Theology of the family

Authored by: Rosalynde Welch

The Routledge Handbook of Mormonism and Gender

Print publication date:  May  2020
Online publication date:  April  2020

Print ISBN: 9780815395218
eBook ISBN: 9781351181600
Adobe ISBN:


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Latter-day Saint theology of the family is closely coupled with its soteriology. I argue that both are conditioned by the faith’s theological commitments to metaphysical materialism, universalism, and sacramentalism. Each of these parameters exists on a sliding scale of intensity, variable in response to historical, rhetorical, and cultural pressures, and these dynamic values in any given context determine the character of LDS teaching on family. Where the values are high, as in the Nauvoo-era temple rite, LDS kinship and soteriology assume a highly performative character, by which the power of the sealing rite acts directly to weave the very fabric of the cosmos. Where the values are low, as in present-day meetinghouse discourse, LDS discussion of family assumes a semantic character, in which human family formations must conform to divinely determined eternal ideals. The document The Family: A Proclamation to the World stages a negotiation between these performative and semantic theological modes, and the prevailing interpretation of this key document will determine the future course of LDS theology of the family.

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