You may have heard the word, “sealing,” in conjunction with the term eternal marriage. An eternal marriage is a special marriage performed in Mormon temples that is intended to last forever. The sealing power of the Holy Priesthood is the power by which this ordinance is performed. The sealing power applies to more than just the marriage—it applies to the entire family as well.
What is the sealing power? When Christ walked the earth, He gave His apostles the authority to act in His name. Mark 3:14-15 records the ordination of those apostles, and that He gave them “power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils.” But this was not all. To one apostle, Peter, He gave a further and greater power, which was described thus: “whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:19)
The power that Jesus Christ gave Peter is what Mormons call the sealing power. They believe that it was lost after the early apostles died, and was restored through Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, and through him, to the Church then and today. The sealing power seals marriages in heaven as well as on earth, and the ultimate purpose of an eternal marriage is an eternal family. Mormons believe that an eternal family, united and faithful together, is the family God wants us to enjoy. Families endure a temporary separation upon the death of a loved one, but they rejoice to know that they will be reunited after death.
But what about couples who were married first outside a Mormon temple? Is eternal marriage and the eternal family beyond them? Not at all. Although it’s encouraged to have the civil marriage and the sealing at the same time (because a marriage in a Mormon temple includes both), a sealing can be had after a civil marriage, even years after.
But couples are not to delay, not if they can avoid it. In Mormon belief, a sealing is one of the highest gifts and ordinances we can receive. Eternal marriage is very desirable and very sacred.
How does a sealing affect the entire family and not just the couple? If a husband and wife must be sealed together in the temple to be together forever, do the children need to be sealed to their parents in the temple also?
If the husband and wife were sealed together before their children were born, then the children are sealed to them at birth. This is called being “born in the covenant.” They partake of the divine promise that their parents made. If the husband and wife were sealed after the birth of their children, then the entire family can be sealed together in a special ceremony. Like all sealings, this also takes place in a Mormon temple.
Like an eternal marriage, an eternal family is not always easy to build. Faith, commitment, and effort are required. There will inevitably be problems. Children may struggle, or even rebel. But love and hope must never be withdrawn. For families to be together forever, they must be friends as well as blood relatives, and love each other’s company. It is the responsibility and privilege of all members to get to know their parents, children, and siblings with full earnestness of heart and a devotion beyond friendship.