Have you ever been in the situation of trying to understand a foreign language? Sometimes it sounds like a foreign language when members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints attempt to explain doctrines and principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ using words such as eternal marriage or sealing. Since there are many conflicting views about marriage and family in the world today, I want to share the importance of marriage and family in Heavenly Father’s plan for the happiness of His children.
There are many confusing and destructive voices in the world today that dismiss and even mock marriage and the family. Recent news reports claim that “intelligent women” choose to forgo parenthood. The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles published “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” in 1995 to provide a consistent voice of truth. They “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.” (See “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.")
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe that the family unit can continue beyond death if the marriage is performed in the temple for time and eternity. We believe that couples can be sealed in marriage or have their marriages blessed to last for eternity and that any children born to them will be together with them. We believe that the greatest joys in life or eternity are found in the family. Even though strong and loving family relationships require effort to develop, the efforts can bring eternal happiness. We believe that we can have happy and eternal marriages and loving relationships in our families.
A Latter-day Saint temple is different from the thousands of regular chapels or meetinghouses all over the world. Our meetinghouses and services are open to people of all faiths, but our temples are considered to be sacred houses of the Lord. Only members who observe “the basic principles of the faith and attest to that fact to his or her local leaders once every two years” are allowed to enter a temple.
The Church Newsroom website explains that “Once a couple is married and sealed in a temple, any children who are then born to them are automatically sealed to them at birth. If children are born before the couple is sealed, those children can later participate in a temple sealing with their parents. Children that are adopted also have an opportunity to be sealed to the adoptive parents.
“The concept of eternal families comes from scripture and modern-day revelation. For instance, the New Testament reference in Matthew 16:19 records Jesus Christ telling the Apostle Peter: `And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.’ The Church equates the word `bind’ with `seal.’
“According to research cited in a 2000 article in the Los Angeles Times, `in an era of divorce, Mormon temple weddings are built to last,’ with only a 6 percent divorce rate. Another study, published in 1993 in Demography Magazine, concluded that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who marry in one of the Church’s temples are the least likely of all Americans to divorce” (Church Newsroom website)
We believe that being a part of a family is a great blessing because families provide us with companionship, happiness, and a loving atmosphere in which to learn correct principles. We believe that every member of the family has a responsibility to strengthen it by being cheerful, helpful, and considerate of other members of the family. We believe that we can become peacemakers by showing love and understanding rather than teasing, fighting, or quarreling. We believe that one righteous individual can make a difference in strengthening their family.
The following counsel was provided for young Latter-day Saints: “Honor your parents by showing love and respect for them. Obey them as they lead you in righteousness. Willingly help in your home. Participate in wholesome family activities and traditions. Join your family in family prayer, family scripture study, and family home evenings. Keeping these commandments strengthens and unifies families. If your family does not do these things together, pray and study the scriptures yourself. Your example may encourage your family members to join you.
“Strengthen your relationships with your brothers and sisters. They can become your closest friends.
“God desires that all of His children come into the world as part of an eternal family with a mother and father who love and care for each other and for their children. If this is not your experience, be patient and continue to live righteously. Look for worthy role models. Prepare now to fulfill your divine roles as a husband or wife and as a parent. Commit to marry in the temple and establish your own eternal family” (“Family,” For the Strength of Youth, pages 14-15).
Many of us have heard the saying, “Families that pray together stay together.” I know this statement to be true. I know that families can be strengthened by family prayer, family scripture study, family home evening, and wholesome activities together and that such families can be together for eternity.