The family unit is very sacred and powerful. It is in our families that we can find life-long friends, comforters, advocates, and other positive associations. If nurtured, the family and the home will be a bulwark towards the negative aspects of life. Our homes can be a refuge from a social, emotional, and/or physical war-torn, stripped-down world; our family can be our strength and healing balm.
Our Families Can Be Together Eternally
In life, everyone will experience loss. Depending on your circumstances you may experience losing your parents, children, significant other, or others close to you. But even though dying is a part of life that we all will experience, death is not the end. One day, we will be able to see, touch, talk with, and enjoy the presence of every person we’ve lost.
Before the earth was created our spirits existed in heaven, and we lived in heaven with our Heavenly Father. However, given the spirit state we were in, we could not live up to our eternal potential and be like our Father in heaven. And so God created a plan called the Plan of Salvation. This plan detailed how we could become like God, and receive all the blessings that He has.
However, God knew that earth life would be hard. He knew we would need help. But more importantly, He wanted us to experience the joy of having a family, having an eternal marriage, and having our own children. So he created families.
How Are Eternal Families Possible?
There are three things that needed to occur for families to be forever. These events are the Creation, the Fall, and the Atonement. In addition, eternal families must be created through the correct ordinances and covenants.
The Creation, the Fall, and the Atonement
The Creation is a term referring to the idea that God created all things. He created the earth, and he created man. Through the Creation, marriage was also introduced. Adam and Eve were the first people to be married.
Nonetheless, the Garden of Eden was unique in that Adam and Eve could not change, or grow. The state that Adam and Eve existed in did not allow for them to have children. And so all mankind needed the Fall. The Fall refers to Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit, which they had been commanded not to eat. There were two consequences that befell Adam and Eve from the Fall: they were cast out of the Garden of Eden, and they entered into a mortal state. This was a good thing though because this new state would allow for children to be born.
The Creation and the Fall created a way for families to come into this world, but without the Atonement, families could not be eternal. Because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can overcome spiritual and physical death, and be with our families forever. This is a central doctrine of Mormonism. The family is sacred to us.
Sacred Ordinances And Covenants
Now that eternal families are possible, we still have to do our part. Not all families are sealed for eternity. You may be familiar with the phrase, “till death do us part.” Marriages that are performed without the necessary sealing power become void in death. Fortunately, mankind has been given the ability to form eternal marriages. An eternal marriage must be:
- Between two worthy individuals
- Take place in dedicated temples
- Be consecrated by someone blessed with the right to perform eternal marriages
Even if all these things are in place, however, the promised blessings of an eternal marriage are still predicated upon each spouse’s faithfulness to the promises they made to each other and to God. Robert D. Hales has taught:
An eternal bond doesn’t just happen as a result of sealing covenants we make in the temple. How we conduct ourselves in this life will determine what we will be in all the eternities to come. To receive the blessings of the sealing that our Heavenly Father has given to us, we have to keep the commandments and conduct ourselves in such a way that our families will want to live with us in the eternities.
Children born to parents who have been joined eternally are born in the covenant. This means that they will automatically be included in the eternal sealing their parents created, and therefore, they will be sealed, or connected, to their parents forever.
What If I Don’t Want To Be With My Family Forever?
Unfortunately, not all families have positive dynamics. Divorce, estrangement, and even abuse occur in families in today’s world. In these situations, it’s very natural to feel upset and distressed over the prospect of being stuck with a dysfunctional family forever. Sadly, there hasn’t been much information related to this particular topic. However, we do know that in heaven there will be no pain. Heaven will be a place infused with joy and love. We also know that God will be fair and just. He would not allow anyone to be tormented by another once they have reached their eternal paradise.
If a man and woman should be joined together who are incompatible to each other it would be a mercy to them to be separated that they might have a chance to find other spirits that will be congenial to them.
I feel that this would apply to any relationship within a family. If a parent abused their child, I don’t believe that God would force the child against their will to endure eternity with their abuser.
In these situations, it’s important to remember that we have been given the gift of agency. We will have the freedom to choose in heaven, and we will not be encumbered by pain and fear.
It’s also important to remember that we don’t have a full knowledge and understanding of the nature of heaven, nor of what our own heavenly disposition and capabilities will be. I imagine that we were probably very close with our family members in heaven before we came to earth. A life-long abusive relationship on earth may seem more like a small, intense fight between friends from an eternal perspective. Again, remember that we will not be in pain in heaven. All wrongs will be made right. Maybe, after justice and mercy have been applied, those who have been gravely mistreated will feel differently. Perhaps they will desire to embrace their eternal friends with forgiveness and love. But I do not believe that anyone will be forced to.
Create A Loving Family
Your family can be the best part of your life. Your family can trump your job, your friends, your favorite sports team, or any other passions you have. We don’t have a choice in who are parents and siblings are, but we will choose whom to marry. We will choose how to raise our children. These are choices we should not take lightly.
Because of the importance of the family to the eternal plan of happiness, Satan makes a major effort to destroy the sanctity of the family, demean the importance of the role of men and women, encourage moral uncleanliness and violations of the sacred law of chastity, and to discourage parents from placing the bearing and rearing of children as one of their highest priorities.
-Robert D. Hales
The Family: A Proclamation to the World is a statement from the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles of the Church. In this statement, it says:
We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.
Love your family. Make every effort possible to get along with your family. Be willing to forgive, and let go of things family members have done to hurt you, and have an open mind towards family members that have different opinions and beliefs. Definitely, don’t marry someone you can’t imagine spending the rest of your life with. You have the power to create a loving family.