Did we choose our families before we came to earth?

This is a great question. I think that this question is complicated for several reasons. President Joseph Fielding Smith said:

“We have no scriptural justification . . . for the belief that we had the privilege of choosing our parents and our life companions in the spirit world. This belief has been advocated by some, and it is possible that in some instances it is true, but it would require too great a stretch of the imagination to believe it to be so in all, or even in the majority of cases. Most likely we came where those in authority decided to send us. Our agency may not have been exercised to the extent of making choice of parents and posterity.” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Way to Perfection, pp. 44-45.)

Note that he leaves this question open partially. He states that, “in some instances it is true…” but gives his opinion that this is a stretch if we hold this to the majority of cases. I also think one of the reasons he leads to this conclusion would be that if we believed this to be true, that we all chose our families, that this would then lead us to believe that we chose our spouses before we came to earth.

This idea would lead many LDS couples who are struggling in their marriage to falsely concluded that they must have “married the wrong person” rather than roll up their sleeves and work on their marriage.

President Kimball stated:

President Spencer W. Kimball

President Spencer W. Kimball

“Soul mates” are fiction and an illusion; and while every young man and young woman will seek with all diligence and prayerfulness to find a mate with whom life can be most compatible and beautiful, yet it is certain that almost any good man and any good woman can have happiness and a successful marriage if both are willing to pay the price. (Spencer W. Kimball, “Oneness in Marriage,” Ensign, March 1977, 3–5. See also a 7 September 1976 address at Brigham Young University.)

“Many people think of [love] as mere physical attraction and they casually speak of ‘falling in love’ and ‘love at first sight.’ This may be Hollywood’s version and the interpretation of those who write love songs and love fiction. True love is not wrapped in such flimsy material. One might become immediately attracted to another individual, but love is far more than physical attraction” (Spencer W. Kimball, Faith Precedes the Miracle, 157.)

I have taught many students over the years that have said that they would have chosen their parents and their families if they were given the choice in the pre-earth life. I have also talked with many students who express that they would not have chosen their parents! Right now, I believe that there is a possibility that deep relationships existed in the pre-earth life, and that in many cases, we were given an opportunity to carry on those relationships here on earth, in whatever ways that were afforded us. Agency still rules the day – how we behave here on earth certainly plays a role in the depth and continuity of our relationships, both in families and among our close friendships.


About LDS Scripture Teachings

I write about ways scripture applies in our lives: LDSScriptureTeachings.org
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