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Fether

What does “Eternal Families” mean?

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“Eternal Families”

“Families can be together forever”

“family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave.”


What does all this mean? What does this actually look like? Do we have any sources that qualify this a little more beyond those phrases? What do we know and not know?

I have met MANY members (current and former alike) that understand it all to mean that if you don’t go to the celestial kingdom, you will be barred from seeing your family, but you can still hangout with everyone else in your respected kingdom. 
 

I have always taken the approach that we don’t really know what eternal family means beyond those few lines. I’ll sometimes point the Doctrine and Covenants 19 where it explains that the word “Eternal” simply means “belonging to God”, so “eternal family” is just “God’s family” that that not being an eternal family does not mean that God is going to bar you from those you were raised by, but rather, eternal family means to eternally live in an ever growing family setting…however, as nice as that sounds, the context of what is said and the feeling of the wording doesn’t always support that, but rather seems to support the cultural understanding many members have.

Does anyone have any insights on this? Any references to words of the prophets or scripture?

Edited by Fether

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I'll start with one high-level scripture:

“I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men. And ye ought to say in your hearts—let God judge between me and thee, and reward thee according to thy deeds.”

Assuming folks provide their insights and references, and we learn the cultural understanding we have is accurate, here's a chilling thought:   Sometimes we have a big problem with our mean aunt who spoils one of our kids and ignores the other, or we can't stand our racist brother-in-law, or we had to get out of a marriage to an evil destructive spouse, and we simply can't fathom a way they'll make it to the celestial kingdom.  If we don't repent of that notion and figure out a way to fathom it, then there's no way we'll ever see them in heaven, because we won't be there.  We will have failed at the commandment to forgive all, and we're told there ain't no sin in God's presence.

Edited by NeuroTypical

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I think we have zero understanding of what sorts of interactions occur between kingdoms.  We have a clear understanding of temple covenants, which include being sealed to family.  You may find yourself in the Celestial Kingdom, with family members in other kingdoms.  That does not annul your sealing.

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5 hours ago, Fether said:

I have met MANY members (current and former alike) that understand it all to mean that if you don’t go to the celestial kingdom, you will be barred from seeing your family, but you can still hangout with everyone else in your respected kingdom. 
 

 

Interesting.  I have NEVER heard anyone say this.   Is this a Utah thing?

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6 hours ago, Fether said:

I have met MANY members (current and former alike) that understand it all to mean that if you don’t go to the celestial kingdom, you will be barred from seeing your family, but you can still hangout with everyone else in your respected kingdom. 

D&C 76 pint blank disagrees. 

Over and over again, it states how people in other kingdoms minister to one another.  There is still seeing each other love, there is still love, and there is still service. 

 

 

For me, I don't see anything about the descriptions of the Degrees of Glory being about your geographical address, rather about your state of being.  What level of God's glory shines through you?  Have you fully embraced Him and fully shine His light (Celestial)?  Or have you held back and still cling to your old selfish way of being?   (Note: all of this is many centuries down the road of where we are today).

We will all be there and all love each other.  Those whom have fully embraced God & His love (Celestial) have in them a greater capacity for love than those that do not.  For example, an unrepentant child abuser is stunted in their ability to love due to that unrepentant sin.  And while both unrepentant abusive dad and child can see each other & care, dad's unrepentant nature will put a distance in that relationship.   Compared to a relationship where both people have fully embraced the Gospel & are that sun-like level of devoted & loving in everything they do.  Yes, both relationships still love each other, but they are also comparing the stars & the sun.  

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I think the practical application of the eternal family doctrine to couples is pretty straightforward. They remain united enjoying the continuation of the seeds, I assume perpetually. We call it eternal marriage.

When it comes to the children though I have often wondered what's the point? In the ideal situation they will grow up and get sealed to their own spouse and start their own family. And to top it off, to my knowledge there is no covenant made between parents and children. Neither do we speak of them as our eternal children nor us as their eternal parents (lower case p).

But if we look closer at the doctrine of sealing we find that the sealing of parents to children is generally couched in the broader doctrine of the welding together of all generations back to our father Adam with whom God made covenant and then later renewed with Abraham. Entering into this Abrahamic covenant relationship is clearly referenced in the temple sealing ceremony. In doing so we can become the "seed of Abraham" and potential heirs to all that the Father has. 

Our Father in Heaven's kingdom is patriarchal in nature, it is a kingdom of family and families. He seeks to exalt all of His family and this should be our goal as well. This is far more than simply being able to hangout with them in the eternities and through the sealing power we assist our families in that endeavor.

 

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9 hours ago, Fether said:

I have met MANY members (current and former alike) that understand it all to mean that if you don’t go to the celestial kingdom, you will be barred from seeing your family, but you can still hangout with everyone else in your respected kingdom. 

My understanding has always been that those in the higher kingdoms can visit those in the lower kingdoms.

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6 hours ago, Grunt said:

Interesting.  I have NEVER heard anyone say this.   Is this a Utah thing?

Perhaps… but I would say it’s more of a jabbing point for people who leave the church or are wanting to find problems with the doctrine. They decry “so I won’t be with my family if someone doesn’t go to the celestial kingdom!?” I heard this a lot in high school and on forum posts by members who left the church. I have also heard it many times in interviews with people who left the church.

It is easy to see where this idea comes from, but hard to back it. 
 

Im mostly just curious about the phrase “eternal families” why do we use that wording? It seems to augers we can’t be with our family forever outside of the celestial kingdom… which then suggests we will be barred from them somehow.

Edited by Fether

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3 hours ago, laronius said:

I think the practical application of the eternal family doctrine to couples is pretty straightforward. They remain united enjoying the continuation of the seeds, I assume perpetually. We call it eternal marriage.

When it comes to the children though I have often wondered what's the point? In the ideal situation they will grow up and get sealed to their own spouse and start their own family. And to top it off, to my knowledge there is no covenant made between parents and children. Neither do we speak of them as our eternal children nor us as their eternal parents (lower case p).

But if we look closer at the doctrine of sealing we find that the sealing of parents to children is generally couched in the broader doctrine of the welding together of all generations back to our father Adam with whom God made covenant and then later renewed with Abraham. Entering into this Abrahamic covenant relationship is clearly referenced in the temple sealing ceremony. In doing so we can become the "seed of Abraham" and potential heirs to all that the Father has. 

Our Father in Heaven's kingdom is patriarchal in nature, it is a kingdom of family and families. He seeks to exalt all of His family and this should be our goal as well. This is far more than simply being able to hangout with them in the eternities and through the sealing power we assist our families in that endeavor.

 

I would also add that I don’t know that brothers and sisters are sealed together, but rather just to their parents. I may be wrong on that though.

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“Families can be together forever” is somewhat problematic in this conversation. Eternal families is not really about being with your family forever, it seems to be more akin to eternal increase with your spouse.

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8 minutes ago, Fether said:

 

Im mostly just curious about the phrase “eternal families” why do we use that wording? It seems to augers we can’t be with our family forever outside of the celestial kingdom… which then suggests we will be barred from them somehow.

It’s a fascinating question. Never thought about it really. 

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7 hours ago, Grunt said:

Interesting.  I have NEVER heard anyone say this.   Is this a Utah thing?

This appears to be a personal interpretation from the notion that if you are in the Telestial kingdom you won't be able to visit the Terrestial or Celestial kingdom. In that sense, barred, thus they are able to mingle with others of the same glory; however, higher kingdoms of glory are able to minister to those in lower kingdoms.

The same would go with the Terrestrial kingdom. It is said, the only kingdom which is able to minister to all kingdoms of glory are those in the Celestial kingdom.

Edited by Anddenex

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22 hours ago, Fether said:

“Eternal Families”

“Families can be together forever”

“family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave.”


What does all this mean? What does this actually look like? Do we have any sources that qualify this a little more beyond those phrases? What do we know and not know?

I have met MANY members (current and former alike) that understand it all to mean that if you don’t go to the celestial kingdom, you will be barred from seeing your family, but you can still hangout with everyone else in your respected kingdom. 
 

I have always taken the approach that we don’t really know what eternal family means beyond those few lines. I’ll sometimes point the Doctrine and Covenants 19 where it explains that the word “Eternal” simply means “belonging to God”, so “eternal family” is just “God’s family” that that not being an eternal family does not mean that God is going to bar you from those you were raised by, but rather, eternal family means to eternally live in an ever growing family setting…however, as nice as that sounds, the context of what is said and the feeling of the wording doesn’t always support that, but rather seems to support the cultural understanding many members have.

Does anyone have any insights on this? Any references to words of the prophets or scripture?

Joseph Fielding Smith felt that it meant that family relationships continued beyond the grave.  That once you were sealed to each other, that was it, you were connected eternally.  Infinite bonds within an infinite existence.

It was also apparent he felt that these bonds extended beyond just the Celestial Kingdom from various writings of his.  Brigham Young and Joseph F. Smith also imply this, but I think Joseph Fielding Smith was the most blatant and forward in his teaching on this.  It is because of these bonds that he said parents can bring their children to the Celestial Kingdom regardless of WHAT KINGDOM the child would inherit in the afterlife with the exception of outer darkness.  In this, the sealing bonds are so strong that the family unit is still sealed, HOWEVER, if that child has merited a lesser reward, such as the Telestial Kingdom or Terrestrial Kingdom, they will still have that same body as they have attained.  They will be allowed into the Celestial Kingdom, but will not have the Celestial Bodies thereof.  IN addition, if they merit a punishment, they will not be able to come to their parents until after that punishment has been met.  These children will still be able to be with their parents and families in the Celestial Kingdom though, but will not have the powers and abilities therewith.

I also follow this idea, or belief.  It is one reason why I feel that the 3 degrees of the Celestial Kingdom are as such.

Those who are allowed to be with families in the Celestial Kingdom but do not have the powers and awards thereof are those who compose the lowest degree of the Celestial Kingdom.

Those who have all powers and abilites, but cannot have children or offspring because they chose not to be eternally married are those who are in the Second degree of the Celestial Kingdom

Those who were sealed in an eternal marriage and were faithful are those who are the Highest Degree of the Celestial Kingdom and have an eternal increase.

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In the old Gospel Principles manual (previous to the 2009 version) it teaches that persons who are not sealed together in the holy temple and who live in kingdoms lower than the Celestial glory are separate and single for the remainder of eternity. 

In my interpretation (and this could be wrong) this means that there are no husbands or wives and no children for people in Terrestrial or Telestial glory.  There are also those who dwell in the Celestial Kingdom that are not sealed to a husband or wife and thus they are also separate and single forever.

Edited by Still_Small_Voice

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4 minutes ago, Still_Small_Voice said:

are separate and single for the remainder of eternity. 

It’s lines like this that are problematic. Is this some sort of “your stuck on the desert island for eternity” thing? 

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On 12/19/2021 at 8:56 AM, Fether said:

What does all this mean? What does this actually look like? Do we have any sources that qualify this a little more beyond those phrases? What do we know and not know?

I have met MANY members (current and former alike) that understand it all to mean that if you don’t go to the celestial kingdom, you will be barred from seeing your family, but you can still hangout with everyone else in your respected kingdom. 
 

I have always taken the approach that we don’t really know what eternal family means beyond those few lines. I’ll sometimes point the Doctrine and Covenants 19 where it explains that the word “Eternal” simply means “belonging to God”, so “eternal family” is just “God’s family” that that not being an eternal family does not mean that God is going to bar you from those you were raised by, but rather, eternal family means to eternally live in an ever growing family setting…however, as nice as that sounds, the context of what is said and the feeling of the wording doesn’t always support that, but rather seems to support the cultural understanding many members have.

Does anyone have any insights on this? Any references to words of the prophets or scripture?

The reality of this question is the minimal amount of scripture we have that provides further understanding, and yet what we do have does provide us with a good foundation. This verse in our Doctrine and Covenants, "And that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy," is a good place to start.

Here are other foundational points within scripture: Doctrine and Covenants section 76

1. The telestial receive the "Holy Spirit" via ministering from the terrestrial, and receive ministering through angels (which is an interesting addition pertaining to what we understand angels to be).

2. The terrestrial receive the "Holy Spirit" via ministering from the celestial (adding Holy Spirit as it seems accurate from scripture wording)

3. The celestial appear to receive from the Father, God the Father

Growing up I was taught that any kingdom heirs could minister to any kingdom go glory lower than their glory, which then I was taught that if you are in the Celestial glory that you can minister to those in the Telestial and Terrestrial kingdom, but the scriptures above appears to make what I have been taught growing up possibly false with Celestial ministering unto all kingdoms and I can't find anything on the Church's website to confirm.

What then is the "sociality" here that will exist among us there? We also have the following doctrine that all things were spiritual before they were temporal, so in that light, the sociality that existed pre-mortal life, is the same sociality we experience here, and will exist afterwards:

1. Husband and wife bonds (for those Celestial exist)

2. Although I'm in a separate city as my parents, we are still together, and travel will be much easier after this life then now. I love my parents, but I have "mine own" work to do, and thus I'm OK with not seeing them all the time.

3. Time will not be an issue, so we won't be like, "I haven't seen [insert family member] in years. I need to visit them." I assume we will visit.

4. I'm curious as to the councils in heaven and if they will still continue. Sorda like a General conference for all celestial beings to be ministered unto by the Father.

We can think of other things but that is a good place to start.

Edited by Anddenex

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4 minutes ago, Fether said:

It’s lines like this that are problematic. Is this some sort of “your stuck on the desert island for eternity” thing? 

Misinterpretation.  You are outside of a marriage covenant.  You belong to a group of people in the same glory as you if you are not sealed and/or in a lower kingdom of glory.

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6 minutes ago, Fether said:

It’s lines like this that are problematic. Is this some sort of “your stuck on the desert island for eternity” thing? 

In your thoughts, what would be the reason you feel this is problematic?

No one is "stuck", as they are in the place they chose to receive.

 

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4 minutes ago, Still_Small_Voice said:

Misinterpretation.  You are outside of a marriage covenant.  You belong to a group of people in the same glory as you if you are not sealed and/or in a lower kingdom of glory.

Yes… but what is stopping them from living together as if they are married. Nothing I assume?

Edited by Fether

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7 minutes ago, Fether said:

Yes… but what is stopping them from living together as if they are married. Nothing I assume?

If you inherit a lower degree of glory you live by those laws.  Terrestrial kingdom people live the LORD's commandments which would include no fornication or adultery.  From my understanding celestial resurrected bodies are also different than resurrected bodies of lower degrees of glory.  

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7 minutes ago, Fether said:

Yes… but what is stopping them from living together as if they are married. Nothing I assume?

I have been thinking upon this principle for a bit now. The only principles that come to my mind are obedience to law, and the time of "Faith" is over (as to God's laws and choice). If people want to remain in the Telestial glory, or any glory, they are now bound by obedience to the laws of the kingdom of Glory.

Chastity will still be a principle of truth in all kingdoms. If not, then they would lose the ability to remain in that kingdom.

Obedience is the first law of heaven. So people who are not able to will not because they will be obedient to the laws of their kingdom of glory.

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Nothing separates individuals in current society more than lack of service.

I have long speculated that the law of sacrifice will perhaps be the initial and primary law that separates those of Celestial glory from others of lessor glories.   I wonder if service is the first great separator in eternities into those willing to serve and those willing to be served and the degree of such service.  The same divides can divide individuals in a family, ward or kingdom.  I have pondered that divisions are not physically different places as it is the near invisible spiritual attainments.  

I am of the mind that families are indeed eternal but that some individuals within the loving circle of family are not as spiritually committed and obedient to the divine laws that bring order to all things.

 

The Traveler

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4 hours ago, Anddenex said:

Chastity will still be a principle of truth in all kingdoms. If not, then they would lose the ability to remain in that kingdom.

A few thoughts I had in response to having read the above comment. It seems to me that.....

Chastity is a principle that is directly related to the carnal -- it is to control the carnal within the bounds of the Lord's law. It exists because there is a sex drive. The sex drive is a result of our physical, mortal bodies. A lot of our mortal drives are the carnal that we must overcome. Hunger, fatigue, the drive for sex, etc. These things, as best I understand, will not be part of a perfected resurrected individual's needs. I know many fancy that some sort of physical eternal sexual mating is part of Celestial Glory. I think that's silly. Why would that be the case? It's hard to put into explicit detail without being too...you know...explicit... but... why would the creation of spirit bodies by perfected physical ones be the same messy, mortal, fallen method that is the means of procreation in mortality? First, it isn't like to like...meaning it's flesh and bone creating spirit. Second, certainly the rest of the mortal, physical process of procreation is not the same. Mortal procreation is a painful, toil-filled, harsh experience. It's part of our fallen nature. I don't know how things will work...but I don't think it's going to be carnal coupling leading to 9 months of gestation and then physical birthing of children. Will physical sex even be something needed? I dunno.

Anyhow, chastity only applies because of the drive for sex and procreation. You can be naked in a locker room where you aren't sexually driven to procreate with the other's naked there without breaking the law of chastity in doing so. Etc. etc.

Whether resurrected bodies have a physical, chemical, hormonal drive to procreate is an unknown, of course. But I see no reason to presume that we'll have the need for such a drive, even in the celestial kingdom. And I most certainly see no reason to presume Terrestrial or Telestial beings will have the need for such a drive, being as we know they won't have the ability to procreate. Why would creatures that have no ability to procreate have a sex drive -- or even the physical means of procreation at any level.

Am I suggesting those in the lower kingdoms won't have genitalia? Well.....no. I'm just asking the question.  But who knows. It's entirely possible though. But a sex drive? That seems unnecessary and unlikely to me.

Anyhow...just spring-boarding off your comment.

Edited by The Folk Prophet

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2 hours ago, The Folk Prophet said:

A few thoughts I had in response to having read the above comment. It seems to me that.....

Chastity is a principle that is directly related to the carnal -- it is to control the carnal within the bounds of the Lord's law. It exists because there is a sex drive. The sex drive is a result of our physical, mortal bodies. A lot of our mortal drives are the carnal that we must overcome. Hunger, fatigue, the drive for sex, etc. These things, as best I understand, will not be part of a perfected resurrected individual's needs. I know many fancy that some sort of physical eternal sexual mating is part of Celestial Glory. I think that's silly. Why would that be the case? It's hard to put into explicit detail without being too...you know...explicit... but... why would the creation of spirit bodies by perfected physical ones be the same messy, mortal, fallen method that is the means of procreation in mortality? First, it isn't like to like...meaning it's flesh and bone creating spirit. Second, certainly the rest of the mortal, physical process of procreation is not the same. Mortal procreation is a painful, toil-filled, harsh experience. It's part of our fallen nature. I don't know how things will work...but I don't think it's going to be carnal coupling leading to 9 months of gestation and then physical birthing of children. Will physical sex even be something needed? I dunno.

Anyhow, chastity only applies because of the drive for sex and procreation. You can be naked in a locker room where you aren't sexually driven to procreate with the other's naked there without breaking the law of chastity in doing so. Etc. etc.

Whether resurrected bodies have a physical, chemical, hormonal drive to procreate is an unknown, of course. But I see no reason to presume that we'll have the need for such a drive, even in the celestial kingdom. And I most certainly see no reason to presume Terrestrial or Telestial beings will have the need for such a drive, being as we know they won't have the ability to procreate. Why would creatures that have no ability to procreate have a sex drive -- or even the physical means of procreation at any level.

Am I suggesting those in the lower kingdoms won't have genitalia? Well.....no. I'm just asking the question.  But who knows. It's entirely possible though. But a sex drive? That seems unnecessary and unlikely to me.

Anyhow...just spring-boarding off your comment.

We will have to agree to disagree pertaining to chastity only being a "temporal" law. It is more likely chastity is a spiritual and temporal law. We don't disagree that chastity is a law for our carnal desires.

As to procreation, we will again agree to disagree. The doctrine that all things were spiritual before they were temporal seems to provide more plausibility that the physical union between husband and wife will still continue.

We can be naked in a locker room with people we are sexually, physically, attracted to. The other option, which I'm not sure I agree with is the teaching regarding Mary and the Father. I personally don't adhere to this understanding, but if so, that kinda gives more evidence to a physical union.

It also makes the assumption that it would somehow be messy, and only a "fallen" method. It also makes the assumption that physical union is just a "fancy". Why? That's fine if you think so, but I would say it's silly to think that eternal intimacy is somehow bad, fallen, messy, inappropriate for glorified beings. God made our bodies in his image. I don't see how physical or spiritual intimacy make either one silly?

We also don't have any idea as to why they do not have the ability to procreate -- telestial and terrestrial beings. I am more inclined to believe it is a result of obedience to laws.

We are informed that the same desires we have now will exist when we die. So, it makes the assumption that "sex drive" is the only reason for this desire, which our desires exist beyond this earth life. It makes the assumption that all of a sudden a person who has desires for sex will now no longer have that desire -- it is removed from him/her. I would say that that ideas is less likely.

Again, in this we will agree to disagree. I find it more plausible that our bodies are perfected. I can't find anywhere in scripture or words from prophets that says they are perfect except for.....fill in blank. I tend to follow that reasoning. I'm good with whatever is truth. If truth is revealed we don't have physical union, then fine. I'm good also with it being so, but I definitely don't have any pretense that it would be messy, only for fallen mortals, etc... If it exists, which I would say it does, it will be even better then than now.

Edited by Anddenex

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