The gospel of Jesus Christ is all about Family. One of the first principles covered in the first discussion missionaries have when teaching someone the gospel is that God is our loving heavenly father and that the gospel blesses families. In a proclamation to the world, the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints wrote, “We solemnly proclaim that marriage a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.”
I had a wonderful experience this last weekend, over the long Labor Day weekend I took a few extra days off and we visited my parents in Illinois to also celebrate my birthday, which happened to fall on Labor Day this year. We had been planning this trip for a while, making sure I could get the time off of work and making all of the other arrangements, so I was thinking about having the opportunity to go and see my parents again when a for a couple of weeks at church on Sunday there were talks and mentions in Primary, where I teach, about temples and family history. I was reminded of my grandpa on my mother’s side who passed away a few years ago, and was thinking that I should ask my mom if his temple work had been done yet, so that, perhaps, when we came out to visit we could help my mom do the temple sealings and be sealed to her parents. Ad soon as I thought about being being in the temple with my mom, doing the sealing for her father I felt a strong influence of the spirit and knew that it was a good goal to have.
So, I called my mom and asked about grandpa’s temple work, which she said had not yet been done, but that she had also been thinking about her father a lot recently. She said that she had been seeing her father everywhere, every old man she passed in town reminded her of him, things she saw around the house reminded her of him. I, then, took grandpa to the Columbus temple, so conveniently close to where we live, only about 15 minutes away, and in the course of a week did all of the preparatory temple work so that he could be sealed to his parents, to his wife, and so that my mom could be sealed to her parents. And then we drove out to Illinois.
It was quite an experience to be in the Nauvoo temple, my parents live just two hours north of Nauvoo so that is their temple district, and to stand in for my grandpa as family was sealed together for eternity. My mother had the wonderful opportunity of representing her mother as I represented her father as they were sealed to each other; then my mother stood in as proxy for her grandmother as I, her father was sealed to his parents; and then my mother, acting as herself, was sealed to her parents. For me, though, one of the most remarkable moments was when I, as proxy for my mother’s father, was sealed to my father, as proxy for her grandfather, and my mother, as proxy for her grandmother. I was sealed to my parents in the temple, as we represented my mother’s father being sealed to his parents. So, I was there, my mother was there, her father, and his parents — four generations represented, as the sealing power of the priesthood was utilized to bind our family together.
And when it had all been done, one of the temple workers who was assisting made mention to us an interesting fact about the sealing of children. He said, if you pay attention to the words used in the ordinances in the temple, all of them have the phrase ‘according to your faithfulness’ or something similar, all except the sealing of children to parents. All other temple ordinances require our faithfulness in order to receive the promised blessings, but once a child has been sealed to his parents, that family is forever. That is a great thing to consider, especially as one thinks about families who have been sealed together, but who, perhaps, have children who decide to leave the faith, who choose not to be faithful to the covenants they make or might make.
I am truly thankful for the knowledge I have of temple ordinances and for the restored priesthood that makes these possible. I have spoken with a lot of people and most who believe that there is some sort of afterlife believe that in that existence after we die, we will be with our families again. However, I do not know of any other church that teaches that as doctrine and works so hard to make it so.