude has been learned by children and the development of their sexual identity follows. Life isn’t perfect as we all know. Abusive sexual activity manifests itself in a multitude of ways. 
In modern society it is difficult to raise a child with a good self esteem that will also contribute to the path of their sexual identity.  Where does the idea come from that a person has a sexual identity other than the gender with which they are born?  It is a philosophy of man, the opinion of self proclaimed experts and nothing more. That our gender is eternal is knowledge gained from prophets of God. 
Sex is meant to draw us together as a human family.  This can only happen when there are bounds that help us see how the purpose of restraint gives expression to a greater joy, happiness and pleasure that can lead its participants to creation and nurturing of our human family. 
Sex at its highest and best purpose is by eternal design and will when used according to its designer please both God and the people authorized to be participants.  By authorized I mean legal and lawful marriage between a man and a woman. This pattern is based on the eternal principle that we are created in the image of God, male and female.  To be in the image of someone is to look like them.
Does some element of cosmic significance pertain to our soul?  How does intimacy continue if we honor the principle?  Will it will rise with us in the resurrection?  This would be known as the abundant life, a life of eternal increase, a life of no limits to love and creation. When considering that creation is endless, then how is it carried out? Is God the solitary source or does he share his power? He is not a limited creator nor a limiter of creation. His love continues as creation expands.
To find a fullness of joy or happiness we learn the roles that each person has based on gender and the fullness of expression that each person is endowed with.  We must act in accordance with our eternal identity of which our gender is an unchangeable part. If relationships are eternal as Latter-Day Saints teach, we see the image of God expressed in the creation of families. The power of creation is in each of our bodies and by eternal design is to be realized through the union of those bodies. 
We will be developing and controlling our sexual attractions for our whole life. They will change for various reasons and we will be tempted to act outside of our stated bounds. Opposition will test the resolve for most of our mortal life.
People in today's modern age would never stop to think for even the briefest moment that they somehow lacked authority to act on their sexual instincts and desires.
The Human Brain and Changing Behavior, Emotions and Traits
We all think differently or so it would seem. Two or more people can see the same thing and think entirely different thoughts about it. The fact is though we all think the same.  How our brain records experiences is the same for all of us. It provides the stimulus for our bodies to produce certain chemical reactions that are in essence stored in the body.

Neurological connections are hardwired from experiences and our reaction to them.  They form as we live unaware of what is taking place until we develop the self-awareness to control them. Our likes, emotions, dislikes, addictions, attractions and personalities can change with a concerted effort to do so, Some are more difficult than others. All are developed by the way we responded to certain stimulus we encountered in our life’s journey. 
In this way you could say we think differently. We receive stimulus and store the experience in unique ways according to the individual nature of our path.  Some effects compound with greater force creating a spectrum of understandings, opinions and attitudes as we might allow them.  This is why we may see things differently, why some are more loving, kind, mean or angry.  
Even though we all experience some element of the emotional spectrum, some choose to control which they allow to compound in their life. Others default to the non-virtues seeking to provide sensations to the body that may or may not allow them to develop their emotional intelligence to higher levels of virtue as they move through life.
Sexual experience and the attitudes that we approach it with are developed. We each have a biological gender, it is not something we change.  Our sexual attitudes come from training, culture, learning and choices based on stimulus and responses and philosophies we encounter in the world.  
There have been extensive studies of the brain and psychology to know that neurons that form pathways of emotion and feelings can be changed.  To say otherwise denies the essence of agency and free will.
Theological Observations
After Eve partook of the fruit, Adam knew that his most important duty was to the command that God had given, to stay with her and multiply and replenish the earth.  This was the will of God and Adam and Eve fulfilled it. 
The promise of a literal resurrection is fundamental to our doctrine as Latter-Day Saints.  Orthodox and sectarian Christianity debates whether such is the case. Their scholars don't know. To us overcoming death is to come forth from the grave as the same person placed there. At that time however the body will be perfected and glorified to the extent that the person was faithful to their covenants.  Some will have power to continue creation and others will not.  It is not an arbitrary thing. It is determined by our choices during our life and any opportunities we have before the resurrection in the spirit world. 
From what I understand of saving principles is that no person will be judged by God for that which they could not control.  If circumstances led to certain decisions and behaviors when they could not discern they may not be accountable.  We should not deny the eternal agency that each soul is given once truth is presented to them be it in this life or that time before the resurrection.
Our doctrine is clear as to what it means to be created in the image of God male and female.  We look like God.  Our heavenly parents are Gods and they are God. They are male and female.  Motherhood and fatherhood are eternal principles, as are womanhood and manhood. We are their sons and daughters. Creation of human souls is not the act of a solitary incorporeal genderless intelligence forming pawns or robots to worship it out of nothingness. 
Sex is an eternal part of that image. It is sacred and holy to those that make it so. It can also be perverted in prurient ways not keeping it sacred.  In this is opposition our agency is fulfilled.  For this purpose was creation ordained and a fall arranged and salvation offered. To give us a chance to become like our heavenly parents and to enjoy eternal increase and the joy of giving new life eternally, nurturing eternal souls to find their greatest potential.  
Jacob 2:5 But behold, hearken ye unto me, and know that by the help of the all-powerful Creator of heaven and earth I can tell you concerning your thoughts, how that ye are beginning to labor in sin, which sin appeareth very abominable unto me, yea, and abominable unto God.
Alma 29:5 Yea, and I know that good and evil have come before all men; he that knoweth not good from evil is blameless; but he that knoweth good and evil, to him it is given according to his desires, whether he desireth good or evil, life or death, joy or remorse of conscience.

2 Nephi 2:5 And men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil. And the law is given unto men. And by the law no flesh is justified; or, by the law men are cut off. Yea, by the temporal law they were cut off; and also, by the spiritual law they perish from that which is good, and become miserable forever.

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