Editor’s Note: This is the sixth article in Richard Eyre’s 12-part series on The Parental God. The earlier 5 articles can be found HERE.
Motives and Intent
I thought, as we near the midpoint of this series that it would be timely for me to explain what my motives and intent are in these articles. The title of the series is The Parental God, but it is really about us as children of a Parental God, and about how our knowledge of this relationship can and should impact who we are and who we are trying to become as husbands and wives, as sisters and brothers, and as people.
I received an emailed comment yesterday that captured this intent better than I could say it myself:
“I have noticed that reading your articles has created in my mind a much more tender and appreciative attitude toward my own wife. I have looked at her in a new way. I hope this will last.. I don’t know about anyone else, but your series has moved me closer to Christ and closer to my wife, both of which are highly positive outcomes and for which I thank you.”
And that is the point. What we believe about our Heavenly Parents should influence our hearts and our actions. It should change how we think and how we live.
One of the most glorious and wonderful implications of the Restored Gospel is that we understand that we can work toward the audacious goal of “becoming more like God.” It is an eternal goal and it contemplates an ultimate exaltation that is beyond salvation and that allows us to live with God and Christ in their Celestial Kingdom.
It is what we know about God that allows us to try to become more like Him, so we treasure Apostolic statements like that of President Oaks which was mentioned earlier in this series, “Our theology begins with Heavenly Parents. Our highest aspiration is to be like them.”
Knowing and Following
In order to aspire to be like them, we need to seek to know all we can about them. But a caution: While there is nothing wrong with wanting to know more about our Heavenly Parents, there is something wrong with suggesting that we know more than we do or with shifting our worship-focus away from our Heavenly Father who we pray to or from Christ who is our Savior and Mediator.
And even as we seek more insight and personal revelation about God, the fact is that we do know enough to sincerely try to model our lives and our relationships after our Heavenly Parents. In fact, just deeply believing that they are the literal parents of our Spirits begins to wrought enormous change in our souls.
Let me illustrate that by relating an experience from last week. Linda and I were with a marvelous group of relatively young 30 or 40-something aged Latter-day-Saints and we were discussing how very different it is to contemplate a Parental God instead of a Sovereign and Kingly God (although our Heavenly Father certainly is both.) We asked the group to try to put themselves into the mind of persons of any faith, anywhere in the world, who have always thought of God as a distant, powerful creator—and then to try to imagine what would happen to their souls if they found and embraced the concept of personal and literal Heavenly Parents. What, we asked, might change within them? What would that new paradigm of belief bring about in their hearts and minds? Here are the answers the group came up with:
- They would feel a much greater sense of self-worth, viewing themselves as actual children of God.
- They would become more tolerant and loving of their fellow men—now viewed as literal brothers and sisters—thus becoming more likely to forgive others and to love them.
- They would feel the unconditional love of that Parental God.
- They would better understand forgiveness and feel less guilt.
- It would seem natural to them that there was a pre-mortal life where they lived with those Heavenly Parents.
- And it would make logical sense that this Parental God has a Plan for our Happiness.
- And the concept of an equalizing post-life Spirit World would seem natural—where all would have the opportunities they may have missed in this world.
- Any prejudice or bigotry or xenophobia or racial or gender bias would flee in light of our universal siblinghood.
- They would become more spiritually curious and seek more knowledge about the Parental God and His will for us.
- Something in them would desire to follow the divine example of marriage and oneness.
- They would more willingly accept the sacrifice and responsibility of having and raising children—seeing it as a God-like privilege.
- They would pray in a more personal and intimate way and have greater hope in like-kind answers and blessings.
- They would feel closer to Christ not only as their Savior but as their Spiritual Elder Brother.
- They would feel a deeper and more familial form of gratitude to and for their Parents.
- They would begin to view commandments as loving council from a wise Father.
- They would feel that they were participating in God’s stated goal for each of us in this “life eternal” –to “know Thee the only true God and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.”
- They would better understand the Parental God’s goal for us, that “men are that they might have joy” and begin to understand how this world of agency and opposition factors into that joy.
And the list goes on. All of us concluded after that discussion that the blessings of knowing that we have and worship a Parental God are overwhelming—and that we should all try to be more aware of those insights and more grateful for them.
Why I Believe
Many years ago, I was among a handful of Church members asked to contribute a chapter to a book called “Why I Believe.” I pondered the implications of that question. Why did I believe? Why was I “all in” with the Church? Why did my faith always seem to win out over my doubts?
There were many answers of course, including answers to prayers and my deep love and feeling for Christ, but I decided that the core answer was, for me, that the Restored Gospel was a family theology that connected me to Heavenly Parents and to Christ and to their answers to my prayers. This gave me an eternal model to try to emulate in my character and my relationships. It taught me who I was and where I came from and where I could go, and who I could go there with. And all of those answers were about family—about God’s family of which I was a part.
The Parental God is the beginning and the core of that family theology and the illuminator and revealer of God’s eternal plan for our happiness.
In the 7 remaining articles in this series, we will try to look more closely at the ways that our testimonies of the Parental God—of our Heavenly Parents—can impact and improve our lives, our character, our marriages, our parenting, and our faith and joy.
Thank you for reading this brief clarifying article, and please feel free to share your inputs and thoughts and questions directly with me by going to https://valuesparenting.com/contact-eyres/. You can also hear further discussion of this subject on our Podcast “Eyres on the Road” which is available on your favorite podcast app or at https://byuradio.org/eyresontheroad.
And please come back next week for article 7.
Richard Eyre is the New York #1 Bestselling Author of more than 50 books, a dozen of which are on parenting and marriage. He believes that the ultimate parenting and marriage example is God