INTRODUCTION: Talk about an extended warranty! When I bought my printer from Office Max, I also purchased a plan to give me two years of protection in case the thing went south on me. Any significant investment of money creates a desire in us to enjoy some permanence. We are often willing to spend a little more to insure that what we have labored and paid for will last a while.
When we pay the price to have a marriage performed in the temple of the Lord, we come face to face and soul to soul with the actual meaning of the word endless. Think about the investment for and the return from a temple marriage. There is no guarantee like it on the planet and it is self-replicating. As children come to bless the union and multiply the joy, they also are given a part of the extended protection plan.
1. ETERNAL MARRIAGE IS ESSENTIAL IN HEAVENLY FATHER’S PLAN.
Godhood and parenthood share some essential characteristics. While is possible to be a parent without being a god, the reverse is not true. Gods are parents. Thus marriage is required for entrance into the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom:
“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” (D&C 31:1-4).
It pleases me that the power of procreation is so closely guarded in the eternal worlds. Only those who have demonstrated in the midst of a mortal experience that they can be trusted implicitly to keep covenants and commandments will be allowed to continue.
Of course, it is not simply a matter of procreation. What we are considering here is the eternalization of love. God has provided a way for our deepest and purest feelings to endure through endless ages of time.
“Are you willing to jeopardize your eternities, your great continuing happiness, your privilege to see God and dwell in his presence? … Are you willing to make yourself a widow for eternity or a widower for endless ages a single, separate individual to live alone and serve others? Are you willing to give up your children when they die or when you expire, and make them orphans? Are you willing to go through eternity alone and solitary when all of the greatest joys you have ever experienced in life could be added upon and accentuated, multiplied, and eternalized? Are you willing, with the Sadducees, to ignore and reject these great truths?
“I sincerely pray you stop today and weigh and measure and then prayerfully proceed to make your happy marriage an eternal one. Our friends, please do not ignore this call. I beg of you, open your eyes and see; unstop your ears and hear. An eternal marriage plus a worthy continuing consecrated life will bring limitless happiness and exaltation” (Spencer W. Kimball, “Temples and Eternal Marriage,” Ensign, Aug. 1974, 6).
For those who qualify the promised blessings are staggering. A husband and a wife, sealed together, righteous, and worthy in every way of the blessings of an eternal union, will have
“glory and exaltation in all things . . . which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever. Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them” (D&C 132:19-20).
2. YOUTH SHOULD PREPARE NOW FOR ETERNAL MARRIAGE.
When the Lord taught his first lesson about eternal marriage, the youth to be married was not even consulted in the matter. Abraham sent a servant with one simple instruction. Find a woman who is of the covenant lineage (Gen. 24:3,4). The message here is simple enough. The most important thing about marriage is the covenant. Marry in the covenant, this story seems to be teaching. Nothing else comes close to being this important.
Rebekah was a wonderful woman. She was hard working and obedient and beautiful. But none of these things entered into the instructions given by Abraham. The reason was and is that without the covenant, none of those other things matter past the portal of the grave.
This is the message of D&C 132, which, like Genesis 24, has nothing to say about any qualities or attributes beyond the covenant (see D&C 132:18,19).
People who are truly in love would not risk eternity and exaltation for the excitement of a mortal and transitory relationship. If someone loves enough to consider marriage, he or she ought to make any sacrifice to find the way to make that love last.
3. AFTER A HUSBAND AND WIFE ARE SEALED IN THE TEMPLE, THEY MUST ABIDE IN THE COVENANT TO RECEIVE THE PROMISED BLESSINGS.
My wife and I have 12 children. At last count we had changed somewhere in the neighborhood of 60,000 dirty diapers, fixed 37,000 meals, owned 21 cars, lived in 13 homes, and reviewed 478 report cards. It troubles me to realize that we prepared for this by going to dances and movies and restaurants.
Through all of the years of marriage, something has happened in our relationship. I loved her when we were married and I love her now. But then the love was a puddle. Now it is the Pacific Ocean. What happened at the altar in Logan in 1968 did not transform us into eternal godlike beings worthy of an inheritance in the presence of God. We left the building with the promise and the potential and the power, with an everlasting warranty. But we soon learned that even if we could call the Manufacturer when there were problems with the marriage, and receive helpful instruction, we were expected to make most of the repairs by ourselves.
The Lord said,
“Except ye abide my law ye cannot attain to this glory. For strait is the gate, and narrow the way that leadeth unto the exaltation and continuation of the lives, and few there be that find it, because ye receive me not in the world neither do ye know me. But if ye receive me in the world, then shall ye know me, and shall receive your exaltation; that where I am ye shall be also” (D&C 132:21-23).
The great and constant joy of our lives has been to labor with each other and our children to learn to receive him.