“Lesson 35: The Eternal Family,” Duties and Blessings of the Priesthood: Basic Manual for Priesthood Holders, Part A (2000), 256–76
“Lesson 35: The Eternal Family,” Duties and Blessings of the Priesthood: Basic Manual for Priesthood Holders, Part A, 256–76
The purpose of this lesson is to help us understand our responsibility for establishing eternal families.
Eternal marriage is a basic doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ and a very important part of the Lord’s plan for us. Without it we cannot be exalted in the celestial kingdom in eternity. President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote: “Marriage, as understood by Latter-day Saints, is [an everlasting] covenant. … It is the foundation for eternal exaltation, for without it there could be no eternal progress in the kingdom of God” (Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 2:58).
President Spencer W. Kimball said: “Our Heavenly Father has a plan for man’s growth from infancy to godhood. … He intended that all men should live worthy to [be married] for time and all eternity” (“The Lord’s Plan for Men and Women,” Ensign, Oct. 1975, 2, 4). Temple marriage is the beginning of an eternal family unit. As a couple married in the temple have children and keep the commandments, they create an eternal family that will bring them joy and happiness forever.
Show visual 35-a, “Eternal families begin in the temple.”
To Latter-day Saints, a temple is one of the most important places on earth. In a temple, ordinances are performed that make it possible for families to live together forever in the presence of God. As heads of our homes and as priesthood holders, we have the responsibility for leading our families toward exaltation. This means that we have the responsibility to prepare our families to attend the temple. Such preparation begins with ourselves as we strive to honor the priesthood and live clean lives.
When men and women marry in the temple, they are married for this life, and they are also sealed together forever. Thereafter, any children they have are “born in the covenant,” or automatically sealed to them. When a couple is already legally married and goes to the temple to be sealed for eternity, the husband and wife are first sealed together, and then the children are sealed to their parents. After their sealing, children born to them are automatically sealed to them as a part of their eternal family.
Whether we are preparing to be married in the temple or preparing with our family to be sealed in the temple, we must prepare in the same ways. Our first step is to set the goal to go to the temple. We should discuss with our wife and children the things we need to do to get ready, and together set a date. We should write down this date, pray for the Lord’s help in meeting this date, and then do all we can to prepare. Because the temple is such a sacred place, we must also prepare ourselves spiritually to enter it. In the temple, we make covenants of great spiritual importance, for we promise the Lord that we will keep all of His commandments and obey Him in every way. It is necessary, therefore, that we live righteously and seek to obtain the Spirit if we are to be prepared to make these covenants.
What can we do to prepare ourselves spiritually to enter the temple? (List the responses on the chalkboard. Answers may include those shown below.)
Pray often and sincerely.
Read the scriptures regularly.
Be morally clean and pure.
Be humble and repentant.
Faithfully hold family home evening and family prayers.
As we sincerely do our best to become spiritually prepared, we will receive help from the Holy Ghost.
Share the following story with class members:
One woman told how her family built their happiness together as they prepared to be sealed in the temple:
“Even as a child, I could feel the anger, the heartache, the bitterness, when my parents argued. Often I would cry myself to sleep because I knew things weren’t the way they should be.
“I could feel the difference in the homes of my friends where their families were united in the gospel. … [Thanks to the bishop and home teachers, things started to change.] The gospel slowly became part of our lives. … The arguments became fewer—much farther apart. … Our family felt the responsibility of living as we’d been taught, especially now that we had a goal to work for [the temple]. If harsh words were spoken in haste, we returned words of love, calmly and sincerely. … We felt the excitement of helping one another. Mother and Dad didn’t always have to ask three or four times; chores were done quietly, quickly, and promptly. Love and a desire to help overpowered the former bitterness, pride, and constant quarreling among us.
“What made the difference? So many things. Perhaps it was the reality of long-awaited dreams coming true. As family prayers and family home evenings became part of our lives, we learned to know and love one another. The way we were living allowed our testimonies to grow—testimonies of family prayer, reading the scriptures, family home evening, attending church meetings. Our real testimony was of the principle of repentance. And we also knew that God lived. After a period of time and with this testimony and the assurance that we were worthy, we were ready to go to the temple of the Lord to be sealed as a family for time and all eternity. …
“As we stood at the temple gates, a lump filled my throat. There was a moment’s hesitation—and then we entered. … An attendant came to take us to the sealing room. Mom and Dad were there, faces radiant, dressed in their temple clothes. We knelt around the altar holding hands. An attendant held the baby so that she, too, was part of the family circle.
“And then the words were spoken that united us as a family for time and all eternity.
“I know my parents love me, because they had me sealed to them for time and all eternity” (Brenda Bloxham, “My Parents Took Us to the Temple,” Ensign, Aug. 1974, 61–62).
For some families, financial preparation is also an important part of getting ready to go to the temple. This may mean years of planning, saving, and working together. Many families have sacrificed everything they own to go to the temple. We need to remember that no amount of money is more valuable than our eternal family.
To meet the expenses of going to the temple, we need to find out how much it will cost to travel to and from the temple. We should also estimate other costs such as food and housing. When we figure out these amounts, we should then determine how much we can save each month. If we do this, we will eventually go to the temple. (See the testimony of Brother Vaha‘i Tonga in lesson 21.) Whatever we need to do to prepare ourselves and our families to go to the temple, we should start now. The rewards far outweigh any time and expense it may take.
Have the assigned class member who has been to the temple with his family tell of his preparation and experience.
Young people who are not yet married have been counseled often by the prophets to prepare for temple marriage. President Kimball said:
“Even though many young people do not at this time have temples in their own communities, there are generally temples within a reasonable distance. …
“It is our earnest hope that when you have done your proper courting, that you would … go to one of these nearest temples to be sealed for all eternity so that your children will be permanently yours and that you will be permanently their parents and so that it will be an eternal marriage” (“The Marriage Decision,” Ensign, Feb. 1975, 4).
Show visual 35-b, “Families sealed together in the temple have the promise that if they remain faithful, they will be together for eternity.”
Marriage in the temple is just the beginning of an eternal family. In order to build a family relationship that will last forever, we must be faithful to the promises we make in the temple. We must also treat each other with kindness and love. We should strive to make our homes a bit of heaven on earth.
As fathers, we can do much to build eternal families. We must honor our priesthood and show Christlike love. If we do, we will be strengthened by the priesthood and will receive inward promptings from the Holy Ghost that will help us build eternal family units. Some of the things we can do to build eternal families are:
Call our families together daily to have family prayer.
Call on someone to ask a blessing on the food at meals.
Take our families to church.
Pay tithing and other offerings.
Be honest in everything we do.
Kneel in prayer often and ask the Lord to help us as we teach and love our wives and children.
Take every opportunity to teach our families the gospel, especially at family home evening.
As we bless our families in these ways, we will enjoy the happiness of being part of a family that is eternal.
Unmarried priesthood holders can also help their families to be happy and to live as eternal families. When we understand the Lord’s plan for our families, we can see that the members of our families are the most important people in our lives. We should treat them with love and kindness and do all that we can to encourage and strengthen them.
If there are unmarried priesthood holders in your class, discuss ways they can prepare for marriage in the temple. Ask them to explain why eternal marriage is important to them. Discuss things they can do to make their families happy right now.
Share the following story with class members:
A young man from Mexico told the following story about his aunt and uncle. It describes the joy that can come from family life based on temple marriage:
“My Uncle David and my Aunt Guadalupe … were always quarreling. Their home was a disaster, and their children were suffering from witnessing the fights every day. Finally, Aunt Guadalupe and the children left to stay with her parents.
“During this separation, Uncle David met the missionaries and was baptized several days later. His new understanding of the gospel made him realize that a family was an eternal unit. He sent the missionaries to his wife and children, but they refused to listen. [Finally] they accepted the gospel, joined the church, and began living together once more. However, the fights and quarreling continued as before.
“They discussed the importance of temple marriage, but economic problems and constant bickering kept them from their goal. [But after much sacrifice and help from others they were finally able to go to the temple.] My aunt and uncle were sealed together with some of their children, and returned to Mexico with only 15 pesos … and no work for my uncle.
“Being married in the temple didn’t erase these problems, but it did give my aunt and uncle strength to go on, even without money, and still feel happy.
“Little by little they found enough to eat, and my uncle was able to find work.
“I could see the great change on their faces and in their lives. They were happier than ever before, but my greatest surprise was that I never heard any more quarrels. In their place I heard words of love. …
“Recently, my uncle told me, ‘Jorge, after being married for 24 years and suffering so much, we have found our happiness. It’s just as if we were clean young people who just got married for the first time and who are now enjoying our eternal honeymoon’” (Jorge Carlos Tejeda Peraza, “Eternal Honeymoon,” Ensign, Aug. 1974, 62–63).
We can receive great joy because of our eternal family relationships. Trials and hardships become easier when we share them with our families. Our lives become richer and more enjoyable because of the love we share. And we feel a great peace and comfort because we have the assurance that we can be together forever.
If you have not been married in the temple, make a plan and begin your preparation to be sealed in the temple with your family. If possible, get a picture of the temple and place it in your home where it can be easily seen. Below the picture of the temple, write the date your family has selected as a goal.
If you have been married in the temple, consider the things you must do in order to live with your family forever. Select one way your family can improve, and begin this week to work on it.
Before presenting this lesson:
Read Gospel Principles chapter 36, “The Family Can Be Eternal.”
Assign a member of the quorum who has been to the temple with his family to tell of his preparation and experience.
Assign class members to present any stories, scriptures, or quotations you wish.