The meaning of mortality is the time from birth until physical death. However, doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as the Mormon Church) teaches that mortality is much more than just the time from birth to death. It is a vital part of God’s plan for His children. Mormon doctrine teaches that before we were born we lived as spirits with God. While there we were able to grow and learn from Heavenly Father. Heavenly Father knew that for us to grow and progress as much as we could, we needed to receive a physical body, to learn to choose between good and evil, and to gain experience. So a plan that Mormons refer to as the Plan of Salvation was presented and enacted. The plan would mean that we would be born into mortality and have to live by faith. Heavenly Father knew that we would make mistakes, so He sent Jesus Christ to be our Savior and example. Jesus Christ’s Atonement made it possible for us to repent and return to live with Heavenly Father.
Not all of the spirits liked the plan presented. Another plan was presented by Lucifer. His plan was contrary to the will of God, in that it denied man his agency and took God’s glory for himself; Lucifer and his followers were cast out of heaven and denied the opportunity to gain bodies. All who have been or will be born on earth accepted Heavenly Father’s plan and gained their “second estate” (mortality).
Elder Lance B. Wickman described mortality as “a proving ground, a probationary state, a time to walk by faith, a time to prepare to meet God.” He went on to say,
It is in nurturing humility (see Alma 32:6-21) and submissiveness (see Mosiah 3:19) that we may comprehend a fullness of the intended mortal experience and put ourselves in a frame of mind and heart to receive the promptings of the Spirit. Reduced to their essence, humility and submissiveness are an expression of complete willingness to let the “why” questions go unanswered for now, or perhaps even to ask, “Why not?” It is in enduring well to the end . . . that we achieve this life’s purposes. I believe that mortality’s supreme test is to face the “why” and then let it go, trusting humbly in the Lord’s promise that “all things must come to pass in their time” (Doctrine and Covenants 64:32)” (“But If Not,” Ensign, Nov. 2002, 30).
The things we must do in mortality are sometimes referred to as a divine mission. This mission is to learn the things that will help us gain characteristics that Heavenly Father has. Some of these things are to control our bodies, choose right over wrong, learn humility, obedience, kindness, love, charity, and to live by faith. If we learn these things and apply the principles of the Atonement, Mormons believe we will be prepared to return again to live with Heavenly Father.