Spiritual orphans

Figures in a Landscape (1972-3) by Sidney Goodman

My father and mother were sealed in the London temple but subsequently their sealing was cancelled and my father was excommunicated. I have not seen him for over 10 years. Since my mother’s divorce she remarried and has been sealed again in the temple. Currently, according to the Church Handbook of Instructions, ‘After a husband and wife have been sealed in a temple, if one of them is excommunicated or has his or her name removed from Church membership records, his or her temple blessings are revoked. However, the sealing blessings of the innocent spouse and of children born in the covenant are not affected’.[1]  Although I find some solace in the continued validity of the sealing to my mother, I am still spiritually fatherless, an orphan of sorts.

Yet, in another sense, I am not.

The other day my step-father, who, incidentally, is one of the best people I know, laid his hand upon my shoulder and gave me a priesthood blessing. As he has done many times before he blessed me as if I “were his own son”; the quiet sincerity of those words still surprise and thrill me. He has adopted me into his heart as his own and I have him. Although no formal ordinance confirms our relationship, we are sealed in a similar way to that described by Elder Faust when he said: ‘This sealing power thus reveals itself in family relationships, in attributes and virtues developed in a nurturing environment and in loving service. These are the cords that bind families together, and the priesthood advances their development.'[2] Despite that personal assurance and the words of Elder Faust, I yearn to share that ritual with him and to experience the advancement which the priesthood allows.

In this regard, Samuel Brown’s and Jonathan Stapley’s recent articles on the law of adoption have been, for me, devotional as well as academically insightful.  smb observes that the law of adoption was, in part, a response to the familial estrangement experienced by many converts during the early years of the Church.  At times these estranged, early converts were called ‘orphans’.  I can understand why the Church moved away from this practice: the rate of estrangement decreased at the same time that missionary work became subsumed under the efforts to defend polygamy, .  Further, in an effort to focus upon the importance of keeping families together I can understand why the sealing policies are the way they currently are.  And yet, as the Church moved once again to emphasise sharing the gospel familial estrangement and reconstitution would become an increasingly prominent part of the experience of these new members of the Church.  In addition, with divorce rates that are similar to the host country, families are often practically renegotiating their concept of ‘eternal families’.

I do not doubt that family history provides some very real comfort to these people and yet there is an irony here.  For it is those who have the greatest faith in the power, the reality and the significance of these sealing ordinances that are often most hurt by their being denied them in this life.  I think of children who desire a sealing with a new step-parent (like myself),  I think of single-parent converts who desire to be sealed to their children and I think of children who cannot be sealed to a parent because they were born after one of their parents had been excommunicated.  I am confident that in many cases these individuals do not want to forget these estranged or broken family relationships.  If my father wanted contact with me I would be overjoyed at the prospect of re-kindling our sealing.  Rather we, like Joseph, want ‘an hundredfold in this world, of fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters’ (D&C 132:55) and we want to be sealed to those who want to be sealed to us.

I am not privy to discussions among the Quorum of the Twelve and I am not really seeking any change in response to writing this; but my hope is that, if there has not been recent discussion of these issues, that it might be considered again.  Perhaps it would be possible to hear some of the experiences and testimonies of those who desperately seek these ordinances.  Perhaps if we ask the Lord He would give us revelation about how to move forward.  I do not pretend to know the God’s will on this matter and I am confident there are dimensions of this issue that I do not understand.  As such, I am willing to sustain the current policy as it stands.

Yet, with that said, I want to be sealed, temple-sealed, to my step-father; so that I may ‘no longer be an orphan’.[3]


1. Church Handbook of Instructions, Book 1: 3.6.1, 2010.

2. James E. Faust, Finding Light in a Dark World [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1995], 136 – 137.

3. Cited in Samuel M. Brown, Early Mormon Adoption Theology and the Mechanics of Salvation in Journal of Mormon History, 2011, p. 22.


  1. Heber J Grant’s mother was sealed to Joseph Smith, and after Joseph’s death, she married Jedediah Grant. When a young lad, Jedediah died.

    When Heber J Grant was called as an apostle in his mid 20s, he wanted to know why the Lord would place such a young man amidst all the octagenarians that were in the Twelve.

    The Lord revealed to him that both his fathers, biological father Jedediah Grant, and sealed father Joseph Smith, were before the bar of God pleading that their son be made an apostle. Clearly, being sealed to one person does not remove the bond one has with another.

  2. I am a spiritual orphan with ZERO hopes of ever being “sealed” to any parents. As a matter of fact, I do not really understand how the “sealing” to parents actually work and what difference will it possibly make in the afterlife. I understand the “sealing” of spouces, that’s what makes their marriage able to continue in the afterlife, but parents?

    Seems a bit silly to me that this ordinance will have an effect (on our minds I guess) such that if I don’t have it I won’t be able to recongnize my own mortal parents and feel all the love and gratitude for all the sacrifices they did for me (or they won’t be able to recognize me). It seems unlikely to me that a “sealing” of sorts is necessary for the continuation of this type of bond/relationship. I think this is where much further light and knowledge is needed in this Church. The current teachings reflect leftover’s of JS adoption doctrine that quite frankly seem absurd to me.

    I am thankful I believe in an all understanding, all knowing, all loving and all powerful and all just Heavenly Father, that probably knows better than the concerns we have of our sealing rituals and I have decided to put my trust in Him. Since for us converts of the Church, those doctrines are at best incomplete and at worst hurtful.

    I know the bond and love I have for my parents, I know the bond and love they have for me, and God knows this too. I put my trust in God and I doubt very much that a priest uttering a ritual over an altar will change the love and bond that exists between us or the lack of such rite thereof could possibly affect it.

    To me, this is in part why some aspects of the Church are so utterly bizarre and lacking of a true understanding of the loving nature of diety. But I guess to most members of the church, that is precisely what I will always be: a spiritual orphan. Bless their hearts.

  3. In sealings for family history, it is generally assumed that everyone up and down the line will accept the gospel in the afterlife, though we have no way of knowing if this is the case. Doing the research and the sealings is just the best we can do for now in the effort to fulfil the command to seal all the generations together, from Adam and Eve onward. I am sure that when we get to talk to these people directly, there are going to be a great number of orphans. It is likely that these orphans will be drawn into other families; people they know and love as much as they loved their earthly parents. It is certain, however, that no one will always be an orphan, no amtter what happened in their mortal lives.

    Jesus has a step father – who does He get to be sealed to?

  4. Nice post. I am a spiritual orphan of a sort as well. I was disfellowshipped many many years ago & now due to job requirements are stuck there because I cannot attend Sunday services. The church has its oddities for sure but we must be content that things will be ‘put right’ when we pass into the next life. I am a convert & the only Mormon in my family. I have no connection to any of the churches past. I have no long line of ancestors that reach back to the hand cart company, I am very much alone in the church. Add to that the inability to attend regularly & I’m basically a solitary practitioner of the Mormon religion. My wife & children participate in the church & my wife holds a calling but I exist somewhat on the outside of the ward in a distant orbit. I make Sacrament two IR three times a year & I usually take my girls to their activity day, I also usually make the haloween dinner & Christmas dinner. That’s the extent of my church activity. So while some may miss some ordinances be happy that you have a spiritual relationship with the church & the members of your family are members because some members lack even that .

  5. Jack, disfellowshipment is not the same as excommunication. If its any consolation sealings aren’t broken because of being disfellowshipped.

  6. “It is likely that these orphans will be drawn into other families; people they know and love as much as they loved their earthly parents.”

    Wow… I think I just threw up a little.

  7. Frank Pellet,
    My grandmother was offered the opportunity to be sealed to her grandparents, whom she knew and loved, rather than her parents since she couldn’t be sealed to them. She declined. It isn’t the same thing, not by a long shot.

  8. Aaron,
    One of the things I like best about your writing is how sincere it always is. Thanks for this beautiful post.

  9. Steve Evans says:

    Easy, Manuel.

  10. mmiles,
    Of course its not the same, but we know that the family sealing is necessary. No one will be forced into a relationship, any more than they will be forced to keep a marriage they don’t want. I’m going to assume that your great grandparents are no longer alive, so sealing your grandmother to them should not be an issue. We don’t make judgement calls on the suitability of the dead. These connections made and lost will only be able to happen when they can be made by all of the individuals involved.

    Take for example children who were abused by their parents. They will not be forced to remain sealed to anyone they cannot stand to be near. Since the sealing in a family is necessary, that person will ahve the chance and time to be sealed as a child in another family.

  11. Glenn Smith says:

    I wish I had access to a manual for sealing issues. In my Sunday School class, I have two youth for whom the sealing is a big question. Grandpa and Grandma “X” were sealed when married. Grandpa, a good guy, dies. Grandma shacks up and later marries a guy who had been a frequent guest in the home she shared with Grandpa, and it turns out, had been doing the nasty with while marrried to Grandpa. Later, after the repentance process, Grandma has the sealing to Grandpa cancelled, so she and Hubby can get sealed. Grandkids now ask to whom are they sealed. (Parents also sealed at marriage so kids BIC.) In this case, Grandpa was skewered. I can’t see the sealing lkink to Grandpa being broken just because Grandma got the hots for another.

  12. StillConfused says:

    This is an interesting one. I am an orphan. My parents are divorced and remarried.. though my dad is sealed to his wife. I am not sealed to my current spouse. I am not sealed to my kids. When my daughter was over 18 I asked her about the whole sealing thing (father would not consent as a minor). She didn’t see any point in being sealed to parents. She had a good point. The whole sealing thing is really odd to me.

  13. I choose not to look at i as being sealed to a parent; rather, I look at it as being given the blessings as if having been born in the covenant. A child sealed to his parents (or born in the covenant) has those blessings, regardless of the degree of affection that exists in later years between child and parent, and regardless of the later faithfulness of the parent. So in this sense, the original poster has all the blessings and is not an orphan — he lost nothing in this sense as a result of his father’s estrangement — and a re-sealing to the new step-father will not provide him with any new blessings.

    Like the original poster, I hope the Brethren do not make a change that will allow children already sealed (or BIC) to later choose to be re-sealed to current parent figures.

  14. Thank you for the thoughts, Aaron. And I agree with mmiles, it is sincere. It is also moving.

    In many ways, I’m glad we aren’t trying to micromanage things like in the nineteenth century Utah. At the same time, the ambiguity that has replaced it isn’t always satisfying, as many have noted.

    And for those that have wondered in the comments, here is part of the justification Woodruff gave when he announced the revelation ending adoption:

    There will be very few, if any, who will not accept the Gospel. Jesus, while His body lay in the tomb,went and preached to the spirits in prison, who were destroyed in the days of Noah. After so long an imprisonment, in torment, they doubtless gladly embraced the Gospel, and if so they will be saved in the kingdom of God. The fathers of this people will embrace the Gospel.

  15. Stillconfused (#12), I think that outside of their context child-to-parent sealings are difficult to understand.

  16. Bitter / Sweet

    Anonymous due to family.

    The sealing that I have to my wife & children, fills me with joy, the essence of our relationship is based on an eternal union of souls. I see the holy spirit of promise reflected in the moments of time we spend together in each others arms.

    The other side of the coin, my mother who left home at 16, due to a violent father, she started a relationship with the 1st man who showed intrest only for him to treat her worse than her father ever did. Two pieces of grace from that relationship was myself & my sister. My mother showed such courage in choosing to leave my father, and has raised us by herself . However the greatest pain my mother experiences are her fellings of despair over not being sealed to her children.

    I have now had long discussions over her feelings of isolation, frustration and fear that she’ll never have the opportunity to be sealed to us. My mother rushed into a relationship thinking this would be the opportunity to fix the past, but it has only brought more pain.

  17. Frank Pellet,
    “I’m going to assume that your great grandparents are no longer alive, so sealing your grandmother to them should not be an issue.”

    But it is an issue, a very complicated one. They are dead and she can’t be sealed to them. I can’t tell you how much agony this has caused her entire family. I understand what you are saying, but please understand it’s painful for people to hear, “No worries, it will all work out. You can be sealed to someone else.”

  18. Reading this is like reading almost any discussion about singleness in the Church. “I am denied the comfort of this blessing in this life.” “There is nothing I can do to bring this to pass — it depends on other people, and is out of my control. “Don’t worry about — it will all be fixed in the next life.” “Don’t tell me I’ll be better off dead — that may be true, but it is of no use and no comfort now.”

    It won’t help you orphans or you single parents, I know, but I do understand your pain, to some degree at least. We all need to hang together and lend what support we can to each other.

  19. mmiles,
    I’m confused – why cant she be sealed to them?

  20. Frank Pellet,
    It’s complicated, very complicated. Maybe I’ll post about it someday.

  21. Frank Pellet,
    Another thing to consider is not just people who have been sealed but don’t want to be, but situations like my mother-in-law’s. She is the first person in her family to join the church. She had no desire to seal her parents or be sealed to her father after their death because he was a very bad man. What option does she have then?

  22. mmiles (no. 21) — You ask, “What option does she have then?” She could do the work to have her parents sealed together, but she chooses not to — she could be sealed to her father, but she chooses not to. It sounds like she has options and apparently has made decisions. She cannot change who her parents are, and our Church practice no longer allows people to be sealed to Joseph Smith, but she does have a choice.

    If she could better understand the principle that I tried to share in my no. 13, she might decide to go ahead with her parents’ sealing and her sealing to them. She can claim her blessings notwithstanding her father’s badness — and who knows, she might even help save her father.

  23. ji,
    That’s all good in theory, and eventually she came to that conclusion. However one has to ask, if it doesn’t matter who we are sealed to here, then why the emphasis on sealings in nuclear family units? If it all works out in the hereafter, then why bother doing it now?

    Don’t get me wrong, I firmly believe the sealing power is real, even when I feel there is something to it I can’t quite grasp; but giving short empty answers to people in difficult circumstances doesn’t really explain what we do here as far as connecting families goes. It’s okay, and even better, to simply say it doesn’t make sense.

    And FWIW, it sounds really condescending when you say, “If she could better understand the principle that I tried to share…(then she would do the right thing like I would because I get it.)”

  24. OK, I will try and clearly articulate my thoughts, but I’m not always that good at it, so please bear with.

    This whole concept of sealing is a difficult one to comprehend well. As one poster said, everyone will have to accept the gospel and be sealed in order for the line to be unbroken back to our Father in heaven. But let’s look at this thing logically for a minute.

    We talk about families can be together forever, but what does that mean? We came from an eternal family already that lived together for ba-zillions of years, and then sent to this dinky planet for about 30 seconds of heavenly time in a “family” that already consists of our eternal brothers and sisters. In fact, we married one of our brothers or sisters (EWWW!, but let’s not go down that rathole). So anyway, as a married couple, we have children (again, one of these children is our eternal brother or sister). Then, we spend an even less ordinant amount of time with them in our household, and they move on and marry and have children, etc.

    We tend to think of our heavenly family like we think of our earthly family, like it’s a big Norman Rockwell painting of a family around a dinner table. That’s a pretty large table to seat multiple billions of people! So in heaven, each couple lives in some place (their own Kolob) and populates their spiritual progeny ready for the eternal cycle. So to me it doesn’t appear that we’ll hang out like our contrived earthly family. It’s more like you may go visit your earthly family (brothers and sisters), but they’re adults living on their own world doing the same thing you are. It hardly seems to be the picture that I think we put on it.

    What does it mean then to be sealed to your parents? It is just very ambiguous.

  25. Paolo, your description is, I think, a great example at what I was getting at. I also think that it isn’t necessarily an accurate portrait of Mormon cosmology.

  26. Aaron, I’ve skipped allt he comments, and just want to respond to your OP. You’ve made me weep- I too am an orphan, and my children are as well according to our sealing ordinances- and the pain is terrible. Your closing sentiment “…so that I may no longer be an orphan.” is exactly where my heart lives.

    Thank you for a poignant and beautiful post. I hope someone is listening.

  27. Ram (#1), I had not made the connection between that story and this post. Thank you for doing so.

    Manuel (#2), there is certainly more than one to approach to how these ordinances are viewed. My own sense is that they are performatively significant in this life. My sense is that, like you, God will re-arrange us into one sacred family. However, some of the other points you make about not loving our parents without this sealing is attributing ideas to the OP that were not stated. Moreover, putting that trust in God is fine but it does not negate the real pain that some feel in not having these ordinances.

    mmiles, thanks, it was very kind of you to say that. I regularly wish that I could write as cogently or as beautifully as my co-bloggers but alas my gifts are not with the written word.

    StillConfused (#12), I think that in many ways is a key issue here. One I myself have struggled with. For some, perhaps many people, it is just a non-issue.

    ji (#13), except that I am able to share a sacred ordinance with a person I love deeply. Moreover, this issue does not just apply to my situation but others like it, which I also describe in the OP. Further, I honestly have no idea what the blessings are which flow from being BIC. How are they any different from those offered to anyone who is baptised?

  28. J.(#14), avoiding the impulse to micromanage is a persuasive counter-point to the suggestion I am making. I am sure it is one reason among many that maintains the status quo. I wonder whether we could make some minor alterations in our practice whilst at the same time continuing to use a similar rhetoric. What I mean is that, could we seal children to single-parent converts whilst also teaching that the missing links will be fixed by a loving and benevolent God in the life after. Could I be sealed to my step-father whilst teaching that any contradictions will be worked out in the satisfaction of all by our Heavenly Father? However you are right to suggest that this is not a clear cut issue.

    Church (#16), thank you for sharing your experience here. I hope your mother finds some hope and peace.

    Ardis (#18), I appreciate your words of comfort and you are right that we need each other. Thank you.

    Paolo (#24), there are a great many questions that Mormonisms cosmology raises regarding the after-life and you have hit on a couple of them. Let me say that I agree with Samuel Brown when he argues, in the article cited in the OP, that JS revelations were in large part an attack of the Victorian family. My sense is that familial sealings extend in every direction possible and that they are a marker of the reciprocal nature of our identity. Our salvation, I believe, is communal; and not just with our spouse and biological lineage.

    Tracy (#26), I’m very grateful for your comment here. When I heard about the new handbook being published last year I was genuinely hopeful (for some unknown reason) that a change was going to be made. I recall the disappointment I felt as I quickly flicked to the relevant page in the new CHI. I hope that this is at least on the minds of someone at SLC.

  29. Our view of the sealing powers has changed since the days of Joseph Smith. For Joseph, it wasn’t an issue of uniting blood line families for eternity, per se. But it was a way to create spiritual dynasties. Many people were sealed to Joseph Smith as his children or wives. It was done in order to create a closer unity between members.
    I see it similar to the relationship in the Godhead. They are essentially sealed together in a presidency, with a unity and love that cannot be imagined by mortal minds.

    Today, we focus sometimes too much on the literal sealing of families and the strange “orphan” issues that occur because of it, and do not focus on the bigger picture of sealing mankind together into the household of God and as junior members in the Godhead. Perhaps it is time to begin thinking of the sealing power more in line with what Joseph Smith had in mind….

  30. Ram, yet, these ‘strange “orphan” issues’ were exactly part of what created the motivation for JS’s vision of sealing. As smb’s article persuasively illustrates, these connections were established across these estranged family lines through patriarchal blessings, baptism for the dead, priesthood ordination etc. Within that context JS was very concerned with who was sealed to whom and the impact that this would have on our place in the after-life.

    As my previous comment illustrates I have an expansive view of what the sealing is supposed to represent, I see a web of sealings rather than just a line. Moreover, I see these moving through the expansiveness of friendship and kinship rather than family per se. The problem is that JS did not work out all the implications of this theology and so we are left with many loose-ends, which we can tie together in various ways.

  31. Aaron, I agree completely with this. That is why I brought up that Joseph saw the sealing in a dynastic way, and not just a straight line family order. We will be the family of God. The sealing represents the unity of the Godhead, among the members of the Church and in the families of the Church.
    While we may or may not be sealed to our parents, children, spouse, or any number of others, or there may be a sealing that we believe will not stick in the eternities due to some family member not keeping the commandments, we are still sealed to the Dynastic Family of God. That includes kinship, friendship, and the concept that we must be united, even as the Godhead has unity.

  32. Mosiah 5:15 tells us that Christ can “seal us his” and Elijah returned to turn (or return?) the heart of the children to the fathers. These “fathers” are many – including ancient prophets, modern men, Christ (as the father of our re-birth – again in Mosiah5:7-8) and our own “Eternal Father” – Heavenly Father. So the sealings are numerous – some literal, some spiritual, some symbolic.

    If God judges us according to our desires then surely he also rewards us according to them… the feeling of orphanhood will be removed… eventually… would be my expectation. But even now we can feel (our hearts turn) close to the “fathers” etc.

  33. I would briefly note, however, that JS did not have any children sealed to him.

  34. Aaron R,

    It already sounds like your heart has turned to your Step-dad – isn’t that a form of sealing – especially when he blessed you as if your were his own son? Sounds like a spirtual bond to me.

  35. MJ, agreed. However, as I try to articulate in the OP, and as intimated by Elder Faust, the ritual of sealing is meaningful in its own right and may be efficacious in other ways as well.

    Thanks J. This early era of Mormonism is overwhelming complex and it is interesting to have that clarification.

  36. My biological father never joined the church as he had already left when my mother came in contact with the missionaries. I was 4.

    Years later my mother married in the temple and I was sealed through the priesthood to her.

    I’m not sure what difference it makes, especially if we both end up in the celestial kingdom, but it was a spiritual experience especially after the many years of waiting.

    Still I grew up with many adoptive father figures and due to Heavenly Father’s influence didn’t always feel like a spiritual orphan.

    In my view the sealing between husband and wife is the most important and the capstone ordinance (excepting resurrection and exaltation) within Christianity.

    Of course, I am curious about Joseph Smith’s ‘eternal’ family.

  37. MJ, it was good to read your experience here and I am glad that you did not have that feeling which others seemed to have (inc. myself).

  38. Aaron,

    I think you missed my point. My statements were intended to reflect my position about these sealing ordinances, not an interpretation of what the OP is saying.

    My point is that I do not understand the concern with being a “spiritual orphan.” In fact, I am not sure what exactly does that really mean, since to me, parent-child bonds are not magically created simply by a priest blessing the bond over an altar, nor does the lack of such blessing can possibly destroy these special bonds.

    The bond I have with my parents was not the result of specific ritual utterances. The bond I have with my parents is the result of all the memories we created, the sacrifices they made for me, the things they taught me, the places they took me, the shelter, food and clothing they provided for me, in other words, their active love towards me, and my active love and gratitude that I feel in return. This is the bond I have with my parents. Parent-child bonds are not spousal, therefore, this is as far as I can take my bond with them: mutual love, respect, care, gratitude.

    This is the fallacy I see with a concern of being a spiritual orphan: how is this bond possibly going to change if I am not “sealed” to my parents? Conversely, what value added is a sealing ceremony going to have over this bond that already exists? Are my feelings going to die because a ceremony wasn’t performed? Are we suddenly going to become as strangers? Is God going to erase my memmories? Am I not going to be able to hold on to my memmories and my feelings because the ceremony wasn’t performed to keep them?

    My personal answer to the above questions is no. Perhaps I am not understading the definition of parent-child bond in an LDS context. Is there more to it and how do we specifically believe that it will be negatively affected by the lack of a temple sealing?

    Therefore, this is what I really wanted to state and failed to: the sealing of parents to children does not make sense to me since there seems to be non-value added to it. I think the doctrine has been modified from JS time to our time to fit our current family values, it seems incomplete and absurd when applied to the big picture of God’s family and when considering our own divine nature and the bonds we create in this life with our loved ones. Further revelation is needed to understand it.

    Putting trust in God in matters of love, relationships and bonds is not just “fine,” it’s essential. I doubt very much God will need to “re-arrange” us because of our current religious rites.

    The reason that putting trust in God does not negate the real pain some feel in not having these ordinances is because we continue to claim these ordinances are necessary for our bonds to exist; thus perpetuating the elitist division of people with blessings over which they have no control.

    While I have no authority to declare otherwise, I do have the right to understand religion and my Heavenly Father on a basis that is constructive, nurturing and conducive to spiritual health and progression. Teachings that divide us and instigate fear in us with no way to control the outcome, including the idea of “spiritual orphans,” do not help, and that was the opinion I wanted to share.

  39. Manuel, I don’t think I did mis-understand. We clearly disagree about the significance of ritual in Mormonism. Moreover I acknowledge that I am sealed with my step-father and believed I will be in the next life because of that relationship, in a way similar to you. Further my concern with parent-child sealing is an effort to frame this conversation in ways which are within current LDS approaches to sealing. In short I suspect that my sealing with my step-father will not strictly be father-son but rather will reflect the type of existence we have there. I’m writing on my phone while walking and so will say more later but where you see empty rite I see a meaningful and enriching ritual.

  40. Got it.

    “In short I suspect that my sealing with my step-father will not strictly be father-son but rather will reflect the type of existence we have there.”

    Seems to me you are saying the sealing will not having the effect of creating a true father-son bond between you and your step-father. This is probably where my question resides. I don’t think I have been able to define well in my mind what effect exactly the sealing has on parental bonds and relationships. I do not understand what you mean when you say it “will reflect the type of existence we have there.” Since I do not understand well that effect, or that added value, I do not understand either what would be missing in the event the sealing is not performed.

    I guess I see the fear and pain of these bonds being at risk due to an ordinance as unnecessary. And I agree with you that is the result of the significance of that particular ritual (of which I will never be part of) to me and a much more distanced sense and my assumption these teachings have been adapted to our current situation as best as possible but still don’t fit reality. In other words, I do not believe the current stance is complete.

  41. Manuel,

    I see the sealing as adding an additional layer onto the familial bond. It doesn’t take away from any close and loving relationship a person has here. It adds an extra dimension, greater love and unity, etc., to the bonds we create here. on earth.

    Our bond with our parents or wife here may be extremely close. But the closeness does not compare to that which the Godhead has for one another. The sealing power allows us to some day have that level of closeness with those we are sealed to. It is an adding upon, and does not subtract nor diminish from what we already have.

  42. …I should have probably stated that he explicated the intent to be so sealed, though. As you say, it is complicated.

  43. I like the idea that it doesn’t matter who we are sealed to, as long as we are sealed to at least one person then we are sealed to all.

  44. “Our bond with our parents or wife here may be extremely close. But the closeness does not compare to that which the Godhead has for one another. The sealing power allows us to some day have that level of closeness with those we are sealed to.”

    I see, so the rest of us will in fact be missing something and will be limited in achieving something…

  45. Sorry, I’m still back on the whole issue of sealing.

    Let’s take the whole plan of salvation back a few ba-gillion years. God was once a man as we are (so the couplet that’s not really taught to much anymore goes). So, He was sealed to his father, and his father, etc. back to his god, otherwise he couldn’t have been perfected and gotten to his lofty position as our god and father. So far, so good? OK, now, he sits enthroned in yonder heaven with his wive(s), and starts producing progency. Would not these spirit children, having been born in celestial realms, become essentially, “born in the covenant”? Are they not sealed to him by virtue of the priesthood just as my son is sealed to me by virtue of being born in the covenant?

    I think, then, that I am already “sealed” to God, my heavenly father by these facts alone. I think that I don’t lose out as being a literal son of my heavenly father and that merely gaining a body, then dying, and getting my better body back negates that fact. Being sealed to my earthly father (who is really just my brother, who is also a son born in spirit to our father) then makes little sense, as he is also part of the family of our god.

    The doctrine of sealing implies that we need to weld all the families together a generation at a time till we all roll up to our father and god and we’re completely part of his family and sealed together. So in reality, the doctrine of sealing seems largely superflous to me. I think I would be concerned about simply doing right and lifting my neighbor in order to come back and take my already rightful place as God’s son.

  46. StillConfused says:

    What if you want to be sealed to someone but not to other people already sealed to that person?

  47. Paolo,

    We are the spirit children of God, and that doesn’t change. We are, in a way, sealed to him. But we see that those “sealed” or foreordained are not required to remain sealed. Abraham 3 tells us that those who do not keep their first estate would lose all, while those who are completely faithful in their second estate (mortality) would have glory added upon them forever.

    Satan, Cain and others chose to reject God. Do you think they retained a “born in the covenant” as spirit children of God? Or do you believe the scriptures that state they lose that standing?

    Most Christian religions believe that there are levels of rewards in heaven. Jesus said that “in my Father’s house there are many mansions.” Paul knew a man who went to the third heaven. I could go on with the examples. Plus the fact that there is a hell shows that not all God’s children will return to him as children, because they reject Him as their Father.

    And in LDS belief, not all those who are saved will receive a fullness of God’s glory, because they do not want it. They choose a lesser glory. It is much like my explanation to Manuel regarding the positive relations we can have here and may continue in the next life, but we can have greater experiences by embracing more of the light and unity of God.

    It would be like a child learning basic math can help him handle a checkbook as an adult. However, imagine how much further the child is that learns calculus. The child hasn’t forgotten how to add, subtract, multiply or divide, but can definitely do so much more with that which is later added upon.

  48. Rameumptom is spot on – the sealing power does make a difference… especially in the next life.

    When we talk about families being together forever we don’t merely mean that they will be in the same location – we mean that there union has been recognised under the priesthood, and more importantly has been sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise. Families in the telestial and terrestrial kingdoms will continue to recognise and love one another – how could anyone doubt that! – but they will not enjoy the blessings that are only available in the celestial world.

    Remember, also, that we want to be sealed to Christ, and through him and his atonement, reconciled to the Father. Things can be both bound and loosed by the priesthood – hence the importance of the ordinances…. and making and keeping our covenants.

    D&C 137:9 gives me great hope that people will be rewarded for desires the fulfilment of which were beyond their control… not just the sealing ordinance of baptism but also all the higher ordinances, for example.

    Having witnessed the live sealing of children to parents (both literal and adoptive) I can testify that it makes a difference in relation to our acceptance of spiritual things. It makes a difference even in this life.

    But God is merciful and has a plan of compensation for those without blessings that they desire but that are beyond their control.

    The welding link has to do with the salvation of the entire earth (D&C 2 & 128) – or the reason it was created as a place to learn how to become zion-like.

  49. “But God is merciful and has a plan of compensation for those without blessings that they desire but that are beyond their control.”

    I guess it is this “plan of compensation” that we don’t have any details about the thing that will help us with Mormon elitism and that will somehow create equality for those who simply cannot have certain blessings no matter what they do… lol, bless their hearts. So much fine print, so many ifs and so many asterisks.

    “Plan of Compensation,” I missed that sunday school lesson, oh wait, no, I guess a few seconds are often dedicated to it after you learn that no matter what you do, you are still missing something. Bless their hearts.

  50. it's a series of tubes says:

    Manuel, what are your thoughts on the following statement by Joseph Smith?

    “All your losses will be made up to you in the resurrection, provided you continue faithful. By the vision of the Almighty I have seen it.”

    (from Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, page 296)

  51. tubes,

    I believe in that particular ocasion he was talking about the resurrection of the dead. The possibility of seeing again loved ones that passed away, in the sense of someone who lost someone in this life. I do not think he was talking about familial structures in the state of exhaltation, especially not the way we teach them today. Furthermore, I also do not think he was talking in that ocasion in the context of “sealings.” Joseph used the “failure to be sealed to” threat to convince some of his brides and his brides’ families of the necessity of his polygamous marriages. In any case, JS’s views on sealings and our current views on sealings differ significantly. I don’t know this example is the best on the matter to be frank.

    What others have said here is that regardless of the resurrection (which JS is talking about), the “sealing” is the actual binding factor between parents and children. Therefore, regardless of parents and children being able to be resurrected, their bond will be missing that “added layer” that Ram talks about (which I still can’t find a good and reasonable definition), and thus their relationship won’t be able to progress as the relationship of the members of the Godhead (as explained by Rameumpton). I of course do not believe this.

    I get your point. I also agree with JS remarks following the ones you just posted:

    “If I have no expectation of seeing my father, mother, brothers, sisters and friends again, my heart would burst in a moment, and I should go down to my grave. The expectation of seeing my friends in the morning of the resurrection cheers my soul and makes me bear up against the evils of life. It is like their taking a long journey, and on their return we meet them with increased joy.”

    I believe that the phrase “your losses will be made up” may be applied to loved ones in this context, but definitely not in the sense some have suggested here: that God will rearange us so that we can be sealed to someone. I don’t believe I will be given a different mother to be sealed to if I wasn’t sealed to my own mother, nor would I want to. When it comes to my family relationships and my parents, I also do not care too much for the term “an hundredful more” as is sometimes stated as “compensatory” rewards for keeping the commandments.

  52. Manuel, you called it “Mormon elitism”?

    What’s more elite? That Mormonism offers ALL mankind a chance at exaltation through Christ?

    Or, the Calvinist view that only those predestined to be saved will be, regardless of our professions of faith and/or obedience? Also, the Calvinist view of a limited atonement?

    Or how about the concept that one must hear of and accept Christ, or be cast into hell for eternity? That would include billions who were born in places where they never would have had the chance to be saved.

    Here we see Mormonism stating that not only Christians, but Muslims, Buddhists, etc will receive some level of salvation, while Calvinist (and many other traditional Christians) limit salvation to a select few. Which one is really elitist?

  53. Thank you for your thought provoking post, Aaron. I too live with a similar situation and have found much comfort and assurance knowing that these feelings of emptiness and lonliness are due to the wounds that were inflicted by our fathers. What’s more, we spend our lives seeking acceptance and validation from the men who are absolutely absent from our lives. Instead, we have to turn to God, our father and ask him to father us, to meet us in these wounds and help to heal them, through Christ. It’s the only way. If you have a chance, pick up any book written by John Eldridge and you will find an abundance of spirit filled writings on this topic. You can read the same in the book “Fathered by God”, “Wild at Heart” and the “Sacred Romance”. All worthwhile reads that will calm your heart as it has mine. Guard your heart, Aaron! All the Best to you!

  54. Ram,

    Thank you for your example of lower standard comparisons. If we were to always ease or minimize our way of doing things simply because somebody somewhere is doing something even worse, well, we wouldn’t ever be able to progress much on any aspect of our lives, would we? That’s never been my tune, sorry. Therefore, other religions have more elitist concepts… so what? That doesn’t take away my right to try to understand my religion from an objective point of view, especially on something that is hurtful and unfair to me.

    And, about your statement “Mormonism offers ALL mankind a chance at exaltation through Crhist?”

    Are you not aware that it has not always been so? Are you not aware that there was a time when the amount of melanin in someone’s skin was a problem for obtaining exaltation? I am sorry to break the news to you: our doctrines change. They evolve as more light and knowledge is received. Many times that light and knowledge comes from realizing how we hurt others and how unfair our views are. Therefore, I will always stand firm, be open and vocal about those things I feel in my heart are not correct, incomplete or plain hurtful. Thank you.

  55. Oy. So many comments…

    I usually don’t respond, but this article spoke to me (as a pseudo-spiritual-orphan), but in a different way.

    My parents were divorced 25 years ago. They are still sealed. Every time my mom would ask, my dad didn’t seem to care (he left the church shortly before the divorce).

    When I was in high school, I asked my seminary teacher what would happen to them. They hate each other (still do) – would they really have to be married in the eternities. Her response was that God’s plan is one of happiness. If they wouldn’t be happy living together through the eternities, He probably would not require them to, even though their sealing is still valid.

    I know that this goes back to what another poster said about “Don’t worry about — it will all be fixed in the next life.” – However I actually did feel better in that case. I knew that God wanted us to be happy and that He wouldn’t force us my parents to be together.

  56. After reading some of the comments on this article and another article on BCC, I’m realizing that the gospel isn’t a “one size fits all” deal. Unfortunately it is often presented that way by ourselves and our leaders. What works for one person (and fits in to their way of thinking) many times does not work for another individual.

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