Until Death Do Us Part…Not
“—At death the eternal spirit merely steps out of the mortal tabernacle and enters a world of waiting spirits to await the day of resurrection. The spirit, which lived before in pre-existence, lives on after death. In this sense, there is no death and there are no dead. Our departed fellow mortals only seem dead unto us because they have gone in to another realm of existence where we can no longer see and associate with them.” Bruce R. McConkie “Mormon Doctrine”
Another timely subject. I attended a funeral last Friday. The son of my former employers accidentally mixed incompatible drugs and suffered cardiac arrest. It was a truly sad occasion because he was young and it was an accident, but the funeral was uplifting, inspiring, and full of love.
This young man came from a good family, not unlike many of your families: siblings loved each other and supported one another, and the parents were kind, stable, and loved their kids unconditionally. So the general theme of the day was: “David, we love you, and we will be with you again.”
LDS doctrine says that we were created in spirit form by our Heavenly Father long before we came to this earth. We all lived together in the presence of God: everyone who has ever lived, everyone living now, and everyone who has yet to come. A plan was set forth whereby we would have the opportunity to gain a physical body, like God’s, and to be tested. Without getting too into it, we accepted the plan to follow our brother, Jesus Christ, as he would also come down and gain a body and be an example for us as to what we need to do to return to Heavenly Father.
We should try and emulate Christ’s life, and we will also emulate the pattern of his death. We, too, will die as he did which means that our spirits (the essential part of us that makes us US) will separate from our bodies (which were made by our parents) and will go dwell in a temporary realm (the spirit world) until the time bodies and our spirits are again united (resurrection). The New Testament documents Christ’s death and resurrection (the Gospels document this as part of the story of Christ’s life and then allude to it throughout the epistles), and the Book of Mormon gives us a little more insight into the specifics of resurrection and its purpose (Alma and Amulek talk with Zeezrom in Alma chapter 11, and Alma’s father/son talk with Corianton in Alma chapters 39-42).
Mormon doctrine also tells us that the temporary place, called the spirit world, is not up in the sky, it is not down below, it is here all around us; a thought that makes me feel slightly claustrophobic. There are “good” and “bad” spirits around us pretty much all the time. We are taught that the spirits who followed Satan’s plan, the ones who will never receive bodies because they forfeited the right when they chose to be disobedient, they are here, too. I’m sure that most of you have had an experience where you felt an “evil” presence that frightened or terrified you. On the flip side, I’ll wager that most of you have also felt comforted by what you perceived as the presence of a loved one in a time of need. This is evidence of life beyond death.
The fact that we can feel a spiritual presence, the Holy Ghost, lays wide open the possibility of other spiritual beings being able to communicate with us spiritually. Some peoples (the tribe of Manasseh, for example) have innate spiritual gifts that make them sensitive to things of a spiritual nature. Have you ever wondered why peoples of the tribe of Manasseh always seem to claim to see saints and visions and other seemingly extraordinary things? Just a thought…
I think this post warrants a testimony. I believe that it’s true, that we lived before this life, and we will live again after this life. I believe it’s true because during times when I have grieved for a loved one who has passed on, I have felt a comfort beyond that which I could myself produce that assured me that my loved one was “alive”; an assurance that I would see that person again. These feelings come through the influence of the Holy Ghost, and when the Holy Ghost testifies, I know it comes from God.
We are taught that if we are faithful to the commandments and to the covenants we make to God in the temple, we can be with our families and our loved ones forever…not until “death do us part.” If this isn’t the greatest motivation to be faithful and true, I don’t know what is…besides maybe pure love of God. But until I get to that point…I’ll do it for my family.