Eternal Family or an Eternal Kingdom?
“Families are forever.” This is not only a popular Mormon expression, it’s also one of Mormonism’s foundational principles. It ties in with their teaching that people can be married for all eternity. So also, families can exist for all eternity. Such families, however, will not just consist of a person’s earthly offspring. Mormonism says that, in eternity, married couples will also produce countless spirit children.
It further teaches that only those who attain godhood can obtain an eternal family. The connection between becoming a god and having an eternal family, however, is one most Mormons don’t like to acknowledge. In fact, many Mormons are genuinely confused by this. Numerous LDS members have told me they hope to have an eternal family while, in the next breath, strongly denying the possibility of their becoming a god.
That is why an article in the latest Ensign magazine (March 2018) caught my eye. It contains a phrase I have occasionally heard Mormons use but rarely have seen in print. Especially in an article written by a General Authority (a high echelon LDS leader). It’s from an address he gave at BYU where he encourages the students not to postpone marriage because, as the title of his address states, “Family is the fountain of happiness”. He focuses especially on the blessings of having an eternal family – something he mentions in his very first paragraph.
A little later, he relates his own experience with his wife. “Our faith in God and our relationship with each other have become unshaken as we have the seen the hand of the Lord guiding us through the process of building our kingdom in mortality. This kingdom will continue to grow forever and ever” (p. 56 my emphasis).
As stated above, a few times LDS members have talked about “their kingdom”. But not very often. And rarely have I seen it in print.
The idea of an eternal kingdom, however, accurately reflects Mormon doctrine. More significantly, it illustrates how man-centered Mormonism is. A couple of days ago, I was talking with a couple who are witnessing to LDS missionaries. They expressed their frustration because the missionaries’ mindset was all about them – what they had to do and what they would receive.
Their doctrine of eternal families, which, in reality, is one about eternal kingdoms is just another example of Mormonism’s human orientation. Its view of eternity doesn’t emphasize the tremendous joy of being in God’s presence and of thanking and praising him for all eternity for loving us when we were unlovable. It is not about worshipping him along with all the angels and other saints.
It’s all about their attaining godhood. It’s all about their expanding their kingdom. It’s all about them.
As I told the couple, only the Holy Spirit can change people’s mindset. We can’t convince them through debate and argumentation. Our job is simply to give the Holy Spirit the opportunity to work on them by sharing God’s Word with them. It’s only through the Word that the Holy Spirit works. “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ” (Romans 10:17).