However, in general, when I teach youth, they have a wonderful time ( I see to that), but other adults present will inevitably remark, "Well, that was certainly a different perspective. I hadn't really thought about ______________ in quite that way." Yes, well, I have a different perspective on many things. Which does not make it wrong, just different. I am very careful to make certain that my sources are acceptable (i.e. scriptures, conference addresses, that's pretty much all I use), that I inquire of the Lord prior to and during presentation, and that I avoid personal anecdotes that may be funny, but really have nothing to do with what I'm talking about or will not invite the Spirit.
I've had the opportunity to present lessons, which have included the topic of temple marriage, to youth in two different settings, recently. The first was in the Young Women's organization. The second, in seminary during the Plan of Salvation lesson (which took four days--yeah, we had lots to talk about). In both classes there were members who may or may not get married during their lifetimes. When I went through the presentation suggested in the YW manual, I rejected it point blank for a few reasons:
1. My view of being sealed in the temple has little to do with goo-goo eyes and romance.
2. I do not believe young women will find a story about dying young, knowing you will be with your spouse forever, a motivational force in deciding whether or not to be married in the temple (and I find that kind of sentimentality highly distasteful).
3. The REAL reasons behind the importance of being sealed were not presented to my satisfaction.
So I did bunches of reading and research and tweaking and thinking and praying. Then I put it all together and presented my lesson. It was devoid of starry eyes. It was not about love at first sight. I did not share my own personal love story--nor anyone else's. In fact, we spent little time talking about couples and intimacy. The girls loved it. They asked millions of questions. We still talk about it in other lessons. And, of course, the other leaders said: "What a unique perspective. I hadn't quite considered temple marriage in that way."
Then I had the opportunity to revisit key parts of that lesson as I discussed the Plan of Salvation with my seminary class. This time the lesson was presented to a mixed audience. Again, the reception was sort of amazing. These are beautiful young men and women--bright and intelligent. My son told me later, "Mom, I thought about some things today that I hadn't before." Good. My work here is done.
I can't apologize for my "unique perspective." I worked a lifetime in order to gain it. And so, because it is my perspectve, I am recording it here on my blog. It is, of course, rooted in the LDS faith. It is, of course, religious. It is, of course, part of what motivated me to try to become who I am today. So for me, I am recording my ideas about this topic.
The first thing I wish to say is that I believe the root reason for the importance of being sealed as a unit in the temple is based in choice. That's easy, right? You choose that attractive person you wish to have sex with, then you get married so no one will call you a slut. Actually, there's more than just that "marriage" thing. We existed, prior to coming to earth, in a family unit. We had a Father/Mother/brother/sister relationship. Granted, it was on a pretty huge scale, and there may have been sub-units within that colossal family, but that would be require speculation, and I'm avoiding that.
When we came to earth, that family unit still existed, in some form. But here's the thing: when we lived as spirits within the family, it was not by choice. We were included as family members through the power of our parents, in much the same way we are included in mortal families into which we are born. Some people speculate that we "chose" our earthly families before we came to them, which may be true and certainly presents a very romantic picture, but again, requires speculation, and I do not believe it. I have three children. The youngest two are mine. I felt a spiritual tie to them at their births--with one of them I felt that tie prior to her birth. My oldest son, however, is a gift. He is different physically, spiritually, emotionally, from the rest of his family. I have always known that there was something very special about him. I don't know why I've been privileged to have him be with me in this life. He's like my own personal, mortal, ministering angel. He heals my soul, comforts me with his presence. He is like pure sunshine. But there was no spriritual recognition similar to what I experienced with my other two children. So from my own experience, and simply from pure logic (if, indeed, there is a "one and only" for everyone, what if one of those dies? then who do the children belong to? what if they never find each other? what if one has children out of wedlock? The possibilities for failure with such a fallacious dogma are endless), I do not believe our mortal families were predetermined in the pre-earth life. Such a belief is romantic and beautiful, but bound to fail in any number of circumstances. I prefer reality. So we became members of mortal families, not necessarily (although possibly) by choice. And that caused somewhat of a shift in that spiritual family of our Heavenly parents.
I want to switch gears and talk about temple marriage. First, the marriage part. I would love to say that when people fall in love, those lovely attractions that cause toe curling, jaw clenching, stomach churning, swooning intensity stay around for life--but they don't. And thank goodness for that, because no one enjoys being around two people who are experiencing sexual tension all the time. It's horribly uncomfortable. That attraction serves the purpose of drawing them together--it's up to the couple to see if they can continue after the initial attraction thrust subsides. But that's only a part of the big picture.
One of my seminary students said that, really, being sealed was all about couples. They get married, have children, raise children, then they are a couple once again and forever. Wrong. Absolutely wrong. And it alarms me that this is a prevalent attitude, one we teach our children, and perhaps one we accept throughout the "church". And it's wrong. It's EARTHLY--mortal--for this life only. Yes, it certainly is true that we marry, have children, they leave, and we are a couple again--but then a spouse dies--no longer a couple--oh yeah, they're sealed--but so are the children. Our current earthly existence does not determine our eternal state of being. So I reiterate: sealing blessings are not about husband and wife--husband and wife are but a part of something much larger.
So now we come to Samantha's unique perspective. When we come to earth, one of our beautiful choices is whether or not we want to continue to be a part of that first (and I use that term loosely) spiritual family. And the vehicle used to make that choice is temple marriage. When we are sealed to a spouse, we are also sealed to God and all that he represents eternally. That new sealing incorporates two families, their progenitors, and their posterity, which will be linked to another earthly family unit through another sealing, and another, and another, ad infinitum. And all within those units will have the opportunity to choose to remain within that sealed unit through their choices and actions on earth. Some will have opportunity to accept sealings made in their behalf after death. But the bottom line is that through the sealing ordinance, we are putting back in place that first family, but this time, anyone who remains in that family will do so by choice, not by nature of birth or creation. This includes those who are born "in the covenant" because even though those blessing are provided at birth, the choice of accepting those blessings remains with each individual.
What a beautiful concept. And to me, it helps me understand why my Heavenly Father has instructed our prophets to place such great importance on things like chastity, parenthood, families, purity, and temple work. The worth of souls is great in the sight of God--because He wants us back. He loves His children. He let us go. He hopes we'll choose to return, bound with the sealing bonds to Him.
Is the sealing ordinance about romance? Not in my mind, although that would certainly make parts of marriage "easier". But it IS about love, including but not exclusively, romantic love. It's also about love between parents, siblings, children, and friends, spanning all generations of mortal time, pre-earth life, and the life to come. It's about a loving, wise Father, who understands the needs of His children to choose whether or not they wish to be with Him, to become like Him. But above all, through all, and beneath it all runs a current of deep love from an amazing Father for each one of us. Because no matter how much He wishes for our return, He loves us enough to let us make that choice for ourselves, knowing full well, that not all will choose Him.
So now you have it. My way of thinking outside the box. Perhaps it is only a "unique perspective" for those who are locked into mortality and the finite ideas presented and accepted by many. Perhaps this is important to no one but me. But because it is important to me, especially when I view the circumstances and beauty of my own temple marriage, I post this here, so that I will always remember.