To raise children means to help them grow up to be an accepted and helpful member of the community. When Mormons (members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) speak of raising an eternal family, they mean a family that has participated in eternal sealing ordinances and has continued to be faithful to Christ. Mormons believe that family relationships can last forever, not just for this mortal life. Family members who accept the atonement of Jesus Christ and follow His example can be together forever through sacred ordinances performed in Houses of God, His holy temples.
As recorded in the New Testament, Jesus gave Peter the power to have things sealed on earth and sealed in heaven (Matthew 16:19). This sealing power is only given to prophets who are the heads of their particular dispensations, as Peter was the head of the Church after the resurrection of Christ. This power was lost when the original apostles were martyred, but it has been restored in modern times by the resurrected Peter and by the translated being Elijah to Joseph Smith, the first prophet of this final dispensation before the coming of Christ. Mormons believe this is the sealing power that can bind families together forever.
In God’s restored church, marriage and families are believed to be the most important social unit now and in eternity. God wants us to do all we can now to prepare ourselves to live with our family forever. If we build our marriage and family around Christ’s principles, including faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome fun, home can be a place of refuge, peace, and immense joy.
We must not get discouraged. No matter how hard we try, our marriages and homes won’t be perfect. That’s part of the growth process we were sent to mortality to experience. God wants us to learn how to be patient and loving within the walls of our own homes, with the people we are closest to — this is where it is the most difficult, but also the most growth-producing. We become more like Christ by serving our own family members. In serving them, we become more like God.
Just as some of life’s greatest joys can come through family associations, the loss of a beloved family member can be the source of our deepest sorrow. Death does not need to be the end of our relationships with cherished loved ones. The Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith that the “same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there (in eternity), only it will be coupled with eternal glory (Doctrine and Covenants 130:2).
The creation of the earth provided a place where families could live. It was part of Heavenly Father’s plan that Adam and Eve be joined eternally with all their offspring. The atonement allows for the family to be together forever and provides a way for us to repent and become pure enough to enter God’s presence.
Early in the year 1994 my father, whom I loved dearly, discussed with me the things he wanted to later that year. But he collapsed and died from heart failure in October. Sadness filled my life and my Buddhist faith brought me no comfort. Mormon missionaries had just entered my life, and I believe they saved my life. The Book of Mormon was my only source of comfort, with its beautiful descriptions of resurrection and salvation. I would search its pages and ponder about life and my entire existence.
I have learned from my membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints how to raise my children to love the Savior and to desire to serve Him. To learn how to pray and to teach my children to pray. To learn to study the scriptures as a family; to have Family Home Evening on Monday nights without distractions; to help the children focus on serving a mission and make temple covenants; to send them to college at schools where gospel standards are taught and revered.
In 1991 I went to the Salt Lake Temple to get my own endowment and to do temple work for my dad and a few ancestors. Once we have made our own Mormon temple covenants, we can gather our family history and perform temple ordinances for our deceased ancestors to seal them in love to ourselves.
I know that we are responsible for our own spiritual and temporal well-being. Blessed with the gift of free choice, what Mormons call “agency,” we have the privilege and duty to set our own course, solve our own problems, and strive to be more self-reliant. However, we do this privy to revelation and inspiration from God through the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost.
I know that through the gospel of Jesus Christ and through keeping the commandments of God and the covenants we make with Him, we can each make our homes like heaven on earth, while we prepare ourselves and our children to return to Heavenly Father’s presence.
This article was written by Angela Yeoh, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.