A few months ago, I enjoyed being in a Question and Answer session with Elder Anderson of the Presidency of the Seventy, as our stake was split, This weekend he has returned as we are being moved from our stake into another Stake, which is also splitting. Having anticipated this meeting for some time, I began compiling a list of questions Iâ€™d ask him, some about things like the second anointing, others about theodicies, others still about the atonement and pre-mortal life, but this morning, I felt a strong prompting to ask my wife what to ask, and she laid out her concern, which I am sure our sisters over at Zelophehadâ€™s Daughters could empathize with. So feeling prompted by the Spirit, I asked Elder Anderson tonight in the Stake General Priesthood meeting:
Elder Anderson, you mentioned the recent publicity weâ€™ve been receiving, and the response to that. One thing we had not anticipated was the response from the members of the church. In the Temple, we know that a man who is sealed to his wife, can be sealed to another woman after his wife has past on. How do we assure our wives that they are not inferior and are loved equally by their Father in Heaven?
I did my best to write down his response:
We donâ€™t know totally, and we may never know.
(At this point, he turned the time over to an Area Authority Seventy, as is his custom, to address me. The Area Authority ventured an opinion about the number of righteous men and women, but was very humbly rebuked by Elder Anderson, gently telling him to say it was his opinion and not doctrine, at which point the Area Authority fell back to â€œWe donâ€™t knowâ€. I should mention that the Area Authority was a very likeable man, and I was impressed by Elder Anderson’s gentleway of softly correcting him. I also like dthe Area Authority because he encouraged reading with our children and emphasized that just reading the scriptures didn’t count, saying we needed to be more well rounded than that. Anyway, I digress. Elder Anderson then continued)
I honestly donâ€™t know. In my late teens I was at a conference, surrounded by African Americans asking me questions about the priesthood. I gave an answer then the best I could. Frankly, looking back, I am embarrassed by it. (I think he was trying to imply he did not want to venture another opinion as such) We have three Apostles who are currently sealed to more than one woman. Will the Lord continue this practice, we donâ€™t know. We have to go forward with Faith. There is a scripture, which reads, â€œEven as the Heavens are higher than the Earth, Godâ€™s ways are higher than our ways.â€ I donâ€™t know. I trust the First Presidency and that God is directing the Church. (At this point, a man in the congregation raised his hand, to which Elder Anderson joking said, oh you know? And the man said he did not, but having a wife and four daughters, a scripture that has always brought comfort to him was in the New Testament, reminding us we do not know what Heaven is going to be like, nor do we understand it. Another man ventured forth that I should just tell my wife I love her and the Lord will give us what is best. Yet another man from the congregation said he was sealed to two women, and needs to constantly assure his second wife that he loves her and is sealed to her for eternity. Then Elder Anderson reclaimed control of the meeting.)
The Lord loves us, he loves us more than we can explain. It reminds me of President Hinckley being interviewed in Australia. A reporter asked him about the Lorenzo Snow Couplet. And President Hinckley responded, â€œThatâ€™s a nice coupletâ€ â€¦ Letâ€™s not simplify our eternal existence too much. We donâ€™t know everything. We know that life continues after death. (He listed several things we know, but I was unable to keep up and write them all down.) We know the power of the ordinances. We must keep our minds centered on those things that we do know.
And then Elder Anderson closed the meeting. Afterwards, a man approached me and told me the Church Handbook of Instructions for the Temple says if a woman is passed away and had multiple husbands, she is sealed to all of them. Another man came up and said his wife had been asking the same thing, and thanked me for having the courage to ask. I went and thanked Elder Anderson for his time, and he asked my name and smiled. My Father in Law joked that heâ€™d send the Danites after me.
The music was wonderful and it was a good meeting. I felt like I did what the spirit had asked me to do.
Then we went to Quiznos for dinner.