Eternal marriage is a vital part of Mormon doctrine. Elder F. Burton Howard, a member of the Seventy, stated, “Eternal marriage is a principle which was established before the foundation of the world and was instituted on this earth before death came into it. Adam and Eve were given to each other by God in the Garden of Eden before the Fall. The scripture says, ‘In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; Male and female created he them; and blessed them’ (Gen. 5:1–2; emphasis added).
“The prophets have uniformly taught that the consummate and culminating element of God’s great plan for the blessing of His children is eternal marriage. President Ezra Taft Benson stated, ‘Faithfulness to the marriage covenant brings the fullest joy here and glorious rewards hereafter’ (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson , 533–34). President Howard W. Hunter described celestial marriage as ‘the crowning gospel ordinance’ and clarified that ‘while it might take somewhat longer [for some,] perhaps even beyond this mortal life,’ it would not be denied to any worthy individual (Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, ed. Clyde J. Williams , 132, 140). President Gordon Hinckley has called eternal marriage a wonderful thing (see “What God Hath Joined Together,” Ensign, May 1991, 71) and a ‘gift, precious beyond all others’ (“The Marriage That Endures,” Ensign, May 1974, 23).”
Just being married in a Mormon temple is not enough to make a marriage eternal. A couple must continue to follow the commandments and grow together in righteousness. In Mormon doctrine eternal marriage is really a covenant between the man, woman and God. In this covenant or promise the man and women promise to do certain things. Some of these things are to pray together, keep the commandments, to keep passions within the marriage and under the guidelines set up by God, and to be equal companions. Elder F. Burton Howard addressed the fact that a couple desiring an eternal marriage need to work hard as companions to achieve that goal. He compared an eternal marriage to a silver set his wife had carefully kept beautiful throughout their forty-seven years of marriage and said, “If you want something to last forever, you treat it differently. You shield it and protect it. You never abuse it. You don’t expose it to the elements. You don’t make it common or ordinary. If it ever becomes tarnished, you lovingly polish it until it gleams like new. It becomes special because you have made it so, and it grows more beautiful and precious as time goes by. Eternal marriage is just like that. We need to treat it just that way. I pray that we may see it for the priceless gift that it is.”(1) A couple also promises to have children and to teach them the gospel of Christ. If they keep these promises God promises them eternal exaltation, joy and glory.
(1) F. Burton Howard, “Eternal Marriage,” Ensign, May 2003, 92
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