A friend– a former bishop and the son of a former temple president– once shared something with me that his father suggested to him, and I still mull over it. He said:
“You know how before we came to this earth, we were all brothers and sisters, children of our Heavenly Father?”
“We were brothers and sisters to our parents, grandparents, our kids…”
“Well, once our missions on earth are over and we go back, do you really think that dynamic has changed? That suddenly we’re parents and children to our brothers and sisters?”
Um… I don’t know.
“Well, this isn’t official, but… doesn’t it make sense that once we go back, remembering everything, we’ll be brothers and sisters like before?”
What about families are forever?
“Let’s put it this way: In this earth life we need each other to get back as close to Heavenly Father as we can– you can’t get there alone. But when you die, it’s going to be just you and the Lord there when you’re looking at your life.”
“I don’t know. Just don’t be surprised if you’re still close to your parents and ancestors and children, but that the family structure you understand here might not be the same anymore there.”
Every once in a while a doctrinal curve ball whizzes past me, forcing me to stop and recompute. Do I believe what he told me? I know him well enough to believe that’s what his father told him, and I believe if his father’s passing it on to his son, there might be something to it. Does it affect my testimony? Not detrimentally. Does it change my view of the Plan of Salvation? A smidge, but not in such a way that it alters my behavior or direction. When my friend first told this to me it was almost as if my perception had re-focused to a stronger clarity. I’m not saying I had a revelation, but I felt “empowered” and that feeling strengthened my testimony.
This is what the Gospel does to me– not often enough for my liking, and not causing me to go off into evangelical calisthenics (see “chicken dance“)– but it provides me every once in a while with a little surprise that edifies me and reaffirms my loyalty.
Let’s assume for a moment that this theological tidbit were true. Why do you suppose it would be so, let’s say, understated? Does it necessarily affect our perception of eternal families? If, in the end, it all comes down to the Lord and us individually (and we’re back to being the collective brood), does it de-romanticize the whole Harlequin “I’ll wait for you!” scenario like the end of Somewhere in Time (1912…1912…)– instead more like going into the light and running smack-dab into the Verizon Network? Perhaps our partnerships are intended more as functional– utilitarian eHarmony compatibilities designed to get us from here to there (this is where some of you get all McFly on me and declare how you and “sweetie pie” will be together forever, and nothing I say can stop it). Okay, maybe it’s not that extreme… or is it? I have to admit, I’d look forward to the ensuing schadenfreude if that ever became established doctrine.
Hey, I’m just running amok here. I do still find the “we’re all back to being brothers & sisters again” theory compelling, though.
Putting all that aside, do you think there are doctrines/truths known by the Church leadership that are kept under wraps (my friend’s words “this isn’t official, but…” keep coming back to me), and do you think they are left unknown to preserve the stability of the membership? Is stability more important than enlightenment?
Okay, whatever. The Church is true. Follow the prophet. He knows the way.