Why do we need to be sealed to our family? I understand why we need to be sealed to our spouse. But why is it necessary to be sealed to our siblings or parents? If we all make it to the same kingdom of glory won’t we be able to visit them? Why is the sealing necessary? When our children grow up they will be adults in heaven and have their own spouse. Couldn’t we visit them even if we weren’t sealed to them. Guess I just don’t know why it’s necessary
While we affirm in the Church that “families can be together forever”, we often forget precisely how this process works or what, specifically, it means. For example: We assume that siblings are sealed to each other when, in fact they aren’t. It is the link between man and wife, and between parents and children, that temple sealings formalize. This is because temple sealings are rooted in the concept of the patriarchal order. The Encyclopedia of Mormonism has an excellent entry on the topic, an excerpt of which reads as follows:
Three principles underlie the patriarchal order. First, the primal parents of the race were in their paradisiacal state in Eden united in eternal bonds before death entered their lives. Second, the fall of man and the continual source of degeneration in this world have resulted in the estrangement of parents from God, from each other, and from their children. Third, the healing of this broken harmony is the essence of eternal life, as is the perpetuation of powers of creation and procreation-eternal increase.
The patriarchal order is, in the words of Elder James E. Talmage, a condition where “woman shares with man the blessings of the Priesthood,” where husband and wife minister, “seeing and understanding alike, and cooperating to the full in the government of their family kingdom” (Young Woman’s Journal 25 [Oct. 1914]:602-603). A man cannot hold this priesthood without a wife, and a woman cannot share the blessings of this priesthood without a husband, sealed in the temple.
While the union of children to the same parents cannot help but strengthen their ties to each other, the patriarchal order–and the temple sealing–is primarily about welding past, present and future generations to each other. There are many, many ways that this link affects us. I will give two examples:
First, Doctrine and Covenants 132:19 tells us that we may “inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths”. To inherit a throne, one needs to have a legitimate place in the line of royal succession. That’s a big part of what the patriarchal order does; and it’s why–when the ordinance of sealing a parent to a child was introduced–it was originally called adoption. This divinely instituted ordinance gives each of us rightful chain of biological or adopted ancestors through which we may claim a legacy of covenants and righteousness that stretches back to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; and from them back to Adam.
A second application of these “welding links”, as Joseph Smith called them, has to do with our progeny–our “dominions”, if you will. Our temple sealings define, and formally bind us to, the group of people to whom we have a special responsibility to bless through our own lives. These are the people who, we hope, will throughout all eternity look back with respect and gratitude for the legacy of righteous traditions, correct teachings, and overall good living that we hope to have provided to them. As Elder Orson F. Whitney taught (attributing the concept to Joseph Smith):
[T]he 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 father’s 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, 110).
Elder David Bednar has been quick to explain, in his recent article “Faithful Parents and Wayward Children” in the March 2014 Ensign, that this does not provide an unconditional promise of salvation or exaltation to otherwise disobedient children. But he agrees that:
. . . parents who honor temple covenants are in a position to exert great spiritual influence over time on their children. Faithful members of the Church can find comfort in knowing that they can lay claim to the promises of divine guidance and power, through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost and the privileges of the priesthood, in their efforts to help family members receive the blessings of salvation and exaltation.
So, to answer your question: We are not sealed to our siblings at all; and we are not sealed to our parents or our children merely as a guarantee of physical proximity so that we can all “be together”. The sealing entails something much, much bigger.