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by Richard M. Eyre
The Prophet Joseph Smith declared, "Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it" (TPJS, p. 255). The concept of true joy to be experienced in this life and in the life to come lies at the core of LDS thought. The Book of Mormon prophet Lehi taught, "Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy" (2 Ne. 2:25; cf. Alma 42:8).
Latter-day Saints believe in a premortal life in which all lived with God, the literal father of the spirits of humankind. Part of God's plan for the growth and progress of his childrenthe goal of which is to help everyone become as God himself is and to know the joy that he knowsinvolves a mortal experience. Therein people obtain a physical body, the power of procreation, and an independence and agency that allow experiences of diverse kinds and thereby enhance the powers of self-determination.
In this light, Latter-day Saints view the physical body, the mortal environment, the procreative power, and the freedom of choice as essential elements of joy. Thus, Heavenly Father created this earth and sent his children to it that they might know joy. In this profound sense, joy and happiness arise from combinations of experience, responsibility and service, and pain and grief, along with pleasure and enjoyment. At the center of God's plan to make maximum joy accessible to his children is the Atonement of Christ (2 Ne. 2:10-14, 22-27).
One can identify aspects of joy that are available in this life. First are the simple joys of being aware of and appreciating the gifts of life, the earth, and personal agency (e.g., taste, smell, beauty, music). A second is the joy of using these gifts to create opportunities or to develop relationships (e.g., marriage, parenting, charity). A third is the joy of coming to understand how mortality fits into the divine purpose or plan of the Heavenly Father (see Plan of Salvation). This understanding derives from learning of God's plan for his children's salvation and using it as a framework for comprehending and assimilating life's experiences. Another is the joy of accepting Christ as Savior and feeling his acceptance and approval of one's efforts. This joy is accompanied by the power and beauty of Christ's spirit in one's life. In this connection, the Book of Mormon describes a scene wherein "the spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they were filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins, and having peace of conscience" (Mosiah 4:3; cf. John 15:10-12).
LDS doctrine teaches that joy is obtained only by righteousness (Mosiah 4:3, 20). Consequently, Latter-day Saints view God's commandments as loving counsel from a wise Fathera Father whose goal is human happiness. They believe that lives which conform to God's will and are governed by his standards will create the most joyful response to all of life's circumstances, bringing both a fulfillment in life's accomplishments and a sweet resolve in life's sorrows.
(See Basic Beliefs home page; Doctrines of the Gospel home page)
Eyre, Richard M. The Discovery of Joy. Salt Lake City, 1974.
Eyre, Richard M. Teaching Children Joy. New York, 1986.
Hanks, Marion D. "Joy Through Christ." Ensign 2 (July 1972):104-106.
Romney, Marion G. "Joy and Happiness." Ensign 3 (Sept. 1973):2-3.
Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 2, Joy
Copyright © 1992 by Macmillan Publishing Company
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