Familes Can Be Together Forever?

I have a family here on earth
they are so good to me.
I want to share my life with them
through all eternity.

While I am in my early years,
I’ll prepare most carefully,
so I can marry in God’s temple
for eternity.

Families can be together forever
through Heavenly Father’s plan.
I always want to be with my own family,
and the Lord has shown me how I can.

This past weekend the Ogden Temple was rededicated. To allow more members to participate in the rededication, the LDS Church broadcast it to a number of Stake Centers (church buildings) in Utah and to the Marriott Center in Provo. This broadcast replaced usual Sunday services. Because only temple-worthy members were allowed to participate in temple dedications, for the duration of the broadcasts, each building was dubbed an extension of the Ogden temple, and only those members with current temple recommends (or special permission from their Bishop) were allowed into the building. Which means, this past Sunday, the “Visitors Welcome” sign prominently displayed on each chapel was somewhat deceiving. Anyone not deemed worthy was turned away from the church.

Temples are a big deal in Mormonism because only inside temples can sacred ordinances can be performed allowing families to be sealed together. The concept of eternal families is frequently preached in the LDS Church. Marriages performed in the sealing room of a temple allow for the marital relationship to remain in force after death instead of the more common, “’til death do us part.” Children born into these families (or later sealed into the family) share the promise that they will be with their parents as a family after death. I have beautiful memories in these sealing rooms. I’ve been present for the sealing of my sister to her husband and son and witnessed friends’ married here.

The Ogden Temple Sealing Room

Families are the main focus of the Mormon church and it has been working hard to make sure that families don’t change. The traditional “Mom+Dad+2.5 kids=buckets of happiness” formula for a family is the only one recognized by the LDS Church. The problem with that formula is that it leaves no room for me.

Where is the place for Dad+Dad+kids?=buckets of happiness? Where is that eternal family? It’s been hard to figure out where I can fit into the Mormon definition of a family. At BYU it seems I can’t go 24 hours without hearing something about getting married or having a family or something to that effect. It’s not even considered that the formula might not work for some people. I see friends getting engaged and married and exulting over their eternities together and I’m happy for them, but it leaves me questioning and pensive about my future. Will I have a real house with a real family? A real life?

The thought of being separated from that real family after we die just because I wasn’t created to love a woman doesn’t seem like something the kind and loving Heavenly Father Mormonism taught me about would do. He wouldn’t make exaltation unavailable to me as a result of an unchangeable (in me) quality of my spirit. How could that be true?

The Ogden Temple

I don’t claim to have answers. There is a lot that I don’t know, or that we, as a Church, don’t know. I don’t agree with every individual doctrine of the LDS Church; there are some that I have felt no confirmation to be true. However, completely discounting the Church as a whole feels equally flawed. Something has to exist after this life. I don’t know if it is exactly as Mormonism says it will be with only carbon copies of the “traditional family,” but something’s there.

My testimony is filled with a lot more things that I don’t know or things I hope for than things that I concretely know and feel to be true. A few weeks ago I was in sacrament meeting and one of the hymns was “Families Can Be Together Forever.” I had a hard time singing it. This song that I’ve been singing since primary is full of things I don’t understand and can’t honestly say. Can families be together forever? Is there a realistic way for me to have a “forever family?”

This upcoming Thursday at USGA we are having a guest speaker, Professor Roni Jo Draper Ph.D. of the Department of Teacher Education at BYU, come and lead a discussion on how to make our Wards, quorums, Relief Societies, and other Church spaces more queer friendly. The focus will be helping local church leaders learn what they can do to meet the needs of queer/SSA members. It draws me back to one of my main questions: Is there a place in the LDS Church and theology for queer families? And either way, where does that leave me?

I have a family here on earth
they are so dear to me.
I want to share my life with them
for all eternity.

While I was in my early years,
I prepared so carefully,
so I could marry in God’s temple
for eternity.

Can families be together forever
through some heavenly plan?
I always want to be with my own family,
but the Lord hasn’t shown me how I can.

-Daniel

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5 thoughts on “Familes Can Be Together Forever?

  1. Hey Dan!
    So one thought that has occurred to me again and again as I’ve thought about Mormanism and being gay is the feelings that I have for my boyfriend in this life. I know I love him; he’s my best friend, my absolute love, my greatest support, and he is one of the few people that I, as an introvert, am always happy to be around. If my being gay is a trial, as some say, does that mean when I would be resurrected I wouldn’t love him anymore? Or that I would only love him as a brother or as a friend? That never sat well with me and it’s something I’ve never really found an answer to. Just some food for though and something I thought fits well with this post. I love reading you’re posts!
    -mark

    • Mark!
      I completely agree. There is always that thing that Mormonism teaches about how the same spirit that we have in this life we will have after we die. To me, who I love is part of who I am, and though I’m not seeing anyone now, I would imagine that when I am he will be an incredibly important part of me. It wouldn’t make sense to have that relationship ripped away from me. Love is love, and it always will be. And I can’t imagine any sort of loving deity that would see it right to rip that away. Thanks for commenting! Many parts of these posts have come from ideas from letters you sent me almost three years ago, so if the ideas look familiar, they probably are. Thanks for sending those, and for being patient with me. I love you and wish you and Dylan all the best through these next few months.
      -Daniel

  2. This is something that’s been on my mind for a while. I always worry that after I die, I won’t be able to see my “significant other” anymore. I agree with you that nobody on earth has all the answers. I just hope that God with be fair and understanding when it comes to his homosexual children. I think he will 🙂

    • I think you’re right Felix. I sometimes get caught up in the fear of being separated from those I love after I die. In current Mormon theology, there will be no way for me to be sealed to a husband or any children that might be included in my future family, and that worries me, but I have to hope that somehow things will work out and we will be able to continue being together. I don’t know how, but I am confident that somehow it will.
      Wishing you the best,
      -Daniel

  3. The Plan of Salvation is the one thing I have never questioned. It is my rock and stabilizer. However, I truly believe that God would allow all kinds of families to exist in Heaven. I look forward to being together with my husband for time and eternity (even if that marriage is sealed here on earth). Like Elder Holland so famously said, “Heaven without my family, isn’t heaven for me”.

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