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ANNVER - Why do Mormons often explain that the spirit world consists of two separate sides being prison and paradise, indicating some spirits live in one location and the other spirits live in the other? the phrase "state of being" makes me wonder whether the spirits actually live together like we are here on earth? if i'm correct in my thinking, can you please explain more as to why Mormons teach this idea of two separate sides because its misleading. Also do all spirits from the time of Adam and Eve wait there until the very last spirit arrives into spirit world in order for the next step to begin? ie. Resurrection?
JOEL - Thats' the way it seems to describe it in the scriptures and I have heard people say that it is both a place and a state of mind. One "imprisons" himself or herself through unbelief or through willful disobedience of God. In such circumstances, one's opportunities in the afterlife will be limited. Those who willfully rebel against the light and truth of the gospel and do not repent remain in this condition of imprisonment and suffer spiritual death, which is a condition of hell (Alma 12:16-18; D&C 76:36-37)
Spirit prison it seems might also be a temporary place in the spirit world where the wicked reside. The great gulf between paradise and hell that is spoken of in Jesus' parable of the rich man and Lazarus seems to inicate that there are two separate places
"between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence." (Luke 16: 26)
In Luke 16:19-31 it tells us that the gulf was bridged by the Savior's ministry in the spirit world. This bridging allowed interaction among the righteous and wicked spirits to the extent that the faithful present the gospel to "those who had died in their sins, without a knowledge of the truth, or in transgression, having rejected the prophets" (D&C 138:32). (D&C 138:30; cf. 1 Pet. 3:18-20; 4:6)
Whether it's a separate place or not doesn't really matter because in a sense the entire Spirit world can be called a spirit prison.
According to Joseph F. Smith's vison of the redemption of the dead, having "looked upon the long absence of their spirits from their bodies as a Bondage," are, in a sense, in prison; they seek redemption and "deliverance" from the "chains of death"; the Master thus came to declare "liberty to the captives who had been faithful." (D&C 138:50) Orson Pratt asked "When our spirits leave these bodies, will they be happy?" "Not perfectly so," he responded. "Why? Because the spirit is absent from the body; it cannot be perfectly happy while a part of the man is lying in the earth" (The Latter-Day Saints' Millennial Star, Volume 14)
Brigham Young said: "I know it is a startling idea to say that the Prophet [Joseph Smith] and the persecutor of the Prophet, all go to prison together... but they have not got their bodies yet, consequently they are in prison." (Journal of Discourses, Volumes 3-4)
All spirits must wait for the second coming of Christ and after to be resurrected during one of the resurrection periods. When the second coming happens those righteous mortals who are still on the earth will grow old and instantly change to a resurrected state.
(D&C 43:32; 63:51; 101:31)