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Eternal Families

Latter-day Saints envision heaven as home—the home of our Heavenly Parents and the continuation of homes we build on earth. Sealing ordinances promise that we can be reunited with family members after death, thus challenging us to cultivate now relationships that we would want to last forever. Our belief in the importance of a strong family life should motivate us to action against forces that undermine families, such as poverty or domestic violence.

There is a tendency in the church to equate eternal family narrowly with eternal marriage and spirit progeny (D&C 132:19-20). But our tradition also offers a more expansive vision of eternal family: as a vast kinship network—spouses, parents, children, siblings, grandparents, welded to one another in a web that extends to our most remote ancestors—all cooperating to advance the divine work through endless worlds. This is a vision with room for all family members, married or single. There is more than one path to eternal happiness: God's grace provides gifts and joys as diverse as individuals' desires or circumstances (D&C 7:8; 46:15-16; Matt. 7:9-11). When we lose sight of that principle, the doctrine of eternal families can lead to anxiety or heartache instead of, as it should, consolation and fearless, optimistic love.

We should be wary about allying ourselves with "pro-family" politics. The anti-polygamy persecution suffered by the Saints shows that campaigns claiming to protect marriage and family can, in fact, oppress. Jesus' hard sayings about families (Matt. 10:35; Mark 3:31-34; Luke 14:26) should give us pause about assuming that the gospel equates with "family values."

Related Topics:
Sexuality Salvation for the Dead  

 Home Can Be a Heaven on Earth  (Hymns 298)

Donna Zell Willis: I believe in a continuation of the family ties throughout eternity. I want to weld those ties so firmly here that they will endure forever.
"My Ideal Latter-day Saint Home," Improvement Era, August 1946

David O. McKay: It is possible to make home a bit of heaven; indeed, I picture heaven to be a continuation of the ideal home.

Man May Know for Himself (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1967), 233

Ardeth Greene Kapp: The joy of the journey comes through our relationships, feelings for each other that, like divine echoes of times past, stir within us a quiet anticipation of the continuation of this same sociality eternally.

My Neighbor, My Sister, My Friend (Salt Lake City, Deseret Book, 1990), xi-xii

Chieko N. Okazaki: There is great diversity in LDS homes, but all of these homes can be righteous homes in which individuals love each other, love the Lord, and strengthen each other.
. . . [T]here's not one right way to be a quilt as long as the pieces are stitched together
firmly. . . .

Through the years, the circumstances of my life have changed. I was a single woman, then a wife married to a nonmember, then a partner in a temple sealing, a mother, a mother-in-law and grandmother, and now a widow. I have known the Savior's love in all of these circumstances.
. . . I have felt the Savior's presence and power in my home. . . .

I testify that the Savior extends to us all the same mercy, the same power to find healing, and the same perfect love. He has assured us that it is his work and glory to bring to pass our immortality and eternal life. What joy it gives us to contemplate eternal life with our families as part of the great family of God. What warmth and what beauty come from every well-made quilt, even crazy quilts.

Aloha! (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1995), 4-5, 14

James E. Faust: We are all part of a family—either a natural family or a ward or branch family.

“A Vision of What We Can Be,” Ensign, March 1996, 10

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