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Author Topic: Understanding God's nature, understanding eternal families. (Homework help)  (Read 310 times)

Jen

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Can you please help me with an assignment by discussing this topic with me?

The class is centered on the Family Proclamation. Here's a question I'm assigned to discuss: How does our understanding of Godís nature and becoming like God help us understand the nature of our own eternal families?

My thoughts are drawn to the purpose of our covenants, and the power that comes from keeping them. Russell M. Nelson said:
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Those who are endowed in the house of the Lord receive a gift of Godís priesthood power by virtue of their covenant, along with a gift of knowledge to know how to draw upon that power. The heavens are just as open to women who are endowed with Godís power flowing from their priesthood covenants as they are to men who bear the priesthood.

These covenants lead us to being with Him and with our families eternally. The whole Plan of Happiness works toward that end. That He would arm us with His power through the very covenants that seal us together affirms to me how important it is to Him that we can be with Him and with our spouses and children for eternity.

Your thoughts are much appreciated.
 
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nitasmile

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I think you are spot on. I cannot offer other advice, why some get to go thru earth life with a spouse and kids to support them in making it back and others don't.  We all have different chances and opportunities. But it is hard to understand this pain. I do think we get compensatory learning to some degree. Anyway enough of my tangent.
 
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Jen

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I think you are spot on. I cannot offer other advice, why some get to go thru earth life with a spouse and kids to support them in making it back and others don't.  We all have different chances and opportunities. But it is hard to understand this pain. I do think we get compensatory learning to some degree. Anyway enough of my tangent.

Nita, that is a valuable viewpoint and one I hoped for. I have a niece who is just a few years younger than I am who has never had a chance to be married. It's been really difficult for her with every year that goes by. I look at remarkable single women in leadership in the church (including Sister Nelson for a very long time) and the awesome contributions they make and admire that strength. From what I know of you, you've done very well, too. I also feel badly for and don't understand why, as you said, some are called to get through this probation without the companionship of marriage.

I feel the same for those with same sex attraction who choose their faith over romantic companionship. I'm not sure how well I would handle that trial.
 
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cook

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The only way we can be with our family as an eternal unit is by becoming like God. In order to become like God we must understand what God is like.

Since everyone in eternal families is a God we cannot understand what an eternal family is like unless we understand what God's are like. To look at eternal families through the lens of mortal families does not help us understand the purpose, quality and structure of eternal families.
 
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Taalcon

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Thinking about how our Heavenly Parents actively sought out intelligences to adopt as and to help progress into new stages of life resonated a lot with me as we adopted our own child.

Quote
To look at eternal families through the lens of mortal families does not help us understand the purpose, quality and structure of eternal families.

To go further, I actually do think that contemplating our own family experiences does and HAS helped better understand what the divine family and its structure actually DOES look like. It shouldn't just be a one way thing. Questioning life experiences leads to revelation, and this happened for Joseph Smith, and this continues to happen today.

The old model was God as a monarch, hierarchically over all, including his wife/wives. Liturgy once explicitly supported that.

Experience has shown how that doesn't sit right, and continuing revelation (inexplicably tied with continuing questions and experience) has revealed how spouses are, and should be on an equal level to each other.

The Family Proclamation doesn't describe the Old Testament family, the New Testament family, or even the Early Utah Restored Church family. If anything, it's a sign of how much has changed in our understanding, and should keep us humble in our willingness to further accept new understanding. The 'Ongoing Restoration' as has been mentioned a lot recently.

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Also, and I think this is very much related, sometimes we suggest our Church is unique in believing that we can be with our family units together forever. My experience is that isn't true, but we are unique in often telling people that they might NOT qualify for what they just assumed would happen.

I think the way we view sealings directly affects how we see the Divine Family. And I think that view is often skewed. People worry, understandably, about what happens to people they are sealed to that they divorce, or who are abusive, and the kids in those situations, etc, as if the Seal might be used as a punishment or form of slavery.

This changed when I understood Sealings the way I understood baptism. A sealing is an authorized servant of God declaring that your righteous desire, your Hope, will be realized.

And that's the real difference between others in their faiths have. So many might (rightfully!) believe and have a hope we'll be united with those we so dearly love.

But we have an ordinance where an authorized servant of God makes the declaration that it will be so, as an anchor point.

Just as someone can look to their baptism as the moment where God declared to us, "You will be forgiven and have Eternal Life with me,", a sealing is the moment God declared, "You will be united with your loved ones."

An act in this world making a Hope concrete.

When the idea of Sealings in any way generates fear or dread or sadness, I believe it's missing the ultimate point. It's an expression of Hope being made manifest into this world.

There's still a lot of bureaucracy associated with Sealing and Cancellations and clearances, etc, and that's unfortunate, because I think it adds to the negative 'binding against one's will' connotations allowed by the ideas of Sealings, which is completely in opposition to the point.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2021, 08:35:02 am by Taalcon »
 
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cook

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Talcoon, many people believe that they will be with their loved ones after death, but I haven't yet come across a religion that teaches it. Most people believe it regardless of the teachings of their religion and are often very sad when they realize what their religion teaches. As a religion we are unique in that. As a belief it is not unique.
 
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Taalcon

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Here's where its important to understand the dynamics of most protestant Christian churches. While most will have a full formulation of beliefs somewhere, most in the pews never are acquainted with it, and while it's rarely pro-actively taught, it's almost never pro-actively taught against. Almost everyone will express their belief that they'll be rejoicing with their loved ones when they pass, and that those who have passed are enjoying, celebrating, and being in the company of their own passed love ones. It is passively taught (every funeral they will attend by their ministers will almost without fail make such statements).

Most Churches don't engage every participant in their nation/worldwide congregations in such a clear curriculum-from-the-top, authoritative institutionalized way as we do. There's not an ordinance, there's not an explicit scriptural statement.

The idea that they will NOT be united with their (saved) loved ones makes no sense. Remember: for most of Christianity, there is a dichotomy - saved in heaven, or damned in hell. If you are in heaven, of course you'll be with all of the other saved, and see the other saved ones of your family again. This is the assumption.

There's not much theology beyond that of what those family members would do, beyond worship God forever for eternity, and be Happy. Most don't even think much about any significant difference between the moment when they die, and their spirit goes to Jesus, and what purpose there is for a physical Resurrection. It just isn't thought about.

I grew up in a protestant evangelical Church. My dad was a pastor. The idea that Christians might NOT be united with their loved ones after we died didn't even cross my mind until Latter-day Saints suggested that wasn't actually always the case.
 
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Roper

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We have several friends in Texas who are Southern Baptist. They adamantly believe that there is no marriage in Heaven. They believe that although we will all be gathered together in Heaven, we will all be single and separate. Our devotion will be to God, and not to the person to whom we were married on earth. Earthly relationships end at death and are superseded by the relationship to God.

"How does our understanding of Godís nature and becoming like God help us understand the nature of our own eternal families?"

In the King Follet sermon, Joseph Smith taught, "It is the first principle of the gospel to know for a certainty the character of God, and to know that we may converse with Him as one man converses with another, and that He was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ Himself did; and I will show it from the Bible."

In "The Weight of Glory," C. S. Lewis said, "It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship..."

Combining those two concepts: When we understand God's nature and the potential of God's children, then we see our family members with new eyes. We see in them the potential for eternal glory--gods and goddesses--and that changes the way we treat them. No longer are my teenaged kids just to be endured until they get over their annoying behaviors  ;) They have an indescribable heritage, and my work in this life is to love them and provide for them and nurture them and teach them to be prepared for their eternal inheritance.
« Last Edit: October 15, 2021, 12:52:40 pm by Roper »
Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself. - John Dewey
 

Taalcon

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They believe that although we will all be gathered together in Heaven, we will all be single and separate. Our devotion will be to God, and not to the person to whom we were married on earth. Earthly relationships end at death and are superseded by the relationship to God.

There's an interesting distinction between 'single' and 'separate', especially in the history of our tradition. A problem many have tried to solve in our tradition with some ... shall we say ... very odd proposed solutions (looking at you, Joseph Fielding Smith).

In the NT and in late 2nd Temple Judaism, the need for marriage post-Resurrection was moot. The purpose of marriage was to perpetuate the people within the covenant line tasked with bettering the world. Because death was a reality, procreation was necessary to continue that work. With the Resurrection and Immortality, death was moot, so the need for reproduction was also moot this adds context for the statements in the NT making clear that there is no need for marriages to occur in the 'age to come', and those believing the Next Age was imminent were not overly encouraged to seek out marriage.

So it is consistent with traditional belief of 'til death do you part' ending marriage contracts. The marriage relationship per-se would be ended, as there was no longer a need to have something to control exclusive sexual rights, paternity and maternity issues, inheritance, etc. Marriage contracts were to solve earthly issues. With childrearing being moot, everyone would still have love and sociality for and with their earthly family members, but it would be superceded by their fielty and love for God.

No Christian faith that I'm aware had a tradition that teaches you would potentially be of necessity separated in some way from former family members if you weren't in the same degree of Salvation.

The idea not only of a purpose (or necessity) for a divine 'marriage' relationship, but the existence of one that requires an extra step of divine approval is absolutely a new idea that generally, without any further context, doesn't answer a pre-existing question.

In other words, I say this because sometimes in offering something that we understand as a blessing, we are unknowingly CREATING a dilemma that didn't previously exist. We sometime create a problem and then declare we have the solution.

In other words again, its helpful to understand that the way we present it sometimes, we are not often suggesting we have a solution to a problem they were already considering. Most, while not believing that something called marriage exists in the afterlife, don't consider they would or might possible be separated from their spouse or kids in the afterlife.
 
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Jen

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Thank you all for the great thoughts and for helping me start some threads of understanding that I'm going to keep following. It's been a good discussion for me. And I got a great score on my paper. :)
 
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Taalcon

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Which leads into the key truth Roper pointed out in this:
Quote
Combining those two concepts: When we understand God's nature and the potential of God's children, then we see our family members with new eyes.

The radical departure was going from Jesus is a Son of God, and the radical idea that this sonship was to demonstrate and awaken the reality within all of us as equally children of God.

The idea that Jesus the Son could adopt humans (seen as simply clay creations) to be co-heirs and adopted children of God was radical in and of itself, and an important stepping-stone to the revelation that our relationship to God went beyond that (interestingly in the same way that even the nature and explanation of the Sonship of Jesus developed in understanding and explanation from a) Adopted at His Baptism (Paul, Mark), to b) a Son from a Miraculous Birth (Matthew, Luke), to c) a premortal-co-eternal being with God (John).

The key revelations of the Restoration led to seeing the Sonship of Jesus as an exact pattern for our own relationship to God (we are co-eternal with God, we were children of God before our birth), and the nature of the Divine Family, with our own children to be seen as co-equal divine beings.

This, combined with further development through human experience helping us widen our understanding of families and what a covenant relationship/marriage can mean as a relationship and commitment to work together for a common purpose in finding, seeking out, and helping those to reach their potential (this can be done through natural children, adopted children, extended family, or even by helping those in the community).

The two go hand in hand. As we learn more about God, this should affect our approach to our human relationships. And as we learn more about our human experience and relationships, the more this should teach us about God. Each should be part of the process to restore more information about the other.
« Last Edit: October 15, 2021, 07:17:09 pm by Taalcon »
 
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nitasmile

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Glad your paper went well Jen! Thanks for your kind response to my comment. I b forget to check in with this group!

How sad the idea is of those who feel there will be no families in heaven..:(
 
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cook

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Talcoon, it may be your experience. I was just listening to a radio broadcast discussing the issue of divorce in catholism. How it is not given and causes great difficulties when people have to stay married in abusive relationships because the marriage ends in death and that is the only way a marriage is really "allowed" to end. It seemed it was very clearly taught to every catholic that marriage ends in death and everyone knows it because it has this aspect also that only then can the misery be ended.

In this country religion is taught in schools one lesson a week for at least for 9 years, for those not going to vocational school for 12 years. If you're lutheran or orthodox, you has to study your own. Any other can choose their own or lutheran religion or ethics. If the county has three people of one religion they have to organize the teaching of it if parents ask for it. So here they actually get taught their doctrines. Our church is actually one of the only ones that doesn't have it taught at schools because most parents want the kids to study the lutheran one to understand more about our national religion. And in every class they also have to learn basics of most other religions too. And because of attending Sunday school and seminary later on, our kids could actually be released from studying any religion. Some familis use that right too and most use it in senior high, to allow more courses of other studies.

It is quite obvious that religions believing in reincarnation teach also clearly that we are not to be with our families after this life.

I know Jehova's wittnesses teach it clearly too.

Many priests do say, especially at funerals that we will see loved ones in paradise if we get there. But at least here there is a clear distinction between seeing loved ones and being together with them as a family unit.

 
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Taalcon

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being together with them as a family unit.

Frankly, I don't even know what that means in regards to the eternities. If every parent is sealed to every child, up and down the chain, what does a distinct 'family unit' look like? Are kids at home being envisioned? What about their kids? Or Their kids? It creates an idea of 'my current family unit', but when extrapolated, I don't know what that actually means.

The closest thing we have is the role of a sealed couple, working as a covenant partnership continuing in the work of guiding eternal spirits towards achieving their potential. But beyond that, what is the 'family unit' that will be 'together'?

I know there's a history of trying to work that out (a series of hierarchical dynasties), but nothing has ever been actually revealed or settled, as far as I know, and most of the old ideas have been (understandably) set to the side. So we're just sort of sitting on a general idea that tends to paint the concept into something nice but doesn't actually make sense when you actually try to work through what it means?

What do YOU (the general you, not a specific person in this thread) mean when you think of "My Family Unit Being Together Forever"?

And how is that conceptually distinct from the entire family of God being together?
« Last Edit: October 18, 2021, 09:29:48 am by Taalcon »
 
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Roper

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I don't think they're different conceptually. However... Why does the church place such an emphasis on family history and temple ordinances for ancestors? There must be some significance among links in the family chain. If everyone is sealed to everyone else in the exact same way, then there's no real meaning to "family" as we understand it. Or maybe sealing is exactly the same for everyone, and family, on this earth, only exists to define the scope of responsibilities. That doesn't sit quite right with me.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2021, 05:13:30 pm by Roper »
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