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Nine Moons » Blog Archive : Families? – I don’t understand! » Families? – I don’t understand!

Families? – I don’t understand!

Don - December 27, 2006

We as a church put an extra emphasis on families. We are taught how important the family unit is on this earth life and beyond. I agree the family unit with a loving set of parents brings about great blessings…etc….etc…as the church teaches.

Families are so important that we talk about them as being an integral part of our life in the Celestial Kingdom. We seal children to parents and parents to children. But, how does that work?

We are told in the scriptures that we are to leave our father and mother and cleave unto our spouce. That forms a new family unit. That new family creates children who then leave and cleave.

Here’s some thoughts that I have. I have 3 sons and 3 daughters. The sons “stay” as part of our family and their wives are sealed to them. The 3 daughters are sealed to their husbands and thier families. I feel like I loose my daughters.

If all these children remain sealed to my wife and I and are also sealed to their spouses which then seals them to their spouse’s family, then we actually end up with everyone sealed to everyone else as one big happy family.

What then is the difference no matter where I’m sealed in all this humanity, or who to, since we’re all sealed to each other anyway. And what makes that concept really any different than a protestant’s belief that we are all just one big happy, loving group in heaven.

And if sealing families is so important, what about all the “missing links” – those parents whose children can’t be or aren’t sealed to them?

One more thing, when we become God’s and create our own world and people them with our spiritual offspring are they sealed to us and or our families and all Celestial humanity?

58 Comments »

  1. Actually, I think you do understand.

    Comment by Eric Nielson — December 27, 2006 @ 12:31 pm

  2. Wasn’t this basically what Joseph taught with his dynastic sealings – that it is important for us all to be sealed together, not so much as families? It does seem we’ll all be one big happy family in heaven, more or less.

    Comment by Sue — December 27, 2006 @ 12:37 pm

  3. Sealings make absolutely no sense to me whatsoever. I’m convinced–as was a bishop of mine–that temple ordinances and the metaphorical idea of sealings are just a rhetorical carrot to keep people on the strait and narrow. It all has to do wth staying temple worthy and making sure everyone in the family is also temple worthy (so they can go to the temple together, attend family weddings, and shame each other into compliance).

    Temple sealings are meaningless if everyone is all one big family anyway.

    Not to mention work for the dead, where we have absolutely no idea whether Deceased Brother A wants to be sealed to Deceased Sister C for eternity. Why even do it? At least the living have the choice to be sealed to their significant others–whether it’s when they first go through the temple or if they get sealed later. They actually have a choice. And yet, we snoop around and do temple work for the dead who have NO CHOICE if they want to be sealed or not to the person on their wedding certificate. They may accept the baptismal ordinance after death, and they may accept the endowment, but who are we to force them to be sealed to someone for eternity? Where was their choice? What’s their alternative?

    It really doesn’t make any sense at all.

    Comment by Jennifer J — December 27, 2006 @ 2:26 pm

  4. And what happens when one partner wants to remain sealed after death and the other partner doesn’t?

    Comment by Jennifer J — December 27, 2006 @ 2:28 pm

  5. Temple sealings are meaningless if everyone is all one big family anyway.

    Without the sealing ordinances we would not be one big happy family. We’re taught to be sealed to our families. Its not the church’s fault that most of us are too short sighted to see that it extends beyond our “blood” relatives. I think what Don is hitting on is the truth behind eternal families but I don’t think its contrary to the teachings of the church at all. Its not on the surface of the doctrine – it takes a little digging.

    Comment by cj douglass — December 27, 2006 @ 4:51 pm

  6. Jennifer,

    I wouldn’t agree that sealings make no sense whatsoever, I want to be sealed to my wife, I don’t want to be seperated for eternity.

    But I do agree in part with the idea that there are things in the gospel that serve the purpose of a carrot. In fact you’ve sparked a whole new blog thought for me.

    Comment by Don Clifton — December 27, 2006 @ 5:25 pm

  7. Hi there. What is the difference between a man and wife being sealed and a man and wife NOT being sealed? What really is the difference? Will they be forced to live on different planets?

    I tend to agree that it’s just a stick-and-carrot motivator rather than a doctrine (i.e., truth) about what life will truly be like in the hereafter. There doesn’t seem to be any difference between being sealed and not being sealed. Every day there are single mothers baptized into the church who can’t be sealede to their kids because they have no husband. Yet if they’re all righteous anyway, won’t they all end up in the same place? And there are many families born and raised in the church (parents sealed) whose kids have gone astray and they are led to believe they won’t be “together” in the afterlife. But what does that really mean? Who’s going to force them to not visit? Isn’t that what grown kids do with their families of origin anyway? Just visit? Who wants to live with millions of people in the same cramped quarters forever?

    Comment by Amethyst — December 27, 2006 @ 6:51 pm

  8. Good post,

    I think that sealings are generally to create a chain of people who hold the priesthood back to Adam. People will end up with the ones they want to be with even though there might possibly be multiple sealings such as a daughter having two fathers. My wife comes from a family where they aren’t members and she has two fathers- one whom has passed, and one who is alive. They have both served as fathers to her even though her first father was divorced from her mother before his untimely death.

    What makes this unique though is that she has a sister two years older who stayed with her real dad when the divorce finalized. My wife and sister-inlaw are very close however even though they both claim two different fathers even though biologically, they come from the same dad. So where does that put them after everything gets sorted out?

    The point is, I believe, is that it really doesn’t matter as they can both serve as her father throughout eternity as far as relationships go. What will change though is that her mother obviously will not be with both her fathers throughout eternity, she will have to choose.

    I think when it really comes down to it- family sealings are really nothing more than an extension of the saving ordinance and once that has been secured, we are all just one happy family. The only real difference as I see it, is that spouses really are the only ones who “cleave together” in a relationship that has eternal ramifications. Think about it- we obviously have a Father and Mother in heaven (God), and the emphasis is on them, we answer to them. But we also obviously have Uncles and Aunts in heaven(Gods brothers and sisters) too. We will obviously be able to interact with them later and fell conected with them, but our saving ordinance work will not include their names. With this thought in mind, I believe that family sealings are more for the saving principle more than anything else as we truly will be one big happy family!

    Comment by Rob Osborn — December 27, 2006 @ 7:05 pm

  9. The Sealing of men and women as a couple makes tons of sense either today or in the nineteenth century. The sealing of children to parents makes much more sense in the nineteenth century.

    Brigham Young’s first presidency wrote in the announcement closing the Endowment House:

    Which of them, if he understands the laws of God, can feel indifferent as to whether his wife shall be his for eternity or for time only; or whether his children shall be born in the covenant and be legal heirs to the priesthood or have to become such by adoption? (Messages of the First Presidency. vol. 2 pg. 278)

    President Cannon later explained the sealing of man and woman:

    In this way the Latter-day Saints are being bound together in the new and everlasting covenant, wives being sealed to their husbands, and children, the offspring of these marriages, being born in the covenant…They are legitimate heirs of the Priesthood and of the blessings of the new and everlasting covenant. But not so with those who have been born outside of this covenant. There has to be some ordinance performed in order to make them legitimate; and that ordinance, the Prophet Joseph revealed, was the ordinance of adoption; (Collected Discourses vol. 4 April 8, 1894)

    I once flipped through the book of St. George Temple book of adoptions. Just about every single couple was sealed to Joseph Smith. Until the Law of Adoption was repealed in 1894, you could not do temple work for anyone beyond your grandparents. And as you can’t be exalted without being sealed to someone who is exalted, people were sealed to Church leaders. After the law was repealed, we figure the Lord will work things out.

    I would recommend this article: Irving, G. The Law of Adoption: One Phase of the Development of the Mormon Concept of Salvation, 1830-1900 BYU Studies vol. 14 no. 3 pg. 291

    Comment by J. Stapley — December 27, 2006 @ 8:32 pm

  10. I’m the only member in my family, and my mother has said that I am not to baptise her or my father posthumously. She’s very much against it, even though I’ve explained that it’s something that can be accepted or rejected.

    If I never marry, does that mean I have no eternal family? I converted five years ago and have yet to go to the temple, so I don’t know the answer to this. Am I allowed to skip my parents and do my grandparents, even though that would also be problematic for my mom? How does it work?

    Comment by Tatiana — December 28, 2006 @ 3:55 am

  11. I think when people talk about the afterlife, they often forget about the pre-existence. I don’t expect to know and relate to my parents and my children in the afterlife the same way I do in this life. There’s so much we don’t know about each other that occurred in the pre-existence. Earth life gives us a very limited view of each other.

    Comment by Susan M — December 28, 2006 @ 9:30 am

  12. I do believe grandparents can be sealed to grandchildren, bypassing the parents. There’s a discussion going on about that at nauvoo.com.

    The question I have is this: if sealings to spouses makes sense in the 19th, 20th and 21st century as it has for some people (mostly people in the Western Hemisphere, in first world countries), what does it mean for people who were sold into marriage? African slaves in the sixteen hundreds who originally had family on that Continent and then were brought to the new world, had other families, were sold from plantation to plantation, were forced to have children with their masters and so on? What about serfs in Saxony? Illegitimate children from all centuries over time? Arranged marriages? Concubines of biblical prophets?

    And yet, if any of these people throughout time have records of any marital/child relationship, the temple work should be done for them, particularly by their descendants. But what a mess. And this is the MAJORITY of the world’s people. Very few people in the history of the world on and in the world today have nuclear families, with a mother and father and children belong to them both. Even within the most righteous of Mormons, the number is minute.

    So how, exactly does sealing to spouses make sense given the history of the world and the history of actual marriages and family life on earth?

    Comment by Maren C — December 28, 2006 @ 10:27 am

  13. A) This is one of the things I leave for God to explain to us. Though I too think that with everyone sealed what you get is everyone sealed to everyone and thus one big happy family, I don’t think that means (as the protestants seem to) that our relationships with each other are wiped out. Extended and deepend, yes. The woman who scraped a living in Australia 500 years ago will be just as much my sister as the woman I’ve actually grown up with and I’ll know it. However, the woman who has been my sister by birth and by a life lived together will still be special to me because of that. It’s like anything in life, really. You share something special with people with whom you’ve shared experiences. It doesn’t mean you love or even understand anyone else any less; it just means that you have a particular connection with some people that you don’t with others.

    B) Don, you’ve got it backward. Genesis says that for this reason shall a man leave his parents and cleave unto his wife. So you’d “keep” your daughters and “lose” your sons. Not that that’s any better from a parent’s perspective; it’s just nice to see women being portrayed as the ones of value and retained by the family. ;)

    Comment by Proud Daughter of Eve — December 28, 2006 @ 10:45 am

  14. I don’t know ANY Protestants (or Catholics, or members of any other relgions that believe in an afterlife) who believe that after death “all their relationships will be wiped out.” Most of them believe they will still know each other and socialize, with an eye single to praising God instead of having glorified family reunions all day long, day after day for eternity.

    I think the “Protestants don’t believe they’ll have relationships with anyone” issue is a faith-promoting rumor meant to underscore the importance of temples. But IMO it has no basis in reality. Ask any Protestant!

    Comment by Maren C — December 28, 2006 @ 11:18 am

  15. Also, regarding “special connections with others” by virtue of birth, this is true in only a minority of situations.

    Consider:

    Abusive parents and siblings
    Family relationships where there is no warmth, love or respect
    Children born from coercive, criminal “relationships”/rape
    Husbands and wives forced to get married–shotgun or otherwise
    People sold into families (i.e. slavery, etc.)

    There is no reason people should be required to be “sealed” to people who came out of the same womb, just because of biology.

    And there should be no reason that people who happened to live together and produce children should be required to be sealed for ever and ever to inherit all the blessings Heavenly Father has. Some people make marital decisions as teenagers after a month of dating. Why should they be expected to spend eternity together, especially as they mature and if they really don’t want to be together?

    Eternal marriage makes sense for the very few people who make correct choices, don’t have convoluted family situations and actually enjoy marriage and family life. But for most of the world throughout history, that just is simply not the case.

    And saying “Heavenly Father will fix it all” just avoids the intellectual questions. In other words, it’s a cop out.

    Comment by Maren C — December 28, 2006 @ 2:11 pm

  16. Yes, that certainly is problematic because I have an abusive family. The way I feel is that those relationships will either be healed, or else they won’t exist. But unless I get married, it does leave me with nobody to whom to be sealed.

    The reason I think there’s a good chance that the relationships can be healed is that the abuse really does come (in addition to coming from choices people make) from people who are deeply wounded inside. They don’t have the gospel and they don’t know their own worth, or the worth of others. They are hurting badly, and they are mired in sin and unable to see their way. That is where the anger and the lashing out come from. And it’s self perpetuating. It’s so difficult for them to escape.

    Christ makes us whole again. So far they haven’t been presented with the gospel in a way that they can recognize it and respond to it. But I can definitely see that happening someday, at which time the good things that happened between us, all the daily interactions which were *not* abusive, the jokes we shared and the funny happy things, will still bind us as family. No matter how awful they act sometimes, they’re still my family, and I do still love them.

    However, another thing I can see happening is that they might have contempt and stay where they are in their eternal progression, being too proud or afraid or something to go out on a limb and risk changing. The abused is truly far better off than the abuser. The damage done by the abusers to themselves is much, much worse. So in that case, I am thinking they would spit upon me and my offer of a family connection. Really, I think it might have more chance being accepted from anyone but me.

    Comment by Tatiana — December 28, 2006 @ 2:36 pm

  17. Maren C:

    I served a mission in Georgia, and spoke with thousands of Protestants. The few who actually understand their religious beliefs will admit that their churches teach that there will be no family relationships in the afterlife. This is the actual doctrine of many such churches.

    Now I do agree with you that if you ask a typical protestant they will often believe much like we do, but are often clueless about what their church officially teaches on the subject.

    Comment by Eric Nielson — December 28, 2006 @ 3:08 pm

  18. I think most churches dont have a doctrine on it just because its a no brainer. On the other hand, the LDS church is the only one I know of that ties living together with diet, tithing, and ordinances.

    Comment by anon — December 28, 2006 @ 3:37 pm

  19. The Protestants I’ve lived among (in MO, NC, and TX respectively) do believe they’ll be with their families in heaven (assuming their family members are also Saved, of course). Family *relationships* as such will be dissolved (no more parents & children, just peers), but all the good people who loved each other here will be together there, worshipping and glorifying God.

    I’ve actually had more than one person tell me that they view the LDS conception of eternal relationships as a kind of idolotry of the family. That family (in its best, healthiest incarnation) is an earthly good, but that we elevate the relationships beyond what God approves of.

    So yeah — they agree with us and they don’t, lol. In my experience.

    Comment by RCH — December 28, 2006 @ 3:46 pm

  20. Anon,
    I think you are the one who is tying living together with diet, tithing, and ordinances, not the church. “Living together” isn’t a destination with tickets made of diet, tithing and ordinances. Those are things we do to help us become more like Christ (in their own, respective ways). We also do a few others like have charity, forgive others and love our enemies.

    Oooh, and I wish more doctrine could be established from being “no brainers” because the Mormon doctrines having to do with diet, tithing and ordinances seem like no brainers to me.

    Comment by Rusty — December 28, 2006 @ 4:46 pm

  21. Since sealings usually stay in place even after divorce, I think it’s very important to consider that there is probably a lot more to all of this than specific relationships.

    And I don’t think it’s a cop out to say that Father will work things out. I think it’s prideful to assume that we understand much of how things work. Some things we are supposed to take on faith.

    And, finally, I do think there is more to a marriage relationship than the parent child relationship. A marriage is bound by covenant. Children are born into a covenant, which opens them to Abrahamic blessings, but are not bound by covenants of their own to their parents. I have a hard time believing, however, that a stranger from another time and place will have the same kind of association with me as my children will. So I think there has to be something to the family relationships in the next life, too. ..maybe making planets in the same solar system or something. :)

    Comment by me — December 28, 2006 @ 4:59 pm

  22. My understanding goes like this:

    At some point after receving the sealing ordinances, our relationships, particularly marriage, can be “sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise.” This has analogies in the all the ordinances – that is, the ordinance itself only opens the opportunity for the spiritual benefit that is connected to it. Baptism and confirmation alone don’t guarantee the baptism of the Holy Spirit; receiving the Priesthood does not guarantee the Prisethood holder’s ability to exercise it; receiving the symbolic tokens of the Endowment does not guarantee the neccesary understandings that accompany them; etc.

    The missing element that lies between receipt of the ordinance and the spirtual blessing is obedience to the pertinant laws. So that in order to receive the blessings of baptism – the baptism of fire – one must learn to “always remember” the Saviour and strive to “keep His commandments.” In order for a Priesthood holder to effectively exercise the Priesthood he must learn that doing so is attendant upon handling the ‘powers of heaven’ and so must not “grieve the Spirit” by ‘covering his sins, gratifying his pride or his vain ambition, or by exercising control, compulsion or dominion … ” etc. (I don’t mean these be exhaustive lists). Similarly, in order to have our relationships “sealed”, we have to obey the laws that pertain to it. I don’t mean to say that this is all – but we must aquire as part of our character Christ-like love, which He describes when He says there is no greater love than that a “man lay down his life for his friends.” In my view: when we have developed the ability to sacrifice all for those we love, then we have become the kind of person who can bear and enjoy an eternal relationship, and the sealing preformed can become effectual.

    What is important in this life isn’t that we become everything that we need to become to enjoy the eternal blessings, but that we set ourselves on the path by receiving the ordinances, and are actively progressing towards those goals. And hence have aquired the Holy Spirit, which due to the sacrifice of Jesus, can do the work, the sanctifying and justifying neccesary for us, through Grace.

    For me, being sealed simply means that we will enjoy eternally the association with the persons we’ve been sealed to. I think marriage transcends (potentially) all other relationships – it is literally a matter of being one flesh – so that it is impossible to even name Heavenly Father without also naming Heavenly Mother, and vis-a-versa. They are One, united and equal in all things – Elohim – a perfect union of love that cannot be matched by any other relationship. (Hence only obtained by those capable of living the highest possible from of Life.) In my opinion. With sons, daughters and other, I think the promise is nothing more or less that a joyous, deep and dear relationship that transcends time, that isn’t subject the temporal (temporary) dissociations that characterize the wrodl we are living in now, and that will continue outside of the Celestial Kingdom.

    This is all very heady stuff. I sometimes wish that we wouldn’t handle it so glibly and lightly – as it sometimes seems to me we do with non-chalant (sic) reference to ‘familes are forever’ and such. Familes can indeed be forever, and it is beautiful and wonderful beyond description that it can be so. But this doesn’t mean we are mommy, daddy and kiddies forever. And these doctrines are never mentioned in the Book of Mormon, are only hinted at in the New Testament, and even in the D&C we barely get a wind of it. It clearly isn’t the basics. I feel like I may not be entreily in the right even discussing it in a public forum like this – even Gospel Doctrine class doesn’t seem like the right time for this discussion.

    my 2 cents. Sorry for the long windedness – but I’ve been in the temple today and these things are on my mind.

    ~

    Comment by Thomas Parkin — December 28, 2006 @ 5:41 pm

  23. I tend to think that the diad of husband and wife is tantamount for eternal progression and the line of priesthood gives that diad authority. Sealings to children, in my opinion, don’t aid us in our progression, but are a bonus for relationships shared. They do need the pristhood, however, and it can be linked easiest through familial ties. Kind of like Christmas lights. Each bulb is its own diad, but it needs the electrical charge to function. In the set we have, if one bulb burns out, the whole chain of lights fails.

    As for other churches teachings – most churches officially feel there is no relationship after this life – yet it is a common sense viewpoint. That is the joy of the gospel – it elevates the common and shows that such basic things as love and family are the highest form of godliness.

    I am unsure what to say to those that feel the ceremonies are just a ruse to keep us in line. I find more depth in the doctrines taught in the temple than in my studies of many religious traditions. The depth and power of eternal progression and the potential of human kind fills my soul with awe and wonder. Even if it was a ruse – it is common sense to me that I need to be with my wife after death and that I can progress with her in an unlimited way – fortunately there is a church that teaches that doctrine.

    Comment by Gilgamesh — December 28, 2006 @ 6:46 pm

  24. In regards to the mess involving involuntary marriage, abuse, etc. etc, I always figured that’s what the Milleneum was for. A thousand years to sort out all that mess and do the ordinances properly for the proper people in the proper relationships:)

    Comment by Bret — December 28, 2006 @ 7:49 pm

  25. I guess I’m among those who don’t understand the Millenium rationale for clearing up ordinances. The problems vary from accidentally sealing the wrong people to sealing those who were married/had relationships but who don’t want to be in that relationship, or any relationship.

    I understand the clearing up of mistakes, but many people simply don’t want to, can’t, won’t get married or have children, especially if past experiences (in life) were such that they were turned off the system. Also, in cases where people have multiple children with multiple spouses, companions, concubines(think Solomon, David, etc. with more than 1,000!) it just doesn’t add up or make sense, no matter how you look at it.

    Comment by Amethyst — December 29, 2006 @ 12:04 am

  26. I sometimes wish that we wouldn’t handle it so glibly and lightly – as it sometimes seems to me we do with non-chalant (sic) reference to ‘familes are forever’ and such.

    I agree with the idea that this can be deep and wonderful stuff, but I don’t agree with the idea that we can’t discuss it at church and such. Our leaders do it all the time. You are taking a position that is untenable given the way our leaders handle things.

    Comment by me — December 29, 2006 @ 1:54 am

  27. Have there been official statements or revelations by prophets about the 1,000 year period and “fixing problems”?

    It seems that there’s a lot of speculation about the purpose of the Millenium, and a lot of folk doctrine about it, but I have never heard that people are going to switch spouses, date and find other partners with whom they’ll be more compatible for the rest of eternally, which is essentially what you are saying about people who are sealed posthumously and have no choice about who they are sealed to.

    Comment by Maren C — December 29, 2006 @ 9:09 am

  28. If we’re not speculating, what are we doing?

    Comment by cj douglass — December 29, 2006 @ 2:59 pm

  29. Hmmm—if not speculating, what about rationalizing, placating, trying to make ourselves feel better about excluding the unworthies from our weddings and superspecial family temple events. After all, if we are all going to be magically perfectly paired in the afterlife, and everyone who’s ever lived on earth will be perfectly content with their spouses and families for ever and ever amen, then we HAVE to make it wonderful and glorious, or else why bother pay tithing and forgo coffee to attend the temple?

    Comment by Guest — December 29, 2006 @ 7:09 pm

  30. Good post, Don. Good food for thought. I’ve been troubled by these issues because I feel much more a part of my first husband’s family (we were married for less than three years) than my husband of 25 years. I sure don’t want to live with Bill’s family forever. Nor do I want to live with my mother’s family. Or my father’s family.

    Actually, this brings me back to my original goal of living alone in a cabin for eternity with short visits from other people. And color TV and a hot tub and lots of books and good food.

    Comment by annegb — December 29, 2006 @ 8:32 pm

  31. @12 Susan M., very good point.

    Comment by annegb — December 29, 2006 @ 8:35 pm

  32. Tatiana, thanks for your beautiful comment #16.

    As for the topic of the post, I’m with those that assert there is a qualitative difference between husband-wife sealings and parents-child sealings. We are bound into “one happy family” by the parents-child sealings, but we will spend eternity with our spouse. The phrase “families are forever” is possibly more appropriately rendered “marriages are forever.”

    Amethyst, are you arguing that it is better to do nothing rather than something? Sure, some of the husband-wife sealings may not be accepted, but don’t you figure a lot of them will be? In the absence of a full knowledge of the situation, it seems prudent to act on the best information we have–the earthly marriages. I don’t believe it would be possible to be “forced” to be sealed to someone you don’t want to be with.

    Comment by Bradley Ross — December 29, 2006 @ 9:01 pm

  33. I can count the number of happily married, non blended, sealed families I know on one hand. And that is with the Restoration, temples on the earth, prophets, etc. I cannot imagine that in the history of the world there have been a *majority* of couples who chose each other willingly AND want to be linked to each other and their kids forever.

    Comment by anon — December 29, 2006 @ 9:56 pm

  34. Guest,
    I’m assuming you aren’t interested in a conversation but rather getting some frustration off your chest. That’s okay, just don’t expect anyone to take anything you say seriously. Maren seems to have similar concerns as you, she just happens to know how to be a good guest.

    Maren,
    You’re certainly right that there is a lot of speculation and folk “doctrine”. I think part of the problem is that we so often look at the afterlife as a destination, somewhere we all go (very much the vernacular of general Christianity) rather than something we become. Speculating on anything beyond “getting sealed binds us in the postmortal life” is speculation.

    I also think it’s ludicrous to say, “the majority of the world has been like X, therefore God wouldn’t want it like Y.”

    Comment by Rusty — December 30, 2006 @ 12:16 am

  35. Maren,
    have you ever looked on lds.org for articles etc. about the Millennium? It is beyond folk doctrine that there will be temple work done, mistakes corrected, and sealings done back to Adam. That said, I haven’t ever heard specifics about fixing familial problems per se, but we are told that no blessing God has will be denied the faithful, so sometime between now and eternal life for the righteous, it seems logical that there will be some fixing and rearranging things as necessary. We don’t know how or when for a lot of that, but I think we can know that there will be some of that going on sometime.

    Comment by me — December 30, 2006 @ 1:52 am

  36. The point of the sealing ordinances is to bind us to God. Remember that Joseph Smith called for an unbroken link back through Adam our first father. There are many literal and necessary aspects of this but the symbolic aspects are most immediate in our lives. The family represents our relationship to God. The scriptures use the metaphor relentlessly.

    Comment by GeorgeD — December 30, 2006 @ 11:26 am

  37. All I know is that their BETTER be some opportunity in the Millenium for marriage/sealings stuff because I’m on my way to having to wait till then to find a FIRST (and hopefully only) spouse! Some nice Nephite or Jaredite or city of Zion or city of Salem girl, maybe?:)

    Comment by Bret — December 30, 2006 @ 2:47 pm

  38. I think there will be the chance for never marries to date and get married in the Millenium, but the question is* for all those millions who are sealed after death WITH NO CHOICE in the matter, do they get to date and marry who they really would have wanted?

    Comment by anon — December 30, 2006 @ 3:24 pm

  39. Why does it seem like we are so worried about finding a spouse we can spend eternity with…all this speculating about spouse searching etc during the Millenium?

    It would apprear to me that if you are worthy to be exalted – you have become like Chirst – then so is every other exalted being – that being so how can you not have a “perfect” mate, no mater who it is?

    Comment by Don Clifton — December 30, 2006 @ 4:14 pm

  40. Well, here on earth there are lots of nice, attractive worthy single people but that does not mean any two of them would be right for each other, now or in eternity.

    Comment by anon — December 30, 2006 @ 5:25 pm

  41. 40
    I think you may have it wrong. Pres. Kimball made it pretty clear that any two righteous people, if “willing to pay the price” can have “happiness and a successful marriage.” What is “right” for each other? Ultimately, that means being willing to love and serve each other and live true to covenants. I tend to agree with #39. Eternity will look a lot different than life here, and I can’t imagine needing to look for “the right” one in eternity if everyone has reached an exalted state.

    Comment by me — December 31, 2006 @ 1:08 am

  42. Ah, but that is the tricky thing. Everyone is supposed to be sealed BEFORE we reach the CK, not after.

    Comment by anon — December 31, 2006 @ 8:12 am

  43. OK, then, on the road to the CK. Like Don said (39), worthy to be exalted. It seems to me that really, since we know God is perfectly just and loving and can make ALL worthy dreams come true for the righteous, I guess I don’t understand worrying about it all with all God has promised. At some point, we either trust Him, or trust our own perspectives and limited viewpoints and comprehension. It feels to me like you would rather choose the latter. I don’t get why. We may not understand HOW it will all work, but why not just trust that it WILL and stop creating reasons to worry, which is what it feels like some are doing here….

    Comment by me — December 31, 2006 @ 11:46 pm

  44. I think all this sealing stuff, to our flawed parents and difficult spouses, is about being able to forgive and be at one with them, for Christ said if we are not one, we are not his.

    That said, i find it very difficult and must turn my heart away from a protestant-type heaven when I will myself to wish all to receive temple ordinances. I don’t have the best of feelings about everyone in my life.

    Comment by Johnna — January 1, 2007 @ 2:47 am

  45. I have no problem with thinking of sealings as metaphor. However, sealings are also supposed to be literal. For all the sacrifices people make to join the Church, sacrifice relationships. pay tithing, do genealogy, you would think that people would want to understand exactly what a sealing means. Very few members of the Church nowadays come from member families. Truths and theories about the afterlife affect the way people make critical life choices such as remarriage, interfaith marriage, etc.

    Comment by anon — January 1, 2007 @ 8:56 am

  46. Bret, meet Tatiana. Tatiana, meet Bret!

    Comment by Matchmaker — January 1, 2007 @ 2:00 pm

  47. anon,
    I think expecting to understand exactly things that require faith is seeking for the wrong thing. God expects us to do our best with the knowledge we have, and tells us He has instructed us sufficiently so we can make choices. And He expects us to do the best with our family situations. He can take care of the rest if we trust Him.

    Comment by me — January 1, 2007 @ 5:42 pm

  48. Thanks for this thought provoking post. I really like thinking about sealings. I think we definitely will be all sealed to each other, as has been stated, sort of, we’re sealed to the sealing – the Holy Priesthood – not to our parents. I’ve mentioned this before, but when I tried to get sealed to my mom, (one of the main reasons I got my endowments, really), I found this out. I can’t be sealed to her, because she’s not sealed to anyone. I was told you can’t actually be sealed to a person, per se, but one needs to be sealed to someone else’s sealing, like adding a link to the chain.

    With regards to all the comments about people being posthumously sealed to people who are abusers or forced marriages: remember, those sealings will only work on people who are celestial material, so to speak. The unrighteous will never be sealed to anyone, no matter how many proxy ordinances are performed.

    Finally, I am sure that we will all be sealed to the right person / people in the end. I was told this in my PB.

    Comment by meems — January 2, 2007 @ 7:34 am

  49. Meems,

    When you say that “sealings will only work on people who are celestial material” and “the unrighteous will never be sealed to anyone”, how do you reconcile this with the doctrine of proxy baptism, and people accepting the gospel after death, thereby “becoming righteous”?

    Just because two people may be righteous–even made righteous after death–that doesn’t mean that those two people will want to be together forever as a married, sealed couple in the hereafter.

    As a feminist who has studied the history of family life and marriage in the Western Hemisphere, as well as the marriage customs and practices of many groups of aboriginal peoples, I am fascinated by the gospel’s insistence that all people must be paired (and properly so) to merit the Celestial Kingdom. It just does not seem possible. It makes absolutely no sense to me.

    The title of the post is “Families? I don’t understand!” I’m adding my incredulous voice to this question because there are not too many places an active LDS person can speak freely about the confusion that the doctrine of sealings engenders. The idea that families can be together forever is simply not a happy thought for the majority of the Earth’s people, since time began.

    It’s always confused me as to why sex, hormones, attraction and a piece of paper issued by the government becomes such a significant ordinance that will determine our place in the hereafter. Baptism makes sense as a gateway to heaven. What doesn’t make sense as a gateway to an even higher level of heaven is marriage–which involves (at least) two people and families (several people, each with their own free will). What happens when John loves Mary but Mary doesn’t love John? No matter how perfect they are, how can they be sealed and live in perfect union forever? We don’t love each other because we’re perfect; we love each other because we’re compatible and CHOOSE to love each other. We can’t be forced to love each other and be in relationships, yet that’s what it seems to me when we do temple work for 99% of the world who DON’T HAVE A CHOICE about who we’re sealing them to–we’re just sealing them to the person they made babies with while they were alive, even if they were forced into marriage and despised their spouse; even if they had secret partners the entire time they were married; even if they were not married but just had a zillion kids with whomever they happened to end up with.

    Comment by Maren C — January 2, 2007 @ 8:44 am

  50. Make that “all people must be paired to merit the HIGHEST LEVEL of the Celestial Kingdom.” My bad…

    Comment by Maren C — January 2, 2007 @ 8:45 am

  51. Maren C-

    I know this sounds like an excuse, but don’t we have ourselves a Millenium with Christ reigning on the Earth to figure it all out? Of course God would never allow 2 people who didn’t love each other be together forever. A loving God just wouldn’t do something like that. And it wouldn’t be the Celestial Kingdom if that was the case!

    About proxy baptisms/sealings: It is their choice. An unrighteous person on the “other side” may choose to have a sealing upheld, or not. Just as their baptism.

    P.S. And just because the doctrine of a married couple and the highest degree of the celestial kingdom doesn’t make sense to you (or anyone else, for that matter) doesn’t make it any less true. Many things in the Gospel (and in the perspective of the eternities) doesn’t make sense (i.e. A VIRGIN had a what? Joseph Smith talked with WHO?!). And that’s the whole point. Our perspectives are extremely limited because of our Earthly state. Therefore, the Gospel, the Church, Prayer, Faith, the Temple, etc. etc. etc.

    Comment by cheryl — January 2, 2007 @ 9:39 am

  52. Maren,
    Shoot me an email at rustyclifton at gmail dot com.

    Comment by Rusty — January 2, 2007 @ 9:57 am

  53. Ultimately the purpose of sealing is to bind us to God. He chooses the family because the family is a symbol for God’s relationship to man. The symbol of family, parental and spousal relationships between God and man is pervasive in the scriptures.

    There is a great post that touches on the family at One Cosmos I ignore the evolutionary part but the psot is otherwise apt.

    Comment by GeorgeD — January 2, 2007 @ 10:32 pm

  54. I think the sealing is really more about the WHAT than the WHO, at least for our limited understanding right now. Everyone needs to be sealed to be able to receive all the blessings God has, but that doesn’t mean that each person will absolutely be sealed to the person with whom they received the ordinance. Like George said, first and foremost, we are sealed to God, and then the eternal marriage thing can and will be worked out in the next life. We become part of the chain first.

    And since eternal life means eternal increase, it wouldn’t make sense to me NOT to have the highest level of the CK be consisting of those who are married.

    Incidentally, I think we are more likely to understand these things if we humbly approach God with an open heart rather than get frustrated and saying “this doesn’t make sense so it must not be!” Sort of what Cherly said, accepting without understanding and seeking for understanding in humility is what faith is all about.

    The idea that families can be together forever is simply not a happy thought for the majority of the Earth’s people, since time began.

    This seems like an ad-hoc statement. Can you support this idea with something concrete? I would say that most people want to be in a peaceful family relationship that can last, even if that isn’t their reality. Who really wants to be alone in life, without familyties? Really?

    Comment by me — January 3, 2007 @ 2:15 am

  55. Interesting. So it matters not who we are sealed to? I have seen people marry using that theory, and it rarely works out. Also, families come in all shapes and sizes. What happens to families headed by two moms or dads? Sadly, the plan of happiness is very selective, preferring the Cleaver WASP model of the 20th century.

    Comment by anon — January 3, 2007 @ 7:07 am

  56. Nice attitude, anon. I didn’t say it doesn’t matter. If we choose to be sealed, we hope we want to be with that person, and we don’t get sealed without a desire to be committed. But God is big enough and the atonement is big enough to take care of the imperfect situations that people get concerned about.

    Comment by me — January 3, 2007 @ 2:58 pm

  57. Some of these comments are just nuts. Society is what is really screwing up sealing ceremonies. Yes, we should all be sealed as one, big, happy family. The problem with that is that we are all human… People get married and divorced like crazy nowadays. People promise all eternity to be united and then all of a sudden they don’t like each other anymore and want to cancel that. The cancellation is the ridiculous part! As if both people are going to go into eternity and just get separate rooms on different sides of the kingdom. Give me a break. But, because the church has to remain kind of in the middle and be aware of everyone’s feelings, etc, they had to be able to give people peace of mind and give them an out when their marriage didn’t seem to be working out. I believe it doesn’t matter who you are sealed to as long as you are sealed. Of course, people get sealed to their spouse and their families because that is who they are close to, that’s the family they were born into the person they have developed the closest relationship possible. So that’s who you want to figure life out with. I believe that at judgement day, it will be important whether or not you follow God’s commandments to go to the temple to be endowed and sealed or not, not who you went with. We go to the temple to make covenants other than who we promise to spend our lives with. They are promises about how we will live our life and how we will build up the kindgom of God and THAT is the important thing. We don’t even have all of the information right now, and no wonder… People just write other people off so quickly and easily, God is right to not trust humanity with his entire truth right now.

    Comment by Lisa — January 5, 2007 @ 12:07 pm

  58. As Latter Day Saints, aren’t we supposed to follow God’s commandments? God gave us a commandment and promised that we would get the richest blessings from temple attendance… Is it really up to YOU to determine the importance of being sealed in a family unit?

    Comment by Lisa — January 5, 2007 @ 12:11 pm

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