Mormons believe that the family is the most fundamental unit in God’s plan for our time on earth. Families are considered to be ordained by God and created to help us achieve our eternal goals.
Mormons have one belief about families that is very unique and which is comforting to those grieving after the death of a loved ones. Mormon beliefs teach that families were meant to last forever.
God intended for each marriage to have the potential to last forever. He does not advocate divorce except in specific circumstances, such as abuse or infidelity. In ordinary circumstances, He wants couples to work hard to make their families successful and, not being an advocate of divorce, He would never force worthy couples to divorce upon the death of one spouse or the other:
4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,
5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?
6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder (Matthew 19, King James translation of the Holy Bible).
Jesus explained that Moses allowed for divorce due to the hardness of the hearts of his people, but that God had not earlier allowed it. Divorce is not God’s invention and those who lightly choose it will be held accountable.
Nor would God rob a person of the family he or she loves. Many of us have experienced being in a wonderful place or situation and longing for our families to be there to share the experience. Somehow, not having them along took away from the joy of the moment.
God has promised us that in Heaven we will be happier than we ever imagined possible. Who among us who loves someone could be happier than ever imagined without those we love? When we go to Heaven, we will be ourselves, taking with us what is in our hearts and minds, including our love. We will be able to live together as families, just as we did on earth, sharing the joys of eternity together.
Most people, even those who think they don’t believe in eternal families, know this deep in their hearts. It comes to light when someone dies and they say, “At least Mom and Dad are together again,” or they comfort a child with the promise that “your mommy is in heaven and someday you’ll see her again.” Their heart knows what the world has tried to take from them intellectually, that a loving God will give us an opportunity to be together forever. Agreeing to marry someone for eternity is a powerful assurance of the love two people have for each other and is a comfort to their children. Children can grow up feeling safe and secure knowing their parents will always be theirs.
Following are some thoughts the current Mormon prophet, Thomas S. Monson, has on the subject of eternal families.
Building an Eternal Home
A home is much more than a house built of lumber, brick, or stone. A home is made of love, sacrifice, and respect. We are responsible for the homes we build. We must build wisely, for eternity is not a short voyage. There will be calm and wind, sunlight and shadows, joy and sorrow. But if we really try, our home can be a bit of heaven here on earth. The thoughts we think, the deeds we do, the lives we live not only influence the success of our earthly journey, they also mark the way to our eternal goals.
Some Latter-day Saint families are comprised of mother, father, and children, all at home, while others have witnessed the tender departure of one, then another, then another of their members. Sometimes a single individual comprises a family. Whatever its composition, the family continues—for families can be forever.
We can learn from the master architect—even the Lord. He has taught us how we must build. He declared, “Every … house divided against itself shall not stand” (Matt. 12:25). Later He cautioned, “Behold, mine house is a house of order … and not a house of confusion” (D&C 132:8).
In a revelation given through the Prophet Joseph Smith at Kirtland, Ohio, December 27, 1832, the Master counseled, “Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God” (D&C 88:119; see also D&C 109:8).
Where could any of us locate a more suitable blueprint whereby he could wisely and properly build? Such a house would meet the building code outlined in Matthew, even a house built “upon a rock” (Matt. 7:24, 25; see also Luke 6:48; 3 Ne. 14:24, 25), a house capable of withstanding the rains of adversity, the floods of opposition, and the winds of doubt everywhere present in our changing and challenging world.
Thomas S. Monson, “Heavenly Homes, Forever Families,” Liahona, Jun 2006, 66–71
A Mother’s Most Important Treasure
A gentle, soft-spoken mother had passed away. She left to her stalwart sons and lovely daughters no fortune of finance but, rather, a heritage of wealth in example, in sacrifice, in obedience. After the funeral eulogies had been spoken and the sad trek to the cemetery had been made, the grown family sorted through the meager possessions the mother had left. Louis discovered a note and also a key. The note instructed: “In the corner bedroom, in the bottom drawer of my dresser, is a tiny box. It contains the treasure of my heart. This key will open the box.” Another son asked, “What could Mother have of sufficient value to be placed under lock and key?” A sister commented, “Dad has been gone all these years, and Mother has had precious little of this world’s goods.”
The box was removed from its resting place in the dresser drawer and opened carefully with the aid of the key. What did it contain? No money, no deed, no precious rings or valuable jewels. Louis took from the box a faded photograph of his father. On the back of the photograph was the penned message, “My dear husband and I were sealed together for time and all eternity in the House of the Lord, at Salt Lake City, December 12, 1891.”
Next there emerged an individual photo of each child, with his or her name and birth date. Finally, Louis held to the light a homemade valentine. In crude, childlike penmanship, which he recognized as his own, Louis read the words he had written 60 years before: “Dear Mother, I love you.”
Hearts were tender, voices soft, and eyes moist. Mother’s treasure was her eternal family. Its strength rested on the bedrock foundation of “I love you.”
Thomas S. Monson, “The Doorway of Love,” Ensign, Oct 1996, 2
Reassurance at Death of an Eternal Family
Contemplating such far-reaching matters, we reflect upon the helplessness of a newborn child. No better example can be found for total dependency. Needed is nourishment for the body and love for the soul. Mother provides both. She who, with her hand in the hand of God, descended into “the valley of the shadow of death” (Ps. 23:4), that you and I might come forth to life, is not in her maternal mission abandoned by God.
Several years ago, the Salt Lake City newspapers published an obituary notice of a close friend—a mother and wife taken by death in the prime of her life. I visited the mortuary and joined a host of persons gathered to express condolence to the distraught husband and motherless children. Suddenly the smallest child, Kelly, recognized me and took my hand in hers.
“Come with me,” she said; and she led me to the casket in which rested the body of her beloved mother. “I’m not crying, Brother Monson, and neither must you. My mommy told me many times about death and life with Heavenly Father. I belong to my mommy and my daddy. We’ll all be together again.”
Through tear-moistened eyes, I recognized a beautiful and faith-filled smile. To my young friend, whose tiny hand yet clasped mine, there would never be a hopeless dawn. Sustained by her unfailing testimony, knowing that life continues beyond the grave, she, her father, her brothers, her sisters, and indeed all who share this knowledge of divine truth, can declare to the world, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (Ps. 30:5).
Thomas S. Monson, “An Invitation to Exaltation,” Ensign, May 1988, 53