My brother was tragically killed one year ago. Although, he was born under the covenant and baptized at the age of 8, he was not taught the gospel standards as a child and lived in a home that did not have high regard for the Church. I have two questions: One active family member has commented that my brother is in a state of torture for not living the gospel standards. My brother was an amazing husband and father, a law-abiding citizen but lived a worldly life. How might I respond to this remark as the only other active member in my immediate family? I need help with damage control. I want the gospel to bring peace and comfort at this difficult time, not anger. Second how might I go about explaining the work done in the temple to his wife who has had multiple negative experiences with this LDS family member regarding the church. I feel it is especially difficult since my brother has already been baptized and cannot be sealed to her at this time because she is not a member. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
I feel that the family member who made those negative comments about your brother may be in more danger of living in a state of torture for his unchristian-like attitude, than would your brother for his inactivity. If your brother was born under the covenant, rich blessings are in store. Elder Boyd K. Packer, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in the April 1992 general conference, referred to a statement on this subject by the prophet Joseph Smith—
“The Prophet Joseph Smith declared–and he never taught a more comforting doctrine–that the eternal sealings of faithful parents and the divine promises made to them for valiant service in the Cause of Truth, would save not only themselves, but likewise their posterity. Though some of the sheep may wander, the eye of the Shepherd is upon them, and sooner or later they will feel the tentacles of Divine Providence reaching out after them and drawing them back to the fold. Either in this life or the life to come, they will return. They will have to pay their debt to justice; they will suffer for their sins; and may tread a thorny path; but if it leads them at last, like the penitent Prodigal, to a loving and forgiving fathers heart and home, the painful experience will not have been in vain. Pray for your careless and disobedient children; hold on to them with your faith. Hope on, trust on, till you see the salvation of God (Orson F. Whitney, in Conference Report, Apr. 1929, p. 110.)” (Elder Boyd K. Packer, Our Moral Environment, Ensign (CR), May 1992, p.66)
It may be interesting to note that the sealing of wife to husband in the temple is a conditional sealing, depending on the faithfulness of the marriage partners, but there are no conditions attached to the sealing of children to parents–and the word of the Lord us sure–it is never violated—
What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same (D&C 1:38).
So, knowing that the Lord, although just, is also kind, loving and forgiving, and that His very purpose is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man (Moses 1:39), I have confidence that your brother is fulfilling all that may be required of him for his eternal salvation in God’s celestial kingdom.
The thing is that life does not cease at death. There is much to be done in the spirit world to prepare all spirits for their final destination in one of the three degrees of glory prepared for them by the Father. From (1 Cor 15:40-44)—
40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.
41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.
42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:
43 It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:
44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
Concerning damage control in your family, there are two very powerful things that you can do to help remedy the situation–first, you can pray for them–The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much (James 5:16). The other powerful thing that you can do is to live the example of a worthy, Christian life. Show that you love the Lord, His church and kingdom. Your example is the most powerful sermon that you can preach. To try to convince other family members by argument is generally counter-productive, engendering protectionism and animosity. But if you act in an accepting, loving way toward your family members they will begin to want to copy the way you are. The gospel is effectively preached only when the Spirit is present– otherwise it is not understood or accepted. So the missionaries or the home teachers are the appropriate ones to present the principles of the gospel to others–not that we should not also take advantage of every opportunity to testify of the Savior and the restoration of the gospel. But this is done as moved upon by the Holy Spirit.
Concerning explaining the work of the temple to your brother’s wife, I would suggest that you defer delving into that explanation until after she becomes active or has returned to activity in the Church. Then, at the appropriate time you could accompany her to the temple, and all her problems would be solved. All things cannot be done in a day. So we wait and pray with faith, having full confidence in our Father in Heaven that He will hear our anxious prayer and do all that can be done for His righteous children.