Memorial day is often a time when reflect back on our ancestors and loved ones who have passed away; as well as those who sacrificed their lives to protect or improve our culture and freedoms. When we put an eternal perspective on these relationships, and understand that families can last beyond this life, the sting of death can be lessened.
Families are truly the essence of social structure, without which children are at a disadvantage in their preparations for adulthood. Adults also miss out on the love and fulfillment, and a greater purpose they could otherwise have in their lives. Certainly circumstances and environments make every family structure a little different, but the more they deviate from the traditional the more challenging certain aspects of life can become. This is especially true when family members are lost or otherwise unavailable to us. The loss of support and love can be very difficult to deal with. The prophet David O. McKay is often quoted putting it this way: “No other success can compensate for failure in the home.”
“. . . we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.
“We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.”
Regardless of the challenges any of us face in our lifetime, the eternal truth is that families are essential to obtaining eternal life and exaltation. Regardless of what has happened in the past, what is happening today, or what the future may bring, if we keep a eternal perspective we can find help from unexpected sources, including our ancestors:
We are all part of God’s family, as our spirits are his literal sons and daughters (see Hebrews 12:9). As such, regardless of what our situation may be in this life, we always have a Father in Heaven that (see Matthew 23:9) we can look to for assistance, and even to know that we are loved unconditionally (see 1 Cor. 15:22), so much so that Jesus was sent by God to atone for everyone’s sins. While this atonement is universal for all on this earth, what is not universal is the attainment of an exalted life; or an eternal existence with our loving families.
To obtain exaltation requires family ties be made eternal through proper priesthood authority within the holy temples. It is only through geological work, and saving temple ordinances that this is possible. The Bible has references to what is culturally referred to as “The Spirit of Elijah“.
“Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” – John 3:5. See also Mark 16:16; D&C 5:16; Moses 6:59. Jesus himself was baptized “to fulfil all righteousness” (Matt. 3:15; 2 Ne. 31:5–6).
“Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?” – 1 Cor. 15:29
“I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” – Malachi 4:5-6
“Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” – Matthew 18:18, also see: Matthew 16:19, and D&C 124:93, 132:46, 128:8,10.
Modern day revelation further clarifies that Elijah would return to restore the keys of sealing families together for eternity, so that even after this life we can continue to live together as loving eternal families; thus obtaining more then just salvation, but Eternal Life.
“These are principles in relation to the dead and the living that cannot be lightly passed over. … For their salvation is necessary and essential to our salvation … they without us cannot be made perfect—neither can we without our dead be made perfect.” – D&C 128:15
Today we see great challenges and social pressures put on redefining the family. This should not be a surprise to anyone:
“. . . [future] events are likely to require each [church] member to decide whether or not he will follow the First Presidency. Members will find it more difficult to halt longer between two opinions . . . God, who foresaw all challenges, has given to us a precious doctrine which can encourage us in meeting this and all other challenges . . . Before the ultimate victory of the forces of righteousness, some skirmishes will be lost. Even in these, however, let us leave a record so that the choices are clear, letting others do as they will in the face of prophetic counsel. . . Jesus said that when the fig trees put forth their leaves, “summer is nigh” (Matt. 24:32). Thus warned that summer is upon us, let us not then complain of the heat!” – Neal A. Maxwell, “A More Determined Discipleship,” Ensign, Feb 1979, 69–73
Still we have great resources to help us build strong loving families even in today’s tumultuous times.