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LB - My nephew is born with Down Syndrome and I wonder if you can tell me why spirits are born this
way. Has it to do with the pre-existence? I also heard that those spirits are "protected" so Satan can't harm
them and that they were spirits who threw Satan out of Heaven. Is this true and can you
tell me more about it and may be where I can find it in the Scriptures
JOEL - In regards to the handicapped, President Joseph Fielding Smith taught:
"We must in all reason conclude that some physical defect at birth is due to some accident or other cause
that can be laid at the door of mortal conditions and not to some premortal defect or punishment in the
spirit world. When the disciples came to the Savior and asked the question concerning the man who was born
blind(John 9:2-3), the question whether this defect came upon him because of a condition existing in the
spirit world, he gave them the assurance that such was not the case. We have reason to believe that every
spirit that comes into this world was whole and free from such defects in the pre-existence." (We Believe, No. 564)
We don't know for sure why some people are born with defects, but as President Smith and Jesus said it was
not because of something they did wrong in the pre-earth life. More than likely it was because of
something they did right.
According to Elder Neal A. Maxwell these individuals "are in the Lord's hands and he loves them perfectly,"
(Maxwell, N. A. (1979). Meeting the challenges of today. 1978 Devotional Speeches of the Year, 1, 149-156).
I have heard stories of patriarchal blessings given to mentally handicapped people that have revealed things
they did as spirits in the pre-earth life, one of which as you said casting Satan out of heaven. But
these were personal revelations intended for the individual receiving the blessing. There is really
nothing scriptural about what kind of role they played in the pre-earth life. Because they are here they were certainly in favor of the Lord's plan of salvation for us.
They would be protected from Satan's influence only in the sense that, because they are incapable of
understanding right or wrong, Satan would simply be wasting his time on them. Satan's goal is to entice us
to commit sin to prevent us from obtaining salvation. He simply can't do this with children or the mentally
handicapped because they are incapable of comitting sin.
President Smith also said:
"The Lord has made it known by revelation that children born with retarded minds shall receive the
blessings just like little children who die in infancy. They are free from sin, because their minds
are not capable of a correct understanding of right and wrong." (Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel
Perhaps such people are born into the world so that, as the Savior put it, "the works of God should be made
manifest in him." (John 9:2-3)
Part of our test here is to see if we truly love our fellow man and will express that love by giving
service and help when needed. Those born to the earth with handicaps give us an opportunity to perform acts
of service and love(i.e. "works of God").
James E. Faust said:
"Many have questioned why some have such limitations. It was so in the time of Jesus - How are the works of
God manifested in these, our handicapped brothers and sisters? Surely they are manifested greatly in the
loving care and attention given by parents, other family members, friends, and associates. The
handicapped are not on trial. Those of us who live free of such limitations are the ones who are on
trial." (Reach Up for the Light [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1990], 88-90.)