Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Eternal Families

Last night I watched Part Two of an interesting PBS documentary about Mormons. I have always found this religion a tad fascinating as I know I could never believe in Joseph Smith's revelations, but so many people do. I am not judging them, though, because no matter what your religion, you have to have "faith" that the unexplainable did occur or will happen.

What I want to write about is their interesting concept of Eternal Families. From what I understand, families go through a "sealing" process. This ensures that their families will be together for eternity - in this life and the next. It is an interesting concept and one I have never really thought about. As a parent, I can't imagine not always being with my family. I have no idea what happens after death, but I just assumed that if there is some sort of afterlife, of course my children would be there. It seems odd that you need an actual ceremony. But, the peace of mind that it brought these families was pretty amazing. They gave an example where a daughter (around 20) was recently diagnosed with a terminal illness. The one thing giving her comfort was that even though she would not get to see and experience all that her ten brother and sisters would, she would get to be with them again in the next life. The families they portrayed seemed very strong and committed to each other.

As Unitarians, we don't have the luxury of such concrete notions. There are no definate ideas of families and "the beyond". While each of us may or may not have a solid idea of where we are headed, there is no certainty. Unitarianism puts emphasis on the here and now and making this life the best it can be. I agree with that, but sometimes think we don't allow ourselves enough time to reflect on what physical death means. Obviously we can't ever know, but I like to think somehow we will all come together as one (whether or not we have been sealed). Until that time, I will continue to work towards the best life possible right now.


Anonymous said...


Maybe I can help clarify this a little. I am LDS, and I thought the PBS program was fairly well done. However, they tended to pick from the Extremes and then hold them up as the example. ie. the family in Denver with 11 kids--most LDS have 1-4, but 11. Are you Kidding!

About the "Sealing." This is not so much a process, but rather a ceremony. Think of it like taking wedding vows. A man and a woman attend a Mormon Temple and make a commitment to each other and to God. The promise is that the marriage can and will last eternally. It is not, "until death do us part," it is "For time and all eternity." Mormons believe that life continues on after death and that it is meaningful and purposeful. It is not that we are flying around with wings. We remain ourselves and that we, as couples and families, continue building relationships with productive living.

It is a very similar concept to us and our kids. We will watch our kids grow and try to help them improve and become the best they can be. The Mormon concept is very similar to this. We believe that God is our Father and that we are his children. He wants us to grow and improve and become all that we can be. He wants us to become like him. This life is part of that process.

The sealing is really like a "Promise." The sealing and the resulting blessings/opportunity is still dependent upon one's own faithfullness. Mormons can get divorced and the "sealing" is then broken.

The question is: is this all just a nice idea to explain death or is this a valid "Sealing?" Society gives a Justice of the Peace the authority to perform marriage ceremonies. We believe that the original authority and church that Christ established 2,000 years ago has been restored.

I know that Joseph Smith was not a perfect person. He had his flaws as do we all. So did Moses and Abraham and every other Biblical Prophet. There was only 1 perfect person to ever walk the face of the planet. This is his Church. Hence, "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints."

I have studied many different religions, and the LDS Church best defines for me our purpose for existing. I agree with you 100% in that we all will continue to live after we die. It is just how will we live and under what conditions will we live. I once heard someone define Hell as being not so much a place but rather as a state of mind of the realization of lost opportunity. I tend to agree with that statement.

The "Sealing" is a promise that you and your spouse and your family can and will obtain all that God desires you to have. To me, Heaven would not be Heaven without my wife and my kids. The "Sealing" is a promise that those relationships will remain intact. Without the sealing, then the words, "until death do you part" actually do take effect. We all will continue to exist, but not as husband and wife without the authority of the sealing. God's authority/Law will be the only authority that will exist into the eternities. Man's law is only temporary as is this life.

I hope this helps explain the concept a little better. You might check out the LDS segment on the PBS website about the "Temples."

Thanks for letting me preach a little! Take care!

Angelina said...

I share your curiosity about the Mormon faith. I am going to refrain from all the irreverent thoughts racing through my head because this is not the place for it. But one thing I can't help but say is that I wonder how kids in Mormon families who are being abused (because there are kids in families of every faith that get abused) I wonder if this "sealing" makes them even more scared.

Can you imagine being in hell on earth and then believing that you can never separate yourself from the people causing you to experience hell for all eternity.

It's interesting learning something new about Mormon ceremonies.