Two Births and Three BaptismsPosted: January 14, 2012
There are times when I’m reading a blog article (or listening to a talk) when I struggle to make it to the end, not because of boredom, but due to inspiration overload. This is what happened to me as I was reading an article titled “The Importance of Birth” written by “Heather@Women in the Scriptures”. I’d like to elaborate on a few ideas discussed in this article. I encourage you to read it before continuing.
First off, the idea that the “tree of knowledge of good and evil” and the “tree of life” are representative of physical birth (feminine/yin) and spiritual birth (masculine/yang) was totally new to me, but it really resonates as truth. I found it interesting that it was a choice: “…nevertheless, thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee;” (Moses 3:17). In the premortal life, we chose to be born of the flesh (although some didn’t) and we now have the choice to be “born again” of the spirit. While studying the topic of being born again in the New Testament awhile back I noticed that a trinity was alluded to; a trinity that both physical birth and spiritual birth have in common: water, spirit/air, and blood/fire. This trinity is confirmed more specifically in the Book of Moses:
“That by reason of transgression cometh the fall, which fall bringeth death, and inasmuch as ye were born into the world by water, and blood, and the spirit, which I have made, and so became of dust a living soul, even so ye must be born again into the kingdom of heaven, of water, and of the Spirit, and be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine Only Begotten; that ye might be sanctified from all sin, and enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory;”
This passage appears to be comparing the stages of physical birth to the stages of spiritual birth. With that in mind, let’s examine each stage.
BAPTISM OF WATER
This first stage in the spiritual birth would be the baptism by immersion in water, whereas its physical counterpart would be the time referred to as when an expecting mother’s “water breaks.”
BAPTISM OF SPIRIT
In the spiritual birth this happens when a person receives the gift of the Holy Ghost. For brevity’s sake I’ll refer you to this excellent talk given by Elder Bednar a few years back. Physically speaking this would be the labored breathing period a woman endures during contractions. Contractions usually precede the breaking of water and in a similar manner the Holy Spirit guides a person to the gospel long before they are baptized or have hands laid on their heads to receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost. I’m told that the labored breathing not only helps to calm the mother, but also the child. The Holy Ghost plays this role in a person’s life as they change their lives to conform to God’s laws. It reassures them that the path they are on is correct, even if it is a painful one.
BAPTISM OF FIRE
The final stage is physically the time when the mother pushes the baby out. It is the most painful of the stages and bloodiest. During mortal birth it is a baptism of blood. During our spiritual birth it will be a baptism of fire. Joseph Smith stated, “[A]ll will be raised by the power of God, having spirit in their bodies, and not blood.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 199). The baptism of fire is the moment of resurrection, when our mortal bodies are transformed into spiritual bodies. The mortal blood is replaced by the immortal spirit or fire. This is a time of great pain, but immediately followed by a period of great joy and peace.
Heather made reference to two veils that all mankind must pass through in order to receive a resurrected body. The first veil refers to the first physical birth and the second veil to the second spiritual birth. She went on say that women have stewardship over the first and men have stewardship over the second. I agree. Previously I had come to conclude that God has given men and women different fields of labor and he has crafted each specifically for their field. He gave women the field of child bearing and raising. To men he gave the field of missionary work and bringing rebellious souls to God. Both are challenging, even life-threatening fields and it takes great faith to work in either of them. However, these difficult paths that saints are called to walk are the contractions of spiritual birth and will lead to the greatest joy for those who embark and endure to the end. May we all find joy in our righteous labors.