This particular topic has been on my mind a lot recently. And it wasn’t until this morning that I decided I needed to write a blog about it. But before I dive in, a little back ground for anybody who isn’t Mormon. . .
We believe that the family is at the center of the gospel. We believe that when a marriage (or sealing) is completed in an LDS Temple it is for time and all eternity because those who perform the sealing have authority from God to bind on earth as well as in heaven. We believe the power to procreate is a gift and an endowment of power from God only to be used in the bonds of holy matrimony (and solely between a man and a woman-but that is for another entry). You can find all of what we believe about marriage and family in The Family: A Proclamation to the World.
However, what you won’t find anywhere is how big a family has to/should be. No prophet, apostle, or other general authority has ever stated a “minimum family size” needed for exaltation. And that is because there isn’t one.
Now don’t get me wrong – I am NOT bashing on large families‼ There are 5 kids in my family, I want a large family, and some of the best families I have known in the church have 6+ children. But some of the other best families I have known are not large. My husband comes from a family of 3 children and they are possibly one of the greatest families I have or ever will meet. One of my very close family friend's do not have any children, and I dare anybody to spend 10 minutes with them and tell me they aren’t virtuous, humble, and righteous members of the church. They did all they could to bring children into their home but have been unsuccessful for one reason or another.
And this leads me to the topic of my post today. . . Eternal Families.
There seems to be an underlying, unspoken, unconscious prejudice in the church that in order to have an eternal family you need “X-#” of children; and in what I have experienced in my slim 4 years of marriage it’s a minimum around 4 or 5. THIS. IS. FALSE.
It is (as I believe) also thought that the “typical” Mormon family consists of Mommy, Daddy, and 4.5 perfect little children. Again, in my opinion, this is also false. What is normal or typical in the church is changing. We are “hastening the work” and as such the “typical” member is changing. The typical family is changing. People are entering this church who are from different walks of life. They have gone through things that those of us (myself included) who are life-time members can’t imagine. There are single parent, no parent, foster parent, divorced parent homes in our church. They are good people who searched, found, and accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Lord loves them and will not deny them blessings of happiness.
Of course, there is and always will be the IDEAL situation. A mother, father, and children all sealed for time and all eternity in the Temple. And it (a temple marriage) is something we should all strive for. Because in the end it’s the temple marriage that makes families eternal. (and continuing to keep the covenants made there-obviously). It’s not the number of children you have that creates an eternal marriage. 0 kids, 4 kids, or 10 kids – if the parents weren’t married in the temple, it’s not eternal.
I believe that we need to do all we can to bring children into our families. We must exhaust our options. The Lord has commanded us to multiply and replenish the earth. . . but what of those who can’t?
I suggest we focus on the fact that they are ALREADY ETERNAL FAMILIES. I currently do not have children, and while my little family of 2 doesn’t look “typical” – it IS eternal. Just because the Lord’s plan for me is different than others doesn’t make my family any less eternal. For those whose wombs are empty and heart is full – your family is not any less eternal.
As for the single/divorced members (with or without children). Whatever your past or current situation, the Lord has a plan for you. And it’s a great one – if you stay true and firm in the gospel. You must continue to exercise faith, love, patience, and virtue in your daily life. And the Lord will, one day, bless you with an opportunity to make your family eternal.
There is a typical phrase in the church (one that has irked me at times) but its – “all will be made right in the millennium”. Meaning , those without children will receive them, those without spouses will marry. No righteous person will be forever denied those types of blessings of happiness.
And yes- that is true. But rarely do people talk about how hard the endurance process is. And the strength and courage it takes for a person to wait AND stay firm and true in the gospel. I believe those who are asked to wait until the millennium have THE. STRONGEST. FAITH. They have THE. MOST. COURAGE. . . In my opinion the Lord has asked more of them than the rest of us. I have been blessed to receive the gift of an eternal marriage in THIS life. And will (hopefully) be blessed with children one day too.
But others aren’t so lucky – and boy, are they stronger than I.
So in my last moments of typing I challenge us to reconsider and reconstruct the definition of an Eternal Family. To look again at those different from what we think is “typical” and consider their strength, courage, and fortitude as they take on and conquer the challenges the Lord has given them – look again and ask ourselves,
“what can I learn from this beautiful, righteous, different, un-average, ETERNAL family.