According to Mormonism, all humans today are the literal spirit-children and offspring of heavenly parents before the creation of the world. For example, when Mormons pray to their Father God, they believe that they are communicating with their literal heavenly father. Dr. Stephen Robinson writes:
Latter-day Saints believe in the literal fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of humanity. . . . All men and women were his spiritual offspring in pre-mortal existence.
Mormonism rarely mentions a heavenly Mother, but based on the Mormon teaching of eternal Celestial marriage and procreation, it is logical to conclude that Mormonism believes God the Father is married to an eternal wife or possibly to many wives. According to Bruce McConkie:
Implicit in the Christian verity that all men are the spirit children of an Eternal Father is the usually unspoken truth that they are also the offspring of an Eternal Mother. An exalted and glorified Man of Holiness (Moses 6:57) could not be a Father unless a Woman of like glory, perfection, and holiness was associated with him as a Mother. The begetting of children makes a man a father and a woman a mother whether we are dealing with man in his mortal or immortal state. This doctrine that there is a Mother in Heaven was affirmed in plainness by the First Presidency of the Church (Joseph F. Smith, John R. Winder, and Anthon H. Lund) when, in speaking of pre-existence and the origin of man, they said that "man, as a spirit, was begotten and born of heavenly parents. . . ."
Mormons teach that God's spirit-children will also have their own spirit-children as gods if they are eternally exalted to the highest level of the Celestial heaven.
The Heavenly Spirit-Children
Because God the Father and Mother possess physical bodies, Mormonism believes they are able to give birth to billions of spirit-children. It is at this time of birthing that eternal intelligences or minds are clothed with spiritual bodies and become personages of spirit. And when these eternal intelligences are birthed, they take on the beginning of their human ego as a conscious identity-although some Mormons today assume that a preexistent intelligence is a conscious and self-aware person even before spirit-birth. No Mormon sources explain exactly how the births of these spirit-children actually take place, but it seems logical that since eternal marriage is required to have spirit-children, then bodily sex is experienced and heavenly mothers experience a birth process similar to that on earth. Yet this remains an unexplained and unclear Mormon doctrine.
Mormons call the preexistence of all human spirits the "First Estate" and strongly reject the idea that individual spirits are created at the moment of conception or at birth. They believe spirit-children have lived for an indefinite amount of time in the presence of their Father God before they come to earth to inhabit their earthly physical bodies or tabernacles. All spirit-children are individual entities-male and female- with distinct personalities and characters. This is why Mormons today address other LDS members with the title of Brother or Sister, along with the individual's last name (Brother Jones or Sister Smith). Dr. Robert Millet makes this clear:
Latter-day Saints believe that men and women are literally the spirit sons and daughters of God, that we lived in a premortal existence before birth, that we grew and expanded in that "first estate" (Pearl of Great Price, Abraham 3:36), all in preparation for this "second estate." In that world men and women were separate and distinct spirit personages, had consciousness, volition, maleness and femaleness, and moral agency. They developed and matured according to our adherence to God's eternal law, and in spite of the fact that we walked and talked with God, it was necessary for them to exercise faith in God's plan for ultimate salvation of his children. The Latter-day Saints believe that God is literally the Father of our spirits, that we inherit from him divine capacities, the seeds of godliness. In the long expanse of time before we were born into mortality, the spirit sons and daughters of God developed talents, strengths, and capacities. In a sense, no two persons remained alike.
In drastic contrast to the belief that all humans are literal preexistent spirit-children, Christians emphasize the clear biblical teaching that we are children of God through faith and spiritual adoption when we put our faith in Jesus Christ: "for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith" (Gal. 3:26); "This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring" (Rom. 9:8); "But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:12-13).
Not one branch or denomination of Christianity has ever taught Mormonism's idea of the preexistence of humanity. Not a single one. There is absolutely no theological commonality between Christianity and Mormonism when it comes to human preexistence.
Mormon Angels as Spirit-Children
Again, in total distinction from Christianity, Mormonism believes that angels are not uniquely created beings distinct from humans, as taught in the Bible. Latter-day Saints have numerous twists on the identity of angels. Parley Pratt, a Mormon apostle, wrote: "Gods, angels, and men are all of one species, one race, one great family."
Mormonism teaches that angels can be spirit-children who have not yet taken on bodies in mortality. For example, the LDS Church believes that Adam preexisted as the archangel Michael, and that the angel Gabriel was born into the world as Noah. Some angels are humans who have completed their mortal existence and minister from paradise in the spirit-world, such as Moroni and John the Baptist. Mormons also believe that some angels are those who lived on earth but were not eternally married in the temple and so did not qualify for eternal life and exaltation. As a result, their eternal destiny is one of being ministering angels and not exalted gods.