Guest Question: Using Folk Doctrine To Manipulate Spouses

Carrie just posted this intriguing question on a different Exponent II post. I thought this story was too good to not have its own post. Your thoughts?

“A non-LDS friend of mine told me that she had had a couple of the missionary discussions. The young elders brought in an older couple for the third visit (Stake missionaries, maybe?) Patti had been doing some research on the Church and challenged them about eternal progression, citing Isaiah 43:10, “Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me.” The lady got very upset with her husband, and said, “You said we would be gods. What about all those spirit children you told me we were creating every time we had sex?” I have never heard this before (i.e., every time a couple had sex in this life, they create a spirit child). Have you? She might have misunderstood what the lady was saying (on the other hand, it sounds like a good line: She: “Not tonight, dear.” He: “But what about our celestial kingdom?”)


Caroline is a PhD student in Women's Studies in Religion and mother of three.

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  1. Starfoxy says:

    It could go both ways though. I knew a older lady who said that she and her husband only had sex when they were trying to get pregnant, because “that is what sex is for and everything else is a sin.”

  2. AmyB says:


    The lady you know sounds very Catholic to me. They both seem like twists on the same thought, i.e. sex is only okay when used for procreation. The idea that having sex on earth creates spirit children is pretty funny to me. People will believe a lot of crazy things if it makes them feel better.

  3. TftCarrie says:


    Thanks for the link, but I am afraid that comment was not made by me. Funny story though. I think one of the main things the “younger generation” seem to be trying to do in this church is to stamp out the crazy mormon folklore or at least separate it from actual doctrine.

  4. Caroline says:

    oops. I’ll take that link off. Thanks for letting me know. (I assumed it was you, Carrie, since you are the only Carrie I know that posts here…)

    New Carrie, thanks for the sending us the question. If you don’t mind, could you sign your name with an initial afterwards (or something) so that we can distinguish you from the other Carrie? Thanks!

  5. Kaimi says:

    Wow, Caroline. That is an awesomely weird, funny, twisted way to apply doctrine. I’m still chuckling; this is definitely being filed away in my “I can’t believe that someone actually thinks this!” file.

    (And if it _is_ true, hah! Um, let’s just say that, if the ward rumor mill is at all accurate, some folks are going to be having slightly less populous planets than others).

  6. EmilyCC says:

    I love these kind of stories although I’d like to think we’re more open about sexuality so these kind of misconceptions (pardon the pun) don’t still happen. But, you never know… Thanks for the laugh, Carrie!

  7. jana says:

    this is hysterical. definitely one to file away in my brain and re-tell in gospel doctrine class….

    And it would be quite funny if there were some heavenly tally about how many times we’ve all had sex w/our spouses. Just imagining makes me giggle. Maybe next time sacrament meeting gets boring I’ll try to do some math and figure out how many “spirit children” my husband and I have now after 13+ years of marriage….hey, I wonder if the spirit children are conceived even when using birth control???

  8. Caroline says:

    I know, aren’t stories like this amazing? I gaffawed a bit when I first read it. Unbelievable.

    I just found out from Mike who you are, Carrie. Glad you visited our blog! To answer your question, most younger women and men I know don’t have sexual misconceptions (good one, Emily!) like this one. I’m not as tuned in to what the older ones think on subjects like this, however.

    I think some Church leaders have done a good job of making it clear that one primary purpose of sex is simply to bring two people closer together, as well as occassionally produce babies. I have never heard of anyone using a story like this to manipulate a spouse into sex, though. How incredible. And disturbing.

    Going off on a bit of a tangent, though, I have heard of other sexual hangups that some younger women today have. i have heard of 4 or 5 Mormon women who marry and won’t sleep with their new husbands for months – even a year -because they have had it so drilled into them that sex is wrong wrong wrong. Even though it’s taught that it’s fine if you’re married, they can’t quite switch to that mindframe overnight and they freeze whenever their husbands try to touch them. I know of two cases which have resulted in divorce because of this.

    I hope that someday the Church leaders will do a bit of a better job affirming women’s sexuality by telling them that it is natural and right to feel sexual desire, even before they are married.

  9. AmyB says:

    “I hope that someday the Church leaders will do a bit of a better job affirming women’s sexuality by telling them that it is natural and right to feel sexual desire, even before they are married.”

    This would be a major turnaround for the church. Modesty is so tied to sexuality in our church (which I think is extremely inappropriate and damaging). Boys get plenty of messages that sexual feelings are bad, but girls get told that sexual feelings are bad, AND that they are bad for arousing them in boys. Girls get a double whammy.

    I personally feel damaged from having been adolescent in the mormon church and the way these issues were drilled into me.

  10. a spectator says:

    I have never heard a story like this one, exactly, but I certainly have heard stories of spouses being unable to agree on a course of action based on different ideas of doctrine. I am thinking of cases in which one spouse holds steady with the Standard Works and the other digs up anything and everything some General Authority or Prophet had ever said or published.

    Frankly, I wish we restricted (by encouragement, not censorship) people more to the scriptures than all the superfluous pulications–some people just take them WAY too seriously.

  11. Starfoxy says:

    I spoke with my dad this weekend and he confirmed that the ‘sex creates spirit children’ folk doctrine is one that has been widely shared and believed. He didn’t know where it came from, but he knew of people that believed it. He seemed to think it was something the generation before him believed.

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  13. Barthes says:

    I guess in the last days there will be doctrines and rumors of doctrines. If sex creates spirit children, then what would masturbation create?