In the latest of our 21 Questions we address the question of family. Mormons lay great store by families and it is one of the things that makes them seem wholesome and right. But what do Mormons mean when they tell us that “families are forever?”
As before, we will look at the questions (Q) and answers (A) with comments (C) and any quotes (Qu.)
Q: What do the Mormons believe about the family?
A: Mormons believe that the family is the foundation for this life and the life to come.
To reiterate earlier observations:
Qu: “Brethren, 225,000 of you are here tonight. I suppose 225,000 of you may become gods. There seems to be plenty of space out there in the universe. And the Lord has proved that he knows how to do it. I think he can make, or probably have us help make, worlds for all of us, for every one of us 225,000” (Spencer W Kimball, Ensign, Nov.1975, p.80)
C: Mormon men intend to become gods, just as their god has done before them. Joseph Smith taught this and, in 1974, Mormon apostle Marion G Romney stated, “God is a perfected, saved soul, enjoying eternal life.” That is what “salvation” is to a Mormon, i.e. godhood. (Salt Lake Tribune, Oct.6, 1974)
Qu. "In the Heaven where our spirits were born there are many Gods, each one of whom has his own wife or wives, raises up a numerous family of sons and daughters... each father and mother will be in a condition to multiply forever and ever. As soon as each God has begotten many millions of male and female spirits, and his Heavenly inheritance becomes too small, to comfortably accommodate his great family, he, in connection with his sons, organizes a new world, after a similar order to the one which we now inhabit, where he sends both the male and female spirits to inhabit tabernacles of flesh and bones.... The inhabitants of each world are required to reverence, adore, and worship their own personal father who dwells in the Heaven which they formerly inhabited.” (Mormon apostle Orson Pratt, The Seer, March 1853, pp. 37-39)
C. In the most fundamental way this describes the Mormon Plan of Salvation, the plan by which God himself became God according to Mormonism. God made this planet to accommodate his spirit children (us) and faithful Mormons will go on to create and inhabit their own planets, which will be populated by their spirit children who will, in turn, worship them – and the whole process starts again. The truth, then, is that Mormons expect that there will be planets which Mormons will rule after their death and ascension as great celestial patriarchs.
The impression given, and gained, from Mormon publicity for the family is that of a warm Victorian picture of hearth and home, thrift and industry and traditional values in support of the idea of the nuclear family. Mormons however expect to become gods, populating their own earth with their spiritual offspring, just as God has done before them. The family, so celebrated in Mormonism, forms the basis of this cosmic dynasty; the extended family writ large across your very own universe.
While Christians enter the family of God through faith in Jesus Christ (Ro.8:14-17; Gal.4:4-6) Mormons anticipate becoming god of their family through working the Mormon Plan of works by which God became God of his family. The difference is profound and this definition of family is not to be found anywhere in Scripture.