Marriage is an important and essential part of the gospel as presented and practiced by members of the Mormon Church. Indeed, marriage has been a part of God’s plan for his children from the beginning. In Genesis we read that Adam was alone in the garden. But in Genesis 2:18, it states, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” God created Eve to be Adam’s wife and partner. The role of marriage to provide companionship is an easy one to understand – neither man nor woman was meant to be alone.
Mormons believe that marriages can last forever – thus the phrase “eternal marriage.” More formally, the eternal marriage ceremony is called a “sealing” or a “sealing ordinance.” The bride and groom are not married in a Mormon church building, but in one of the Mormon temples. (See Inside Mormon Temples to see a “sealing room.”)
When a bride and groom are married in the temple, they are sealed together – they are married not only for this life, but for the life after. Jesus Christ taught that “What God has joined together, let no man put asunder” (Matthew 19:6). The idea of eternal marriage informs the Mormon’s view of death—that death is a temporary separation of loved ones; they can be together again in the eternities. Elder James A. Cullimore said, “Marriage in the temple for time and eternity should be the goal of every member of the Church, for marriage is ordained of God. Marriage is a commandment. Marriage was instituted by divine edict.”
God promised the Prophet Joseph Smith in a revelation,”If a man marry a wife by…the new and everlasting covenant…by him who is anointed…it…shall be of full force when they are out of the world.” Therefore, those sealed in a Mormon temple have the promise that their relationship will continue on forever. However, they must honor the covenants they made to each another and to God when they married. Only disobedience can break the eternal bond of a husband and wife. It is necessary to continue in love and respect in the relationship, and to keep the commandments of Christ, enduring to the end in righteousness. Those who are married for eternity by the proper authority and endure to the end in righteousness, repenting when necessary, will inherit the highest level of heavenly glory.
An eternal marriage not only blesses the husband and wife, but their children. The couple is sealed together, and any children they have are sealed to them. An eternal marriage is not only an eternal marriage, but the basis of an eternal family. The blessings of God will come upon each of them individually and jointly.
Remember that God told Adam and Eve to “multiply and replenish the earth.” Marriage is companionship – beyond and above that, it is the beginning of a family. In The Family: A Proclamation to the World it states,
“the first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife. Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to care for each other and for their children.”
What Mormons believe about marriages, indeed, is that they need to be strong, and the families need to be strong with them. Infidelity and indifference can easily be fatal to a marriage and a family. Family Home Evening, family prayers, family scripture reading are all strengthening activities, and every day should be a reminder that the family is eternal, the marriage is eternal – everyone should be friends, and everyone should love each other. Elder F. Burton Howard said this about marriage,
“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.”