Tuesday, November 15, 2016

A Great Substitute

What did the pioneers use to stuff pillow cases and bedticks?
a.                  Pussy willows
b.                  Cattails
c.                   Straw
d.                  Apple blossoms
Yesterday’s answer:
c.   Members sealed themselves to General Authorities

Among other things, the completion of the Salt Lake Temple represented the Saints’ renewed determination to seek after the names of their dead ancestors and perform vicarious saving ordinances in their behalf. At the same time, the nature of the sealing ordinances was clarified by President Woodruff. Since the days of Joseph Smith, the Saints had performed vicarious baptisms in behalf of their dead loved ones. In addition, it was the custom for members to have themselves and their families sealed to prominent Church leaders under what was known as the law of adoption. By 1893 about thirteen thousand such adoptions in behalf of the dead had taken place. Members believed that by having themselves and their immediate progenitors adopted to prominent priesthood leaders, they would be assured in the next life of being attached to families holding the priesthood. The doctrine relating to missionary work in the spirit world had not yet been fully expounded. This would come during Joseph F. Smith’s administration.
By 1894 Church leaders had given the doctrine a great deal of reconsideration. In the April general conference President Woodruff announced that he had received a revelation on the subject, and this revelation ended adoption in favor of the more understandable practice of vicariously sealing family groups together. In announcing the new revelation, President Woodruff emphasized the importance of every man being adopted or sealed to his own father, and so on back, “not to Wilford Woodruff, nor to any man outside the lineage of his fathers. That is the will of God to this people.” If this should be done faithfully, he declared, the Saints would be doing “exactly what God had said when He declared He would send Elijah the prophet in the last days.”

   The results of the new revelation were impressive. Previously, little genealogical work had been done among the Saints and few sealing ordinances had been performed beyond two or three generations. Now President Woodruff told them to trace their genealogies as far as they could and perform the appropriate sealing’s “to run this chain through as far as you can get it.” The following month the Genealogical Society was formed under the Church’s sponsorship, providing powerful stimulus to genealogical world. . . .

This was President Woodruff’s discourse on the issue in 1894:  I want to lay before you what there is for us to do at this present time and in doing this I desire particularly the attention of President Lorenzo Snow, of the Salt Lake Temple; President M. W. Merrill, of the Logan Temple; President J. D. T. McAllister, of the Manti Temple; and President D. H. Cannon, of the St. George Temple, and those associated with them. You have acted up to all the light and knowledge that you have had; but you have now something more to do than what you have done. We have not fully carried out those principles in fulfillment of the revelations of God to us, in seeking the hearts of the fathers to the children and the children to the fathers. I have not felt satisfied, neither did President Taylor, neither has any man since the prophet Joseph who has attended to the ordinance of adoption in the temples of our God. We have felt that there was more to be revealed upon this subject than we have received. Revelations were given to us in the St. George Temple, which President Young presented to the Church of God. Changes were made there, and we still have more changes to make in order to satisfy our Heavenly Father, to satisfy our dead and ourselves. I will tell you what some of them are. I have prayed over this matter, and my brethren have. We have felt, as concerning sealing under the law of adoption. Well, what are these changes? One of them is the principle of adoption. In the commencement of adopting men and women in the Temple at Nauvoo, a great many persons were adopted to different men who were not of the lineage of their fathers, and there was a spirit manifested by some in the work that was not of God. Men would go out and electioneer and labor the with all their power to get men adopted to them. . . . Men are in danger sometimes in being adopted to others until they know who they are and what they will be. . . . When I went before the Lord to know who I should be adopted to (we were then being adopted to prophets and apostles), the Spirit of God said to me, “Have you not a father who begot you?” “Yes, I have.” “Then why not honor him? Why not be adopted to him?” “Yes,” says I, “that is right.” I was adopted to my father and should have had my father sealed to his father, and so on back; and the duty that I want every man who presides over a temple to see performed from this day henceforth and forever, unless the Lord Almighty commands otherwise, is , let every man be adopted to his father. When a man receives the endowment, adopt him to his father; not to Wilford Woodruff, nor to any other man outside the lineage of his fathers. That is the will of God to this people.

   Another principle connected with this subject I want to talk about. A man has married a woman, and they have a family of children. The man lays down in death without ever hearing the gospel. His wife afterwards hears the gospel and embraces it. She comes to the temple and she wants to be sealed to her husband, who was a good man. The feeling has been to deny this and to say, “No, he was not in the Church, and you cannot be sealed to your husband.” Many a woman’s heart has ached because of this, and as a servant of God, I have broken that chain a good while ago. I have laid before every woman this principle and let her have her choice. Why deprive a woman of being sealed to her husband because he never heard the gospel? What do any of us know with regard to him? Will he not hear the gospel and embrace it in the spirit world? The fathers of this people will embrace the gospel. It is my duty to honor my father who begot me in the flesh. It is your duty to do the same. When you do this, the spirit of God will be with you. . . . This is my prayer and the desire of my heart, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.


Lesson Committee, Chronicles of Courage (Salt Lake City: Utah Printing Company, 1995), 6:4-6

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