It Would not be Heaven

This week I volunteered at the Philadelphia temple open house. I also went there with my wife and daughters a few weeks ago for the tour. It was such a wonderful experience seeing that incredible house of the lord completed. I felt the spirit bear witness to me that the covenants that I made inside the temple are real and efficacious.

Before each tour, visitors watch a video about temples. I was struck by the powerful quote by Elder Holland that is featured prominently in that video. I don’t have the exact video before me, but I found that Elder Holland said something very similar as part of the PBS documentary “The Mormons.”;

“We believe that marriage is eternal. One of the fundamental premises of this church is that family is forever. I know, in my life, that it won’t be heaven without my wife, and it will not be heaven without my children, because that’s true, and if that’s some eternal principle, and if there’s something eternally splendid about that, then God in his goodness must have some way to let everybody share in as much of that as possible. And I believe that our doctrine points toward that.”

This doctrine truly does fill the soul with incredible gratitude and awe. For me, this doctrine is what helped me gain a witness of the restored gospel. My desire to be reunited with both my earthly and heavenly parents motivates me in all that I do. It is the most wondrous truth of the restoration.

I was reminded of Elder Holland’s quote when I read LeGrand Richard’s sermon “Revealed Truths of the Gospel” in the October 1973 conference. As frequently did, Elder Richards spoke of the truth that families are eternal.

Elder Richards felt that this principle was “plainly … taught in the holy scriptures.” I don’t know if I  agree with him on that point. I believe that eternal marriage is one of those precious truths that was lost or obscured with the passage of time. But I do believe that this principle is plainly taught in the hearts of mankind.

Elder Richards pointed out that even though few churches teach this doctrine, nevertheless many people believe it. He recounted conversations with pastors who admitted that they were not allowed to teach about eternal families in their churches, but nevertheless believed in it. He also quoted beautiful poetry reflecting this truth:

I wed thee forever, not for now

Not for the sham of earth’s brief years.

I wed thee for the life beyond the tears,

Beyond the heartache and clouded brow.

Love knows no grave, and it shall guide us, dear

When life’s spent candles flutter and burn low.

And then, Elder Richards said something very similar to what Elder Holland would later say about his family:

“Now this great eternal principle is one of the great truths that has been revealed through the restoration of the gospel. Personally I would just as soon believe that death was a complete annihilation of both body and spirit as to think that I would have to live on forever and forever without a continuation of the love ties that bind my wife and me together, and our family and our loved ones here in this life. Heaven will only be a projection of our life here.”

These two testimonies separated by over 30 years unify together in a magnificent harmony. The deepest longing of the human soul is fulfilled through God’s eternal plan for us all.

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