One may ask: Why be sealed for eternity if there is reincarnation and we will come back again anyway? What one often forgets is that we are living in eternity now as Joseph Smith indicated: “The past, the present, and the future were and are with Him (God) one eternal Now”’. History of the Church Vol. 4 Pg. 597.
Let’s examine carefully what is written on the sealing powers to see what is unfolded. We are told that those who are sealed according to the New and Everlasting covenant “shall come forth in the first resurrection; and if it be after the first resurrection the next resurrection (A future life or incarnation) and shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, all heights and depths – “ D&C 132:19 Then we are told that as long as they do not shed innocent blood they will come forth and be Gods sometime in the future. We are told that “All things are theirs whether LIFE OR DEATH.” D&C 76:59 It is interesting indeed that a celestial being can choose life or death. In other words he can choose a continuation of life in the celestial world or sacrifice and take an incarnation in the lower worlds where he will be subject to death. Many of the prophets in history as well as other great men were celestial spirits who volunteered to come here to help the race of men. They chose “death” for a season that they might have more power to serve.
To understand the sealing more fully one must understand what the scriptures mean when they speak of everlasting or eternal life. One should understand that when God gave us the modern scriptures they were written “after the manner of their language, that they might come to understanding.” D&C 1:24 Since Joseph Smith was unaware of all mistranslations in the Bible they also carried over into some of his revelations. For instance the word for the Lord “Jehovah” is universally agreed to be a mistranslation. The English word was invented by the Catholic church many centuries ago. Most believe the word was at one time pronounced “Yahweh”. Even the word “Jesus” is not correct today. In the Greek it was pronounced “Yaesu”. But God did not bother with trivialities and let the revelations come forth in a language that Joseph and his followers were familiar with. If he did not do this much difficulty would have been created, and the missionaries would have spent all their time arguing over the meaning of words instead of teaching revealed truths. There were certain disadvantages, however, especially caused by the words “eternal” and “everlasting”. For the true meaning of these words we must examine the original language of the Bible from whence they came.
Contrary to popular belief, neither everlasting or eternal life means to live forever just as eternal damnation doesn’t mean that one will be damned forever: “Nevertheless, it is not written there shall be no end to this torment, but it is written endless torment. Again it is written eternal damnation.” D&C 19:6-7 And why did the Lord allow it to be written this way: “Wherefore it is more express than other scriptures, THAT IT MIGHT WORK UPON THE HEARTS OF THE CHILDREN OF MEN altogether for my name’s glory.” Verse 7.
Yes, in the past, and for many in the present the Lord has allowed a misunderstanding of his words to work upon our hearts for our good, but the truly honest in heart are always the most highly motivated by that which is truest.
Much of the confusion comes from the Greek word AION and a comparable word AIONIOS. These words are translated as “eternal,” “forever,” “everlasting,” “world,” “age” and “course” in the King James Version. One does not have to look hard to see that “age” and “course” certainly have a different meaning than “eternal” or “forever”. What is the true meaning of these Greek words? It can be clearly shown from the scriptures that the meaning is not “forever:” The disciples said “Tell us when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the END of the world”(Greek: AION) Matt 24:3 “I am with you alway, even to the END of the world” AION) Matt 28:20. Here the translators did not dare translate AION as everlasting, eternal, or forever. We know that Jesus is not coming at the end of forever. It can also be shown that AION has a beginning: “As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since THE WORLD (AION) BEGAN” Luke 1:70; “Since the World (AION) began…” John 9:32; Also Acts 3:21. Here we easily establish that AION has both a beginning and an end, It’s most correct translation is an “age” which age has both a beginning and an end. Sometimes it is used in the same context that we use the word “dispensation” today. However, it sometimes refers to numerous dispensations. One has to read the context.
The Greek AIONIOS is derived from AION and means approximately the same except the word implies a quality not found in AION. The word “eternal” in eternal life is generally translated from this word. For instance this is eternal (AIONIOS) life, that they might know thee…” John 17:3 This implies that one will have a high quality of life that will last for an “age” if one comes to know God and Christ. We find the same implication in other scriptures: “Whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting (AIONIOS) life.” John 3:16 AION and AIONIOS were not meant to imply deathlessness or immortality. The word meaning such is ATHANASIA and is only used three times in the whole Bible. The three references are: I Cor 15:53 & 54; and I Tim 6:16.
Joseph Smith’s teachings were in harmony with the above. He said over and over that if a thing has a beginning it must have an end and if something did not have a beginning then it will have no end. There is no such thing as a beginning with no end. See History of the Church Vol. 6; pg 311
This was one of the most important statements Joseph ever made, as much truth can be derived from it. For instance, if there is a beginning to a punishment, then there must be an end. On the other hand, if there is a beginning to a reward there must also be an end. If there is a beginning to our entering into the telestial, terrestrial, or celestial kingdom, then eventually there must be an end. If there is a beginning to us being a God there will be an end. If there is a beginning to a marriage there will also be an end.
When we apply this principle to various cherished doctrines, it may fill the breast of a devotee with horror. For instance if there is a beginning to having a body there will be an end. Yet Joseph Smith clearly stated that “which has a beginning as God lives will have an end.” Some of these applications almost makes one declare that Joseph Smith must have been mistaken in this point. But I believe the doctrine not only because Joseph said it, but because of its simple logic. He is mathematically correct.
If Joseph Smith was right then what is the real meaning of eternal marriage? Does it have an end?
First, if we use the Greek word AIONIOS for eternal or eternity, then eternal marriage would imply a high quality marriage lasting for an age. Thus one may be married in this world and the world to come, but keep in mind that there’s worlds to come after ‘“the world to come.” How long your eternal marriage will last is according to your free agency. If after ten million years you decide to go separate ways who is there to take away your agency??? If, after you become a God, you decide to step down and no longer be a God for a while who is there to take away your agency? Remember “All things are theirs whether life or death.” D&C 76:59
To find out if there really is an end to marriage we must merely ask if there ever was a beginning. We may be assured that the principle of marriage is without beginning and is ever present in nature clear down to the atom where we have a marriage of positive and negative forces creating something greater than themselves through their cooperation. Joseph Smith said that baptism was a symbol and it’s quite evident that marriage is also. Marriage merely symbolizes a union of souls or should I say a reunion for “Man was also in the beginning with God…” D&C 93:29 “The mind or the intelligence which man possesses is co-equal with God himself. I know my testimony is true.” History of the Church Vol. 6: Pg 310. When humanity were co-equal in the beginning there was a union of souls which was from eternity which union, or eternal marriage, we are again attempting to establish through the “New and everlasting covenant”. This is in fulfillment of the commandment: ‘“that they may be one as we are.” John 17-11. Thus since the oneness of Intelligences never had a beginning the time will never come when they will have an end; nevertheless there is always an ebb and flow in all things. At this point one feels to exclaim: “The mystery of Godliness, how great it is!” D&C 19:10 Eternal marriage is symbolic of the eternal union all Intelligences will eventually have,
The new and everlasting covenant is also a binding force that brings individuals together in the celestial kingdom as well as guarantees that you will meet in future lives. Now we not only want to meet our mates in future lives, but also our friends. This is why sealings were also done for individuals who were faithful and friends. Men were sealed to men as well as women. See Journal of discourses Vol. 9 page 269. Also Manuscript History of Brigham Young Jan. 16, 1847
This practice of sealing men to men and even groups was discontinued evidently through lack of understanding. Joseph Smith told a group of saints: “He (God) has given you all to me and commanded me to seal you up to everlasting life.” Autobiography of Mary E. Rollins Lightner Ms. Joseph also said: that “dominion and power in the great future would be commensurate with the number of wives, children and friends that we inherit (are sealed to) here, and that our mission to the earth was to organize a nucleus of Heaven, to take with us, the increase of which there would be no end.” From MY LIFE’S REVIEW by Benjamin F. Johnson. Zion’s Printing and publishing Co.; Independence, Mo. Page 10.
It is evident that Joseph was married in his past lives. Mary Elizabeth Rollins said: “Joseph said I was his before I came here and he said all the Devils in hell should never get me from him.” From JOSEPH SMITH, THE FIRST MORMON by Donna Hill. Page 351. Joseph Lee Robinson also gave an insight into Joseph’s past lives: “God revealed to him that any man that ever committed adultery in either of his probations (lives) that man could never be raised to the highest exaltation in the celestial glory.” Donna Hill Page 344. Since we are “judged according to the deeds which have been done in the MORTAL BODY.” (Alma 5:15) this other probation could not refer to a previous spirit life, but only a previous mortal life.
Of course, any sealing ceremony has no effect without love for we are told that “Charity (the pure love of Christ) never faileth.” I Cor 13:8. Love is the true sealing power whereas the ordinance is merely a symbol. If one is under the law he must go through the ordinance, but if he is not then the power of love itself will create a binding force so those two individuals will meet in future lives. Interestingly hate also seals two individuals to each other so they will meet again and work out their differences. The power of love was expressed by Paul: “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of god which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom. 8:38-39
The main advantage of the sealing powers of the Priesthood is that it seals a commitment to meet again and once registered in two souls the future union is assured. The future of those eternally progressing will be eventually to be as Gods to evolving human lives on other worlds. This, of course, is just the beginning. There are worlds and concepts above ours that we can comprehend no more than a slug can comprehend us, but someday, in our future eternal lives and endless expansion of our consciousness, we will comprehend.
Copyright 1996 by J J Dewey