Eternity Itself is Laid Bare

"Family Hands" by melissafong
“Family Hands” by melissafong

This post is part of the General Conference Odyssey.

I want to start this post by pulling out a few quotes from different talks that were given during the Friday afternoon session of the October 1973 General Conference

The Church has constantly stressed the importance of the home.

There Is Need for Repentance by ElRay Christiansen

As children of God, we cannot afford to forget our origin and destiny if we desire the realms of celestial glory.

The Path to Eternal Life by Delbert L. Stapley

[O]ne cannot forget mother and remember God. One cannot remember mother and forget God. Why? Because these two sacred persons, God and mother, partners in creation, in love, in sacrifice, in service, are as one.

“Behold Thy Mother” by Thomas S. Monson

I believe the second two quotes explain the first. “The Church has constantly stressed the importance of the home.” Why?

More often than not—among members and non-members alike—I think the answer is a kind of superficial association of Mormonism with good, old-fashioned, American values. Part of the history of our faith is that after brutal persecution and a period of hostile, mutual alienation, the Church worked incredibly hard to integrate into American culture and society. So Mormons are so family-centric because families are part of American values, and Mormons (at least in America) bought into the whole American dream from apple pies to patriotism to capitalism to family values.

I’m not saying that the pendulum swing between alienation and integration isn’t real, but I will say it obscures the fact that Mormonism’s emphasis on family goes much, much deeper. Our commitment to the ideals of family and home is not an affectation, it is at the core of our theology and central to our concept of life on Earth and in eternity.

The origin and destiny that Elder Stapley refers to are impossible to separate from family. We came from a home, a home where we had a loving Heavenly Father and a loving Heavenly Mother. Family and home are central to our origin. We are headed back home, to live with our Heavenly Parents again and—through the grace of Christ—to become them. Family and home are central to our destiny.

Elder (at the time) Monson’s paragraph is one that I can’t stop thinking about because it is such an arresting violation of the parallel that you expect. “God and mother,” not Heavenly Mother but earthly mothers, are “partners in creation, in love, in sacrifice, in service” and are “as one.”

I think I’ll be working through the implications of this one for a long time, but what we can say immediately is that—once again—the entire Plan of Salvation is inseparable from the concept of home and family and that includes our sacred obligation here on Earth to emulate to the best we can the heavenly home we don’t even remember.

We’re members of the house of God. And here we are on Earth—blind, fallible, and broken—playing at house. Playing at god. Nothing could be more absurd. Nothing could be more serious.

I’ll leave with one more quote:

The Spirit of the Lord will not dwell nor abide in a home where there is constant bickering, quarreling, arguing, discord, or disharmony… A happy Home is where the wife is treated like a queen and the husband is treated like a king.

There Is Need for Repentance by ElRay Christiansen

If that is the aspiration we’re striving for down here, then we can also understand this much about our hidden heavenly home: that’s what it was like. We all know that there was discord in Heaven on at least one occasion, but our home before this life was defined as a place where “[Heavenly Mother] is treated like a queen and [Heavenly Father] is treated like a kind.” That is how they regard each other. That is how they treat each other. That is the first home that we knew.

In those rare, beautiful moments of transient bliss when pure family love and harmony are revealed for a moment or two through a mundane, everyday experience, eternity itself is laid bare before us.

Check out the other posts from the General Conference Odyssey this week and join our Facebook group to follow along!

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