Zelophehad’s Daughters

That Same Sociality Which Exists Among Us Here

Posted by Kiskilili

Sometimes it seems to me that we Mormons are of two minds when it comes to the transposition of earthly relationships into the celestial realm. Family relationships are among our most prized assets, and one of the few things we can take with us beyond the grave. And sealings facilitate the continuation of these all-important relationships into the afterlife. Sealings are so crucial specifically because they enable us to continue our most important earthly associations into the eternities, a comforting doctrine that unites the quick and the dead.

On the other hand, as attractive as they are on the whole, sometimes it’s hard not to be a bit suspicious of our sealing doctrines. What will happen to the couple that married for time after their first spouses died? What about the people who find themselves in polygamous relationships in the next life who, truth be told, would rather be monogamists? And the list goes on.

In such cases it’s hard not to throw up our hands and remind ourselves that God will take care of everything.

I like this doctrine, a lot. God will work it all out. But then what’s the point of sealings to begin with, if God is planning to rearrange things anyway? Then how crucial can sealings really be?

Or perhaps things will be so different on the far side of the veil that what appears repugnant to our finite mortal minds (living in a harem, say) will be a glorious and appealing opportunity when those heavenly vistas enhance our mortal vision.

I suspect there’s something to this. I’m just not sure how much. If relationships in the hereafter are going to be qualitatively different from what we experience here, why are we at pains to preserve these relationships into the eternities? Their contours will be virtually unrecognizable anyway, even if the people are the same.

If the sociality we enjoy here survives the grave essentially intact, it seems to me we most certainly can extrapolate from our earthly experience of relationships to make emotional sense of their heavenly counterparts. How different can heavenly society be before it’s considered a fundamentally reconsituted “sociality”? If heavenly relationships are in fact a drastic departure from earthly associations, why all the ruckus over preserving earthly bonds through sealings? And if they’re essentially the same, won’t the problems with various spouses sealed in various combinations of time and eternity be just as glaring when we’re dead?

15 Responses to “That Same Sociality Which Exists Among Us Here”

  1. 1.

    Those are all good questions, but I have understood the “same sociality” idea in a way that sidesteps them.

    Part of what we are doing in the second estate is sorting out a)what kind of people we want to be, and b)what kind of people we want to be around. The judgement is a process of helping us clarify those same questions. We will get to decide: Do I want to be there, there, there, there, there, or there? Where will I feel most at home? Then God makes it, or allows it to become, actual.

    It is pretty clear that our current conception of family doesn’t transfer well. We won’t be living together as Mommys, Daddys, and kids, because we will all be adults, and therefore peers. However, I do see some value in our genealogy and temple work; it helps us to know and think about people from previous generations. They are our siblings, and it is good for us to feel connected to them in some way.

  2. 2.

    My Mormon Matters Polygamy Post

    I actually wrote the two posts, in part, to react to some of the things people were saying.

  3. 3.

    K,
    Thanks for the great post. There are so many things I want to comment on, but the first is really tangential.
    You mention a heaven where we are all adults, peers.
    That sounds like hell to me. How can it be heaven if there are no babies? No children laughing?
    I’m familiar with this idea, but I’d never thought about how boring it would be if we were all the same age.
    Hmm, maybe I’m way out in left field here.
    As far as the content goes, I’ve always wondered about the sealing part, too. It seems like there are a lot of contradictory church doctrines, and this is a good one.
    My only guess is that even though God will sort it out in the end, He wants us to do sealings mostly for our own commitment.

  4. 4.

    I would like to think that God won’t be one who will “work it all out,” but we will. I am very grateful that in our current society we are able to choose our own marriage partners. I have a hard time believing that in the afterlife, God will tell us who to be married to. It makes more sense to me that we will choose the type of marriage relationship that we want.

  5. 5.

    Interesting questions, Kiskilili. Regarding the question of polygamy in the next life, I was recently struck by how similar Mormon apologist defenses of it sound to Christian apologist defenses of no marriage in heaven. “Polygamy in heaven will be fine because we will have all overcome our selfishness,” (some) Mormons say. “We just can’t understand with our limited mortal minds how it will work out.”

    Similarly, other Christians will say (these are pretty much at random, from Googling the phrase “marriage in heaven”):

    From GodandScience.org:

    The idea that we will no longer be married is disturbing to some people. Personally, I like to be married. From an earthly perspective, the dissolution of marriage in heaven doesn’t sound like a good thing. However, in heaven, we will be “married” to Jesus, who will be our spiritual “husband.” If you are not currently a follower of Jesus Christ, you cannot understand what this will be like, and it will probably not have any appeal for you. However, if you have experienced the “highs” of following Jesus as He leads you, you will have a glimpse of how awesome this experience will be. God would not take away something good if He did not replace it with something better.

    From GotQuestions.org:

    Evidently, there will be no such thing as marriage in heaven. This does not mean that a husband and wife will not longer know each other in heaven. This also does not mean that a husband and wife could not still have a close relationship in heaven. What it does seem to indicate, though, is that a husband and wife will no longer be married in heaven. There is likely no purpose for marriage in heaven since there is no procreation or loneliness.

    So as you point out, our belief in family relationships in heaven doesn’t necessarily neatly remove questions about the afterlife. In some sense it just removes them from “What will relationships look like in the next life?” to “How will all the messy details of family relationships be worked out in the next life?”

  6. 6.

    I believe that our experience here is only a tiny slice of life, a glimpse, maybe and that our understanding is limited. We might take our relationships with us, but the way heaven operates, and/or the spirit world, is, for the most part, incomprehensible. That belief is one of the reasons I can accept the truthfulness of the gospel while I see incongruities. I also believe that God is ultimately fair and if something doesn’t make sense in terms of justice, perhaps He’ll cut us humans more slack than we cut ourselves or each other.

    I have a friend who was married for 25 years to a man she dearly loved. He died of cancer and she re-married eight months later, to a wonderful man who we’d all been friends with for years. He and his wife had divorced.

    She’s been married to this man for, oh, about 16-17 years, very happily. In many ways, he’s more of a soulmate than her first husband. She wondered once who she would live with in the Celestial Kingdom and I said, “your first husband.” She looked at me for a minute and I added, “God is fair. You were sealed to your first husband, you made the promise and it would not be fair to deprive him of his wife because he died a young man.”

    She still looked skeptical, but it made sense to me.

  7. 7.

    From the pulpit, a 91 year old woman who still dyed her hair violently red, spoke about her deceased first husband ( to whom she was sealed), and her feisty, current, second husband Frank, to whom she was not sealed.

    “I’m hoping that every once in a while, I’ll be able to sneak out the back door of my celestial home to come over and snuggle with Frank. After all, he still needs me!” Maybe there’ll be some free-love going on…

    I really believe we will still be the same people (isn’t that doctrine somewhere?), with the same love and desires. I’ve heard the refrain repeated several times that the actual ordinance of sealing itself is more important than the “who” of makes up the union. I don’t portend to understand what that means, but I’ve heard it enough from local and regional leaders that I wish I understood more.

  8. 8.

    Well, we crossed the veil knowing each other as brothers and sisters… when the veil is lifted, will we not remember this to still be the case?

    I guess there is an ewww factor to being married to my sister but I imagine that’s largely cultural.

    (Related note: Did you guys hear about those twins in England who were separated at birth only to meet later, fall in love and get married? If they can do it here, why not in Heaven?)

    Anyway, I don’t have an answer to K’s questions. Sorry.

  9. 9.

    What if I don’t want to hang with my brothers and sisters and parents in the eternities? Can I get a star on the other side of the galaxy?

  10. 10.

    That sounds like hell to me. How can it be heaven if there are no babies? No children laughing?

    Jessawhy,

    I agree with you that babies are wonderful, and that the sound of laughing children is heavenly.

    However, babies have a very significant downside: They grow up to be teenagers. It is safe to say that if we arise in the resurrection to find ourselves surrounded by roving packs of scouts and Mia Maids, we’ll know right away that we didn’t quite make the cut.

  11. 11.

    I guess there is an ewww factor to being married to my sister

    That thought has occasionally crossed my mind as well. Forget the “Jesus and Satan are brothers” scandal–what about the scandal of proclaiming that all human beings are literally brothers and sisters, and then heavily encouraging them to marry each other? ;)

  12. 12.

    [...] eating — of gingerbread figures of President Hinckley in Primary, and Amri and Brad discuss sealing (Zelophehad’s Daughters), Adam’s navel (Faith Promoting Rumor), and the arrival at BCC [...]

  13. 13.

    I thought the church had the answers about life’s great questions? “The truth about life’s great questions is now restored.”

  14. 14.

    Mark IV,
    I laughed out loud at your comment. I can imagine a hell of hormone-riddled teens. Yikes. Even worse than being surrounded by scouts and Mia maids, would be to BE a scout or Mia maid for eternity.
    And babies aren’t that great all the time, there’s always the spitting up and crying.
    Maybe what I like best about babies is their newness.
    I cross-stitched a quote from Mark Twain for my first son’s birth.
    “It is not a slight thing when they, who are so fresh from God, love us.”
    So, maybe when we’re all with God and feel His love, we won’t miss the babies.

  15. 15.

    [...] eating — of gingerbread figures of President Hinckley in Primary; while Amri and Brad discuss sealing (courtesy of Zelophehad’s Daughters), Adam’s navel (Faith Promoting Rumor), and the [...]

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