Why Is Exaltation a Family Matter: Exploring the Connection

why is exaltation a family matter

Taking on new responsibilities in a spiritual community can be both rewarding and challenging. For one individual, being called to serve as a ward temple and family history leader brought forth a unique set of emotions.

Although the role wasn’t daunting due to its demands or intricacies, it presented challenges of a different nature.

Despite a strong dedication to temple worship and a profound belief in Jesus Christ and the principles of the restored church, this person found themselves grappling with a concept they had heard about often but never fully grasped.

The Spirit of Elijah, a fundamental doctrine of the church, remained somewhat elusive, complicating the fulfillment of their new responsibilities.

First, the Doctrine

The teachings of the Church emphasize the importance of both individual and family responsibilities in the plan of salvation.

One key idea is that while salvation can be achieved on an individual basis, exaltation is a goal that involves the whole family.

For example, the Doctrine and Covenants teaches that both the living and the deceased depend on each other for spiritual perfection.

Key Points:

  • Salvation: An individual path where each person must make their own choices.
  • Exaltation: Families play a crucial role in this higher state of spiritual glory.
  • Interconnectedness: The doctrine also highlights that the living and dead are spiritually linked, making unity essential.

These principles outline the balance between personal accountability and collective family commitments.

Then, the Confounding Question

If President Nelson’s statement that “exaltation is a family matter” only means that achieving the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom requires eternal marriage, then that’s clear enough.

The idea, however, appeared to hold deeper implications.

Referencing D&C 128, which in turn quotes Hebrews 11:40 – “they without us shall not be made perfect,” makes sense to a degree. Yet, the added phrase “neither can we without our dead be made perfect” introduces a layer of complexity.

The central question emerges: Why is my ancestor’s obedience critical for my exaltation?

It’s comprehensible that temple ordinances must be performed on behalf of the dead, enabling their perfection. However, perplexity arises around the notion that we also need our dead for our exaltation.

Paul’s words suggest a symbiotic relationship between the living and deceased in the journey toward perfection.

The prophecy stating the earth would be wasted if the hearts of the fathers and children are not turned toward one another highlights this interdependence.

This scriptural mandate seems to imply a more profound, interconnected fate.

Contemplating this further, was it plausible that one’s exaltation could be hindered by the unrighteousness of prior generations? Could someone truly be prevented from achieving exaltation due to the failings of ancestors?

Questions Raised Include:

  • Why is an unbroken chain of sealed ancestors essential?
  • Why couldn’t Heavenly Father seal each individual directly?
  • What happens when one or more generations fail in righteousness?

The individual’s personal experiences at the temple, while enriching for personal communion with Heavenly Father, often left them questioning the necessity of proxy work.

This aspect of temple worship seemed more obligatory than spiritually fulfilling.

There was a persistent feeling that something fundamental was missing in their testimony.

Despite praying to improve their understanding of family history and proxy work, there was a lack of emotional connection. The urgency to engage in these efforts seemed absent.

This gap hinted at a doctrinal element that eluded them, one that was vital for a fuller grasp of the teachings.

This intellectual quandary about exaltation and family history underscores a deeper need for spiritual insight.

It seems that the full meaning behind the requirement of a familial chain for exaltation, and the intricate details of how unbroken lineage factors into divine plans, still provokes much contemplation.

The yearning for a more profound connection and understanding remained, indicating that sometimes intellectual answers alone may not suffice for spiritual completeness.

My Answer

The understanding of eternal life spanning both directions—past and future—is profound.

Achieving the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom with a spouse and having posterity is only part of eternal life.

True eternal life also requires a connection to the past, akin to having deep roots.

This necessitates sealing ancestors to ourselves to ensure eternal continuity, not just forward but backward. Without such connections, we resemble trees with no roots, unable to truly thrive.

The symbolism of the Garden of Eden is significant here.

When Adam and Eve accepted evil and became separated from God, this act represented spiritual death.

This separation from God is the very core of religious teachings, aiming to mend that disconnection.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland illuminated that “religion” stems from a Latin term meaning “to re-tie,” underscoring the need to restore our bond with God, which signifies eternal life.

Our choice to leave the divine presence and enter mortality can be compared to fruit being plucked from a tree.

Disconnected from our source of nourishment, we inevitably begin to perish unless we plant new roots.

This fruit metaphor illustrates the need to reconnect to the tree of life represented in the Garden of Eden. Living trees derive sustenance from their roots, much like we must connect ourselves back to God’s eternal framework.

The world’s largest living organism, known as Pando, is an interesting parallel.

Located near Fish Lake, Utah, it consists of interconnected trees sharing one root system.

This intertwining of roots into a single living entity mirrors the concept of eternal life, where connections extend infinitely both backward and forward.

Just as these trees sustain each other through their shared root system, humans engage in eternal life through an unbroken line reaching back to their ancestors and forward to their descendants.

The scriptures discuss two forms of spiritual death.

The initial spiritual death occurs at birth, represented by fruits plucked from a tree.

The second spiritual death can happen through actions that drift away from the Light of Christ, which is vital for maintaining the truth.

These possibilities leave the fruit (us) with two outcomes: either grow into a thriving tree or succumb to permanent death.

The purpose of life revolves around nurturing our “fruit” and growing it into a new tree rooted in Christ’s light.

This process of growth ensures we’re connected to a continuum of life, linking our existence to both past and future generations through God.

Key Elements:

  • Connection to Ancestors: Just like trees need roots, humans need to be sealed to their ancestors for true eternal life.
  • Garden of Eden Symbolism: The plucking of fruit symbolizes our spiritual separation from God, which religion seeks to mend.
  • Pando as a Metaphor: Root interconnection in Pando mirrors the human need for eternal bonds spanning past and future.

Recognizing this continuum helps believers appreciate deeper aspects of temple worship and attendance.

Temple practices extend beyond individual salvation, embedding worshipers in a vast network of eternal connections.

This broadened view underscores the significance of sealing practices and their role in eternal life.

In sum, understanding these eternal connections—fostered through temple attendance and sealing—provides a richer comprehension of spiritual teachings and the religious path to reconnecting with God.

It offers a holistic perspective on why family matters in the concept of exaltation and highlights the ongoing work necessary to achieve true eternal life.

With each individual as a vital part of a greater, interconnected whole, the essence of temple worship transforms from a personal duty to a unifying action tying all God’s children together, in both directions of eternity.

Posted by Samuel Brown

Samuel Brown is the founder of REEP.org, a Christian blog intertwining gardening with spiritual growth. Through REEP.org, Samuel explores the biblical symbolism of gardens, offering practical gardening tips infused with spiritual insights. Inspired by Jeremiah 17:8, he emphasizes the parallels between nurturing plants and cultivating faith. Join Samuel on a journey where gardening becomes a metaphor for resilience, spiritual fruitfulness, and a deeper connection with God's creation.