Families Are Sacred
The sweetest relationships we can experience in life are in loving families. Husbands and wives, parents and children, brothers and sisters—these are the people that shape our hearts and fill our lives.
President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910-2008) reflected:
“Was there ever a man who truly loved a woman, or a woman who truly loved a man, who did not pray that their relationship might continue beyond the grave? Has a child ever been buried by parents who did not long for the assurance that their loved one would again be theirs in a world to come? Can anyone believing in eternal life doubt that the God of heaven would grant His sons and daughters that most precious attribute of life, the love that finds its most meaningful expression in family relationships? No, reason demands that the family relationship shall continue after death. The human heart longs for it, and the God of heaven has revealed a way whereby it may be secured. The sacred ordinances of the house of the Lord provide for it” (“Why These Temples?” Liahona or Ensign, Oct. 2010, 24).
Why is Family So Important?
Even before you were born, you were part of a family. You lived with God before this life. You are a child of heavenly parents and an important part of Their eternal family. They love you and want you to be happy. When your life on earth is over, They want you and your loved ones to return to live with Them forever. The opportunity to return to God is made possible by the atoning sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ.
The family is ordained of God and is central to His plan for our eternal happiness. Families are intended to help God’s children learn and grow in righteousness. Marriage between a man and a woman is also ordained of God. Husband and wife have a sacred responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. As you follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, God will bless you and your family.
How Can My Family Return to Live with God?
God has provided a clear plan for you and your family to return to Him. This plan is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Because God loves all of His children, every person will eventually have the opportunity to hear and accept the gospel, whether in this life or the next. You accept the gospel by exercising faith in Jesus Christ, repenting, and honoring your commitments to God.
We make commitments with God through ordinances. An ordinance is a sacred religious ceremony performed by someone who has authority from God. When you receive an ordinance, you show your love for God as you make sacred promises to Him and He makes sacred promises to you. The promises you make when you receive an ordinance are called covenants. Receiving ordinances and keeping covenants are necessary to return to God’s presence.
Some ordinances, such as baptism and confirmation, are essential for you to return to God. Other essential ordinances include receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood (for men), receiving your temple endowment, and being sealed as part of an eternal family in the temple.
What is the Purpose of the Temple?
Some gospel ordinances and covenants are so sacred that God permits us to receive them only in special places called temples. A temple is literally a house of the Lord—a holy place set apart from the rest of the world. In the temple, you learn more about the plan of salvation and how to follow Christ’s perfect example. God’s greatest blessings are available in His temples.
What is a Temple Sealing?
Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness is ultimately to have you and your family live with Him forever. The scriptures call the authority to unite families forever the “sealing” power. This is the same authority Jesus gave the Apostle Peter to provide blessings on earth that will continue in heaven (Matthew 16:19).
In sealing rooms within the temple, marriages between a man and a woman are performed. There, a man and a woman kneel and join hands across an altar to be married for this life and for eternity. During the ceremony, the officiator (called a temple sealer) asks the couple to confirm their commitment to each other and to God, and he promises them an eternal union and other blessings that enrich the divine potential of the relationship.
This eternal marriage is called a temple sealing, and children born into such marriages are also sealed to their families forever. Adopted children can also be sealed to their adoptive parents. Those who are married civilly before they join the Church or before they are able to go to the temple can also be sealed together as husband and wife. After a couple is sealed, any children they already have can also be sealed to them.
Being sealed as a family is the crowning ordinance of the temple and the greatest of God’s blessings for His children.
Spouses who are married in the temple promise to maintain complete fidelity to one another. They treasure their relationship, which represents the beginning of their eternal family.
Knowing that families can be together forever brings peace and hope as you face the challenges of life, including the suffering and death of loved ones. If you are sealed to your family and remain faithful to your covenants, your family relationships will continue after death.
You can also receive the sealing ordinance on behalf of your ancestors. By doing so, you can unite entire generations of your family for eternity. Striving to have an eternal family will bring marvelous blessings in this life and in the life to come.
As Church members continue to attend the temple, they are reminded of the eternal commitments they have made to one another and to God, and their relationships are strengthened as they recommit to live Christlike lives and remember the importance of Jesus Christ’s help in maintaining healthy family relationships.
What About My Family?
Many individuals look at their current family circumstances and wonder how they will be able to receive the blessing of an eternal family. God, your Heavenly Father, is aware of your concerns, and He knows and loves your family. All families face challenges and none are perfect, but the gospel of Jesus Christ can heal and help each of us. As families faithfully strive to live the gospel, they can resolve misunderstandings, contentions, and challenges. All of the imperfections and injustices of this life can be overcome through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
God has promised that the blessings of marriage, family, and eternal life will be made available to all of His children who faithfully accept and follow His plan of happiness. Your responsibility is to have faith in this promise and follow the example of Jesus Christ.
As you continue to keep your covenants and help others do the same, you will feel the peace and power of God in your life. Your family will be blessed by your example, and the Holy Ghost can soften hearts and help you know how to build better relationships with your family members. Have faith that God is preparing each of your family members, just as He has prepared you. You can also serve your eternal family as you seek out your ancestors and perform temple ordinances for them. In His own time and His own way, God will fulfill your desire for the blessing of an eternal family.