A profound doctrine was taught in Institute this week, and I wanted to share it here and expound a little beyond what was shared in class.
The scriptures are replete with references to the Savior of mankind, both directly and indirectly. Direct references teach meaningful and critical doctrines. Indirect references, or symbols, can teach far beyond the words that are written. Jesus taught with symbols, or parables, to allow those who were spiritually prepared to drink deeply from the waters of life while letting those who were unprepared go untaught so they would not be held accountable for the truths they would have otherwise learned and not lived. Similarly, scriptural symbols and scientific principles can allow us to learn deeply through the Holy Spirit if we are prepared for what He will teach us and if we take the time to ponder these things.
Some symbols of Christ include the lambs and other animals that were sacrificed in the days of Moses to cleanse the people from their sins, Moses himself as he led the children of Israel from captivity to freedom, and the brazen (or brass) serpent which Moses raised up in the wilderness to heal the dying souls from the venomous bite of the serpents. A less-known symbol of Christ is a mother. But how?
Now for some brief Biology. As we discuss this topic, be looking for the symbols of Christ, since we can’t possibly discuss them all in this format. If you listen to the Spirit and ponder these principles, you will learn much more than the little that is written here. Some concepts here are covered intentionally briefly to allow you the opportunity to learn on your own.
When a woman becomes pregnant, the fetus begins to grow in the womb of the woman. It is a miraculous process wherein the DNA tells the stem cells what to become and where. All the cells in the fetus begin as stem cells and are essentially the same to begin with, but the DNA codes for proteins which then trigger in the the stem cells different reactions which decide what they turn into, whether it’s one of many types of brain cells, muscle cells, skin cells, or any other cells in the body. It’s amazing that everything gets into the right position at all! Now, all of this happens in the womb, where the baby fetus is surrounded by water in an axenic atmosphere, meaning that there are no other microscopic organisms living in the womb with the fetus, no bacteria, no viruses, NOTHING except the mother and the baby. The baby grows to completion and, when the time is right, the baby tells the mother’s body it is ready to be born. The mother’s body does not send this signal, the baby does. To be brief, the mother experiences extreme pain and anguish, the water breaks, water and blood are shed from the mother’s body, her flesh is often torn to allow the child to be born, and a new spirit child of Heavenly Father enters his or her mortal existence. He or she begins a new life. And, as a side note, he or she is a genetic combination of the mother and the father, with some mutations. Or, in other words, the mother and the father become one in the son or daughter.
The science of the development of a child’s body is fascinating, and textbooks have been dedicated to this topic. A lengthy discussion could, therefore, be had on the matter, but these are just a few very top-level basics.
So how is the mother a symbol of Christ? First, we must understand the concept that Jesus Christ is our Father.
How is Christ our Father? Is not God our Father? Absolutely, yes! But Jesus Christ is also our Father in a different way. God is the Father of our spirits. Our spirits would not exist without him. To see how Jesus Christ is our Father, turn in the Book of Mormon to Mosiah chapter 5, verse 7. To paraphrase (and you should read it verbatim from the scriptures), Jesus Christ becomes our Father when we make covenants with Him, our hearts are changed through faith in Him and His Atonement, and we are reborn, or born again. If we are reborn, then there must be a father to whom we are born, right? That Father is Christ. He is the Father of our new, spiritual selves, the Father of our new lives as His servants and disciples. As we are baptized, we enter the water, the blood of Christ cleanses us, our bodies “break the water”, and we come out from it a new person, born again in Christ through His sacrifice.
Understanding that Jesus Christ is the Father of our new spiritual self, consider the following scripture: Moses chapter 6, verse 59 in the Pearl of Great Price. Again, please read it in full. For your convenience, following is the full text:
“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 the 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;” – (Moses 6:59)
The mother bears a child into this world with water, blood, and the spirit to enter mortal life, just as we must be born of Christ with water (through baptism), blood (through the Atonement of Christ), and the Spirit (being sanctified by the Holy Spirit) to enter into eternal life. Let us remember also that Jesus is the Living Water and that upon his death, the centurions pierced His side and water and blood came out from His broken flesh.
How sacred is the mother’s task of bearing children. It is the ultimate sacrifice she could give, risking her own life and suffering tremendous pain in the process, as did the Savior but in an infinitely greater degree. How we ought to respect women, the final and crowning gem of God’s creations. Her body is a symbol of Jesus Christ. May we never forget that.
Men, may you treat women as what they are, being a symbol of Christ. Never mistreat them. Never take advantage of them. Never belittle them. Never look upon them lustfully. Encourage them and help them to see themselves as the precious princesses they truly are – daughters of a King.
Women, may you never forget the sacred nature of your calling to be what God has made you. Never be fooled by the world’s deception that women are less than men unless they do the same things that men do. A mother’s most influential work is done in her own home. Imagine a world where every child had a mother that cared for and loved him/her. THAT would change the world! Certainly much more than a world full of women in politics or prominent positions in business or commerce (not that their contributions there are not appreciated, mind you!). Do not be afraid or ashamed of being a woman and a mother in all its feminine glory. Remember, God created in you the symbol of His holy Son. It is part of your eternal identity and purpose (see The Family: A Proclamation to the World).