Monday, January 14, 2013

No Blood In Heaven

Out of nowhere, I suddenly remembered one of the weirdest doctrines I ever heard taught from the pulpit by a semi-reputable authority figure--that our bodies would not have blood in them in the spirit world.  Or in heaven.

I heard this as a teenager from an eccentric but well-respected high council speaker in sacrament meeting.  That night, at dinner, my family was discussing sacrament meeting.  Since my dad was the stake president, he'd attended a different ward that day and my mother and I were filling him in on our church experience.  My mom mentioned that Brother Buford's talk had some pretty heavy stuff in it.  Thinking that she was being critical of him, I agreed.  "Yeah, some of it was pretty out there," I said.  "Like that whole no-blood-in-heaven thing."  I shook my head in slight disgust that someone would teach such absurd things over the pulpit.

To my astonishment, my mom informed me that Brother Buford was probably right.  He wasn't just making stuff up and there was actually something to his claim.  That was one of the first times I can remember thinking my parents were flat-out wrong on a religious issue.  I didn't take it as a blow to my testimony, though--I just figured a couple members (including my parents, who I realized weren't perfect) got some stupid ideas in their heads.  But despite my mother's assurance that Brother Buford wasn't making stuff up, I disregarded that particular piece of information as completely false.

Upon remembering this experience, I got curious.  And I consulted Google.

Turns out, Brother Buford may not have been totally off-base in teaching us that we'd have no blood in heaven.  The prophet Joseph Fielding Smith explained:
After the resurrection from the dead our bodies will be spiritual bodies, but they will be bodies that are tangible, bodies that have been purified, but they will nevertheless be bodies of flesh and bones, but they will not be blood bodies, they will no longer be quickened by blood but quickened by the spirit which is eternal and they shall become immortal and shall never die.
You know he's said something totally off-the-wall when the biggest problem with that statement is not the fact that it's an egregious run-on sentence. Brother Buford was teaching church-approved doctrine and he couldn't get it from a higher source on the food chain--unless, I suppose, it was a more recent source.  Still, he was apparently teaching legitimate "truth" to the congregation.  There is, indeed, no blood in Mormon heaven.

The weird thing about this, of course, is that in the celestial kingdom, we're supposed to be having lots of celestial sex to create spirit children.  And that brings to mind this little anti-Twilight gem:

This has a beautiful symmetry to it because Twilight was written by a Mormon...

If you have no blood in your veins and you can't get it up, how can you be expected to eternally procreate?  I couldn't help but wonder how faithful members who are into these weirder, more nebulous doctrines could reconcile this teaching with reality.

And this is what I found:  A four-page thread on the forums dedicated to this exact principle.  My two favorite theories proposed by the posters there were the idea that "pure spirit" will flow through our veins in the afterlife and the last idea proposed--that after we're resurrected we'll just have our blood replaced with water (which could have magical properties currently unknown to science).

Yes, I'm mocking these people, and yes, this might be particularly mean-spirited.  But I just wish that people (including myself, years before I left the church) would apply Occam's Razor a little more often.  When you have to bend over backwards and apply bizarre metaphysical terminology or repeatedly invoke the claim that there's too much we don't know just to make your beliefs fit into the nice, neat box you've been struggling to keep them in, maybe you should be looking for a simpler explanation.

Maybe we don't have pure spirit in our veins in our post-resurrection bodies.  Maybe Joseph Fielding Smith was just talking out his ass.  

On a final note, it was encouraging to see that there were at least two posters in that thread that have since been banned.  I noticed one in particular was less accepting of Fielding's word as gospel than the others were.  Perhaps those two posters apostatized and attempted to share their findings with the forum before getting booted?  

Snow and Moksha, wherever you are, I hope you're out.


  1. So...applying Occam's Razor then, what's your "simpler explanation?" What happens when we die, Alex?

    1. Why assume anything happens? Seems like the simplest explanation is that our family members bury us and our bodies slowly decay in pine boxes.