Preparing for an Eternal Marriage and Family (David O. McKay Lesson 14)

Advice to the Unmarried

Young women, be prepared to help the man you marry become your ideal. A splendid young girl came to my office just within the last week; she had come from a distant place. She had had a patriarchal blessing before she left that had given her some concern because in it the patriarch had been inspired to tell her that if she [was] faithful [and] true, she would find a companion who would one day become a great leader in this church. And of course, that made her more choosey. She was now twenty-seven or twenty-eight years old, and how in the world was she going to find that man?

Well, I said to her, "Now, my dear, let me just make one suggestion. That man who will become the leader, that the patriarch felt inspired to say you would one time marry, that man won't be ready for that position without a wife. He lack[s] a lot of the things that will be necessary in order for him to achieve that place. You will be as important a factor in his life as he himself will be. Now, don't look for perfection, because that man isn't alive. [T]he [person] that you've built up as an ideal is a composite of the best you've seen in a lot of men; but you've got to find the man that has the basic qualities of good character, and then as his wife, by daily patience and living with him, you've got to help him to become such." I said, "I've said to my wife many times, I'm a better man every day I live with you." And I said [to this woman], "You've got to feel that you have a mission. That patriarch was calling you on a mission to help to prepare a man who one day would be the leader that he said you would one [day] marry. And if you fail, your husband will never become that leader." You have something of a certificate of acceptability. You girls, all of you, if you want a man to become your ideal, you have got to help him to be so. You have to pass the test as well as he must pass the test, don't forget.

Promised blessings will ultimately come to those who are worthy. You young women advancing in years who have not yet accepted a proposal of marriage, if you make yourselves worthy and ready to go to the house of the Lord and have faith in this sacred principle of celestial marriage for eternity, even though the privilege of marriage does not come to you now in mortality, the Lord will reward you in due time and no blessing will be denied you. You are not under obligation to accept a proposal from someone unworthy of you for fear you will fail of your blessings. Likewise, you young men who may lose your life in early life by accident, or a fatal illness, or in the terrible conflict of war before you have had an opportunity for marriage, the Lord knows the intent of your hearts, and in His own due time He will reward you with opportunities made possible through temple ordinances instituted in the Church for that purpose.

Do all you can to comply with the laws of God pertaining to an exaltation in the kingdom of God. The Lord will judge you too by your works, as well as by the desires of your hearts, and your reward will be assured.

There are many lovely women who have not as yet had an acceptable offer of marriage or if married have not been able to have children, and they wonder about the doctrines that I have just now spoken about. To these President [Brigham] Young made a promise for which the plan of salvation provides the fulfillment. He said, "Many of the sisters grieve because they are not blessed with offspring. You will see the time when you will have millions of children around you. If you are faithful to your covenants, you will be mothers of nations." (In Journal of Discourses 8:208.)

The Lord will compensate righteous women. The Lord judges us not alone by our actions but by the intent of our hearts. The Prophet Joseph Smith saw in vision his father and mother and his brother Alvin in the celestial kingdom, and he marveled: How could Alvin be in the celestial kingdom since he had never been baptized, and was buried before the Church was organized? And the Lord said, "All who have died without a knowledge of this gospel, who would have received it if they had been permitted to tarry, shall be heirs of the celestial kingdom of God" (D&C 137:7). Thus, wives and mothers who have been denied the blessings of wifehood or motherhood in this life—who say in their heart, if I could have done, I would have done, or I would give if I had, but I cannot for I have not—the Lord will bless you as though you had done, and the world to come will compensate for those who desire in their hearts the righteous blessings that they were not able to have because of no fault of their own.

Some may not have a chance to marry in this life. Sometimes sisters worry because they have gone beyond the marriageable age. The Lord hasn't forgotten. This life didn't begin with mortal birth; it doesn't end with mortal death. And even though marriage may have passed by for this part of life, it hasn't passed through eternity, and in the Lord's own due time there will be nothing withheld from those who have lived worthy of an exaltation in the celestial glory. That awaits every true son and daughter of God, and that is why I want you to write in your book, "I must always remember that I am a son, I am a daughter, of God. I am His child." I know you are; I know I am.

You can find strength in meeting your challenges. Some of you do not now have a companion in your home. Some of you have lost your wife or husband or you may not yet have found a companion. In your ranks are some of the noblest members of the Church—faithful, valiant, striving to live the Lord's commandments, to help build the kingdom on earth, and to serve your fellowmen.

Life holds so much for you. Take strength in meeting your challenges. There are so many ways to find fulfillment, in serving those who are dear to you, in doing well the tasks that are before you in your employment or in the home. The Church offers so much opportunity for you to help souls, beginning with your own, to find the joy of eternal life.

Do not let self- pity or despair beckon you from the course you know is right. Turn your thoughts to helping others. To you the words of the Master have special meaning: "He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it" (Matthew 10:39).

Brethren, think seriously about your obligation to marry. There are some examples that point up an area of need which applies directly to young men in the past-25-age, who for some reason, and hard to understand, as holders of the priesthood, are shirking their responsibilities as husbands and fathers.

President Joseph F. Smith said, "The house of the Lord is a house of order and not a house of confusion; and that means," as the Lord has said, "that the man is not without the woman in the Lord, neither is the woman without the man in the Lord; and that no man can be saved and exalted in the kingdom of God without the woman, and no woman can reach perfection and exaltation in the kingdom of God, alone. That is what it means. God instituted marriage in the beginning." (In Conference Report, April 1913, p. 118.)

President Joseph F. Smith further said this, which strikes right at the heart of what I want to emphasize: "I desire to emphasize this. I want the young men of Zion to realize that this institution of marriage is not a man-made institution. It is of God. It is honorable, and no man who is of marriageable age is living his religion who remains single. It is not simply devised for the convenience alone of man, to suit his own notions, and his own ideas; to marry and then divorce, to adopt and then to discard, just as he pleases. Marriage is the preserver of the human race. Without it, the purposes of God would be frustrated; virtue would be destroyed to give place to vice and corruption, and the earth would be void and empty.

"Now, every young person throughout the Church should understand this very thoroughly. And no man holding the priesthood who is worthy and of age should remain unmarried." (Gospel Doctrine [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1939], pp. 272, 273.)

This may sound a little bit bold to urge marriage for those who are past the marriageable age; but in some of our countries, where we are bringing in new converts, we are shocked to know that some men are delaying marriage until their later thirties or into their forties, and they have never talked of marriage. Here I have quoted from a President of the Church, President Joseph F. Smith, who has told us in plainness that today a flood of iniquities is overwhelming the civilized world and that one great reason therefore is the neglect of marriage. It has lost its sanctity in the eyes of the great majority. It is at best a civil contract, but more than often an accident, or a whim, or a means of gratifying the passions; and when the sacredness of the covenant is ignored or lost sight of, then a disregard of the marriage vows under the present moral training of the masses is a mere triviality, a trifling indiscretion.

Women have a desire for companionship. They want to be wives; they want to be mothers; and when men refuse to assume their responsibility of marriage, for no good reason, they are unable to consummate marriage. Brethren, we are not doing our duty as holders of the priesthood when we go beyond the marriageable age and withhold ourselves from an honorable marriage to these lovely women, who are seeking the fulfillment of a woman's greatest desire to have a husband, a family, and a home.

Now don't misunderstand me. I am not trying to urge you younger men to marry too early. I think therein is one of the hazards of today's living. We don't want a young man to think of marriage until he is able to take care of a family, to have an institution of his own, to be independent. He must make sure that he has found the girl of his choice, they have gone together long enough that they know each other, and that they know each other's faults and they still love each other. I have said to the mission presidents (some of whom have been reported to us as saying to missionaries, "Now, if you are not married in six months, you are a failure as a missionary"), "Don't you ever say that to one of your missionaries. Maybe in six months they will not have found a wife; and if they take you seriously, they may rush into a marriage that will be wrong for them."

Please don't misunderstand what we are saying; but, brethren, think more seriously about the obligations of marriage for those who bear the holy priesthood at a time when marriage should be the expectation of every man who understands the responsibility; for remember, brethren, that only those who enter into the new and everlasting covenant of marriage in the temple for time and eternity, only those will have the exaltation in the celestial kingdom. That is what the Lord tells us.

Harold B. Lee, Teachings of Harold B. Lee

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