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SAMUEL - Thanks for all the great insight included on this page, it has been most helpful.
My question is in regards to the process of spirit children being assigned to families here on earth. Was is decided whilst we were in the pre-existence who would be our earthly mother/father/siblings etc, and did we know who we would be sent to? Did we have any say in this? Or does God assign spirit children to families at the time they conceive so to speak, without the spirit children knowing who they will live with until that time? (I understand that God knows everything that will come to pass already). Are there any quotes from LDS authorities on such matters? Thanks in advance.
Of course we know that people have been foreordained to fulfill certain roles in God's kingdom on earth (Abr 3: 22-23, D&C 138: 55). With regards to assignment to parents and families, people have speculated about this over the centuries, and mostly all we have are a few hints from the scriptures and prophets that there might have been be some reason for some people being placed in a certain family or condition on earth.
In Acts we read:
"And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;" (Acts 17:26)
So according to Paul many spirits may have been foreordained to specific nations and generations ("bounds of habitation"), as well as perhaps to families and to varied assignments, work, or missions on earth.
Our pre-mortal spirits were just as different there as people are here, which might be a factor in determining when and under what conditions we are sent to earth.
We also know from the scriptures:
"There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." (Alma 13:28-29)
God will not test us beyond our ability, which might mean that He will not send our spirits into a family or condition on earth that we cannot handle, based on who we were in the pre-mortal life.
I know of no official doctrine that specifically tells us we made our own choice as to who our parents would be.
There is evidence to indicate that there is, at least in certain cases, foreordination to favored families. President Harold B. Lee affirmed that, generally, we come to certain families as a reward or blessing for our premortal lives. Undoubtedly, premortal assignment to specific families is based also on what is best for individual and familial growth and development and what will best further the works and purposes of God.(Harold B. Lee, in Conference Report, October 1973, p. 7.)
While there is evidence of at least some degree of foreordination to families, President Joseph Fielding Smith taught that there was "no scriptural justification... for the belief that we had the privilege of choosing our parents and our life companions in the spirit world." (Joseph Fielding Smith, The Way to Perfection (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1972), p. 44).
Addressing this issue in a talk given to seminary and institute teachers in 1966, Elder Harold B. Lee stated that "we have no revealed word" on the extent to which premortal choices of family members were made. He then cautioned that we should not accept or teach ideas that cannot be firmly established in the standard works or by inspired utterances of the living prophets. In 1971, the First Presidency once again declared that "we have no revealed word to the effect that when we were in the preexistent state we chose our parents and our husbands and wives." (The First Presidency, 1971, as cited in Steve F. Gilliland, "I Have a Question," Ensign, June 1977, p. 40.)
President Joseph Fielding Smith stated: "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, The Way to Perfection, pp. 44-45).
Elder Boyd K. Packer also cautioned against the idea of a "predestined love" in an address entitled "Eternal Love" given at the BYU Tri-Stake Fireside, November 3, 1963.
Because of the uncertainty of this concept we should never attempt to judge someone's premortal character or performance based on parentage or family conditions.
SAMUEL - Do you think we knew in the pre-earth life who would be a part of our immediate families, long before we were sent to earth? (for example, before the earth was created, while we still lived with all the other spirits)... Or did we first find out just before we were sent to earth (or somewhere in between these times)?
JOEL - You are right that there hasn't been much said on this. Since the whole idea is pure speculation to begin with and not official church doctrine I don't think there is any answer to your question. I can only imagine that for a person's spirit to be foreordained to a favored family, he would have to have proved himself worthy over some period of time during the pre-mortal life before it would be known if he was going to be in one of these families.