Possibly the only two clear days so far this year in Seattle happened to be on the weekend of my little brother’s wedding a week and a half ago. Lucky guy. Even luckier that my new sister-in-law (who’s great) agreed to marry him. But luckiest of all that he was married by an authority and in a place where marriages do not have an expiration date at death, but can last forever. And any children that come into their family will likewise know them as father and mother forever.
The belief that family relationships can continue even after death sums up most of the fundamental doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (my friend Ashley also posted about this on this blog) First, it implies an afterlife. But not just any afterlife: an afterlife where it makes sense to even talk about things like husband and wife, parent and child. In other words, an afterlife that is essentially an extension of this one, where “that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy,” complete with a perfect physical resurrection of our flesh-and-bone bodies.
Our belief in forever families means we believe in a God who is our father in a very real sense, and on whose relationships with us we model our own family relationships. Our belief in forever families goes hand in hand with our belief that God authorizes his power (which we call the priesthood) to be used by men on earth, for these eternal marriages are still performed by men. Our belief in forever families also means we believe God communicates with us today, because it is by relatively recent revelation to modern-day prophets that we even have this doctrine, and we certainly try to seek personal inspiration when deciding whom to marry (since the stakes are so high for us).
Finally, forming an eternal family involves making a covenant with God, or a solemn promise to live our lives according to his will, and the covenant we make at marriage just happens to be the culminating one in a series of covenants that begin at baptism. We believe making and keeping these covenants is the key to living a happy and fulfilling life here on earth and to assuring we reach our potential in the life to come.
That about sums up what it is to be Mormon.
Witnessing my little brother forming his own family that will last forever, and spending time with my own brothers and sisters and parents (for the first time in way too long) while celebrating the occasion reinforced strongly how much I love them and value my relationship with them. Even more so, having flown back to Boston to rejoin my own wife and kids, I am grateful to know our family will endure beyond the grave.
So will I see my family after I die? I believe the answer is yes, but not only will I see them, but they will still be my family. That is pretty awesome.