Many years ago I became acquainted with the dark side of genealogy, and one member’s journey to rescue his family. I met a man who joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as an adult, who now wanted to do the temple work for his ancestors. He’d been experiencing those promptings to seek out his kindred dead and do his family history. He came to us for professional help and answers about his family tree.
Prior to his conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ, this brother had been raised in a very abusive home. His father had been a highly successful businessman, starting a brewery producing a popular alcohol beverage. This new member had inherited the family business following his father’s death and was in his own right a successful businessman; but when he was converted to the Church, he sold his company, and moved into a field that didn’t conflict with his new religious values. That was when the spiritual promptings about doing his family history began. We discussed his priorities and goals, and he decided to pursue his mother’s lineage. I was able to help him, and we had great success in uncovering his maternal ancestors and their families.
But the promptings continued. He said a sense of need to do more would press on his feelings and dreams, and keep him awake at night. Considering the success we’d had on his mother’s family history, I suggested that we might want to research his father’s ancestry for temple work. His opposition to this idea surprised me. After much discussion, he finally opened up and told me about the terrible physical and emotional abuse he suffered at the hands of his father. He couldn’t pursue his father’s roots, because, just the thought of his father, produced such feelings of loathing… and hatred. We continued with his mother’s genealogy; but the promptings didn’t stop.
Breaking Through the Self-imposed Brick Wall
Finally, I spoke with him in-depth, about his father’s family. This brother had never known his grandfather, who had died early in his life, and because of his father’s behavior, he knew nothing about that lineage. But, his grandmother was remembered with great fondness. She had been the loving influence and protector in his father’s home. She had been the rock in a terrible stormy environment.
I suggested that his promptings may have come through the heavenly veil from her. He was the only person in his family to have joined the Church; maybe she was turning to him, her grandson, as her source of Priesthood authority, to obtain baptism, and the ordinances she needed for eternal life. In this regard we reviewed Section 2 of the Doctrine and Covenants:
“Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the Prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he shall plant in the hearts of the children, the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. If it were not so the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming.”
Still it was difficult for this Brother to get around his negative feelings about his father; so we discussed Doctrine and Covenants, Section 64: 9-10:
“Wherefore I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin.
I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.”
This brother realized that in order to provide the saving ordinances of the gospel for his cherished grandmother, he would have to forgive the dark side of his genealogy in order to rescue the loved ones who were depending on him for their eternal blessings.
For this brother to make this mighty change, it required kneeling before the Lord and asking forgiveness, both for himself, and for those whom he needed to forgive. Then the genealogy research proceeded through his self-imposed brick wall, and was followed by eternal temple ordinances; and the deep sense of need was replaced by an overwhelming joy.
Becoming Saviors on Mt. Zion
How many of us have experienced such feelings of fear, resentment, or even hatred for people in our past; our forefathers and their families who need our assistance in order to receive our Heavenly Father’s blessings and return to live with him? How many of us have this kind of genealogy brick wall?
Family history is often littered with the souls and spirits of ancestors who fell short in life. Some had moral indiscretions, and others committed thefts, violence, and even caused death in their efforts to survive mortality. Some ancestors became great leaders among the people of their time, often succumbing to the temptations that come with such power and prestige. We are reminded of this in the scriptural stories of King Saul and King David, who gave into temptation; or Alma the Younger, who murdered men’s’ souls, and then repented, and spent a lifetime seeking to recover the souls of the people he had endangered.
We can do likewise and rescue the dark side of our genealogy when we repent and forgive our family members and ourselves, and then reach out to them through family history work. We can stand as Saviors with our Lord on Mount Zion, to assist Him in accomplishing his eternal purposes as we overcome this genealogy brick wall by repenting, forgiving and turning our hearts to our fathers.
All men will stand before God to be judged. All of them will be offered the gospel of Jesus Christ, to accept or reject, and an eternity of repentance may follow; but first we must forgive and then provide the saving ordinances of the priesthood of God for our family. This is how we turn our hearts to our fathers. And as we do so, the dark side of our genealogy will be rescued and replaced with the Eternal Light of our Heavenly Father’s promises.
James W. Petty, AG, CG is the Board-Certified and Accredited Professional Genealogist, “Climbing the Family Tree Professionally Since 1969”. He is President of HEIRLINES Family History & Genealogy, Inc., the “Salt Lake City, Utah BBB Accredited Business” trusted professional genealogy research services firm, providing genealogical and historical research for a world-wide clientele.
For Heirlines-Quality professional genealogy services, resources, and products including free genealogy, LDS Family History advice and expert answers to commonly asked ancestry questions, visit Jim’s website for free consultations and ordering custom family tree research services, and his genealogy blog www.ProfessionalGenealogy.com.