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JON - I am trying to describe the resurrection of the body to my family members. We had this discussion, naturally about those who are cremated, lost at sea or eaten by wild anmials. I explained that I thought the resurection would be of a body (immortal) that is in the facimali of the one that we have now. The imprefect mortal body. Yes, Christ was ressurected in his body, so their arguement is that we will have our very same body. What is the real answer, we all agree to the resurrection, but I feel it is a renewed perfect body in the form of this imperfect body. That they should not be concerned with body parts trying to find themselves from various parts of the earth that have been scattered because this is an imperfect body that can, if you will, be discarded like waste. What is the real answer to this question, and if there is a gathering of body parts, does it so say scriptually. I appreciate your answers.
JOEL - As far as I have been able to determine, we will receive our original body, made from the original elements that we had before we died regardless of what condition they are in at death. According to the scriptures:
"Every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame" (Alma 40:23).
To me the word "restored" means to bring back the original elements that constituted our body before death. Matter can never be completely destroyed; just changed.
Joseph Smith said:
"Now, the word create does not mean to create out of nothing; it means to organize; the same as a man would organize materials and build a ship. Hence, we infer that God had materials to organize the world out of chaos - chaotic matter, which is element. Element had an existence from the time [God] had. The pure principles of element are principles which can never be destroyed; they may be organized and reorganized, but not destroyed. They had no beginning and can have no end" (HC 6:308-309).
God has the power to change our eternal elements back to their original form. A "proper and perfect frame" tells us that our restored body will no longer be plagued with the imperfections and disease we had during our mortal lives. The only vital element required for mortal life that will be missing is the blood that flowed through our veins; replaced with the spirit.
According to Joseph Fielding Smith:
"In the resurrection from the dead, the bodies which were laid down natural bodies shall come forth spiritual bodies. That is to say, in mortality the life of the body is in the blood, but the body when raised to immortality shall be quickened by the spirit and not the blood.
Here are some quotes from church leaders:
Parley P. Pratt
"Now can we suppose, that when a man rises from the dead that he will come forth with nails six feet long? I cannot conceive any such thing." He was sure that a resurrected being's nails "will be of a reasonable length." He did not believe that every element that had ever been a part of our bodies would rise with us in the resurrection but that "a sufficient amount of the particles which have once been incorporated in the system will be used by the Almighty in the resurrection to make perfect and complete tabernacles for celestial spirits to dwell in" (Journal of Discourses 16:355).
Elder Russell M. Nelson has provided an answer that combines his knowledge as a physician with his testimony as an apostle:
"The Lord who created us in the first place surely has power to do it again. The same necessary elements now in our bodies will still be available—at His command. The same unique genetic code now embedded in each of our living cells will still be available to format new ones then. The miracle of the Resurrection, wondrous as it will be, is marvelously matched by the miracle of our creation in the first place." (Nelson, Conference Report, April 1992, 103–4)
Brigham Young spoke of the body's "fundamental particles" in a similar context:
"When the angel who holds the keys of the resurrection shall sound his trumpet, the peculiar fundamental particles that organized our bodies here . . . —though they be deposited in the depths of the sea, and though one particle is in the north, another in the south, another in the east, and another in the west,—will be brought together again in the twinkling of an eye, and our spirits will take possession of them." (Discourses of Brigham Young, 372)
"The question may be asked, do not the particles that compose man's body, when returned to mother earth, go to make or compose other bodies? No, they do not. Neither can the particles which have comprised the body of man become parts of the bodies of other men, or of beasts, fouls, fish, insect, or vegetables. They are governed by divine law and though they may pass from the knowledge of the scientific world, that divine law still holds, governs and controls them. Man's body may be buried in the ocean, it may be eaten by wild beasts, or it may be burned to ashes, they may be scattered to the four winds, yet the particles of which it is composed will not be incorporated into any form of vegetable or animal life, to become a component part of their structure at the sound of the trumpet of God every particle of our physical structures necessary to make our tabernacles perfect will be assembled, to be rejoined with the spirit, every man in his order. Not
one particle will be lost. (-Brigham Young, Liahona, or Elder's Journal 1:153, 1875)
"The very particles that compose our bodies will be brought forth in the morning of the resurrection, and our spirits will then have tabernacles to be clothed with, as they have now, only they will be immortal tabernacles-spiritual tabernacles." (-Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 8:28, March 25, 1860)
Joseph F. Smith:
"The elements which compose this temporal body will not perish, will not cease to exist, but in the day of the resurrection these elements will come together again, bone to bone, and flesh to flesh." (Joseph F. Smith, Improvement Era 7:623, June, 1904)
"I know that some people of very limited comprehension will say that all the parts of the body cannot be brought together, for, say they, the fish probably have eaten them up, or the whole may have been blown to the four winds of heaven, etc. It is true the body, or the organization, may be destroyed in various ways, but it is not true that the particles out of which it was created can be destroyed. They are eternal; they never were created. This is not only a principle associated with our religion, or in other words, with the great science of life, but it is in accordance with acknowledged science." (John Taylor, Journal of Discourses 18:333-334, December 31, 1876)
So it sounds like God will be able to both find the original elements that made up our bodies and somehow reassemble them back to their original form; or at least somehow use our original elements to produce a perfected immortal body.