I am going to attempt, here, to write out some connections between scriptures that somehow deal with the sealing ordinance in our temples.
The Book of Moses has so much information in it, buried in the story. Well, not exactly buried – it’s right on the surface – but we don’t realize what’s there! Here are some details I put together & the story they seem to tell-
Adam and Eve had kids, but most if not all did not listen and did not worship God:
12And Adam and Eve blessed the name of God, and they made all things known unto their sons and their daughters.
13And Satan came among them, saying: I am also a son of God; and he commanded them, saying: Believe it not; and they believed it not, and they loved Satan more than God. And men began from that time forth to be carnal, sensual, and devilish.
Then Eve bears Cain, and says:
16And Adam and Eve, his wife, ceased not to call upon God. And Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bare Cain, and said: I have gotten a man from the Lord; wherefore he may not reject his words.
It appears that Eve was very concerned that her sons were rejecting the words of the Lord and she was hopeful that Cain would not reject them. However:
But behold, Cain hearkened not, saying: Who is the Lord that I should know him? (verse 16)
After this, Eve bears Abel:
And Abel hearkened unto the voice of the Lord. (verse 17)
I can feel the sadness of Eve and Adam when I read these words:
27And Adam and his wife mourned before the Lord, because of Cain and his brethren.
Chapter 5 follows out Cain, Lamech, and those who follow after these secret plans. Chapter 6 opens with this new beginning:
1And Adam hearkened unto the voice of God, and called upon his sons to repent.
2And Adam knew his wife again, and she bare a son, and he called his name Seth. And Adam glorified the name of God; for he said: God hath appointed me another seed, instead of Abel, whom Cain slew.
3And God revealed himself unto Seth, and he rebelled not, but offered an acceptable sacrifice, like unto his brother Abel. And to him also was born a son, and he called his name Enos.
4And then began these men to call upon the name of the Lord, and the Lord blessed them;
I placed in bold things having to do with Abel and seed. Note that Abel was going to be some chosen seed, with some sort of promise. Often we just think of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph stories when we think of a “chosen seed.” But Adam here sees Seth as a new chance at a chosen seed.
Was it simply that every else was wicked, and here was a chance at a righteous seed? Or something different?
I think we can look at some other places in scripture to figure out a least a little about it:
D&C 107 discusses Adam, Abel, and a chosen seed:
40The order of this priesthood was confirmed to be handed down from father to son, and rightly belongs to the literal descendants of the chosen seed, to whom the promises were made.
41This order was instituted in the days of Adam, and came down by lineage in the following manner:
42From Adam to Seth, who was ordained by Adam at the age of sixty-nine years, and was blessed by him three years previous to his (Adam’s) death, and received the promise of God by his father, that his posterity should be the chosen of the Lord, and that they should be preserved unto the end of the earth;
So, it seems that Seth, replacing Abel, received a promise that his would be a “chosen seed.” What it means to be chosen is two things: one, the rights of the priesthood, and two, that their seed will last all the way from Adam to the end of the earth.
Therefore, when Abraham sees himself amid a wicked people, who should be preserving this line and this priesthood, he seeks the promise so that someone can take it up and preserve all this promise that was made at the beginning of the earth:
This is from the Book of Abraham:
2And, finding there was greater happiness and peace and rest for me, I sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same; having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess a greater knowledge, and to be a father of many nations, a prince of peace, and desiring to receive instructions, and to keep the commandments of God, I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers.
3It was conferred upon me from the fathers; it came down from the fathers, from the beginning of time, yea, even from the beginning, or before the foundation of the earth, down to the present time, even the right of the firstborn, or the first man, who is Adam, or first father, through the fathers unto me.
4I sought for mine appointment unto the Priesthood according to the appointment of God unto the fathers concerning the seed.
5My fathers, having turned from their righteousness, and from the holy commandments which the Lord their God had given unto them, unto the worshiping of the gods of the heathen, (Abraham 1)
Abraham is clearly talking about the same promise in D&C 107. He says he is seeking after the priesthood, and the promise concerning the seed. He wants to rise up as the next step or link in the chain that will stretch from Adam to the end of the earth.
Now, what does all of this have to do with the sealing performed in the temple?
Good question! I’m not at all sure. 🙂 But I know that we claim that among the things restored by Joseph Smith was the Abrahamic Covenant. And I know that we associate, at the least, the sealing ordinance with Abraham.
Abraham says he seeks after the blessings of the fathers, and the right to administer these blessings to others. Just to his seed, in a father-to-son line? One person from each generation? It doesn’t seem so:
8My name is Jehovah, and I know the end from the beginning; therefore my hand shall be over thee.
9And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee above measure, and make thy name great among all nations, and thou shalt be a blessing unto thy seed after thee, that in their hands they shall bear this ministry and Priesthood unto all nations;
10And I will bless them through thy name; for as many as receive this Gospel shall be called after thy name, and shall be accounted thy seed, and shall rise up and bless thee, as their father;
11And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee; and in thee (that is, in thy Priesthood) and in thy seed (that is, thy Priesthood), for I give unto thee a promise that this right shall continue in thee, and in thy seed after thee (that is to say, the literal seed, or the seed of the body) shall all the families of the earth be blessed, even with the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal. (Abraham 2)
The promise in these verses seems to be not that just one person per generation will receive blessings, but that by this seed, this line, all the families will be blessed. There will still be one chosen seed, but now this seed will be what gathers all the others into it: as if a skeleton, or a clothesline, or a tree trunk… something solid that forms and then reaches out or is sought out to include others. Like a trunk which then shoots forth branches and leaves. Or something.
Abraham does seek after the promise that his seed will be the chosen one, to be alive at the end of the earth. Many other lines will die out, but his will not. And, he receives the other aspect of the chosen line: the right to the priesthood. As D&C 107:40 put it, “The order of this priesthood was confirmed to be handed down from father to son, and rightly belongs to the literal descendants of the chosen seed, to whom the promises were made.” It rightly belongs to them, but others many share in it? This sounds like the office of a Bishop in D&C 107:15-16:
15The bishopric is the presidency of this priesthood, and holds the keys or authority of the same.
16No man has a legal right to this office, to hold the keys of this priesthood, except he be a literal descendant of Aaron.
The literal descendants of Aaron have a “right” to the Aaronic priesthood, and the literal descendants of the chosen line have a right to the Melchizedek priestood? So it seems, at least. But, the very role of this chosen line is to bless all the families of the earth with the blessings of the gospel. And, Abraham 2:9-11 also explain that any one who accepts this will be counted as Abraham’s seed. They then partake in all the blessings, as if they were part of the literal chosen seed?
And so, we end up now with a church that gathers up those who have accepted the gospel, and so are counted as Abraham’s seed. These can receive the priesthood, just as anyone in Abraham’s direct line. In addition, when there is no literal descendant of Aaron, these can all step in a perform the work of the lesser, Aaronic priesthood.
Okay, so what does this have to do with the sealing?
Again, good question! Still working it out.
What I want to say, but haven’t investigated it well enough yet, is that the sealing is a sealing into this chosen line. This means that when it is time for the world to end, we will have those in our “family” alive, and we will be resurrected to dwell with them. It becomes one big family of Adam.
The reason to seal kids to parents seems to me to be to seal them into this chosen line to receive all the blessings of the priesthood and the gospel.
The reason to seal husband and wife, however, seems to be a bit beyond this. It may be that in some sense, this is one way to administer the sealing blessing to others: when a couple given the sealing ordinance bring children into the world, they have administered the Abrahamic sealing-to-parent already. They are already of the lineage to receive the priesthood and the blessings of the gospel.
This of course goes for women too: the priesthood, I want to say, belongs first and foremost in the temple. The church is a temporary thing, which gives way (gives birth, in the book of Revelation!) to the kingdom. In the kingdom, in the temple, women are priestesses and queens, and this is a right that comes also through the loins of Abraham.
Thus the sealing is a way of receiving the promises of the fathers, concerning the seed and the promise of the priesthood. And the reason we seal up our families, alive and dead, is because we want to bring as many as will come to these promises. We want them there, because we love them and also because we have been charged, via Abraham 2:11, to take this to all the families of the earth. It is a responsibility, as the chosen seed, to do this. And why not start at home?
Being a sealed family does not mean (as we like to say here) “family home evening forever.” It means that we are covenant seed of Adam with a work to perform. Our children are sealed into Abraham’s family, through us. And as husbands and wives are sealed, they set up a bond that will last beyond the grave and into future worlds, to do the same work. Husbands and wives have a unique sort of unseparate-able-ness, I’ll call it, in that their work will be done together. But no where do I know of is it said that nuclear families will doing a work that can only be done together. These children go on to marry others, and those grandkids marry others, etc. We have two different sort of sealings going on (and indeed, they are two different ordinances in the temple, with different words) – there is a sealing of kids to parents – a reception of the Abrahamic Covenant as such. And there is sealing husband to wife, which I believe may very well be (at least the beginning!) of the right to administer this covenant to others.
Such are some thoughts, at the least.
Further thoughts, worked out on April 20, 2011:
And it is of course wrapped up in the sealing ordinance. But I have lots of questions.
I do think that it is important to note that the sealing ordinance is a part of the Abrahamic Covenant, and it is in the temple that we receive blessings of from our ancient patriarch. Both as children and as marriage spouses, we receive blessings of this covenant through the very sealing ordinance itself – but didn’t we already read that those who accept the gospel are counted as Abraham’s seed? So what do we make of this? Is it the sealing ordinance that “seals” the blessings already received – both by sealing to parent and sealing to spouse? (So if you are born in the covenant then you are “sealed” -made certain- into Abraham’s line?) Or what exactly do we make of this?
Hm. Perhaps that is one way to get started – accepting the gospel brings us to be counted as the seed of Abraham, but this is sealed beyond the grave by the ordinances in the temple. This would be interesting, considering all the talk of priesthood in D&C 84 – it is by receiving both priesthoods (think temple here) that we are renewed and become Abraham’s seed. Hm. That’s kind of backwards – you need to be counted Abraham’s seed to get the right to the priesthood, but then it’s by obtaining the two Priesthoods that you become the seed of Abraham!
Whoa okay, starting to put some pieces together. So, you join the church, become counted as his seed. Eventually you go to the temple. You receive a further, greater, sacred “intensities” of the priesthoods (I’ll call it, for lack of better words!) – and note the plural here – and after this, after you have been faithful to obtaining that! – then you are actually renewed and become Abraham’s seed. It is after the temple ordinances that you are actually a member of Abraham’s seed. Perhaps? I mean, otherwise, what do you do with the words of the sealing ordinances (which of course I will NOT quote here, but those of you that have heard them can begin to think about this) if you are already fulling receiving the Abrahamic Covenant? There has to be more to it, or why these ordinances? This is what is causing me to think about “sealing” as a sealing or confirming of a person’s part in Abraham’s family. It seals this upon them. It adds weight. It opens up rights and responsibilities. It could be this then that the Oath and Covenant mentioned in D&C 84 is pointing to – to the covenant made with Abraham. (I just wonder, since it says this is “according to” the Oath and Covenant, rather than this “is” the Oath and Covenant.)
Also, the language in D&C 84 of “wo unto all those who come not” because now you know about it, sounds to me a bit like the temple: you go into the endowment not knowing what you will promise, but you have already accepted the idea that you are okay with whatever comes. In D&C 132 we also get this pattern – I’m about to reveal a law, and once you know about it, you need to accept it. The language in D&C 84 is so strong that it seems odd, doesn’t it? But if we connect this with the temple, then I can see this better – wo unto you who now know about the endowment, but don’t receive this endowment and live up to it! And wo unto those of us who have received the endowment (and the priesthood rights associated with it) and “altogether turneth therefrom, shall not have forgiveness of sins in this world or in the world to come.” Now perhaps this heavy charge is actually placed on the young men receiving the priesthood to administer in the church, but that language points me straight to the temple. In fact, it points me straight to the ordinance higher than anything I know personally about, but believe is real – the ordinance of having one’s calling and election sure. It’s also called the second endowment or second anointing. Imagine that as the fullest level of receiving the priesthood – in there your sealing and everything is made sure, and it is after that that you cannot turn therefrom!
Well, much to think through. I’ve got to pick up a baby now, though 🙂