As I sat in the creation room of the Idaho Falls temple a few weeks ago, my mind turned to birth. I pondered upon the different symbols within the accounts of the Creation, The Fall, and Plan of Salvation and how they relate to childbearing. Heather’s essay, “The Two Veils,” (The Gift of Giving Life, 58) is a beautiful explanation of these truths. I hope you will read that too if you have not already. This post also has some thoughts about the temple and birth. If you have been to the Idaho Falls temple (or other temple with like murals), you can visualize the different murals on the walls.
At conception the sacred body temple is entered and life is created. This maybe a bit obvious at first that these two principles complement the other but that does not make it any less miraculous. The creation of our earth is a beautiful type and shadow of the gathering of matter unorganized to create life within the womb. There are particular stages of development in both the Creation of the earth and the conception and gestation of a living soul. The intricacies of conception and creation denote the existence of a God who is all-knowing and all-powerful. As I read the account in Genesis I am reminded of the intelligences that needed to take form inside a empty womb, “And the earth was without form and void” (Genesis 1:2). As the creation continues we are reminded that the introduction of light is an integral process. I don’t know at what point we are given the light of Christ but we know that all who chose to come to this earth receive it. In Genesis we are told “and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divideth the light from the darkness” (Genesis 1:2-4).
The Garden of Eden
The Garden of Eden is indicative of the pure innocent babe inside the uterus receiving all of the nutrients without having to work. In a state of paradise, the baby does not yet have any worries or anxieties. They are completely taken care of by their own “tree of life,” (Genesis 2:9) the placenta. They don’t have to cry for want or need. It is automatically supplied to them. Water is a key part of the creation process in Genesis, “And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so” (Genesis 2:6-7). The waters that surround the baby preserve them in a perfect state for birth. The amniotic fluid and placenta work together to protect baby before he or she enters the harsh world of briars and thorns.
The Breath of Life
At birth to accept this mortal world, the baby will have to take their “breath of life” (Genesis 2:7). This moment in time is crucial and miraculous as the baby’s body adjusts on many levels to their new environment. I’m sure at the time that Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden that their bodies had to make adjustments to survive in the harsh world of briars and thorns. It is no accident that the Hebrew meaning of the name Eve is “life” or “life-giver.” Eve had to give life to all the human race symbolically giving us our breath of life.
At birth we enter into the telestial world or in other words, the world in which we now live. With this world comes the need to work by the “sweat of [our] own brow” (Moses 5:1). We are commanded to multiply and replenish the earth. We are also told that fulfilling this commandment will require effort on our part, “Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and they conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children” (Genesis 3:16). The process of childbearing brings different types of sorrow even if a baby is never conceived. Just ask the woman who desires greatly to get pregnant only to struggle with fertility. In one way or another a woman experiences her “sorrow” or her Gethsemane that brings her to the Lord. After being born the baby must now work for nourishment. Breastfeeding takes effort to establish for mom and baby. New infants are in a fallen world and stand in need of proper care, which they may or may not get.
Kingdoms of Glory
As we progress through this life from infant to child to adult we learn to take upon us covenants that teach us how to return to live with our Heavenly Father and our families in the celestial kingdom. We choose to either live on a telestial, terrestrial, or celestial level. We are each asked to symbolically come to the altar to make sacrifices for our the sake of building the Kingdom of God on the earth. Childbearing is just one of the sacrifices (a.k.a. blessings) that we make here on earth. How we treat our families and honor the gift of giving life will be a part of what determines if we have lived worthy of the celestial kingdom. God has said that we are “his work and glory” (Moses 1:39). It makes sense that our families should also be our “work and glory.”