The Church of the Nuclear Family of Latter-day Saints?

Lately I’ve felt like I’m hearing too much about “the family” at church, so I was pleased to see the topic of Sabbath observance during the 3rd hour at the ward I attended on August 9.  Something basic about living the gospel and focusing on spiritual development was just what I wanted to hear.  The lesson was part video from Salt Lake City, and part discussion facilitated by the ward’s bishop.  In the video a few apostles made brief remarks, followed by a slide with a question, which the bishop encouraged the class to discuss.

I liked that the material presented was about principles and not about specifics on what to do and not to do on the Sabbath – they seem to trust church members to use the spirit to guide their Sabbath observance.  Elder Ballard remarked that the reason for a lesson on this topic was to make the Sabbath a time when people can have spiritual experiences to strengthen their faith.  Yes!  I am on board with that.

However, Elder Bednar took the discussion in a direction I did not expect.  He said the whole point of the gospel is for a man and woman to be sealed and happy at home, using a quote from Elder Packer to support this.  He presented the following graphic:

IMG_3820

This graphic was on a handout, which contained the following bullet points:

  • Children of members and converts are baptized, endowed, sealed to their spouse, and have children, who repeat this cycle.
  • Learning and living the gospel of Jesus Christ in the home is essential in creating multigenerational families
  • The Sabbath day can and should be an important time for gospel learning

Elder Bednar said breakdowns in the cycle usually happen between points A and B, and this happens because of poor gospel teaching in the home.  I did a double-take at the graphic, and even now, a week later, I am still disbelieving my eyes and ears.  The whole point of the gospel is for people to be sealed?  I thought the whole point was to have that mighty change of heart that makes us disciples of Christ.  But this almost makes it seem like Christ exists in the service of creating families.

I don’t doubt that teaching children correct principles at home matters a lot, and I realize that being sealed together as families is a treasured part of Church teachings and ordinances for many Church members.  But I must say that the idea that creating a spiral of nuclear families, one giving rise to the other throughout time, is the whole point of the gospel is new to me.  Have I not been paying attention in the 30 years since I was baptized?  Or is this a new teaching?  If something as basic (and mundane) as Sabbath observance can be hijacked into a discussion about the family, and if Christ exists to enable a cycle of sealing, then this is a different Church than I thought I belonged to.

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69 Responses

  1. Caroline says:

    Whoa. I’m sitting here shaking my head at that graphic. Is there no recognition on the part of church leaders that graphics/teachings like this completely exclude a large proportion of members (often female), who won’t get sealed in the temple in their lifetime? How would a single adult feel looking at this graphic? Is there no place in the gospel plan for single adults, or are they to be viewed as perpetually stunted/arrested beings not fulfilling their true purpose in life? How I wish I could ask church leaders questions like these before they present this kind of narrative.

    • Emily U says:

      These are my thoughts as well, Caroline. Why would God make a plan that a certain fraction of people are excluded from by circumstances that are out of their control? It seems so exclusionary, and so untrue.

    • Susan says:

      “Is there no place in the gospel plan for single adults,”

      The simple answer is NO. I’m not going to heaven because I’m not married. Male church members are not allowed to come to my home without a chaperone. There is no place for me in the church.

  2. Sara KS Hanks says:

    I think the problem you’re talking about is very real and troubling. Idolatry is putting anything — even good, important things — in the place that God ought to occupy, and lately, I think church leaders have been making an idol of The Family (not even of families, but of The Family — the concept of what a family ought to look like and be). I noticed it most distinctly in Elder Perry’s talk in the most recent general conference, where there were at least three statements that put family in place of Jesus Christ (at least according to my understanding of the gospel).

    “The entire theology of our restored gospel centers on families and on the new and everlasting covenant of marriage.”

    “My brothers and sisters, the restored gospel centers on marriage and family.”

    “Let me close by bearing witness (and my nine decades on this earth fully qualify me to say this) that the older I get, the more I realize that family is the center of life and is the key to eternal happiness.”

    • Liz says:

      Amen. The emphasis on “The Family” (and specifically only “the family” as the church seems to want to define it, leaving out singles, single parents, people without children, same-sex couples, etc.) has felt more and more like idolatry to me over the past few years. It makes me feel ashamed of my church, because we have so much potential to mobilize and do so much good, and show so much love, but instead we (as a church structure) idolize and isolate and marginalize. It’s not the church I thought I belonged to, either.

    • Emily U says:

      I agree that this glorification of “the family” fits the definition of idolatry.

  3. Earl Parsons says:

    I think this trend is disturbing and agree with Sara that The Family is becoming a false idol for the Latter-day Saints.

    I noticed this with Elder Oaks October 2013 talk “No Other Gods” where he bemoans low birth rates and increased marriage age as thwarting the plan of salvation. I was puzzled at first because to me the plan of salvation is that the Atonement allows us to overcome sin and death so we can return to live with God. This is what I get from the scriptures.

    But then I realized that his definition of the plan of salvation must be more like the chart you show above. I call this the Saturday’s Warriors plan of salvation.

  4. rebba says:

    They are teaching the celestial law and gods first comandment given to mortals. That is the law taught by god to Adam and Eve in the garden to procreate and have joy. Dont confuse that emphasis as diminishing the saviors roll of rectifying the broken law.

    • Amelia says:

      According to Jesus, who should know, I would think, the first commandment is to Love God and the second is to Love our neighbor as ourself. Neither is dependent on marriage or having babies.

  5. Hedgehog says:

    We had a member of the stake presidency speak in sacrament meeting this week. He announced he would be speaking about the atonement. Lovely. But then began by quoting the first paragraph of the Fam Proc…

  6. hawkgrrrl says:

    This is a chart describing how to grow the church. Children raised in the church have higher retention rates than converts do. It seems like this is the sales chart at a car dealership. Not the gospel. The gospel is about salvation. The church is about the church. When the two diverge, stick with the gospel. Unfortunately, the two frequently diverge.

    • Ziff says:

      Ha! Spot on, Hawkgrrrl! The church is about the church, and trying to make itself as big as possible. Maybe if we got more literary types in the Q15 and fewer business types, we could get beautiful metaphors about the church instead of these charts that claim to be about the gospel but are actually about church growth.

  7. neva trejo says:

    this perfectly illustrates the reason why of late my attendance at meetings and the temple have fallen off-now, in my later years, it seems as if i am being told that despite a lifetime in the church and striving to live the gospel and being endowed, i have failed the the very goal of life in the church and the purpose of being on this earth-despite my best actions, hopes, and intentions, i have not been sealed to a godly spouse nor have i been blessed with children. i have “fallen off the grid” between steps two and tree and become a depressing statistic, in stead of a fulfilled role model. i am wrestling with just what that means to me in the ultimate sense; this just makes me feel foolish for buying into a scheme that instead of happily enriching me, has left me feeling deflated and defeated-i will continue to seek joy in Christ and peace at the last, but i fear i will not find it in the church i so dearly loved, and so i still grieve and offer my hand and heart in fellowship with all those who might see themselves in my experience.

    • Emily U says:

      My heart feels heavy for you, Neva. My life’s experience is different from yours, but I’d like to walk with you anyway. I’m so sorry you feel off the grid, and it grieves me how the Church creates that feeling, but I hope between people who care about you and a Savior who loves perfectly, you’ll feel as much a part of the body of Christ as anyone.

    • Jennifer Friend says:

      I am very touched by what you have written here. It is clear to me that you are a devoted and steadfastly spiritual person. I want to encourage you to keep loving God and know that you are loved by God. It is very painful when the church culture makes you feel rejected and less than. If you don’t mind me saying so, I think this represents a flaw in the church and not a flaw within you or God!

  8. Tracy M says:

    If that’s the future of the church, it’s a big fat “screw you” to singles, divorced families, gays, and anyone who isn’t in a tidy nuclear package. Is there any support for that scripturally? At all?

    • hawkgrrrl says:

      Don’t forget the parents whose children weren’t endowed. Plenty of blame to go around. We bear the responsibility because it’s always that tidy. Also, no mention of the LGBT here either. I guess the church is still sticking with the idea that they should marry straight people and fake it until they die or else the model collapses.

  9. Sue B. says:

    For those who might be interested in Elder Bednar’s exact words: “To set a little bit of context for focusing on the Sabbath in the home, the basic purpose of all we teach and all we do in the Church of Jesus of Latter-day Saints is to make available the priesthood authority and/or gospel ordinances and covenants that enable a man and a woman and their children to be sealed together and happy at home. Period. Exclamation point. End of sentence. That’s it.”

    • Tracy M says:

      I’m not sure that entire quote changes anything- it’s still saying that the Gospel is to create tidy little family packets, and says nothing about bringing our hearts to Christ- *all* hearts, not just the tidily packaged hearts.

    • Emily U says:

      Thank you, Sue B. I would have liked to have quoted him in my post but I can’t take notes fast enough to capture his words and wasn’t sure if I could find this quote published anywhere.

    • X2 Dora says:

      Thanks for the exact quote! I would love to get a hold of the transcript. So far, it seems pretty “damning,” because of the narrow focus and exclusionary nature of the quoted remarks.

      In my branch counsel meeting last week, we watched material from SLC on improving the quality and spirituality of sacrament services. Yes, they did have a few clips of the female auxiliary board presidency members, but all of the clips only addressed women as mothers and caretakers of children during sacrament. I was very disturbed because there seemed to be no acknowledgement of women’s need to be spiritual fed, women as spiritual leaders that men should listen to, and no acknowledgement of men’s responsibility to be involved fathers (during sacrament or any other time). This reduction of women to the role of child-caretaker was very disheartening.

      • X2 Dora says:

        To be clear, my branch is for singles aged 31-45, so it seemed *really * to have all female voices discussing only childcare.

  10. Violadiva says:

    I think one of the major pitfalls in the deification of the nuclear family, as discussed above, is that it skews a tangent away from what eternal life entails in the bigger picture = A life like God’s, WITH God. Yes, I certainly hope my earthly family and spouse are a part of that picture, but not above the hope I have to return to God’s presence. I think we miss the mark when we emphasize that the reward for a life well-lived is to be forever with your sweetheart, rather than to be forever with God. To say nothing about the hopelessness single or divorced members may feel about their eternal prospects.
    Last time I checked, a bigger factor in my eternal future had more to do with the grace of Jesus Christ to save me after I all I can do. I feel like I should be more concerned with that.

    • Emily U says:

      Amen. Salvation is eternal life with God, but it feels like eternal life with your spouse is creepily replacing that in Bednar’s quote that Sue B. provided above.

    • Amelia says:

      Such a great comment. While reading it, I thought about how in some way this emphasis on marriage and family and being together through the eternities is a form of atheism. Of inability or unwillingness to place God at the center of our worship and existence, but to instead place spouse/children/family there. I know what the party line would be–that loving spouse and loving God should meld into the same thing, but I think that’s a poor attempt at articulating a much more powerful idea. That God’s existence and humanities divinity are bound up in each other. That perhaps God’s existence as a distinct entity is less important than God’s existence within the people around us. But if we go there, we must also embrace the corollary that love of others need not be limited to certain kinds of love that comply with prescriptive Love Laws (e.g., monogamous heterosexual marriage).

  11. Lily2 says:

    I want to thank you for this topic and thread. As never-married, childless woman I have felt this way for many years. We have turned into a fertility cult. No joke. My understanding of the scriptures and other doctrines is that Christ and His Atonement are the center of everything we do and these principles are applicable to everyone in every situation. I am glad I am not the only one who is troubled by this overemphasis on family.

    • Spunky says:

      Thank you for saying this, Lily! “Fertility cult” indeed! I am so exhausted with the emphasis of righteous womanhood equaling a physically fertile body.

      After years of infertility, we finally adopted. But I haven’t pushed being sealed to my children. I almost feel like we are sealed because the adoption process was so difficult, long and required so very much paperwork. Somehow doing the temple on top seemed redundant at best and dismissive of our heavily difficult process at worst. So, according to this chart, and Bednar’s words, I am even more of a failure. I know Christ was with me as we went through the infertility treatments, and through the adoption process.

      Bednar’s words to me here are akin to denying the Christ; and I won’t go there. Ever.

  12. Elizabeth says:

    “The Family” is, in my opinion, part of a long lead-up of forces that engaged the institutional LDS church in right-wing politics since the 1960’s. Back before the ERA, Utah was split equally as democrat/republican, but with the ERA the Church entered politics on a large, deliberate, strategic scale in order to defeat the ERA, and it succeeded. By the end of that episode, and after all the efforts of Benson and the John Birch Society, Utah became predominantly republican, and has remained so ever since. If BH Roberts – who was Benson’s political foil in the leadership – had outlived Benson, our church would be drastically different. The gay rights movement in Hawaii became a concern in the 80s, and between gay rights and women’s rights the church aligned itself firmly with right-wing interests and political talking points. “The Family” is a republical thinktank construction around which political interests rally voters on domestic issues in America, and it has become an increasing presence in our Church.

    Since there is no scripture to back up this up, The Proclamation was introduced and has been used as de facto scripture ever since.

    The Proclamation reads like a bullet list of right-wing political talking points, including:

    -“disentigration of the family” – a talking point usually referring to gay marriage
    -“sanctity of life” – a phrase from the anti-abortion movement
    -“God’s commandment…to multiply and replenish the earth…” – a phrase used in opposing birth control
    -“sacred powers of procreation…between husband and wife…” – a phrase directed against gay sexual relations and heterosexual masturbation
    -“The family is ordained of God…” – a common right-wing talking point defining marriage
    -“…call upon citizens and officer of government…” – an early directive toward prioritizing “religious freedom” over equality, to be upheld by the law. This continues to play out in modern politics, and I predict will be the future emphasis of right-wing values politics now that gay marriage is universally legalized

    In short, “The Family” is a political construct that we have invested in as a Church, and we have introduced a pseudo-scripture to back it up. The Proclamation on the Family is NOT scripture, has not been sustained as canon by the Church general membership (though I think eventually there will be a push to do so), and it has been specifically categorized as “a guide” and specifically NOT a revelation, following Packer’s assertion in General Conference (Oct 2010) that it was, indeed, a revelation. After his talk, the text was amended, and it caused a huge uproar at the time.

    The original talk stated:

    “Fifteen years ago, with the world in turmoil, the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles issued “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” the fifth proclamation in the history of the Church. It qualifies according to the definition as a revelation and would do well that members of the church to read and follow it.”

    The published version now says:

    “Fifteen years ago, with the world in turmoil, the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles issued “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” the fifth proclamation in the history of the Church. It is a guide that members of the Church would do well to read and to follow.”

    The Family is a construct, and a false one at that. Hardly anyone meets the definition of this idealized family – the economics alone, of a single male provider, can only exist under very specific conditions. I think idolatry is a compelling way to think about it.

    I beleive that to understand the present we need to understand the past. How we got here is the key to unravelling the destructive problems and moving forward. To further understand the historical dynamics, I recommend reading this Harvard thesis that outlines what happened quite well: https://www.elance.com/samples/harvard-honors-history-thesis-mormon-church-republican-politics-research-historical-research-politic/61134795/

    WIth all that said, I believe in family, but I think we define it incorrectly as the nuclear family. The human family is who we are, “the world” is who God loved enough to send his son, and we already call each other brothers and sisters. We should stop machete-ing off whole swaths of humanity from the Savior’s love. You are right to feel the tension in the gospel that you expressed in this post!

    • Elizabeth says:

      Oops – I meant Hugh B Brown often opposed Benson politically, not BH Roberts. Sorry, brain snafu!

      And in case anyone thinks the point of my comment was to bash republicans, it wasn’t. I’d be as deeply disturbed if the agenda of our church was directed by democrats. Politics stirred into religion usually causes a chemical reaction that corrodes the spirit of religion. I’m not anti-republican, just anti-politics when it comes to church.

      • Patty says:

        I attended another church where the printed program described that church’s commitment to being open and affirming (to LGBT members) and also to social justice. Not much mention of Christ or any other theology. I was as uncomfortable there as I am when we go all right wing at church. I agree with you, no politics at church! And more commitment to all individuals, no matter what their family situation is.

      • Marcus says:

        I would like to meet and shake hands with the individual responsible for effectively downgrading Packer’s “revelation” to “guide.” It gives me hope knowing there’s someone on the editorial committee able to exert that kind of influence on the Q15.

  13. Beth says:

    I agree, it is hard to understand the continuing overemphasis on the family. A couple in my ward just returned from a mission to Russia. They helped out in a small branch in which all the members were the only member in their family. No one has the kind of family the FamProc is talking about. How does this family rhetoric sound to them?
    Two years ago, I once substituted for the stake RS president at stake council. (I’m a counselor.) The stake president asked for suggestions for the theme for the next stake conference. Almost every member of the high council suggested, “How can we help families do [this or that program]?” But mine was, “How can the church programs help people come to Christ?” They actually chose it. Thought you might like a little success story.

  14. Tim Rollins says:

    Since I was in High Priests Group for the lesson in question, that one was probably the same one I discreetly slipped out of the room, as they know me well enough to know they know me well enough that they did not want to get me started on that topic.

    To that end, after walked over to Primary, got my wife, and we went home, as all too often, we get hyper-judgmental types who fail to understand that upwards of half of adult church members are on second marriages, and the words of well-meaning church members are akin to scalpels doing a slice-and-dice of our hearts.

    We’re both too old to have to deal with that crap; that, and the chapel should be our refuge from the world, not our asylum.

    It is approaches like these and an obsession on PR and ‘the approval of the world’ — or as I call it, corporate brown nosing — which they’ll never get, that tells me that all is NOT well in Zion…with friends like that, it’s a lot easier to identify our enemies!!!

    All too often within the Church, the Corporation crowds out the Gospel, as the late Ronald E. Poelman so eloquently spoke of in the October 1984 General Conference, which remains a classic, in that he delineates and separates the clear and convincing difference between the Gospel and the Church.

    A copy in PDF is available on request of BOTH the original and the sanitized one that Elder Poelman was forced to stay after Conference and reshoot the talk with the addition of a cough track — a move I found to be intellectually and spiritually dishonest.

    The irony in all that dishonesty is that Question #9!in the temple recommend interview asks us: “Are you honest in your dealings with your fellowmen?”

    Irony indeed. ***

  15. honey says:

    I have a serious question for the commenters here. Where else in the world is the importance of family, marriage, motherhood, and fatherhood emphasized as it is in the LDS church? Where else do you see Jesus Christ and Sabbath keeping emphasized and promoted as a righteous way of living.
    All in my one lifetime I have been in a “perfect” temple married marriage, a marriage with an unbelieving spouse (disfellowshipped, then excommunicated), then the poor bishops worst nightmare – I was a single mom with 6 minor children, then to top it all off married to a non-member (gasp) and a step-mother. Now after all that in a temple marriage to that former non-member. Though it all there has always been room for me and my family in the church, usually with great priesthood leaders. I believe that the ideal should always be taught, no matter if as individuals be struggle to live up to them. I hope the church keeps emphasizing things that really matter, and I will try to keep reaching to live the ideals presented, even when I fall short.

    • Tracy M says:

      Honey, I would like to hear Jesus (and his teachings) mentioned even HALF as much as we talk about The Family. I would like to talk about Jesus’s actual ministry. Jesus was about bringing individuals to God; we are born, and we die individually. We all must stand before the judgement bar alone. Healthy and happy families are ideal places for growing and learning about Jesus and his teachings. We have placed the cart before the horse, and made the creation of one type of family *into* worship. It’s not.

      All people are to come unto Christ. ALL people.

      • Emily U says:

        What Tracy said.

        Also, I’d just like to say that in my experience people form stable families without their religious leaders telling them to do so. They do it for lots of reasons…love, economic stability, tradition, children, etc. And it turns out that getting married is a function of demographics, wealth, and education as much as anything else. I think it’s odd that many people want to be married with no religious push but LDS leaders seem to think their flock need a religious reason for doing so. I guess all I’m saying is it’s not just Mormons who care about marriage. Or Jesus. Or Sabbath observance (I don’t hold a candle to my orthodox Jewish neighbors on that).

        I am glad to hear the Church was there for you in tough times, Honey. Very glad to hear it.

      • Ziff says:

        This is an excellent point, Emily U:

        “people form stable families without their religious leaders telling them to do so. They do it for lots of reasons…love, economic stability, tradition, children, etc. And it turns out that getting married is a function of demographics, wealth, and education as much as anything else. I think it’s odd that many people want to be married with no religious push but LDS leaders seem to think their flock need a religious reason for doing so.”

        This is a trivial example for comparison, but it’s like if church leaders suddenly started pushing brushing your teeth as an essential gospel activity that pleased God, and then convinced themselves that the only reason people were brushing their teeth was because of all the gospel-associated haranguing they were doing about it. Like you said so well, non-Mormons seem to form families even without (presumably) listening to church leaders talk about it, and it seems like people did it even before the church existed. It’s kind of bizarre that they think it’s so crucial that they bring it up at every opportunity.

    • honey says:

      My question was where else in our larger society are we taught the importance of the ideal of intact family units, and the importance of motherhood and fatherhood (righteous, committed) Last Sun. I heard prayers in which Jesus Christ was mentioned numerous times, I participated in the Sacrament which time was wholly devoted to worshipping Jesus Christ. I heard talks by two returning missionaries talking about being brave in the service of Jesus Christ. Then I attended Sunday School where we talked about Pauls 2nd missionary journey and his service in spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. In Relief Society we learned a lesson from a man who spent his whole life in the service of Jesus Christ and his fellowman. In the lesson we learned some tips on how to be better mothers and fathers. (after going though those tips I must admit I came home and told my husband I felt like a total fail as a parent). The atonement of Jesus Christ which I have learned about in the LDS church must of picked up the slack for my failures as a parent because my kids seem to be turning out to be wonderful people. I believe the emphasis on families is required at this time because of the failure of my generation (baby boomers) to model healthy marriage and family. While serving young unmarried women and mothers on our mission I was humbled by the advantages I received in being raised in a traditional family that was functional. Most of those we worked with have never seen a functional family. Lessons at church and seeing some intact functional families helped them to understand what the ideal is and gave some idea of how to achieve that goal, perhaps in the eternities. I pray that is what I receive if I live with Christ again, children healed though the atonement of Jesus Christ. Healed from the harm my husbands and I never meant to inflict, by our mistakes groping our way through life. Mistakes and sins committed even having the ideal set before us. At least I had a pattern, many do not.

      • stacer says:

        Honey, have you *ever* gone to another Christian church worship service? They talk about Jesus Christ all the time in *every* Christian denomination, and often more than any random Mormon service in the United States.

  16. Justin says:

    The glory of God is our immortality and eternal life. His glory increases as his posterity increases in number and progresses towards eternal life. Those who obtain eternal life will live with him and become like him; they too will have an infinite and eternal posterity. If God’s purpose is eternal families, then surely it’s not wrong for the church to emphasize the same. Becoming a disciple of Christ is part of that. Discipleship is the beginning with baptism. The end goal is the promises we receive in the temple. Christ makes it all possible.

    • Chad says:

      The leap you just made –from the scripturally stated “glory of God” to the unscriptural “God’s purpose” is the point of this post. God’s glory, and therefore purpose, is our individual immortality and eternal lives.

      You have things exactly backward: becoming a disciple of Christ is not “part of” the doctrine of eternal families; the doctrine of eternal families is subordinate to becoming disciples of Christ.

      The gospel (good news) supports individuals and families, but is not dependent on The Family.

      • Justin says:

        Chad, I would like to know what your definition of eternal life is. What I hear you saying is that the plan of salvation exists so that Christ can have disciples as opposed to Christ volunteering to be our savior so that we can have eternal life.

      • Emily U says:

        The question of what it means to be saved is a really good one. We talk about eternal life as though we know what it means, but I doubt we really do.

        I think most Christians would define salvation as life with God – that is to enjoy God’s love and presence forever.

        I think Mormons define it differently to be the life that God has – which is problematic because I do not think we know what God’s existence is like. Nor do we need to know what it’s like because learning to be a disciple is challenge enough for us.

        I”m trying to think of scriptural support for the idea that God’s glory increases through more posterity who progress toward salvation, but I’m drawing a blank. Can anyone help me out with that?

    • Ron says:

      Remember that these ate feminists.

  17. Ziff says:

    Thanks for pointing this out, Emily U. Indeed this is an absurd bait-and-switch.

  18. Anarene Holt Yim says:

    Matt. 12: 46-50. (This story is also told in Mark and Luke.)

    “While [Jesus] yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.”

    And this is from Mark 10:29-30:

    “And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.”

    Jesus did NOT worship the nuclear family or even hold it up as an ideal. The ideal He held up was following God. Even if that meant leaving your nuclear family.

    So I believe the church leaders when they say that families are the whole point of the church. We hear these words a lot (though the church’s actions often demonstrate otherwise). But families are definitely NOT the whole point of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

  19. Mary says:

    WOW! Reading this post and these comments I feel like I am on Mars! My heart aches for people who feel disenfranchised. I was single for many, MANY years before marrying for the first time. I know what it’s like to be a single person in the church with no children. I have NEVER felt like there wasn’t a place for me because I claimed my place as a daughter of God. The doctrine on marriage is clear, that it is only through the “everlasting covenant of marriage” that we obtain the highest of the 3 glories within the Celestial Kingdom. It is in marriages and families where we learn the hard lessons of how to be a disciple of Christ, a very necessary component as part of God’s Plan of Happiness, which applies to ALL of us. Single people, Gay people are all part of a family (your own nuclear family or the ward family or as a worldwide church family). I encourage a deeper dive (something I need to do myself) into the doctrine of the Plan, families, the Temple endowment and Christ’s role in all of it. None of it is mutually exclusive.

    • Mara says:

      The doctrine on “the new and everlasting covenant of marriage” IS clear… is defined in Section 132 as plural marriage.

      Do you believe that plural marriage is required for the highest level of the celestial kingdom?

      • Mary says:

        I don’t know what place plural marriage has in the plan but it’s about the sealing covenant. Not about how many people are married to each other. IT’S ABOUT THE SEALING COVENANTS!

    • Lily2 says:

      If eternal families is the core of the Plan, then the Plan is a failure. There are only a very small percentage of God’s children that have temples marriages and sealed families. If you take the whole of creation, all His children, statistically, almost no one has a temple marriage. If you are going to say that we will all get the chance in the next life, that’s fine. But what is the purpose of this life for 99.999999999% of us that don’t have the opportunity for these ordinances?

      • Mary says:

        The plan is about eternal families which includes our individual salvation. It is not a failure. It is full of hope! Every person who has lived on the face of the earth will have an opportunity to hear the gospel in it’s fullness and using their agency will have an opportunity to accept or reject it. It’s why we do temple work for the dead and why we do missionary work for the living and it’s why we strive to perfect ourselves. Everyone will have that opportunity. That’s the beauty of the Restored Gospel, that’s the Good News!!! It’s the 3 fold mission of the church.

  20. Mara says:

    The gift of Agency is also kind of a big deal for us.

    So how does that fit in to the Plan of Happiness? If Happiness is defined as being eternally together as a family, but then you have one great kid who just doesn’t qualify- my happiness is now dependent on someone else’s choices.

    • Chad says:

      According to President Packer, Joseph never taught a more comforting doctrine: all who are sealed or BIC will meet the qualifications, if not in this life then the next. The sealing power trumps all others. Eternal life is God’s life. I am your brother — part of your family you haven’t yet met. We will be together some way, if we come unto Christ by action and ordinance — whether you have a biological family in this estate or not. All of which is to say I agree completely with the OP. It makes little sense (except as political fodder) to make an idol of The Family. In the big eternal picture we — all of us — are His and Her Family (except those consigned to Perdition) and will all “be together” in some fashion we can’t comprehend.

      • Mara says:

        Chad. That is exactly what I was thinking. There is a comment above about digging a little deeper in to understanding the new and everlasting covenant of marriage. I did just that a couple years ago and while there is always more to learn I came to a similiar conclusion.

        The sealing practice as Joseph originally taught it was about sealing all who desired exaltation to the Priesthood. It didn’t matter if it was your husband, your father, your uncle or your brother or son. In this sense this is a beautiful thing- it has the potential to seal together the entire human family- or at least those who desire it.

      • Emily U says:

        I wish we talked more of sealing as a way of forming one huge interconnected family. Instead we seem to privilege these very granular connections between spouses and children, which causes as much heartache as joy, in my observation.

      • Mara says:

        Sorry. Just one more.

        I have at times felt that the temple recommend and promise of an eternal family is a giant carrot hung in front of us to encourage us to be obedient.

        One of the things it encourages us to do is attend the temple. It has never made sense to me that the dead are dependent upon us to do their ordinances. (There’s that agency things again.). What does make sense to me is that the temple is more for our own learning. We should want to go. But truthfully, it is the worshipping of the family that makes some not want to attend.

        Putting family into the realm of “human family” has made geneaology and temple work much more appealing to me.

      • stacer says:

        So because my parents are non-members or not sealed to the other parent, and I’m not married and likely to never be so, therefore I am not allowed to “be together” with anyone, by your definition, Chad. And telling me that it’ll all be great after I’m dead does nothing for me, BTW. Telling me my life will only have value after I’m dead is a good way to make someone who’s already prone to depression to wonder why she’s alive in the first place.

  21. Anonymous this time says:

    What happens when an apostle teaching false doctrine?

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