We’re going to spin-off a single verse today, which should hopefully be fruitful and I think touches on important themes currently relevant in my life and always important for us to consider in our interactions with others. The verse is Doctrine & Covenants 130:2, coming from a section that describes a celestial state to some degree and I think therefore is highlighting some things that we should care about in the now. And without further ado, here it is:
“And that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy.”
This verse to me seems to suggest that our relationships are what matter most and those friendships and interactions that we have now, here, in mortality, will continue to exist once we die. That is interesting. It seems a natural extension of the privileging of familial and marital relationships that already happens in Mormonism, by putting the focus on these inter-personal interactions. It also to me is motivation to care for the friendships that I have here.
After all, as Joseph Smith taught:
“Friendship is one of the grand fundamental principles of ‘Mormonism.’ … It unites the human family with its happy influence.”
This focus on friendship seems linked to the Mormon focus on community and to how sealing practices were first introduced, which allowed for far more relationships being sealed than only marital ones (at least that’s my understanding, which I need to dig into a bit and also had some problematic elements relating to everyone wanting to be sealed to the prophet to be saved). I’m interested in how this belief in friendship and community (and current focus on marriage and family) played out in a pre-Earth life and will play out in our post-mortal existence.
Obviously, you could just say you don’t believe in either of those and bam, done. But, where’s the fun in that? This idea of the “same sociality” is fascinating. I’m not sure what exactly that entails. Nor do I know what real significance our bodies, physical frames, have, but I do know that their supposedly very important. I’ve talked elsewhere about how despite our insistence on the importance of bodies, it appears that you can be God (at least by being a member of the godhead) without one, which begs many many questions.
I’m struck by Joseph’s use of “friendship” as a “grand fundamental principle” since I don’t think that sort of rhetoric would be used today. Perhaps that’s partially due to different ideas of what friendship is and signifies for Joseph and us. It also seems to be a far cleaner principle to hold on to than marriage and family given our beliefs about spirit relationships (ie that we are all spirit brothers and sisters, whatever that means). What does this suggest about possible living arrangements before we came to Earth and in our post-mortal state?
On a spiritual level, we are all brothers and sisters, that is we all have horizontal relationships to one another AND are co-eternal spiritually with God (at least if we use the King Follett Discourse as our guide). I’m not quite sure if there’s “birth order” for spirits, if we could be arranged in age from oldest to youngest (some talk about Jesus as our “elder brother” would suggest so, but that could be something besides literal age), but still, we are all equal—not the same sort of hierarchical relationships that exist on Earth between children and parents, kids and adults, etc.
Though if Saturday’s Warrior is right, we were organized into families before coming here and have some sort of static spirit age that allows families to continue functioning more or less as they do here. (Though logistically I’m not quite sure how this works…like what age was I? Did I hang out with my brothers and sisters? Or was I an adult with my wife and kids? What about grandkids? Were we grandparents? Great-grandparents? Like, how does this work for the generations into the future that are all waiting around?) So, yeah. It’s a mess and I’m not sure how to really conceptualize that. Not to mention the fate/destiny/free will complications that are brought into play by such an approach. If families were pre-determined, how do we still have agency? Also, wouldn’t that mean that not only is there a certain individual (or individuals) that everyone is meant to marry, but that there is a specific number of children that they are meant to have?
It seems far more likely to me that such relationships were not our mode of existing. We probably just all hung out. Maybe we made really great friends and those are the people that you seem to almost instantly connect with here. That “tastes good” to me and makes a certain amount of sense and fits into my personal experience.
But what does that leave us for our post-mortal living? We believe very very very firmly in the eternity of families and the sealing power. But what does that mean on a logistical or pragmatic level? How is God going to keep people apart in the afterlife? Also, why? Perhaps it’s less a physical separation and more that a “sealing” is the legally-binding marriage for the Celestial Government that we’ll be living under. Like, people will still be together, but only some will have Heaven-approved relationships? There’s a lot to unpack and work through there (like, why would that matter? What’s the benefit of that? Lower Heaven taxes? You get more Virtue points that you can spend on celestial sex or planet creation? You get to keep your genitals? You get keys to your celestial chastity belts?).
I’ve often wondered (since I was like 10 or younger maybe) what our “families” are in the Celestial Kingdom. When I’ve asked or others have asked this question the response is usually that “family” equals “heterosexual, married couple”. This seems to be the only really sustainable way to maintain a belief in eternal family units. Otherwise we’d almost all end up in the same house. Do I hang with my parents? Are they with their parents? My grandparents with their parents? Etc. etc. etc.? It quickly becomes very crowded. Do we get to choose? Also, how does all of this fit into all of us making our own worlds and filling them with people that worship us as Gods and Goddesses? And like, we’re meant to live with our God, so is God living with His/Her/Their God? When our people make it back (assuming that some do), do they live with us, living with our God? Or do we split off entirely once we’ve got our own planets or whatever coming back to us? What about reverting back to what I’ve suggested seems most likely to me for how pre-earth living existed? Like, suddenly these “families” we’ve created are less about “family” and more a close-knit group of friends? What if the only thing that matters is friendship? Friendships are eternal and really close groups of friends become families? Forget about sex, we have new ways to create (I know lots of people would be upset about that, but I’m indifferent for obvious reasons…).
Maybe these questions don’t matter. But I think the answers that we come to reflect our values and priorities. And that we live differently depending on how we respond. If families and friendships are eternal then we should strive to maintain them and do the best we can to have great ones. If they end to some degree once we die, then why bother? And it seems to me that our understanding of God and God’s priorities is reflected in how we conceptualize these things, which if eternal life is to know God, then it’s a pretty big deal to figure some of this out (at least incidentally). I’d love to hear people’s thoughts on anything I’ve thrown out here—further questions, identifying or rejecting or challenging my assumptions, alternative solutions, other problems I didn’t identify, etc. I’d love to chat, so hit me up.