Talk about an extended warranty! When we pay the price to have a marriage performed in the temple of the Lord, we come face to face and soul to soul with the actual meaning of the word endless. When I bought my printer from Office Max, I also purchased a plan to give me two years of protection in case the thing went south on me. Any significant investment of money creates a desire in is to enjoy some permanence. We are often willing to spend a little more to insure that what we have labored and paid for will last a while.
Think about the investment for and the return from a temple marriage. There is no guarantee like it on the planet-and it is self-replicating. As children come to bless the union and multiply the joy, they also, simply by right of birth, are given a part of the extended protection plan. Participation is something they must conscientiously and willfully reject.
1. ETERNAL MARRIAGE IS ESSENTIAL IN HEAVENLY FATHER'S PLAN.
Godhood and parenthood share some essential characteristics. While is possible to be a parent without being a god, the reverse is not true. Gods are parents. Thus marriage is required for entrance into the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom:
"In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees; And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage]; And if he does not, he cannot obtain it. He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase" (D&C 31:1-4).
It pleases me that the power of procreation is so closely guarded in the eternal worlds. Only those who have demonstrated in the midst of a mortal experience that they can be trusted implicitly to keep covenants and commandments will be allowed to replicate their species.
Of course, it is not simply a matter of procreation. What we are considering here is the eternalization of love in families. God has provided a way for our deepest and purest feelings to endure through endless ages of time.
For those who qualify the promised blessings are staggering. A husband and a wife, sealed together, righteous, and worthy in every way of the blessings of an eternal union, will have "glory and exaltation in all things . . . which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever." (D&C 132:19)
"Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them" (D&C 132:20).
I love the words of Lorenzo Snow:
"When two Latter-day Saints are united together in marriage, promises are made to them concerning their offspring that reach from eternity to eternity. They are promised that they shall have the power and the right to govern and control and administer salvation and exaltation and glory to their offspring worlds without end. And what offspring they do not have here, undoubtedly there will be opportunities to have them hereafter.
"What else could man wish? A man and a woman in the other life, having celestial bodies, free from sickness and disease, glorified and beautified beyond description, standing in the midst of their posterity, governing and controlling them, administering life, exaltation and glory, worlds without end!" (Lorenzo Snow: Deseret News Weekly, 3 April 1847, p. 481)
2. YOUTH SHOULD PREPARE NOW FOR ETERNAL MARRIAGE.
Since most of you who are reading this are adults (I have never received an email from a teenager about these lessons), let me suggest some thought about the concept of preparation and then continue on with other points in the lesson.
When the Lord taught his first lesson about eternal marriage, the youth to be married (OK. Isaac was 40, but compared to Abraham he was a youth) was not even consulted in the matter. Abraham sent his servant back to the ancestral lands with one simple instruction. Find a woman who is of the covenant lineage (Gen. 24:3,4). There are no other recorded requirements! Age was not a factor. Appearance did not seem to be a consideration. Hair color and complexion and weight were not critical issues. The message here is simple enough. The most important thing about marriage is the covenant. Marry in the covenant, this story seems to be teaching. Nothing else comes close to being this important.
Rebekah was a wonderful woman. She was hard working and obedient and beautiful. But none of these things entered into the instructions given by Abraham. The reason was (and is) that without the covenant, none of those other things would (or will) matter when the portal of the grave slams shut:
This is the message of D&C 132, which, like Genesis 24, has nothing to say about any qualities or attributes beyond the covenant (see D&C 132:18,19).
Anyone who loves someone unworthy enough to risk eternity and exaltation for the excitement of a mortal and transitory relationship ought not to gamble. If someone loves a man or woman who is unworthy or unprepared for the covenant with that kind of anticipation and commitment, he or she ought to make any sacrifice to find the way to make that love last.
Are you willing to jeopardize your eternities, your great continuing happiness, your privilege to see God and dwell in his presence? For the want of investigation and study and contemplation; because of prejudice, misunderstanding, or lack of knowledge, are you willing to forego these great blessings and privileges? Are you willing to make yourself a widow for eternity or a widower for endless ages-a single, separate individual to live alone and serve others? Are you willing to give up your children when they die or when you expire, and make them orphans? Are you willing to go through eternity alone and solitary when all of the greatest joys you have ever experienced in life could be "added upon" and accentuated, multiplied, and eternalized? Are you willing, with the Sadducees, to ignore and reject these great truths? I sincerely pray you stop today and weigh and measure and then prayerfully proceed to make your happy marriage an eternal one. Our friends, please do not ignore this call. I beg of you, open your eyes and see; unstop your ears and hear.
An eternal marriage plus a worthy continuing consecrated life will bring limitless happiness and exaltation.
May I conclude with the words of the Lord of Hosts:
I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see." (Rev. 3:18.) [Spencer W. Kimball, "Temples and Eternal Marriage," Ensign, Aug. 1974, 6]
3. AFTER A HUSBAND AND WIFE ARE SEALED IN THE TEMPLE , THEY MUST ABIDE IN THE COVENANT TO RECEIVE THE PROMISED BLESSINGS.
My wife and I have 12 children (two of them were adopted and sealed on 14 June of this year!) At last count we had changed somewhere in the neighborhood of 60,000 dirty diapers, fixed 37,000 meals, owned 21 cars, lived in 13 homes, and reviewed 478 report cards. It frightens me to recall that we prepared for this by going to dances and movies and restaurants.
Through all of the years of marriage, something has happened in our relationship. I loved her then and I love her now. But then the love was a puddle. Now it is the Pacific Ocean . We have learned what all of you have learned. What happened at the altar in Logan in 1968 did not transform us into eternal godlike beings worthy of an inheritance in the presence of God. We left the building with the promise and the potential and the power: with an everlasting warranty. But we soon learned that even if we could call the Manufacturer when there were problems with the marriage, and receive helpful instruction, we were expected to make most of the repairs by ourselves. We were required to seek divine assistance in becoming what we had been promised we could become.
Consider this example which I used in a family hour last May which my son and his fiancee attended along with her parents. They were to be married the following Saturday. First I handed them a jar of fruit, and asked them to find the date it was canned which was written on the lid. In fact, the canning took place a few years ago.
"Well," I said. "If the fruit in that jar is that old, it must have gone bad by now."
"No," they assured me.
"Why not? Fruit doesn't generally last very long."
My future daughter-in-law explained to me that it was still good because the jar was sealed. When she used that word - "sealed" - she saw the point at once, and we discussed it: Fruits that are perishable, but that are worth preserving, must be sealed.
I then gave them a quart jar, the kind used by my mother to can fruits and vegetables. In this case the jar was empty and open. I had cleaned it and labeled it with the names of the almost newlyweds and the date of their marriage. I also handed them a ring and a lid, and said something like this:
"On Saturday, the Lord will give you an empty jar, along with all the things necessary to seal it. But he will not seal it on Friday because it will be empty. You must conduct your lives in such a way that the container of your lives becomes filled with fruit that is worth sealing. Then, when you have accomplished that, the Lord will seal the jar and make eternal the contents of your marriage."
I had prepared a number of pastel colored cardboard circles a couple of inches in diameter. I handed them out to those in attendance and asked them to suggest things that are worth sealing. We talked about things like laughter and forgiveness and joy and service and kindness and sharing and patience and scripture study and knowledge. As we mentioned each quality, someone wrote it on one of the colored circles (designed to represent fruit) and we placed it in the jar.
I asked them when they were at the house this weekend where the jar was. It is on their refrigerator where it helps them to remember. It might be worth a little personal introspection to determine if there are elements in your marriage that are not worth sealing (D&C 128:18 uses the word "selding"). If there are, get them out of the fruit jar of your lives.
This the Lord said,
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye abide my law ye cannot attain to this glory.
"For strait is the gate, and narrow the way that leadeth unto the exaltation and continuation of the lives, and few there be that find it, because ye receive me not in the world neither do ye know me.
"But if ye receive me in the world, then shall ye know me, and shall receive your exaltation; that where I am ye shall be also." (D&C 132:21-23)
The great and constant joy of my family life has come as my wife and I have labored with each other and our children to learn to receive him.
In October 1979, the Ensign printed a talk given by President Kimball to young adult audiences on two separate occasions. The sermon was called, "The Importance of Celestial Marriage." [From addresses delivered 22 October 1976 at the Salt Lake Institute of Religion and 5 February 1978 at Ricks College, Rexburg, Idaho ] It is better than anything I could say about this subject; it is a bit long for a conclusion, so here is a link: "The Importance of Celestial Marriage."
Ted would like to hear your comments. Click here to access his Facebook group for discussing Gospel Doctrine lessons.