It is hard to get people in the church to give a straightforward answer to the question "What is the significance of gaining a body"?
Consequently, many members of the church also don't understand what the resurrection is all about. If you don't understand why having a body matters, then you don't understand why being resurrected matters. Since Easter is when we celebrate the resurrection, I am writing a bit about bodies and resurrection.
After all, we are reunited with our beloved dead friends and family in the spirit world, so why not just stop there, call it heaven, and be done?
The answer can be found in a simple observation for those with children. Those with parents can determine how the observation is relevant to themselves. :)
Consider one of your children. Let us say it is a son. Now here is the question: How did your son become your son? Could he have become your son if you didn't have a body? Or if your spouse didn't have a body? What joy do you have that would vanish if you had never had a body?
The point is that the gift of a body IS the gift of family. Family and body are synonymous. When you are born, you gain a body and by gaining that body you become part of a family. Those two things are inseparable. Birth is the process of gaining a father and a mother. Birth is the process of creating family, and creating family is accomplished by endowing a spirit with a body.
The gift of a body is the gift of family in a greater sense too. It is not only the gift to become part of a family, to become a child with parents, it is simultaneously the potential to one day create a family of your own. Our body makes us part of a family, and also makes it so that we can create a family.
The gift of a body is the gift to create a garden with your spouse that will grow up and continue to bring forth after its own kind. It is literally a gift that keeps on giving. We are given a body by birth, and in that gift we receive a family of our own that we are a child in. But that gift, if we subject it to the will of the Father, in turn then can bring forth a family of our own that is sealed to be ours not just in mortality, but in eternity.
We are commanded to multiply and replenish the earth. This is a commandment that we should shout for joy about like those at the grand counsel in Heaven. For in that commandment we not only show the required gratitude for our gift by bringing other children of Heavenly Father into a home with the gospel, and inviting them to share with us in our gift of family by becoming part of it, but it also brings later gifts: grandchildren, great, grandchildren, and descendants continuing on in perpetuity. It becomes like a well springing up unto eternal life. It develops into the gift of posterity like the sands of the sea and like the stars of heaven.
When we read the story of the resurrection of Christ as a story about a body in the abstract we are completely missing the point. The resurrection is a story about family. If the resurrection had happened but nobody was sealed eternally in the resurrection then the whole earth would have a been a big waste.
Scriptures says as much - the earth would be wasted at his coming if the families are not sealed to be families not only for time, but also in the resurrection. And why is it that it would be wasted at his coming? Because his coming IS the resurrection of the just. If everyone was resurrected but they weren't sealed into permanent families then the resurrection, as well as the earth itself, would have been wasted.
When Christ comes all the holy angels come with him. The dead will rise from the graves. But if they all rise singly and separately then the whole earth would have been wasted. The story of the resurrection is a story about creating eternal bodies for the purpose of creating eternal families. If you get your body back but you're not going to be part of a family, than you are missing out on the reason you ever wanted a body in the first place.
Put differently - a resurrection without eternal sealings that persist in the resurrection is a tragic waste. The resurrection is about families because bodies are about families. Bodies are how families got to be relatives in the first place.
I am not talking of those who are worthy and simply never had the chance to be sealed. There will be nothing that is a waste in their cases, because they will receive every blessing they missed out on through no fault of their own. That is no waste. To miss exaltation is a waste.
I have a son. How did he become my son? Through his body. My body and my spouse's body became one flesh and in obeying that commandment a new thing was created. We gained a child who is now our son.
And to really understand the gift of the body and the gift of the resurrection you have to ask yourself "What would I give so that my son would still be my son in the resurrection?"
Because if you or I prove unworthy of our temple sealing covenant then, in fact, our worthy children will no longer be our children in the resurrection. In the resurrection they will be another person's child. This will not just be a formal adoption. This will be as real in the resurrection as birth in mortality made them our child in mortality. Those worthy of the celestial kingdom will not be left fatherless and motherless. If we are not worthy then in the resurrection our will children be given a different father and mother (one might guess a worthy ancestor), and as surely as our body tied them to us here, that father and mother's body will be tied to them there. And ours will not be. We will no longer be their parent. We will no longer be a husband or a wife. Those experiences will be lost to us.
I expect we will still have parents in the resurrection no matter which kingdom we are resurrected into. Not just Heavenly Father and Mother as parents, but parents of our body. We will still have parents in the resurrection no matter what. After all, that is the gift of a body, to become part of a family. And all who kept their first estate gain a body, and consequently all who kept their first estate will still belong to a family. But in the resurrection we may find ourselves the telestial or terrestrial child of celestial parents, which is much like the relationship we have here on earth with our Heavenly Father. Here on earth we are telestial, and he is celestial, but his is still our parent and we love that truth.
But there can be no parents in the resurrection who are not celestial exalted beings, because according to D&C 132 there will be no marriages in the resurrection that are not sealed for eternity and if you come up in the resurrection sealed for eternity then you WILL received all that the father hath. Anyone who is not exalted will remain "singly and separately forever". The only parents in the resurrection will be those who are exalted, and they will keep all their children,... though all their children may not also be celestial as well. This is no different that with Heavenly Father. He has many children. They will not all become celestial exalted beings. But they are still his children.
Birth is about family. And resurrection is about family. Resurrection that is not about family would be a waste. In fact, if no families are tied together in the resurrection, then the whole earth will be wasted at his coming. Or put differently, if no families are tied together in the resurrection then the whole earth will be wasted at the first resurrection, because that is the whole point of this earth and of the resurrection in the first place.
It is worth pointing out how rebellion has related to losing the reward of family in other cases.
Joseph Smith taught "The devil has no body and therein lies his punishment."
The devil’s punishment is to never become part of a family, and to never have the potential to create his own family. He can never be a son, he will never be a father. He will never understand the joy of wife or children. That is his great punishment.
And because of that he seeks to destroy the families of the earth, both in mortality and for eternity. Satan is the nemesis of family. Chastity is the protector of the family. Consequently Satan and chastity stand as eternal enemies against each other.
So maybe I will close with this note. Keeping our first estate allows us to gain a body and become part of a family and the resurrection makes it so that all who kept their first estate will still get their body and become part of some family for eternity. But keeping our second estate not only allows us to be part of a family, to be a child with parents, it also allows us to be married, to be parents, and to have our own families as an eternal couple out onward forever.
When we remember the resurrection of Christ. I hope we can also have the common sense to recognize that he was sealed to a woman. The resurrection is about family, and while many who did not have a chance to have a good marriage here will have the opportunity hereafter, we should have the sense to figure out who Christ could have gone to see even before ascending to his Father in Heaven.