As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe that “marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children,” (The Family: A Proclamation to the World). In others words, marriage and family are a big deal! Through the covenant of marriage, we become what our Father in Heaven hopes we will become, ultimately to be all that He is and to have all that He has, namely eternal life and exaltation.
Marriage started at the beginning of time with the union of Adam and Eve. After creating man and woman in His image, God told them “…to be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (Genesis 1:28). Further instruction was also given: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh” (Moses 3:24).
I’ve always known marriage is important and it has been my goal since I was a young child to marry in the temple of God and have a family. The seriousness of the marriage covenant wasn’t fully understood, though, until well into my adult years and my own marriage. In 2009, Sister Julie B. Beck, then serving as Relief Society general president, participated in a broadcast training for seminary and institute instructors and spoke on teaching the doctrine of the family. That talk changed my perspective on families and helped me realize just how important it is to understand why God has organized us into families.
We’ve probably all heard the story of Abraham and Sarah—how Abraham was promised that his seed would be greater than the stars in the heavens or the sand on the seashore (see Genesis 22-27). Having just one son with Sarah, Isaac would be the one through which this promise would come to come to pass. Sister Beck relates the story of the search for Isaac’s wife, one who would understand the importance of covenants, especially the covenant that God made with Abraham. A lot was riding on Issac’s bride and the type of person she would be. Abraham understood this and sent his servant out searching many miles away from the “local girls” to find a covenant-worthy girl. We know the rest of the story. We know that Abraham’s servant would find Rebekah, a girl prepared and worthy to make the marriage covenant. Isaac and Rebekah would have twin boys, Esau and Jacob. Rebekah would be instrumental in assuring Jacob received the birthright, because it was through his sons that the Twelve Tribes of Israel would come. It really does matter who you marry, especially since the Lord has a plan for you! And doesn’t He have a plan for each of us? This story really hit home for me, the idea that marriage and covenants are eternal. I was teaching the 14- and 15-year-old girls at church when I first heard this talk by Sister Beck, and with all my power I wanted those girls and my daughters to understand how important making covenants was! I encouraged them to prepare themselves, to learn and grow in understanding, to be a Rebekah!
Young people may be so focused on finding the right mate, that they neglect focusing on how they themselves can improve to be the best spouse possible. Elder David A. Bednar stated, “You become what you hope your spouse will be and you’ll have a greater likelihood of finding that person” (Hawkins, 2012, p. 6).
Unfortunately, the world today does not share the sentiment that covenants are important or that marriage and families are eternal. Many young couples postpone marriage, putting school and personal interests first. Cohabitation is widely accepted before marriage. “In one study, 62 percent of young adults reported that they believe that living together before marriage is a good way to avoid eventual divorce,” but research shows “couples who cohabit before marriage are more likely to divorce than couples who do not cohabit.” (Hawkins, 2012, p. 5-6). Other socially acceptable behaviors that run contrary to the plan of God include premarital sex, even if not cohabiting, delaying starting a family, and divorce.
Living worthily to enter into the temple and make covenants doesn’t guarantee a happy, successful marriage, but it helps establish a good foundation. If men and women fully understood the importance of covenants, they would each strive to prepare themselves for eternal marriage, to date within the Lord’s standards, and to recognize the importance of and willingly seek to have a family. God declares in Moses 1:39 , “…this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” Heavenly Father’s work begins and ends with family.
Beck, J.B. (2009) Teaching the Doctrine of the Family . Retrieved from:
Hawkins, A.J., Dollahite, D.C., Draper, T.W. (Eds). 2012. Successful Marriages and Families: Proclamation Principles and Research Perspectives. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University.