So many people have questions about what Mormon’s call “eternal families”. People sometimes wonder “what is the point of marriage and family if it all ends at death?”
Like so many things, having an eternal perspective can bring more joy, understanding and fulfillment to a person’s life. LDS people believe that families can be together forever, and that many of the true sources of joy do not end at death, but carry over into the eternities.
In a devotional talk, published in the 2001 “Ensign” magazine, Dallin H. Oaks noted the following:
All Latter-day Saints understand that having an eternal family is an eternal goal. Exaltation is a family matter, not possible outside the everlasting covenant of marriage, which makes possible the perpetuation of glorious family relationships. But this does not mean that everything related to mortal families is an eternal goal. There are many short-term objectives associated with families—such as family togetherness or family solidarity or love—that are methods, not the eternal goals we pursue in priority above all others. For example, family solidarity to conduct an evil enterprise is obviously no virtue. Neither is family solidarity to conceal and perpetuate some evil practice like abuse.
The purpose of mortal families is to bring children into the world, to teach them what is right, and to prepare all family members for exaltation in eternal family relationships. The gospel plan contemplates the kind of family government, discipline, solidarity, and love that serve those ultimate goals. But even the love of family members is subject to the overriding first commandment, which is love of God (see Matt. 22:37–38), and the Savior’s directive, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). As Jesus taught, “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matt. 10:37).
LDS people are encouraged to get married in our temples. These are sacred places, and to go there one must be willing to confess their sins and promise to follow God’s commandments. Marriage in the temple is done through true Priesthood authority, and because of this, remains in force even in the eternities.
What can we do to make our marriage and family life better?
Here on earth, we often get caught up in momentary pleasure, and sometimes miss out on the lasting joy that we can find through the gospel of Jesus Christ, as a family. “Family Fun” is a wonderful and important part of family life, but it can feel empty if we don’t also have a larger goal in mind.
What can we do to put a more eternal focus on our family life? In the Mormon church we have what we call “Family Home Evening.” it is a time set aside every week, usually on Monday night, when there are no church meetings of activities planned, and when families are encouraged to spend time together learning and playing.
Family meals can also be an enriching time. Though it might seem old fashioned, or of little importance, getting the whole family together without distraction (eliminate the TV, radio or iPod noise, texting, phone calls, etc) can create lasting memories and help children feel safe and grounded.
If you have more questions about the idea of an “eternal family,” feel free to ask them here, or get in touch with a Mormon friend or the missionaries. Marriage is sacred, and we believe it can be for more than just “til death do us part”. Any LDS person would be happy to share with you our ideas on that subject, and answer any questions you might have.