Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when all of us understand the importance of marriage and treat it with the respect it deserves. As a nation, we have debated the pros and cons of traditional marriage between a man and a woman and discussed the effects of divorce on society for years. In recent years, we have been forced to consider the implications of gay marriage. As our nation considers the effects of the recent rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court concerning same-gender marriage, we must understand that traditional marriage is threatened on many fronts, but we can still keep our marriages strong if we are willing to pay the price.
In an interesting article entitled “Divorce Rates Threaten Marriage More Than a DOMA Repeal,” Sara Stringer wrote, “Marriage offers individuals a high happiness quotient and provides a strong backbone for America’s families. As a social institution, it continues to provide strong infrastructure for those who are able to commit to and maintain their vows. However, social mores change. Increases in premarital cohabitation and sex, as well as the cultural acceptance of divorce, contribute to a growing marriage crisis in this country….
“However, while these changes in culture affect the divorce rate, it is the cultural acceptance of divorce itself as a remedy that keeps divorce rates high. Those in successful marriages experience higher rates of financial stability and happiness; however, our culture continues to become more accepting of divorce versus providing support to make marriages work for the long haul. Political figures like Newt Gingrich, pop culture personalities like Kim Kardashian, and others demonstrate divorce as a common approach to fixing imperfections within a marriage.
“Marriages offer stable family structures and tremendous support systems, and they help America stay wholesome and focused. But keeping a marriage strong takes work. Couples must communicate with each other openly, establish boundaries, and learn to compromise. Divorce may provide an `easy way out,’ but the separation creates financial and emotional rifts that stall success and growth. The well-being of America depends on strong marriages.”
Just moments before their wedding in August 2012, Bre and Josh Curtas of Lynchburg, Virginia, took a moment for prayer. In order to pray together without actually seeing each other, the couple held hands from around a corner while bowing their heads in prayer. A photograph of the couple praying together has gone viral on more than one occasion. Bre Curtas wrote about her wedding on her blog in January 2013, and the picture went viral again in June. Why would such a photograph be of interest to so many people? I believe it is because we all understand deep down inside that marriage is important and this couple understood the importance of making prayer a part of their wedding as well as their marriage.
Even though the bride remembers only “bits and pieces” from her wedding on August 11, 2012, she will “never forget those 40 quiet seconds.” “I think this photo has gone viral because it’s not about me. No one is looking at it for my dress or the venue or my hair or jewelry. That stuff doesn’t matter. I think people are touched because it’s two young people taking a minute to forget about those things and thank the Lord for what he’s done.”
The couple dated for ten months before Bre broke off the relationship because of fear of commitment. One year later Josh invited her to meet him for coffee. “As I sat across the table from him, I realized there wasn’t a day that he didn’t pray that the Lord would bring me back. And even though we hadn’t seen each other for a year, he loved me even more than the last time he saw me. I knew I’d never find that again.”
Bre said that “prayer strengthened their relationship after being apart for so long. It was also the reason why she decided to wait until her wedding night to have sex. It was a tough choice to make, one that the couple struggled with for months. And she understands that it’s not for everybody….”
This couple began their marriage with prayer and moral cleanliness as well as a deep love for each other. All couples struggle at times in their marriages, but those couples who understand the importance of marriage and make God a part of their relationship are usually able to weather the storms that come into their lives.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches the importance of marriage and what we can do to make our marriages last forever – for all eternity. Many statements by Church leaders can be found at this site. Here are a few of the statements.
“Marriage is and should be a sacrament. The word sacrament is variously defined, but among Christian people it signifies a religious act or ceremony, solemnized by one having proper authority. It is a pledge, or solemn covenant, a spiritual sign or bond between the contracting parties themselves and between them and God” (Hugh B. Brown, “The Latter-day Saint Concept of Marriage,” Liahona, June 2011).
“Marriage is the foundry for social order, the fountain of virtue, and the foundation for eternal exaltation. Marriage has been divinely designated as an eternal and everlasting covenant. Marriage is sanctified when it is cherished and honored in holiness. That union is not merely between husband and wife; it embraces a partnership with God” (Russell M. Nelson, “Nurturing Marriage,” Ensign, May 2006, 36).
“The mere performance of a ceremony does not bring happiness and a successful marriage. This requires forgetting of self, continued courting, and obedience to the Lord’s commandments” (Spencer W. Kimball, “Oneness in Marriage,” Liahona, October 2002).
“How shortsighted so many of us are, how prone to look only at today without thought for the morrow. But the morrow will surely come, as will also come death and separation. How sweet is the assurance, how comforting is the peace that comes from the knowledge that if we marry right and live right, our relationship will continue, notwithstanding the certainty of death and the passage of time. Men may write love songs and sing them. They may yearn and hope and dream. But all of this will be only a romantic longing unless there is an exercise of authority that transcends the powers of time and death” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Marriage That Endures,” Liahona, July 2003).
In spite of the recent decisions made by the Supreme Court of the United States supporting same-gender marriage, we need not fear destruction of marriage as long as we understand the importance of traditional marriage and do those things that strengthen marriage. Since God ordains traditional marriage, we can rely on Him for assistance in keeping our marriages strong and avoiding divorce. We can strengthen our families, communities, and nation by strengthening our marriages.