Posts Tagged ‘Immortality’
I am strongly opposed to the idea of past lives or reincarnation. I have always considered it a false and pernicious doctrine that leads one to do less than their best in this life, thinking they will always have another chance to get it right in the next life. Some people have said that the church teaches this doctrine and that it is called Eternal Lives (plural). I disagree, believe that most LDS believe as I do, that Eternal Lives means eternal increase and would like to address that in this position paper.
Associated with Adam-God Theory
By way of background I’ve written a little about this before in an essay where I reviewed a book entitled “Teachings of The Doctrine of Eternal Lives.” For some reason, this subject seems to be related to discussions of the Adam-God theory, which I have also written about previously. My position hasn’t changed even though I’ve had many people engage me in private dialog on the subject. They come up with all kinds of weird spins on what we are taught in the temple.
Adam and Eve Immortal at Birth
I remained convinced that Adam was born an immortal child of God our father and his heavenly mother. Eve was also an immortal child of those same resurrected beings. Jesus Christ did not have a mortal experience until he was born unto Mary. What he put aside was not an immortal and exalted body but simply his status as the most intelligent and most advanced of all of Heavenly Father’s children.
No reintroduction of the Veil
I do not believe we have more than one opportunity to pass though mortality. The same applied to God and to Jesus Christ. There was no “reintroduction of the veil” to God, to Christ, to Adam or to any mortal being ever born on this earth. Elohim does indeed mean Gods – plural – which is in line with what I believe that many of us were Gods – and still are. The veil of our mortal bodies simply hides that fact from us for a season.
Definition of the Fathers
The Fathers, in my opinion, are those early patriarchal prophets who have been resurrected and await our joining them when we finish our mortal probation. We are to be like them and to be sealed unto them with the sealing power that can only come from the voice of the Lord. None of them has ever entered the womb again. That simply cannot and does not happen. They are resurrected and exalted beings now. We would do well to emulate their examples in following Christ.
God only Experienced Mortality Once
I do not believe Gods experience mortality more than once. I have re-read the accounts of the King Follett discourse several times. I simply do not see that Joseph taught that doctrine. Jesus helped to frame the worlds under the direction of our Father by virtue of his position as the most intelligent, the most obedient and the most advanced of all our Heavenly Father’s children. He was assisted by Michael, who was to become the first mortal of this earth – Adam.
No Immortal [Exalted Being] Can Become Mortal
I disagree that our Heavenly Father and Mother became mortal again after they were immortal [and exalted]. Sorry. That’s a false doctrine. Yes, it’s true that came to they earth and ate of the fruit of this world. Adam and Eve were born to them here upon this world as immortal beings, from immortal parents. Adam was created of the dust of this earth in the sense that his parents ate of the fruit of this world when he was conceived. They had already had countless spirit children, but Adam and Eve were the first immortal children they brought forth on this world. This was not the first time they had done this. They had brought forth immortal children on countless other worlds before this one.
Immortal Beings Bear Immortal Children
Again, there is never, was never, will never be a time when the veil is reintroduced to an immortal and exalted being. The mortal body is the veil. An immortal [exalted] being will not become a mortal being for any reason. Not even Jesus did this. Yes, he was a God before he was born because he had obtained all knowledge available to him before mortality. But he was not an exalted being. That requires immortality. Immortal beings cannot bring forth mortal children (*See excellent comment from Donald below). Adam and Eve were immortal [but not exalted] until they partook of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, then became mortal.
Update 4-10-13: I added the words in brackets above
No Past-Life Mortal Experiences
We establish ourselves as valiant in the pre-mortal life by our obedience to the commandments there and our faithfulness to the performance of assigned duty. There are no past-life mortal experiences to be remembered or relied upon as a source of growth or experience. Past-lives is a false doctrine explained by the presence of spirits who have attached themselves to us, which can be easily detected by those with spiritual insight or priesthood keys of discernment. This is clearly taught in books by Mel Fish and Doug Mendenhall.
Pre-Mortal Life is as a Spirit
Adam did not choose to become mortal again. He chose be born as an immortal child of Heavenly Parents and then chose to become mortal just as we are taught. I have never had a mortal life before my present time on earth. I learned and grew in a pre-mortal life in the presence of my Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother. I am fairly certain I had some say about the timing of my birth into this world. Like Adam, I am searching for authorized messengers to teach me more. Up to this point I have accepted what I have been taught by prophets in scripture. But I know there is more that can only be received from heavenly messengers or from Christ.
We do not Cycle Through Mortality
I disagree with many on the interpretation of what Joseph taught in the last few months of his life and which Brigham tried to systematize in the endowment. I have studied many interpretations of others on what Joseph and Brigham taught. I have considered many versions of Adam-God theories from numerous individuals who have shared them with me. I simply have never found anything better than Elden Watson’s great summary. It is settled in my mind and has been for many years. I have yet to find anything that can convince me that we will ever become mortal again. That is not what eternal lives means.
Share Greater Light and Knowledge
This is my position paper. If I am wrong, show me where. Provide me with further light and knowledge. Point out my flaws in logic. Let me know where I have misunderstood prophets. I’ve shared this position many times over the years and most everyone has agreed that this is an orthodox understanding of what we as a church believe about the purpose of life and mortality. If you want to know more about the source of the idea of past-lives, let me know and I’ll be happy to share. Past-lives is not a doctrine that originated with God, but it can be explained. If you’re interested, I can add that in the comments.
After reviewing one of my previous essays, a thoughtful reader asked my opinion about the idea of perfection and if the requirements for salvation had changed. He said, “Open just about any page of the book of Leviticus and you’ll see laws that were of life and death importance to the early church, but not today. In contrast, there is no mention of baptism or confirmation in the Old Testament as a requirement for salvation, yet today, they are taught as essential.”
He also asked about the need for the Word of Wisdom, temple ordinances, plural marriage and the second anointing. He concluded, “If God is eternal, and heaven doesn’t change, shouldn’t the requirements to get into heaven be the same, no matter when you were born or what culture you lived in?” Although his email was private, great questions like these deserve a response that can be shared in my blog so others who might be interested can benefit from the dialog.
Perfection means completed
The savior taught in 3 Ne 12:48, “Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect.” Perfection to me has always meant complete or completed as in finished or fulfilled, certainly not something we will achieve in this life and not in the spirit world to come. Perfection is a state that is achieved only after we have learned all there is to know about becoming like God. And that can’t happen until we are resurrected beings because we will never understand what God is like until we have the same type of body that he has.
The Prophet Joseph said, “…go on until you learn all the principles of exaltation. But it will be a great while after you have passed through the veil before you will have learned them. It is not all to be comprehended in this world; it will be a great work to learn our salvation and exaltation even beyond the grave.”
Joseph F. Smith said, “Salvation does not come all at once; we are commanded to be perfect even as our Father in heaven is perfect. It will take us ages to accomplish this end, for there will be greater progress beyond the grave, and it will be there that the faithful will overcome all things … for we will have to go even beyond the grave before we reach that perfection and shall be like God. But here we lay the foundation.”
Flaws and errors removed
I have never equated perfection as meaning without flaw or error, rather as having flaws and errors removed. That of course can only come through the atonement of the Savior. It is not something that I can accomplish on my own. That is my understanding of perfection – having flaws and errors removed by the Savior. Therefore, it is my desire to meet the requirements for the atonement to be effective in my life as set forth by the savior and as revealed to his prophets. I’m not talking about temporal salvation. The resurrection is a free gift to all. We will all live again with immortal bodies. But the quality of our life in the hereafter depends entirely upon us and our efforts to be worthy and prepared for the greatest of all the gifts of God – eternal life.
Requirements of Salvation
So that brings us to the second point – meeting the requirements of salvation. I guess I’m not so concerned about what the people of the Old Testament had to do to please the Lord. I’m glad I don’t live in the harsh conditions of those days when a man could be stoned for what today would seem to be a minor infraction. They had a different law back then and the Lord taught us clearly that he fulfilled that law. The Mosaic Law was to bring them to Christ, even though most of the Israelites who lived back then did not understand that. The Lord described them as a hard-hearted and stiff-necked people. I would hope that we are not like some of those early Israelites. Someday, they must receive the ordinances of the higher priesthood just as it is required of us.
Baptism in ancient times
We are taught in Moses 6 that Adam was baptized. When Peter said on the day of Pentecost that they must repent and be baptized, the people obviously had a clear understanding of the concept. John the Baptist did not practice something that was new and unknown. I am confident that baptism was practiced in the old world. We know that Alma baptized in the Waters of Mormon. I think we can be certain that the Book of Mormon people brought the practice with them from the Old World. Baptism is a priesthood ordinance and is one of the requirements of salvation. The laying on of hands was a common practice as evidenced by priesthood blessings given by the early patriarchs to their children as well as by many references in the New Testament.
Temple ordinances required
I think there is ample evidence that temple ordinances were a part of the religious practice of the ancient people of Israel. The Lord has always commanded his people to build temples where they are gathered in numbers of sufficient strength. Where they were not, his saints were endowed with power from on high on the tops of mountains. No, the majority of the Israelites did not receive the endowment as they lived the Mosaic Law. But yes, all must be endowed and sealed someday. That is one of the purposes of the Millennium.
Word of Wisdom for our day
Even though it is based on eternal principles such as moderation and self-control, the Word of Wisdom is a modern revelation given for our benefit in our day. As the Lord said, it was given “In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days.” Just as the Israelites were given a law of health with many specific things to not do, we have been given a few guidelines for our health in our day. Isn’t that part of the principle of ongoing revelation – specifics suited for our times? No, it’s true that Jesus didn’t teach the Word of Wisdom when he came in the Meridian of Time, but he did reveal it for us in our day. Thank God for living prophets and modern revelation that gives us that direction we need now.
Plural Marriage not required
Let’s consider why we no longer participate in the Second Anointing or Plural Marriage. Both of those subjects are fascinating to study and can produce a lot of fruitful discovery if we choose to get into them. I have always considered plural marriage to be optional, while entering into the law of celestial marriage to be a requirement. We must receive that sealing ordinance to make progress according to section 131. But plural marriage is not a requirement of exaltation. You can read that in section 132, verse 61. It says that if a man “desire to espouse another,” and the first wife consents and she is given or sealed unto him by the prophet then he does not commit adultery. It is never worded that a man must take another wife. Only certain brethren were commanded in the early days of the church to do so as part of the restoration of all things.
Timing of the Second Anointing
We don’t know much about the Second Anointing, do we? We certainly aren’t taught about it in our standard Sunday curriculum or even in any of the CES curriculum as far as I can determine. To be honest, I like the Wikipedia article. It’s a pretty good summary of everything I have read over the years. I know it bothers some people that this is not openly taught, but I guess they feel the same way that the temple ceremony is not openly taught. Of course you can read the whole thing today on the Internet. I like the fact that we work harder in the church today to ensure that people are more prepared for the first anointing. To me, it is a lifetime of faithful service in the Lord’s church that prepares us for the second anointing, either in this life or in the resurrection.
Dormant religious practices
Perhaps we need to ask ourselves if these things have really changed or are just dormant. I am one who believes that those two practices in particular will once again be a part of our worship. Yes, I am convinced that the day will come when even the “regular” member of the church will be able to receive the second anointing just as soon as he is ready and can participate in plural marriage if he so chooses and his wives are given to him under the direction of the prophet. Of course, that’s not going to happen while we live under the laws of the government of the United States, but as we all know, the government of the United States will not stand forever. Yes, the constitution is an inspired document, but when the Savior comes, we will enter a theocracy.
Be Faithful to Joseph
I guess the reason I’m not bothered by a lot of things that I read out there on the Internet about the church, including some very convincing arguments that make you think, is that I like to think of myself more like Hyrum Smith than Joseph. I don’t see visions or hear the voice of the Lord like Joseph, but I have been blessed with the gift of believing. That’s what I meant when I said that I choose to believe. After many years of experience, I can tell you that feel happiest when I exercise faith and choose to believe what was revealed through Joseph Smith. I believe Joseph. I trust the brethren who lead this church today. I have listened to them and studied their words for all my life. I have never been disappointed nor had cause to doubt their spiritual leadership. Like Hyrum, I want to remain faithful and supportive of their direction to the end of my days.
All my life in the church I have heard the promises of the gospel of Jesus Christ. These are held out as motivating ideas that are intended to help us resist the pull and attraction of worldly pleasures. In this short essay, I would like to consider just one of those promises and the power for good that it should have in our lives.
Of course, the attraction of promises pre-supposes that you are the kind of person that is motivated by the “moving-toward” model. If you’re not familiar with the idea, it comes from the book Unlimited Power by Anthony Robbins. He states, “All human behavior revolves around the urge to gain pleasure or avoid pain.”
Tony’s shorthand for this is “pain or gain.” Which one drives you? Of course the concept is not original with Tony but he made it a focus of his seminars and books. The idea has been around forever and stated in different ways by various thinkers. The process is not absolute. We move toward some things and away from others.
However, most of us live our lives predominantly either moving toward a goal or moving away from an unpleasant situation, either past, present or future. You can easily determine your predominant model by describing something you desire. Do you express it in terms of what it is or what it isn’t, what you want or don’t want?
For example, think about and describe your ideal home or family. How about your ideal job? I was surprised to note that I described my ideal home in terms of what I want, but my ideal job in terms of what I don’t want. Maybe that’s because I am towards the end of my career and have seen plenty of negatives I want to avoid.
The greatest gift
What are the most important gospel promises that we should consider? Let’s start with the big one – eternal life. I’m not talking about being resurrected; that’s a given and a free gift from the Savior as part of the gospel plan. I’m talking about being able to live the kind of life that God lives, with complete joy and fulfillment.
In modern revelation it is recorded that “there is no gift greater than the gift of salvation.” (D&C 6:13) We are also told that “if you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God.” (D&C 14:7) Salvation in the fullest sense is defined as eternal life.
So just what is eternal life and how can we relate to it since we have nothing to which we can compare it in this life? In order for something to be desirable and worthy of sacrifice, we must have at least some sense of its attractiveness. In fact, it is up to the Lord to make us fully aware of what really comprises eternal life.
Salvation without exaltation
In the LDS Church, we commonly refer to exaltation as the kind of life that God lives, and consider it to be synonymous with eternal life. We also consider it to be the fullness of salvation. If we want to get a little more precise, let’s consider one common aphorism used to describe it: “Salvation without exaltation is damnation.”
This is a saying that engenders intense debate even among LDS scholars because I have read it online many times over the years. I agree with that adage because for me, it appeals to my predominant “moving away from” model. Yes, I confess that I am more inclined to make life choices in order to avoid unpleasant possibilities.
I consider the moving-away from model of thinking to be very mortal; not weak, just mortal. But I’m grateful to know that the Lord is fully aware of this approach. This is evidenced by the twofold promise of the Book of Mormon: If you keep the commandments of God you will be blessed. If you don’t, then you will be cursed.
Yes, tell me more about the negatives of a behavior and I will do my best to avoid it because I can see the results such behavior has produced in others. The only way I am motivated by a promise of eventual reward is if I have experienced something similar, even if it is in a small degree. My mortal mind doesn’t “get” eternal life.
Yet, in my heart I know that there is life after death. I have had too many personal evidences presented for my consideration to feel otherwise. I am satisfied that the concept of a spirit world is real; that there are unseen beings operating in a plane of existence just outside my mortal perception; and many times acting on my behalf.
Learning from opposition
So how does the Lord reach people like me who need a more solid understanding of eternal life in order to be motivated by the promise? I guess I’m kind of like the child that hears from a parent, “if you work hard in school, you’ll have an easier life when you get older.” It’s true, but it didn’t work for me when I was a child.
An easy life to a child is loving acceptance, lots of playtime, a warm, comfortable home, lots of food to eat and that safe, secure feeling that comes from knowing that dangers are far, far away, or even better, being oblivious to the concept of danger. But such a life doesn’t work as we get older because we experience opposition.
And that’s why I am more motivated by an understanding of what eternal life will not be like. I have experienced opposition, adversity, setbacks, disappointments and many painful shocks brought on by unforeseen and unwanted reality checks. Because of these experiences, I know what I don’t want eternal life to be like.
Of course, I don’t set the rules when it comes to my quality of life after death. But I do “get” the idea that I can determine a large part of that life quality by what I do or don’t do and how I respond to the life choices that are presented to me. There really is a lot of truth to the idea that a man is about as happy as he decides to be.
Disappointments will cease
I don’t want eternal life to be disappointing. I don’t think God is disappointed. Even though we believe that his most important work is us, his children, I don’t think he is ever really disappointed in us. I also don’t believe that his plans for us are ever really frustrated. We will get out of this life what we came here to get.
What we came here to receive is an understanding and appreciation for eternal life – the kind of life that God lives – that we never could have accomplished without experiencing opposition, adversity, disappointment, trail, heartache, frustration and pain. So whatever the outcome of our lives, we will appreciate eternal life better.
That appreciation comes by application of the “moving away from” model of life. Although we may not understand all the promises of peace, happiness, freedom, personal power, contentment and joy that are held out to us, we now know what we don’t want eternal life to be like. We don’t want it to be like our life here on earth.
Yes, I have experienced happiness in this life. I have experienced success, some personal power, a measure of peace, plenty of freedom and lots of growth. But even in achieving these things, I immediately realized that they were temporary and not complete. They do not last because of the transient nature of mortality.
Moving away from pain
Do you see? I now understand something about eternal life that I never could have fathomed before and something that I don’t want. I don’t want good things to end as they do in this life. I work long and hard to create my home and family life that I do not want to see come to an end. I don’t want that work to be wasted or to fail.
So for me, moving toward gospel promises is meaningless unless I have something concrete to compare them to. I am motivated to move away from something that I don’t want. I don’t want sickness, physical pain and death; therefore I am attracted by the promise of a resurrection, which becomes more attractive the older I get.
I don’t want to be disappointed in myself in the life to come. Carol has a way of expressing this that I find memorable. She says, “Do you think God will take away the memory of being married to someone if you don’t live worthy of them?” How tortuous that would be to see your mortal spouse and not be able to be with them!
So for me, gospel promises are more motivating when I think about what I might lose as opposed to what I might gain. I don’t want to lose things that I have been given or have earned. Yes, I believe we must earn or qualify for some blessings in the life to come. Eternal life is a gift, but we must meet the requirements for it.
I’ll bet there are at least a half dozen theological ideas expressed in this essay with which non-LDS readers will disagree. In fact, I’m certain that many of my LDS readers will also take exception to some of my statements. That’s OK. I welcome the dialog and hope that maybe something I have expressed has been helpful.
I love the Lord’s promises but I confess that I just don’t get some of them because of my weak, limited mortal way of seeing things. I believe the promises and am certain that they will mean a lot more when I get to the spirit world. Today, I just want to keep the good things I have gained from my experience with opposition.
Earlier in this essay I wrote that since we have no real concept of eternal life, it is God’s responsibility to make it appear attractive to us. I mean that. But how he does that may be different for each one of us. In my case, I am enticed by the spirit whispering to me that in the next life, I will no longer have to endure temptation.
I love that promise.
Kurt was cool. He said his dad would let us dig holes at his house so I and other neighborhood boys started hanging out with him. Kurt was a little older than me and so I looked up to him just like an older brother. He was a major influence in my life for the next ten years, or until at least 1974 when I went away to college.
The influence of friends
My dad didn’t like Kurt at all. Looking back now I can’t say that I blame him but I didn’t understand it at the time. Kurt had long hair and he looked sideways at you because he had one bad eye. He seemed to have a general disrespect for authority figures in society. That showed openly in the way he interacted with other people.
Kurt was a rebel from the word go. He wore a denim jacket with “The Mighty Quinn” embroidered on the back. I had no idea what that meant. I think it may have had something to do with the underground drug culture that had spilled down from the Bay area to Southern California in the late sixties and early seventies.
Kurt’s parents seemed very easy-going and laid-back. Mine were very strict and were often uptight, or at least I thought my mother was. Kurt’s mom worked at a bank and my mother taught at a local elementary school. I didn’t interact much with Kurt’s dad but he seemed very permissive and gave Kurt a lot of things.
I don’t know why kids compare parenting styles but I guess we all do. We usually don’t realize how much our parents do for us until we get older. For the longest time I wanted my parents to be more like Kurt’s. They gave him cool stuff and he would share it with us. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t stuff that my parents liked.
Introduction to vices
For example, one day a bunch of us were hanging out behind the local department store. There was a little spot between the school and the store where they kept the trash bins. We used to sit on the high brick wall around it from which we had a good view of all the kids in the schoolyard. It was our cool place to sit and talk.
One day Kurt popped out a hard pack of Marlboro cigarettes and lit one up. We all watched in amazement. He did it so nonchalantly like he had done it many times. OK, we were all impressed, including me. Remember, I looked up to Kurt like an older brother. I wanted to be just like him. What he did, I did. That was the rule.
The cultural influence
I can’t tell you how many times my parents banned me from hanging with Kurt. Apparently, every time I got sassy with my folks it was after I had been with him. I didn’t get the connection then, but it was very obvious to them. Without doing anything, Kurt was blamed for a lot of my teenage rebelliousness growing up.
You see, Kurt was a product of the sixties. He was just doing that which came naturally as a result of growing up in a society that promoted cultural dissent. We were on the tail-end of the Hippie movement. Hippies criticized the middle-class values that my parents exemplified and rejected established institutions we upheld.
The Hippie movement
Hippies embraced Eastern religions, championed sexual liberation and promoted the use of psychedelic drugs and psychedelic rock. They opposed nuclear weapons and war, and even nuclear power in general. They opposed political and social orthodoxy and rejected doctrinal ideology while seeking new meaning and value.
They favored peace, love, and personal freedom, perceiving the dominant culture as a corrupt, monolithic entity that exercised undue power over their lives. For hippies, it was “whatever” and “anything goes” as long as you don’t hurt anybody else. My friend Kurt epitomized this culture and I absorbed it from his influence.
Sex, drugs and Rock ‘n Roll
Kurt introduced me to music that I had never heard before. I was so sheltered that I didn’t even have a TV or radio in my home growing up. Now I was listening to groups like Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult, Electric Light Orchestra, Emerson Lake and Palmer, Pink Floyd and Yes.
You can argue that these bands made some great music and I won’t disagree. But what went along with that music was the promotion of illicit sex and drugs. I think you can also call it the great American party scene. It was prevalent when I was in high school and it still is today, but most powerfully expressed in the rock concert.
Great and spacious building
If there is anything that helps me visualize the great and spacious building as it was described by Nephi in the vision shown him by the angel, it is the rock concert. Of course, not all bands or songs at a rock concert fall into this category. But from my experience, the large crowds and abundant drug use constitutes vain imaginations.
In my case, I discovered it firsthand on April 6, 1974, the date of the California Jam and the last rock concert I ever attended. If you think about the date, you would be right in pointing out that it was the Saturday that we sustained President Kimball as the Lord’s prophet. Yes, I should have been somewhere else that day.
A lost generation
As I wandered around the festival that day I was overwhelmed with the number of young people that I saw wasted on drugs and so totally out of it. I had an awakening there and slowly came to realize that I no longer wanted to be a part of this great and spacious building. My eyes were being opened and it was not a pleasant sight.
I saw so many young people burned out and losing their ability to focus because of the drugs. So many lost their virtue and with it their desire to create things that are good or lasting. They went on to be has-beens and dropouts. Some made it into mainstream society as they got older but the glory days of their youth were gone.
Turning away from the world
The ideals and idealism of the hippie movement had never been realized and never would be. It was all a big lie, perpetuated by the biggest liar of them all. That was the feeling I had as I left this group and entered into the world of living the gospel and preparing for my mission, temple marriage and a life of service in the church.
My repentance was not easy. I had only been away from the church for less than a year but it felt like forever. I had to work for years to overcome the effects of that world. I still bear some of those scars today. Some of the music from those days brings back painful memories that I don’t want to relive. I had been badly burned.
Deception of the adversary
In the great and spacious building are found many people who are in the attitude of mocking those who have partaken of the fruit. I’m sure you have seen this attitude firsthand. I know I have. When I left that building and found my way back to the iron rod, the attitude of mocking became more visible and much easier to discern.
While some are very direct in their mocking, labeling believers in God and Christ as fools or worse, it has been my experience that most are just going along with the crowd. The entire hippie cultural movement of the late sixties and early seventies was nothing more than another attempt by the adversary to deceive God’s children.
Summary and conclusion
I know this isn’t a particularly uplifting or inspiring essay but I’ve wanted to write it for a long time. I was greatly influenced by the American pop cultural of the late sixties and especially the early seventies, when I was in high school. The hippie movement simply did not deliver the promised enlightenment that so many sought.
Unfortunately, the influence of those days has been integrated into our culture and society. It is hard to be in the world and yet not of it when so much of our world has been corrupted by the false values of the hippie movement. The attitude of mocking followers of God is just one of the more blatant results of that movement.
The death of a loved one is always a time of tender feelings and reflection. We think upon the accomplishments of those who we have known but have now passed on. We marvel at their tremendous influence upon us, so constant, patient and kind.
The difficult times are forgotten, the cherished memories of sweet moments together are stirred up once again. Feelings of love are brought to our bosom as we think of the excitement of joys shared, beauty appreciated and sorrows overcome together.
We miss our loved ones. We miss their companionship and contributions to our lives. We wonder what they are doing now – who they are visiting and how they are feeling. We know the trials and pains of mortal life are over for them and are grateful.
I have finished my day’s work
Victor Hugo, the author of Les Miserables, penned these words that I find comforting. “For half a century I have been writing my thoughts in prose and in verse – history, philosophy, drama, romance, tradition, satire, ode and song. I have tried it all.
“But I feel I have not said the thousandth part of what is in me. When I go down to the grave I can say, like many others, ‘I have finished my day’s work! But I cannot say, ‘I have finished my life.’ My day’s work will begin again the next morning.”
Harold B. Lee said, “Death of a loved one is the most severe test that you will ever face, and if you can rise above your griefs and if you will trust in God, then you will be able to surmount any other difficulty with which you may be faced.”
Death is but a door
Death is the golden key that opens the palace of eternity. Death and love are the two wings that bear the good man or woman into heaven. Each departed loved one is a magnet that attracts us to the next world. We long to be with them once again.
For death is no more than a turning of us over from time to eternity. Is death the last sleep? No, it is the last and final awakening. Your mother closed her eyes in peaceful slumber, and awakened with loved ones.
Death is a graduation day and a time of assessment to see what we have become. It is a mere comma, not an exclamation point! Let us remember that death is a form of life which we do not yet understand. Those who leave us are welcomed by others there.
We live on the other side
When God sends forth a tiny soul to learn the ways of earth, a mother’s love is waiting here – we call this wonder birth. When God calls home a fleeting breath, a Father’s love is waiting there. This too is birth – not death.
Death, though bitter to observe, is not the end, but is, rather, only another graduation from which we go on to a better life. While mortals mourn, “A good woman has died,” the angels proclaim, “A beautiful child is born.”
She is not dead, this friend; not dead, but, in the path we mortals tread, gone some few trifling steps ahead, and nearer to the end; so that you, too, once past the bend, shall meet again, as face to face, this friend you fancy dead.
Everyone must die
Everyone must die. Death is an important part of life. Of course, we are never quite ready for the change. Not knowing when it should come, we properly fight to retain our life. Yet we ought not be afraid of death.
Life is eternal; and love is immortal; and death is only a horizon; a horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight. Death is as the foreshadowing of life. We die that we may die no more. This world is the land of the dying; the next is the land of the living.
Who that hath ever been could bear to be no more? Yet who would tread again the scene he trod through life before? To find loved ones waiting on the shore, more beautiful, more precious than before. The only way to take the sorrow out of death is to take the love out of life.
Death is but a farewell
Dearest sister, thou hast left us, and thy loss we deeply feel, yet ‘tis God that has bereft us, He can all our sorrows heal. Yet again we hope to see thee, when death’s gloomy night has fled, in heaven with joy to greet thee, where no bitter tears are shed.
From Cicero, a great orator of ancient Rome, “Do not suppose, my dearest ones, that when I have left you I shall be nowhere and no one. Even when I was with you, you did not see my soul, but knew that it was in this body of mine from what I did.
“Believe then that it is still the same, even though you see it not. Wherefore, preserve my memory by the loyalty of your lives. Death is not a subject for mourning when it is followed by immortality. Beyond this vale of tears, there is life above.”
God saw her getting tired
God saw her getting tired; a cure was not to be. So he wrapped her in his loving arms and whispered, “Come with me.” She suffered much in silence, her spirit did not bend. She faced her pain with courage, until the very end.
She tried so hard to stay with us; her fight was all in vain. God took her to his loving home, and freed her from all the pain. We only really understand death for the first time when he puts his hand upon one who we love and takes them from us for a time.
Farewell, dear sister, we shall meet no more till we arrive on Canaan’s happy shore; There we shall meet at our Redeemer’s seat and cast our crowns of victory at His feet. For He is the resurrection and the life; giving hope to those who believe.
Death is not final
“Since the creation of man, no fact has been more certain as death with the close of mortality. When the last of life’s breath is drawn, there is a finality comparable to no other finality. Life is sacred, and death is somber. Life is buoyant and hopeful. Death is solemn and dark. It is awesome in its silence and certainty.
“But death is not final. Though it seems so when its dark shroud overshadows mortal life, to those who accept the Christ and His eternal mission there is light and comfort, there is assurance, there is certainty.” – President Gordon B. Hinckley
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.
We are immortal beings
We believe that we are immortal beings. We believe in the resurrection of the dead, and that Jesus Christ came forth from the grave to everlasting life, his spirit and body uniting never more to be separated.
So has be opened the way for every son or daughter of Adam, whether living or dead, to come forth from the grave to a newness of life, to become immortal souls, body and spirit united, never to be severed any more. – Joseph F. Smith
In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
The resurrection is real
The spirits of the just are exalted to a greater and more glorious work; hence they are blessed in their departure to the world of the spirits. Enveloped in flaming fire, they are not far from us, and know and understand our thoughts, feelings and motions.
When you see men and women in the resurrection, we shall see them in the very bloom of their glorious manhood and womanhood, and he has promised all who would keep his commandments and obey the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, the restoration of their houses, glorified, immortalized, celestialized, fitted to dwell in the presence of God.
“I am sure if we can imagine ourselves at our very best, physically, mentally, spiritually, that is the way we will come back – perhaps not as a child or youth, perhaps in sweet and glorious maturity, but not in age or infirmity or distress or pains or aches.” – Spencer W. Kimball
Let us not fear death
Men fear death as if it were unquestionably the greatest evil; and yet, no man knows that it may not be the greatest good. It is impossible that anything so natural, so necessary, and so universal as death should ever have been designed by Providence as an evil to mankind.
We picture death as coming to destroy; let us rather picture Christ as coming to save. We think of death as an ending; let us rather think of death as a beginning, and that more abundantly. We think of losing; let us think of gaining.
We think of going away; let us think of arriving. No man who is fit to live need fear to die. Death is the golden key that opens the palace of eternity. As the voice of death whispers, “You must go from earth,” let us hear the voice of Christ saying…
Come unto Christ
Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter-day upon the earth.
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. “All that is, at all, lasts ever, past recall; Earth changes, but thy soul and God stand sure. What entered into thee, that was, and is and shall be.” – Robert Browning
Very little in this essay is original with me. It is a collection of thoughts, poems and scriptures that I will be using in delivering a funeral sermon this Monday. if you desire to know the source of any of the quotations used, please let me know. I am not plagiarizing, I just don’t usually mention my sources when delivering the address.
Picture: Christ at the Door, Artist, Del Parson
© 2002 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.