Last week I discussed vows or the promises we make to each other at the wedding ceremony. This week, I want to take that point a step further to discuss to whom the vow is made, or the promised made by the couple to and with God.
Turning to the scriptures we see how important God’s part is in our marriage:
1 Corinthians11:11 “Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.”
This is the pattern; a man, a woman, and the Lord, working together on a divinely ordained union.
Why would God care so much about marriage?
We are taught in The Family: A Proclamation to the World “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.”
Marriage is central to the Creator’s plan.
Again, I ask the question, why? Why is does God care so much about marriage here, in mortality, that we would need his help to have happy marriages?
As Elder L. Tom Perry stated in his last General Conference address, “We believe that the organization and government of heaven will be built around families and extended families” (Perry, April 2015).
Another compelling answer to this query comes from an address by Elder D. Todd Christofferson, “A family built on the marriage of a man and woman supplies the best setting for God’s plan to thrive” (Christofferson, April 2015).
Marriage is this important to God for the redemption and eternal happiness of His children. Marriage matters in the eternities. Marriage is the governing institution of eternity. Marriage matters now. Marriage is the foundation of successful society.
Marriage matters especially here on earth where we are struggling, striving and working to build eternal families. Because marriage is so important to God, it is going to be equally as important to the adversary, who is the destroyer of marriage.
Which is why we need Divine help to navigate this journey.
Without God’s help, it is so easy to let grudges, irritations, bad days at work or with the kids, tests, trials, money problems, addictions, job loss, name any other issue that couples may deal with — it can all be the catalyst for the destructive work of the adversary — unless we invite God into our marriages.
Two of my favorite quotes remind us of the importance of marriage and family:
“No other success can compensate for failure in the home.” – David O. McKay
“The most important of the Lord’s work you will ever do will be the work you do within the walls of your own home.” ― Harold B. Lee
The Lord’s prophets are very clear on this point — no other success will or can compensate us. No influential career, no palatial home or sporty car, no earthly accomplishment, none of this, will be worth any failure that occurs within in our homes. If the Lord has instructed prophets to teach this, won’t He help us if we are stuck, or lost, or struggling?
Elder W. Douglas Shumway, in a General Conference address in April 2004, spoke of the opposition of the adversary and the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ as a tool to combat and conquer:
“Although the adversary seeks to destroy the key elements necessary for a happy marriage and a righteous family, let me assure you that the gospel of Jesus Christ provides the tools and teachings necessary to combat and conquer the assailant in this war. If we will but honor our marriages by imparting more love and selflessness to our spouses; nurture our children through gentle persuasion and the expert teacher we call example; and fortify the spirituality of our families through consistent family home evening, prayer, and scripture study, I testify to you that the living Savior, Jesus Christ, will guide us and grant us victory in our efforts to achieve an eternal family unit” (Shumway)
We are engaged in a battle. Often times we become weary warriors in this battle. We fight against much adversity.
I have long enjoyed this devotional by Brother Brent Barlow delivered at Brigham Young University in Provo on October 12, 1999 where among the many excellent points he raised, these two are applicable to my thoughts today.
First a quote from President Gordon B. Hinckley on preserving marriage:
“I deal much with cases of divorce and requests for cancellation of temple sealings. It is the most difficult of all the things with which I have to do. Almost without exception, each case involves deception, dishonesty, broken promises, violated covenants, heartbreak, and tragedy. Begin with your own home to preserve the sanctity of your marriage, the eternity of your covenants, and the happiness that comes where there is love and security and trust in the family. Put the comfort and happiness of your companion and your children ahead of your own and reach out with a helping hand to those whose marriages have become troubled”[Gordon B. Hinckley, “Stand Up for Truth,” BYU 1996–97 Speeches (Provo: Brigham Young University, 1997), p. 24]
Second, a question from a once popular tune of the 90’s that raises an important question. With all the heartache and struggle of marriage, with all that mortality throws at us, with all of the divorces and broken homes, if we are failing in our marriages right and left — what is forever for?
I see love-hungry people
Trying their best to survive.
When right there in their hands is a dying romance,
And they’re not even trying to keep it alive.
So what’s the glory in living?
Doesn’t anybody ever stay together anymore?
And if love never lasts forever
Tell me, what’s forever for?
Our desire to have successful, enduring, loving marriages will be realized as we draw upon the powers of heaven. We must include the Lord in our marriage and we covenanted to do in the beginning. It is only through His power and His Light that we marriages prosper into forever.
As Dr. Goddard shared at the end of his book, “Drawing Heaven into Your Marriage”
“The Lord must be a partner if a relationship is to prosper. In fact He must be the ruling partner. There is no other way to have a vibrant relationship. While there are those who have never heard His name who have healthy relationships, I believe that they must operate by His principles if they are to have a strong relationship. The Light of Christ lights every man and woman who comes to mortality. That Light knows that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man or woman comes to a healthy relationship without His prospering principles.”
This is what forever is for
It is my witness, that when we apply the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ, when we seek to serve our spouse, rather than look to be served, when we are humble, full of charity, willing to overlook than dwell upon, when we honor our covenants and plead for the Father’s guiding hand, we can taste a bit of forever even here in mortality.