Temple marriage describes the place you go to have an eternal marriage performed. Celestial marriage is being true to the sacred covenants you make in that temple marriage ceremony--living celestial principles in the marriage relationship.
A celestial marriage requires, after the vows are taken, a continuing consecrated life of worthiness leading to happiness and exaltation. If we live the laws properly, we will, with another individual and with our family, be able to have a little heaven on earth.
Something as wonderful as a celestial marriage doesn't just happen.
In Lewis Carroll's story Alice in Wonderland, Alice approaches the Cheshire Cat and asks, "Would you please tell me which way I ought to go from here?"
The Cheshire Cat replies, "That depends a great deal on where you want to go."
Alice says, "I admit, I don't much care where."
The Cheshire Cat then says, "Then it doesn't really matter much which way you go, does it?"
"Just so I get somewhere," responds Alice.
Then the Cheshire Cat reveals an interesting truth: "Oh, you're sure to get there if you keep walking long enough."
How many of us are going through life telling ourselves, "If we keep going long enough, we're going to get somewhere," but are not defining exactly where that place is we want to be? "Somewhere" is not good enough. We must know where we want to go and be firmly committed to getting there. And we should get that knowledge and commitment early.
Alma stated, "Remember, my son, and learn wisdom in thy youth; yea, learn in thy youth to keep the commandments of God" (Alma 37:35). That says it all. Do it now.
Once we are committed to a celestial marriage, we should understand and do the things that lead to it.
To enter the temple, you will need what is called a recommend. A searching interview will be conducted first by your bishop or branch president and then by your stake or mission president. Here are some of the questions they will ask you:
"Do you have faith in and a testimony of God the Eternal Father; His Son, Jesus Christ; and the Holy Ghost?"
"Do you have a testimony of the Atonement of Christ and of His role as Savior and Redeemer?"
"Do you have a testimony of the Restoration of the gospel in these, the latter days?"
"Do you sustain the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the prophet, seer, and revelator and as the only person on the earth who possesses and is authorized to exercise all priesthood keys? Do you sustain members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators? Do you sustain the other General Authorities and local authorities of the Church?"
"Do you live the law of chastity?"
"Is there anything in your conduct relating to members of your family that is not in harmony with the teachings of the Church?"
"Do you strive to keep the covenants you have made, to attend your sacrament and priesthood meetings, and to keep your life in harmony with the laws and commandments of the gospel?"
"Are you honest in your dealings with your fellowmen?"
"Are you a full-tithe payer?"
"Do you keep the Word of Wisdom?"
"Have there been any sins or misdeeds in your life that should have been resolved with priesthood authorities but have not been?"
"Do you consider yourself worthy to enter the Lord's house and participate in temple ordinances?"
The importance of thinking of this recommend in connection with marriage is that, when you choose the companion you're going to live with for time and all eternity, you should ask yourself, "Am I sure he or she is able to live within the confines of this recommend?"
After you obtain a recommend, you may then go to the temple and receive an endowment. Before a person can be married or sealed as husband or wife in the temple, he or she receives the ordinance of the endowment.
We have the privilege as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to plan for and prepare for a celestial marriage.
When you are choosing your companion, make sure that both of you have a desire for a celestial marriage relationship, a desire to have a family for eternity, a desire to have a companion for eternity and to live in the presence of our Heavenly Father.
Supporting Each Other
Marriage is like climbing a mountain. You tie yourself to a companion, and you start up the mountain of life. As a child comes along, you tie him to Mom and Dad and continue your journey. The ropes will hold all of the mountain climbers together. But there are many elements--the wind and the rain and the snow and the ice--all the elements of the world will tear at you to pull you off that eternal mountain. How do you reach the summit?
Someone has said it this way: "Thee lift me, and I'll lift thee, and we'll ascend together." What does that mean?
I can remember an experience in my life that illustrates this idea. I was at Harvard Business School. I was stretched to my capacity. In a student's first year at that institution, the teachers take away every bit of self-confidence you have, no matter what your background is before you get there, so that you learn what it's like to have to achieve more than you've ever done in your life before.
At an important point in my schooling, a mission president asked me to be an elders quorum president. It is the only time in my life that I ever questioned an assignment. For every one of you the question will come in life, "When is the time to serve?" The only answer I can give you is, "When you are asked."
So I went home and said to my wife, "There is a chance of failing in my schooling if I become an elders quorum president." She said to me the words which have helped for many years: "Bob, I would rather have an active priesthood holder than a man who holds a master's degree from Harvard." But as she put her arms around me, she said, "We'll do them both." That is eternal partnership.
In the Doctrine and Covenants (I would hope each one of you would write this verse down and put it in your pocket and have it with you at all times for those challenging moments), we read, "Therefore, strengthen your brethren in all your conversation, in all your prayers, in all your exhortations, and in all your doings" (D&C 108:7). In other words, every day you help one another as you speak, as you pray, in your exhortations, and in your doings.
Set Your Eternal Course
I realize the importance of setting your course, of knowing where you are going. Please date extensively. Please know the kind of person you want to be with. Please make sure that you help those you come in contact with. Please point them in the direction of associating with many people.
Make sure that you know before you get married what that person really wants to be. You can do that by seeing if he or she goes to his or her meetings and has a testimony and can talk to you about eternal goals now.
I ask the Lord's blessings to be with you. I know that God lives and that Jesus is the Christ. I bear testimony to you that those moments in my life when I have been unhappy, depressed, or sad are when I have strayed, even in a minor degree, from the teachings of the Lord. That you might have true happiness and find the joy of a celestial marriage with a little heaven on earth is my prayer.