Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Eternal Marriage

                    Have you ever considered the difference between a temple marriage and an eternal marriage?   In my younger years, I thought that they were the same thing, but I as I matured I realized they are different.  A "temple marriage" is one performed in the temple; an "eternal marriage" is one that lasts forever.

                    A marriage performed for eternity in the temple is a necessary step along the way to having an eternal marriage.  A temple marriage opens the door to exaltation in the celestial kingdom.  In the temple, through the power of the priesthood, men and women can be married for eternity, not just until death.  Any children born to a couple that has been "sealed" in the temple would then be "born in the covenant," meaning that they could be sealed together as a family forever.

                    After a husband and wife have been sealed in the temple, they must keep the covenants they made in the temple and live the laws of the gospel.  By keeping those covenants and living the principles of the gospel, they can achieve an eternal marriage.  Those who live for eternal marriage will realize great blessings here on earth as well as in the next life.  

                    Some members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints do not understand the importance of being married in the temple.  They may believe that "eternity" is too far in the future to be a cause of concern or they may think that temple marriage is not for everyone.  They may simply consider it as unimportant.  In the following story, one such young woman described her journey to understanding why temple marriage is so important for each of us.

                    Chris and her husband were first married in a civil ceremony conducted by their branch president.  Later Chris said of that ceremony:  "I remember nothing of what was said except the final words:  `as long as you both shall live.'  We were in love and the fact that we had not been married in the temple seemed unimportant."

                    At the time Chris did not plan on ever being married in the temple.  She said:  "I had joined the Church five years earlier and had received several lessons concerning the importance of temple marriage.  But … eternity seemed such a long way off….  I also felt temple marriage was for the `elite' of the Church, not for someone like me who was still stumbling about with a youthful testimony."

                    Five months after the wedding, Chris and her husband discovered that they were expecting their first child.  This blessed event changed her way of thinking.  I had a similar experience in having my thinking changed once I was responsible for a tiny human being; I became converted to the importance of having food available to feed her and got serious about food storage!

                    Chris said:  "My greatest jolt about the nearness of eternity came … when I discovered that we were expecting our first child.  I felt nauseated, thrilled, humbled, and terrified all at the same time.  As the months passed, a deep love for that little person inside of me began to grow and fill my very being.  As this love grew, so did the reality that I wanted this child to be ours for all eternity….

                    "My love for my husband was also blossoming beyond anything I had ever imagined….  The words `as long as you both shall live' began to haunt me.  Eternity was creeping ever closer, and I wanted our happiness to last forever."

                    The members of the ward [parish] where Chris and her husband lived often went on trips to the temple.  Chris later recorded how she felt when she could not go with them:  "I was learning that unless I made the covenants that are part of the temple ceremony, I would be on the outside looking in for the rest of eternity."

                    After Chris decided that she wanted to marry her husband in the temple, her outlook on life changed.  "All of my thoughts became centered around what I would have to do to be worthy of entering the temple," she said.  Chris was very fortunate that her husband was willing to prepare for temple marriage also.

                    "Finally, one year and two days after our civil marriage, my wonderful husband and I knelt across the altar from each other in the Ogden Temple, surrounded by smiling friends and family members.  We gazed on our `eternal' reflection in the mirrors, tears cascading down our cheeks.
                    "Four weeks later, our first beautiful baby was born in the covenant.  Never had we seen such a living miracle, and she was ours for eternity.

                    "Over 16 years have passed since that day in the Ogden Temple.  The doubts and fears of our first year have been replaced by the peace of knowing ours is a forever family.  I shudder to think of the chance we took, and of what these past 16 years would have been like if we had not been sealed in the temple.  Many of the couples who begin as we did never do go to the temple.

                    "I cherish being able to return often to the temple.  Within its walls I am reminded that I now possess all I need to be truly happy - forever."  Chris Geilman, "As Long As You Both Shall Live," New Era, Jan. 1994, 9-11)

                    Many people consider marriage to be only a social custom or a legal agreement between a man and a woman that they will live together.  Others consider it to be "just a piece of paper."  Still others see marriage as being old fashioned, outdated, and unnecessary.

To members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, marriage is much more.  Our Heavenly Father ordained marriage from the very beginning when Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden.  "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife:  and they shall be one flesh" (Genesis 2:24).

God continued to give this same instruction to different prophets.  To Moses, God gave the same commandment:  "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh" (Pearl of Great Price, Moses 3:24).

God renewed this instruction in a revelation given to the Prophet Joseph Smith in March 1831:  "And again, verily I say unto you, that whoso forbiddeth to marry is not ordained of God, for marriage is ordained of God unto man" (Doctrine and Covenants 49:15).

In our day this commandment was included in "The Family - A Proclamation to the World." This proclamation was read by President Gordon B. Hinckley as part of his message at the General Relief Society Meeting held September 23, 1995, in Salt Lake City, Utah, and it begins with this statement:  "We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim 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."

One of the main reasons for getting married in the temple is because we love our families and want to be with them forever.  If we want to be with our spouse, our children, and our children's children for eternity, we must be married for eternity.

God has a plan for the eternal happiness of His children, and He told us about His plan before we came to earth.  We understood that our life on earth would be for a short time; we understood that we needed to come to earth to get our physical bodies and experience in making good choices and doing good works.  We understood that there would be a judgment day, and then we would be assigned our eternal destinations.  Those destinations are known as kingdoms - Celestial, Terrestrial, and Telestial.  We understood that the greatest blessings would come through being qualified for the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom.

The gospel of Jesus Christ teaches the requirements to attain the Celestial Kingdom:  baptism by immersion, gift of the Holy Ghost, faith in Jesus Christ, and obedience to God's commandments.  There is an additional requirement to attain the highest degree of that kingdom:  marriage in the temple for eternity.

"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" (Doctrine and Covenants 131:1-4).  I know that those who are married in the temple and live worthily can receive exaltation in the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom.

                    President Spencer W. Kimball made the following statement:  "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 the immediate happiness, but eternal joys.  It affects not only the two people involved, but their children and … their children's children down through the latest 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….
                    "We recommend then that all boys and girls from their infancy up plan to be married only in the temple, to keep their lives spotless so that this can be accomplished" (The Matter of Marriage [address delivered at the Salt Lake Institute of Religion, 22 Oct. 1976], 4-5).

                    Parents and leaders in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teach the rising generation to aspire to a higher form of marriage.  Children and youth are taught about the temple and the importance of preparing for temple marriage by obedience, thought, and prayer.

                    President Howard W. Hunter, fourteenth President of the Church, made the following statement:
                    "I invite the Latter-day Saints to look to the temple of the Lord as the great symbol of your membership.  It is the deepest desire of my heart to have every member of the Church worthy to enter the temple….  The things that we must do and not do to be worthy of a temple recommend are the very things that ensure we will be happy as individuals and as families.
                    "Let us be a temple-attending people.  Attend the temple as frequently as personal circumstances allow" (Ensign, Nov. 1994, 8).

                    We are encouraged to have pictures of the temple in our homes and to visit the temple grounds with our children.  We do our best to help our posterity to live righteous lives and prepare for temple marriage.  We teach our children about temples in numerous ways.  An example is a song entitled "Families Can Be Together Forever" (words written by Ruth Muir Gardner with music written by Vanja Y. Watkins; Hymns, No. 300).

                    I have a fam'ly here on earth.  They are so good to me.
                    I want to share my life with them through all eternity.
    Families can be together forever
    Through Heav'nly Father's plan.
                    I always want to be with my own family,
   And the Lord has shown me how I can.
                    The Lord has shown me how I can.

                    While I am in my early years, I'll prepare most carefully,
                    So I can marry in God's temple for eternity.

                    Families can be together forever
                    Through Heav'nly Father's plan.
                    I always want to be with my own family,
                    And the Lord has shown me how I can.
                    The Lord has shown me how I can.

                    The temple was an important part of my life long before I was old enough to enter it.  I remember going on trips with my family from eastern Utah to the Salt Lake Valley.  As we drove through the mountains and down the canyon, we began to watch closely because each of us wanted to be the first to see the spires of the Salt Lake Temple, the highest building in the valley at that time.  I also remember with fondness my first trip to the temple as a twelve-year-old girl to do baptisms for the dead.

                    Serving in the temple as a teenager helps us prepare to be married in the temple later.  Temple service brings us great joy and helps us draw nearer to our Heavenly Father.  Everyone who enters the temple must have a temple recommend signed by their bishop to show their worthiness to be there. 

To obtain a temple recommend, we must have an interview with our bishop [or branch president] to determine whether or not we are worthy to enter the temple.  The bishop has the responsibility to determine our worthiness, and he asks some basic questions, such as the following:  1) Do you have a testimony of Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost?  2) Do you sustain the prophet and other Church leaders?  3) Do you strive to keep the commandments?  4) Do you treat your family members with love and respect?  5) Do you attend your Church meetings?  6) Are you honest with those around you?  7) Do you keep the Word of Wisdom?  8) Are you morally clean?  9) Do you pay a full tithe?

                    It is not an easy thing to quality for exaltation in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom, but it is possible.  To qualify, a husband and wife must have a temple wedding ceremony plus develop celestial character traits.  The continued righteousness of those married in the temple is as important as the marriage ceremony itself.

                    Eternal marriage brings peace, comfort, and true happiness.  The temple is the most beautiful place for a marriage to take place as well as being the most important place.  I am grateful for the temple and its blessings in my life.  I am grateful for the promise that we can be together forever with our family members.  I encourage you to become temple worthy and receive that promise.


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