"Two of the vital pillars that sustain Father in Heaven's plan of happiness are marriage and the family. Their lofty significance is underscored by Satan's relentless efforts to splinter the family and to undermine the significance of temple ordinances, which bind the family together for eternity. The temple sealing has greater meaning as life unfolds. It will help you draw ever closer together and find greater joy and fulfillment in mortality. (See Richard G. Scott, "The Eternal Blessings of Marriage," Ensign, May 2011, p. 94.)
Eternal marriage has been part of the gospel of Jesus Christ since the beginning of time. The marriage of Adam and Eve was performed by God in the Garden of Eden; since their marriage was performed by God and took place before death entered the world, they were married for eternity. (See Genesis 2:21-24.) Their eternal marriage is an indication that marriages can and do last forever and not just until death.
Adam and Eve taught the law of eternal marriage to their children and other posterity. Through the generations of time, the posterity of Adam became so wicked that the authority to perform the sacred ordinance of eternal marriage was taken from the earth. This authority was restored to the earth through the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ in the latter days.
To members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, marriage is more than a social custom or a legal agreement between a man and a woman to live together. "Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God" declared the First Presidency. (See "The Family: A Proclamation to the World," Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102.)
Marriage is a sacred covenant, even a sacrament, and the most sacred relationship that can exist between a man and a woman. Marriage affects our happiness here on earth as well as in the eternities and is a requirement for exaltation. Because of the importance of marriage, we must be wise in choosing a companion and totally loyal to that companion after marriage. Husbands and wives are equal partners in marriage who walk side by side as sons and daughters of God. Neither the husband nor the wife is superior or inferior to the other.
President Howard W. Hunter taught, "Being happily and successfully married is generally not so much a matter of marrying the right person as it is being the right person." He also taught, "The conscious effort to do one's part fully is the greatest element contributing to success." (See Ensign, May 2011, p. 68.)
One of the basic truths taught by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that human beings can become like Heavenly Father by following the teachings of Jesus Christ. Obedience to the law of eternal marriage is very important to this process. The Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith, "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" (Doctrine and Covenants 131:1-3).
For a marriage to last for eternity, it must be performed by the proper authority and in the proper place. A marriage must be performed by one who holds the sealing power in order to receive the promised blessing of the Lord: "If a man marry a wife by … the new and everlasting covenant … by him who is anointed, … and if [they] abide in [the Lord's] covenant, … it … shall be of full force when they are out of the world" (Doctrine and Covenants 132:19). The proper place for an eternal marriage is one of the holy temples of our Lord - the only place where a marriage for eternity can be performed.
Latter-day Saint couples kneel at a sacred altar in the temple to make their marriage covenants before God and in the presence of their family and friends who have received the temple endowment. The marriage is performed by a man who holds the holy priesthood of God and who has received the authority to perform this sacred ordinance. Acting under the direction of God, he promises the blessings of exaltation to the couple as well as gives them instructions in how to obtain those blessings - with a reminder that all blessings depend on obedience to God's laws.
A marriage performed by any authority other than by the priesthood in the temple is for this life only, and the marriage partners have no claim on each other or on their children after death. A marriage for eternity presents the opportunity for families to continue after this life. Couples who have previously been married by civil authority may prepare themselves to go to the temple to be sealed for eternity, but a civil marriage is not a requirement for a temple marriage.
There are numerous blessings of an eternal marriage, both in this life and in eternity. Blessings in this life include:
1) Knowledge and comfort that our marriage can last forever and will not end at death except through our own disobedience. This knowledge helps us to strive harder to make a happy, successful marriage. 2) Knowledge that our family relationships can continue throughout eternity helps us to be more careful in teaching and training our children. This knowledge helps us to use more patience and love in dealing with family members and thus helps to make a happier home. 3) When our marriage is performed in God's ordained way, we have the right to the blessings of God upon our marriage as long as we live worthy of those blessings.
Heavenly blessings to enjoy include living in the highest degree of the celestial
, being exalted as God is, and receiving a fulness of joy. Keeping an eternal perspective has a great influence on all that we say and do. kingdom of God
President Spencer W. Kimball taught, "Marriage is perhaps the most vital of all the decisions and has the most far-reaching effects, for it has to do not only with immediate happiness, but also with eternal joys. It affects not only the two people involved, but also their families and particularly their children and their children's children down through the many generations. In selecting a companion for life and for eternity, certainly the most careful planning and thinking and praying and fasting should be done to be sure that of all the decisions, this one must not be wrong" (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball , 193).