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Eternal Lives, Eternal Increase

Shirley S. Ricks
W. John Walsh


by Shirley S. Ricks

"Eternal lives" is a term that refers to the right and power to beget children after the resurrection, granted to those who are exalted in the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom. This is an aspect of eternal progression. "In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees; and in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage]; And if he does not, he cannot obtain it. He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase" (D&C 131:1-4).

This distinctive doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was taught by Joseph Smith and was especially articulated on May 16-17, 1843, at Ramus, Illinois, where he often visited and preached. Conversing on spiritual topics with a small party of friends, the Prophet Joseph Smith shed light on the concept of eternal increase: "Except a man and his wife enter into an everlasting covenant and be married for eternity, while in this probation, by the power and authority of the Holy Priesthood, they will cease to increase when they die; that is, they will not have any children after the resurrection. But those who are married by the power and authority of the priesthood in this life, and continue without committing the sin against the Holy Ghost, will continue to increase and have children in the celestial glory" (TPJS, pp. 300-301). Doctrine and Covenants, section 131, is largely concerned with this subject, and was first included in 1876.

A husband and wife who are married in the new and everlasting covenant and sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise under the proper priesthood authority are promised that they shall inherit "thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers," and their "glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever" (D&C 132:19). They are likened to gods, having no end. They share in the promises of eternal posterity made to Abraham and Sarah: "Both in the world and out of the world should they continue as innumerable as the stars" (D&C 132:30).

Brigham Young, in 1862, spoke of eternal lives, stating that the opportunity to become heirs to all things, and to become a "King of kings and Lord of lords,…is promised to the faithful, and are but so many stages in that ceaseless progression of eternal lives…. There will be no end to the increase of the faithful" (JD 10:5). He described such a situation as a pleasing one, creating happiness beyond mortal comprehension. In 1864 he elaborated: "In like manner, every faithful son of God, becomes, as it were, Adam to the race that springs from his loins, when they are embraced in the covenants and blessings of the Holy Priesthood…in the progress of eternal lives…. We have not yet received our kingdoms, neither will we, until we have finished our work on the earth, passed through the ordeals, are brought up by the power of the resurrection, and are crowned with glory and eternal lives" (JD 10:355).

Latter-day Saints believe that all worthy men and women, through righteous living and being sealed by the power of the priesthood, will in eternal life inherit, with Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, and all the faithful, those same blessings and enjoy a continuation of seeds forever, or eternal increase.

Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 1, Eternal Lives; Eternal Increase

Copyright 1992 by Macmillan Publishing Company


by W. John Walsh

How will Eternal Increase occur?

Eternal Increase refers to the ability to have children after the resurrection.  The Lord has never told us specifically how the procreative/conception process will work in eternity.  It is unknown whether men and women will reproduce in eternity in exactly the same way as they do in mortality.  It may be the same process or it may be somewhat different.  Undoubtedly, regardless of the method used, it will be an enhancement of what we now experience (e.g., no more labor pains).  Elder B. H. Roberts noted:

"Will the resurrection return you a mere female acquaintance that is not to be the wife of your bosom in eternity? No; God forbid; but it will restore you the wife of your bosom, immortalized, who shall bear children from your own loins in all the worlds to come, and that without pain or sorrow in travail. This, sir, was couched in the promise of Abraham; this makes the promise great." (Defense of the Faith and the Saints, Vol.2, p.276)


[See also Immortality and Eternal Life; Heirs of God and Joint-Heirs with Christ; Basic Beliefs home page; Teachings About the Afterlife home page.]

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