Are Families Really Forever?
I was reminded of a familiar phrase well known by church members this past week when I received my LDS-Gems e-mail of the day. The topic was about the Families are Forever plan the LDS Church promotes to its members.
While I have entertained many questions about this doctrine throughout the years I was saddened and perplexed by the content of the message that had originated from an article in the November 1996 issue of the Ensign. The message was delivered by Robert D. Hales, one of the apostles for the LDS Church.
The very first line of the e-mail said the following: “While our individual salvation is based on our individual obedience, it is equally important that we understand that we are each an important and integral part of a family and the highest blessings can be received only within an eternal family.”
“Wow”, I thought to myself, “am I ever thankful this isn’t truth”! It reminded me of what it says in 2 Nephi 25:23; “For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” Just those two teachings from the Church have me exhausted already! It is certainly all about mortal man and his obedience to perform good works and then if he got anything wrong, Jesus will be the sweep-up man “just in case”.
In contrast, here is what Paul said in Romans 2:12; “For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law.” If I am the one responsible for making sure I get to heaven then I am doomed from the get-go. I am unworthy to live under the Law of Moses. I do want to obey; the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak – Matthew 26:41. I am unworthy because of my sin. I am absolutely certain I would not go to heaven if my salvation was dependent upon the Law.
The first thing that comes to mind is that I am without a temple to perform sacrifices unto God. The LDS temples we see dotting various landscapes throughout the world are not patterned after the specifications of what our Holy and Righteous God commanded the Israelites must build when He gave them the Law.
Next, I am without a proper sacrifice to offer to God. Now I could probably come up with enough money to purchase a sacrifice outside the walls of the temple from those who sell that commodity. But where am I going to find a temple? Would I even know which sacrifice to purchase to give to the priests inside the temple so they could sacrifice in my name? There are 613 laws in the Old Testament. If I am to live by obedience to get me into heaven, I have a lot of studying and behavior modification to take into consideration and get performing!
Then and only then, I see in 2nd Nephi that I have the privilege of looking to Jesus and honoring his name by knowing he died after I did all my duties to obey the Law of Moses. It reminds me of a friend of mine. She was expecting company to come in from out of town that she hadn’t seen in years. She wanted everything to be perfect for the visit so she invested almost $500 to have a cleaning brigade come in and help her in advance. Before they got there she spent an entire week bleaching walls, scrubbing floors and washing windows so no one would see the “real Janet”. I felt so badly for her. She was in a complete mess by the anticipated arrival of family members. They stayed for a few days, but most of their time was spent site-seeing and very little time was spent in her ultra-clean home.
To the members of the LDS Church: are you racing around like Janet trying to clean things up before Jesus’ arrival? I guarantee you; it’ll never be enough when you don’t believe your salvation is free! Hebrews 10:5-6 tells us that God isn’t interested in your sacrifices. “Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure.” The other part of that first sentence in the e-mail I received gave me more things to think about as well.
“…, it is equally important that we understand that we are each an important and integral part of a family and the highest blessings can be received only within an eternal family.”
For those who are not intimately aware of what this really means, here’s the translation: If you do not go to the temple and take oaths to be sealed to your family for eternity you will not be going to the highest level of heaven, the Celestial Kingdom. For the Mormon, this is where “true salvation” is found.
The Teachings of Joseph Smith, pg. 300 says this;
“Except a man and his wife enter into an everlasting covenant and be married for eternity, while in this probation, by the power and authority of the Holy Priesthood, they will cease to increase when they die; that is, they will not have any children after the resurrection. But those who are married by the power and authority of the priesthood in this life, and continue without committing the sin against the Holy Ghost, will continue to increase and have children in the celestial glory.”
Here’s reality with the family I was born into – my parents are divorced – an eternity for them is being in the same room together for longer than five minutes. I am fully aware that I am not the only person that has been Mormon with this situation.
So – if I were still a member of the LDS Church, with whom would I be spending eternity with? My father isn’t active and my step-mother is; while my mother is very active, but my step-father isn’t active at all. Let’s complicate the matter a little further by imagining that my husband and I were active, as well as his parents. Do we live with his family or mine? What if our kids get married and have a family – if they decide not to reside with us wouldn’t that negate the phrase “Families are Forever”?
Tired yet? I know I am and I also know that this must be what goes on in the minds of many Mormons. Just think of all the time wasted on the “I wonder if’s” in life instead of the one sure thing – that being Christ Jesus! 2 Cor. 10:5 tells us to hold all thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ. Philippians 4:8 says whatever is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, good repute and worthy of praise; these are the things that we are to have our minds dwell upon. Does the scenario of possibilities with my family exemplify these admonitions from Paul?
When I presented my mother with her reality, she told me it wasn’t for her to worry about here on earth; she’ll be getting all those answers after she dies. I’ve no doubt she will and it’s what makes me so sad for her.
As we read further into the “Gem” of the day we see the following:
“It is not enough just to save ourselves. It is equally important that parents, brothers, and sisters are saved in our families. If we return home alone to our Heavenly Father, we will be asked, ‘Where is the rest of the family?’ This is why we teach that families are forever. The eternal nature of an individual becomes the eternal nature of the family.””
Again, all I can say is “wow” as I shake my head in bewilderment. If you choose to believe you must work your way to heaven, so be it. I’d never say that I agree with your precepts; however you’re free to worship as you see fit. The issue I have is with the doctrines of the LDS Church. They are in exact opposition to the most basic teachings of historical Judeo-Christian theology.
My heart is sad all over again not just for my mother, but for all Mormons as well when I read statements like the one made by Mr. Hales, the LDS apostle. What a burden it must be for the Mormon believing they are responsible for the salvation of those in their family as well as for themselves. Talk about a guilt trip!
In the Encyclopedia of Joseph Smith’s Teachings it says; “The question is frequently asked “Can we not be saved without going through with all those ordinances, &c.?” I would answer, No, not the fullness of salvation. Jesus said, “There are many mansions in my Father’s house, and I will go and prepare a place for you.” House here named should have been translated kingdom; and any person who is exalted to the highest mansion has to abide a celestial law, and the whole law too. (Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 Vols. 6:184).”
To show that I am not taking things out of context let’s take a look at yet another doctrine of the LDS Church. It’s fascinating, the more I read about the necessity of being sealed to family members, the more incredible the story becomes.
The Doctrines of Salvation 2:173-5 says;
“When everything gets finished, we will all be one family…And we will all be subject to our first progenitor, Adam, Michael, the archangel, who has been appointed and given authority under Jesus Christ to stand at the head and preside over all his posterity….There will be cases where some of our ancestors will not be worthy…And, therefore, when the Prophet says we cannot be exalted without them, he is thinking of the family connections-generation to generation. And if we are going to sit down and do nothing…we are just setting ourselves off on the side.”
Let’s take a good look at what God says in the Bible about works and our salvation. Galatians 2:20-1 says; “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.”
It wouldn’t matter where you turn in Mormonism, the message is pretty clear. Sure, they say that they believe Jesus is the Son of God; why yes, they also say He was crucified for man’s sin and then resurrected on the third day so that we can live forever with Him. Tell me though my friend, where in the above LDS teachings did you see anything said about the cross? I saw they exalted Adam and named him as Michael the archangel, which of course isn’t true either. They exalted man, a created being, and tried lowering the status of Jesus. His blood means nothing according to what Paul says if living by righteousness is needed.
There’s something else that needs attention to this matter. Jesus Himself said in Matthew 22:23-29; “The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him, Saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother: Likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh. And last of all the woman died also. Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her. Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.”
Obviously the Sadducees had a few issues and Jesus answered them plainly letting everyone know the ways of the Lord God in heaven. Isn’t it interesting that when we have our minds set on earthly things we cannot, or will not, believe there are other things possible that man cannot imagine? This is another example of what happens when man exalts himself and chooses to de-glorify Christ Jesus. How much of a “coincidence” do you think it is that this passage of scripture is in the Bible? It’s just like what Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 1:9-10; “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us.”
The real New and Everlasting Covenant is Christ Jesus, God’s perfect Sacrificial Lamb provided for you. You can read about it in the book of Hebrews chapters 7-10; Jesus is the only one who holds the priesthood now. The New and Everlasting Covenant is not that of marriage in the LDS temple. You’ve been lied to my friend and we are praying that you know the truth because we are convinced that in your hearts you truly want to know and love the Jesus of the Bible!
With Love in Christ;
1 Cor 1:18