Several years ago, I came across a quote by Parley P. Pratt. Pratt was a great missionary and leader in the early days of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His miraculous story of finding the Book of Mormon and his thirst for it’s contents is amazing in it’s own right. But, what fascinates me most is the way he described the way it felt to first learn about the ability to be married and sealed with his spouse, children, and parents throughout the eternities.
“In Philadelphia I had the happiness of once more meeting with President Smith, and of spending several days with him and others, and with the Saints in that city and vicinity.
“During these interviews he taught me many great and glorious principles concerning God and the heavenly order of eternity. It was at this time that I received from him the first idea of eternal family organization, and the eternal union of the sexes in those inexpressibly endearing relationships which none but the highly intellectual, the refined and pure in heart, know how to prize, and which are at the very foundation of everything worthy to be called happiness.
“Till then I had learned to esteem kindred affections and sympathies as appertaining solely to this transitory state, as something from which the heart must be entirely weaned, in order to be fitted for its heavenly state.
“It was Joseph Smith who taught me how to prize the endearing relationships of father and mother, husband and wife; of brother and sister, son and daughter.
“It was from him that I learned that the wife of my bosom might be secured to me for time and all eternity; and that the refined sympathies and affections which endeared us to each other emanated from the fountain of divine eternal love. It was from him that I learned that we might cultivate these affections, and grow and increase in the same to all eternity; while the result of our endless union would be an offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven, or the sands of the sea shore.
“It was from him that I learned the true dignity and destiny of a son of God, clothed with an eternal priesthood, as the patriarch and sovereign of his countless offspring. It was from him that I learned that the highest dignity of womanhood was, to stand as a queen and priestess to her husband, and to reign for ever and ever as the queen mother of her numerous and still increasing offspring.
“I had loved before, but I knew not why. But now I loved—with a pureness an intensity of elevated, exalted feeling, which would lift my soul from the transitory things of this grovelling sphere and expand it as the ocean. I felt that God was my heavenly Father indeed; that Jesus was my brother, and that the wife of my bosom was an immortal, eternal companion; a kind ministering angel, given to me as a comfort, and a crown of glory for ever and ever. In short, I could now love with the spirit and with the understanding also.” (The Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt)
I love to read the excitement of epiphany in his words! Reading his enthusiasm of such profound doctrine ringing true to his soul makes me excited about my own family, and how it can be linked together through generations and generations. This knowledge didn’t come to him through a study on his own, but by a divinely inspired prophet! So many people have passed harsh judgement on Joseph Smith as being this or that. But, only a prophet of God could have revealed such a truth!
I was born into this faith. I have never known life without the knowledge of an eternal family. It is something I have taken for granted. Now that my small family has moved away from where all my family’s roots are in Alabama, I miss that land and those people so very much. I think about the legacies of faith, of hard work, and of self-sufficiency they have left us. How thankful I am to Joseph Smith’s inspiration that allows me to be connected to them through an eternal chain of family. How thankful I am that God has provided us with temples where we may go and ensure those bonds are sealed on earth and in heaven!
Joshua B. Pettus
Your Friendly Mormon Neighbor