Latter-day Saint Life

Why Did God Put a Veil Between Us and Him? One Powerful Explanation


Not only does the veil keep us from remembering our premortal past, it also keeps us from seeing many things that are going on at the present. God and His angels almost always stay in their hiding places—except on those exquisitely rare occasions when He does part that veil.

After the Savior’s Resurrection, for example, He saw and talked with two of His disciples on the road to Emmaus. They didn’t recognize Him. When He heard their disappointment about this Jesus in whom they had “trusted” (note the past tense), He saw that they had missed the core message of His mortal ministry. So, “Beginning at Moses . . . he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (see Luke 24:13–31). He didn’t say who He was. He taught them exactly what He’d taught them while in the flesh. Only later did they recognize Him. Why didn’t He tell them sooner?

When a rich man died about the same time as did Lazarus, the rich man pleaded with father Abraham to send Lazarus back to teach the rich man’s family: “If one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.” But Abraham replied, “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead” (Luke 16:30–31). Why not?

Christ was the life and the light of men, a light that “shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not” (John 1:5). He came into the world, but His own received Him not. If it is eternal life to know God, why didn’t He reveal Christ more obviously? He came so privately, so unobtrusively. God could send a great chariot across the sky every day at noon, drawn by flying white horses. The chariot could stop right above the earth—just like a sudden, total eclipse of the sun—and a voice from the great beyond could say, “And now a word from our Creator.” Why doesn’t He do things like that?

Learning from experience teaches us in ways nothing else can. In designing His plan for our mortal experience, God consciously took the risk that some of His children wouldn’t come back. Didn’t He have the power to touch us with some kind of wand that would give us the capacity to live with Him in the celestial kingdom?

Even the Savior had to undergo the trials of mortality—without shortcuts. He “offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him who was able to save him from death; . . . Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered” (Hebrews 5:7–8; emphasis added). So it is with us. We need milk before we’re ready for meat. “For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:13–14). Only “by reason of use” can we exercise our senses to truly understand both good and evil. What is it about experience that is so essential it’s worth the risk that we may not come back?

Salvation and exaltation are not just abstract goals. Those terms describe an entire process that requires growth, development, and change. Central to that growth process is mortality’s unique opportunity to let us learn by experience—by practice—which is the only way we can develop capacities and skills. We’re not here just to learn facts and absorb information. There is something about forcing people to be righteous that interferes with, even prohibits, the process that righteousness in a free environment is designed to enable. Righteous living causes something to happen to people.

The Lord said that “whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection” (D&C 130:18). “Principle of intelligence” may refer to facts, information, and the laws of the universe. But it especially refers to Christlike capacity and skills like self-control, obedience, compassion, patience, and unselfishness. Why would we be damned if we saw a sign—if the veil were parted too early? We would be stopping our progress. Even if a chariot were to fly visibly across the sky every day, seeing such wonders would not help us really to know the Father and the Son. Eternal life—knowing Them—is a quality of life, the fruit of the long-term, difficult, gradual development of the capacity to become as Christ is. When we begin to live as He does, we will begin to know Him.

The idea that exaltation results from a process of skill development may help explain why there is a veil. Faith and repentance and knowing God are processes and principles of action, understood not only by defining them but by experiencing them. God is a great teacher, and He knows the patterns and the principles we must follow—and practice—in order to develop divine capacities. He can teach us those skills, but only if we submit to His tutoring.

Much of the substance of Christ’s gospel can’t be fully measured; it can’t all be specified, except as it is understood by experience. But that is no reason to value it less. We can’t totally explain our most significant experiences—our love for our families, our testimonies, our feelings of gratitude for the Lord’s love and mercy. To reduce these essences to a content that we can communicate fully to other people may diminish their sacredness. Like beauty and joy, they are too important, too nuanced, to be totally specifiable.

There is a veil between our world of mortality and God’s world of the eternities. It can become very thin at times. But for most of us the veil remains, for He has placed it there to help us learn how we must live, and who we must become, to live with Him someday.

Lead image from Getty Images.

We often encounter unexpected questions and complexities that can challenge our faith. Faith Is Not Blind offers fresh concepts and tools that will help readers learn from these experiences, rather than feeling disillusioned by them.

Award-winning authors Bruce and Marie Hafen draw upon a lifetime of experience in Church service, college teaching, and parenthood to help readers embrace both the spiritual and the intellectual aspects of the gospel. Their approachable tone and real-life examples acknowledge complicated gospel issues, yet clearly and gently guide readers through the steps necessary to work through complexity, develop informed testimonies, and become filled with the faith that comes from knowing God.


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