January 23rd, 2011

Strengthening Marriage from Internal and External Threats

I gave the following talk in another ward today:



photo credit: crschmidt

The Purpose of Marriage

As is generally the case, the subject I’ve been asked to speak on is one for which I yet have much to learn, and significant room to improve. Yet, it is one that is central to our faith, and crucial for building a healthy and vibrant society. I speak of the institution of marriage, and, specifically, how to strengthen that institution.

What is marriage? Marriage is a covenant, or promise, that a man and woman make to each other and to God. For our part, those covenanting to abide the law of celestial marriage promise: to remain faithful to one another and to God throughout all eternity; to confine our intimate affections and sexual relations to each other; to live in ways that contribute to happy and successful family life; and to "be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth."

God’s promises for those who faithfully adhere to this covenant include: eternal life in the world to come, and the glory of the celestial kingdom; an inheritance of "thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers"; exaltation in the highest degree of the celestial glory; and that we will come to know God the Father and Jesus Christ.

Marriage is, as Joseph Fielding Smith said, "an eternal principle upon which the very existence of mankind depends." These are not words used lightly. President Smith continued: "No ordinance connected with the gospel of Jesus Christ is of greater importance, of more solemn and sacred nature, and more necessary to the eternal joy of man than marriage in the house of the Lord" (Joseph Fielding Smith, The Way to Perfection).

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that "Marriage is sacred, ordained of God from before the foundation of the world." In "The Family: A Proclamation to the World" the men whom we sustain as prophets affirmed that "Marriage between man and woman is essential to [God’s] eternal plan." In the scriptures, the Lord teaches that men should cleave unto their wives, and "be one flesh."

To "cleave" means to unite, or to be united with. Thus, the foundational marital relationship is (ideally) one of unity, cohesion, and fidelity. Having noted that "it is not good for man to be alone", God made "an help meet" for him. Indeed, as Benjamin Franklin once observed, "A single man has not nearly the value he would have in a state of union. He is an incomplete animal. He resembles the odd half of a pair of scissors." Paul taught the Saints in Corinth: "Neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord." Elder David A. Bednar further explained the importance of this man/woman partnership:

By divine design, men and women are intended to progress together toward perfection and a fulness of glory. Because of their distinctive temperaments and capacities, males and females each bring to a marriage relationship unique perspectives and experiences. The man and the woman contribute differently but equally to a oneness and a unity that can be achieved in no other way. The man completes and perfects the woman and the woman completes and perfects the man as they learn from and mutually strengthen and bless each other.

Leaving the definition of marriage to the foregoing quotes, one might think that the covenant partnership of marriage is between the man and woman alone. An article published by the Church in August 2008, titled "The Divine Institute of Marriage," explains otherwise.

Marriage is not primarily a contract between individuals to ratify their affections and provide for mutual obligations. Rather, marriage and family are vital instruments for rearing children and teaching them to become responsible adults.

Marriage is the divinely-appointed institution through which God’s children are properly brought into this mortal realm, "entitled," as the Proclamation states, "to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity." Both marriage and family are separately listed within the Proclamation as being "ordained of God."

Marriage Under Attack

To understand how marriage should be strengthened, it’s important that we first recognize and understand how it is under attack. To do so, an analogy may prove helpful. Let us for a moment compare our own marriages to the metaphorical marital relationship between the Savior and his people. The scriptures are replete with instances of this metaphor, in which Christ refers to himself as the "Bridegroom," and the Church as his bride. The breakdown of this marital relationship after Christ established his Church while on the Earth was analyzed in great detail by Elder James E. Talmage in his book, The Great Apostasy. Throughout the book, Elder Talmage focuses on two main sources of the betrayal of Christ’s covenant: internal and external. In the following paragraph, he notes the greater influence of one source over the other:

Persecution [from external sources] at most was but an indirect cause of the decline of Christianity and the perversion of the saving principles of the gospel of Christ. The greater and more immediate dangers threatening the Church must be sought within the body itself. Indeed, the pressure of opposition from without served to restrain the bubbling springs of internal dissension, and actually delayed the more destructive eruptions of schism and heresy. A general review of the history of the Church down to the end of the third century shows that the periods of comparative peace were periods of weakness and decline in spiritual earnestness, and that with the return of persecution came an awakening and a renewal in Christian devotion. Devout leaders of the people were not backward in declaring that each recurring period of persecution was a time of natural and necessary chastisement for the sin and corruption that had gained headway within the Church. (James E. Talmage, The Great Apostasy, 84-85)

Thus, while we often hype and point a finger of blame towards external factors that threaten marriage, the most significant threats are internal ones. Increased pre-marital cohabitation, over-scheduled lives reducing time spent with one another, laws that attempt to alter marriage to include homosexual relationships, no-fault divorces—all these are but externalities that are secondary threats to our marriages.

As was the case with the early Church, the primary threats to our marriages come from within. Indeed, the external threats just mentioned, and many more which exist, can in fact serve to strengthen our marriages and increase our fidelity to one another and to God. In the scriptures we learn of various people being humbled through adversity, and becoming stronger in their faith as a result. The apostle Paul "[took] pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak," he said, "then am I strong."

What, then, are the internal threats that undermine our marriages? Consider the following passage by Joseph Milner, an 18th Century English Reverend and church historian, quoted extensively in Elder Talmage’s book. While Milner is referring to the internal threats that led to the early Church’s demise, think of the institution of marriage as you listen:

During this whole century the work of God, in purity and power, had been tending to decay. … Outward peace and secular advantages completed the corruption. Ecclesiastical discipline, which had been too strict, was now relaxed exceedingly; bishops and people were in a state of malice. Endless quarrels were fomented among contending parties, and ambition and covetousness had in general gained the ascendency in the Christian Church. The faith of Christ itself appeared now an ordinary business; and here terminated, or nearly so, as far as appears, that first great effusion of the Spirit of God, which began at the day of Pentecost. Human depravity effected throughout a general decay of godliness; and one generation of men elapsed with very slender proofs of the spiritual presence of Christ with His Church. (Ibid., 87)

In other words, the Church was plagued with division, dissension, loose standards and morals, a lack of observance of covenant promises, anger, contention, selfishness, and a rejection of God’s holy spirit. Similarly analyzing some of the problems besetting marriages in our day, then-Elder James E. Faust cited "selfishness, immaturity, lack of commitment, inadequate communication, and unfaithfulness" as examples. It should be noted that every item on that list as an internal threat.

Marriage on the Defense

Strengthening our marriages against all possible threats necessarily implies erecting defensive barriers. Though Captain Moroni went to exhaustive lengths to "[throw] up banks of earth round about to enclose his armies, and also building walls of stone to encircle them about" to protect from external threats, he was keenly aware of the higher danger of internal ones. Under the impression that those in charge of his government were full of sloth and neglect, he told them that "it will be expedient that we contend no more with the Lamanites until we have first cleansed our inward vessel." Moroni observed that "were it not for the wickedness which first commenced at our head, we could have withstood our enemies that they could have gained no power over us."

In our own marriages, we must seek to ward off any "selfishness, immaturity, lack of commitment, inadequate communication, and unfaithfulness" by proactively performing those tasks that run counter to such carnal tendencies. To fight selfishness, we must serve our spouse, spend time looking after their needs and desires, and place the concerns of others, where possible, before our own. To fight immaturity, we must seek after experiences that will mature our spiritual and emotional capacities, such as service, sacrifice, and education. To fight a lack of commitment, we must sacrifice to fulfill our obligations to our spouse and children, and prioritize them above other secondary demands on our time. To fight inadequate communication, we must hold family councils, conduct daily family prayer, and engage in conversation on enlightening and uplifting topics. To fight unfaithfulness, we must reserve our intimate actions, feelings, and thoughts only for our spouse, and none else.

Once we have taken the steps necessary to ensure that our marriages are strengthened against internal threats, we can focus on the external ones. We can do things to lessen the impact of ever-changing societal normals and influences, such as getting rid of the television and putting filters on our computers. The onslaught of today’s media and its less-than-virtuous messages is enough of a reason to defend ourselves and our marriages against its corrosion. We can decline or decrease demands on our time that take us out of the home and away from opportunities for interaction with our spouse and family. We can manage our finances wisely and ignore enticing opportunities to take on debt in pursuit of entertainment or prosperity. We can become involved in the public arena to defend the institution of marriage itself against those who seek to redefine its very meaning.

A key to a strong defense is erecting thicker barriers at the weakest points. Of Captain Moroni’s efforts we read that "in their weakest fortifications he did place the greater number of men; and thus he did fortify and strengthen the land…" While we can analyze general threats to marriage as we have just done, every situation is different. In our marriages, we should thoroughly analyze our own weaknesses, our deficiencies, and our greatest areas of temptation, and more proactively and thoroughly implement actions that will allow us to correct sinful or bad behavior.

Marriage on the Offense

Marriage is not a relationship, however, that should be relegated to the defensive position throughout life. We have been instructed to "be… an example of the believers," and let our light shine before men. In a world where marriage is quickly becoming loosely defined, deemed as irrelevant or unnecessary, and viewed as a temporary commitment more likely to end in divorce than not, positive examples of marriage are extremely important. Elder Neal A. Maxwell stated that:

Latter-day Saints therefore have no choice but to stand up and to speak up whenever the institution of the family is concerned, even if we are misunderstood, resented, or brushed aside.

While setting an example for the rest of society is clearly an important and divinely-mandated task, the most receptive audience will be our own children. As President Monson has said:

Are our examples worthy of emulation? Do we live in such a way that a son or a daughter may say, "I want to follow my dad," or "I want to be like my mother"? Unlike the book on the library shelf, the covers of which shield the contents, our lives cannot be closed. Parents, we truly are an open book.

Similarly, President Gordon B. Hinckley once taught:

The strength of the nations lies in the homes of the people. God is the designer of the family. He intended that the greatest of happiness, the most satisfying aspects of life, the deepest joys should come in our associations together and our concerns one for another as fathers and mothers and children.

Thrust into a society that thrives on chaos, controversy, and contention, balance is needed in the form of strong marriages whose members demonstrate through word and deed the power, peace, and protection that such a strong bond creates. As Elder Maxwell has written: "The ways of the world receive constant reinforcement—should not the ways of heaven?"

A recent article that has been circulated widely in the past week provides an interesting—if anecdotal—example of the power of demonstrating and promoting strong marriages. Published on a well-known internet media site, its author is a self-described "standard-issue late-20-something childless overeducated atheist feminist" who writes about her obsession with "Mormon mommy blogs"—websites created by Latter-day Saint women who share a behind-the-scenes look into their lives for all the world to see.

The author referenced "confessions" from "other young non-religious women similarly riveted by the shiny, happy domestic lives of their Latter-day Saint sisters." Her own analysis of this obsession was that peering into the lives of these women was "weirdly uplifting."

Our marriages can and should be uplifting to those around us, demonstrating fidelity to one another, commitment to God, and a desire to serve, love, and show affection for each other. While defensive measures are needed to ensure our bonds of matrimony are fortified to withstand any assault, we must go on the "offense," as it were, and let the world see what eternal marriages look like.

Conclusion

Being "an eternal principle upon which the very existence of mankind depends," marriage is a covenant in which we should invest significant time and energy. Rather than worrying primarily about external threats, we should focus our attention on defensive, proactive measures that will counteract selfishness, contention, or infidelity. And since "the plan of happiness requires the righteous union of… husband and wife," as Boyd K. Packer has noted, let us work to be happy—even "weirdly uplifting"—and share that happiness with those who wish to observe, and hopefully emulate, the characteristics of a healthy, happy, eternal marriage.

28 Responses to “Strengthening Marriage from Internal and External Threats”

  1. Rebekah Whyte
    January 23, 2011 at 2:32 pm #

    Thanks Connor, that was a brilliant way to explain the importance of marriage and our duty to protect it. I find the only way to freedom of religion and the ability to conduct our marriage how we feel God wants us is to get government out of the marriage business altogether. Our savior has taught by example and that is how we should teach instead of through laws and restrictions. I am grateful for this article and I will pass it along. :)

  2. Charles D
    January 23, 2011 at 2:57 pm #

    I understand your point about internal threats to marriage, but am somewhat confused about external threats.

    You name a few: “…Increased pre-marital cohabitation, over-scheduled lives reducing time spent with one another, laws that attempt to alter marriage to include homosexual relationships, no-fault divorces”. I fail to see how any of these poses a threat to an otherwise happy and committed married couple except the over-scheduling problem which is one the couple is fully able to control.

    If my next-door neighbors are singles cohabiting, or a gay couple legally married, or get a divorce, I may need to take the opportunity to talk to my children about why those behaviors are not condoned by the church, but do any of them threaten my marriage? I think not.

    I agree with Rebekah that the government should not be in the marriage business and we need to make a clear distinction between marriage (which you describe quite well as a religious institution) and the civil union that legally joins people together and entitles them to several legal and tax advantages. I fail to see any reason why expanding that civil union to include same-sex couples or even polygamous unions would pose any threat to the religious institution of marriage.

  3. mormonconsecrationist
    January 23, 2011 at 6:39 pm #

    if you are a strong person, #2 (Charles D) then those things might not threaten your marriage, but many young people are socially vulnerable and cave to the influence of their peers–

    in the church the marriage rate is down, and unfaithfulness and not marrying are easier than ever to ‘perform’–

    sadly–

    as a parent of young adults (single and married) I don’t think it was as hard for *our* generation (the generation that married in the 60s and 70s) as it is for our children–

    young men don’t ‘court’; young women are left wondering what to do with their lives; it’s very difficult–

    even more horrifying is how ‘forward’ so many young women have become–

    we have a married son who has been pursued by a number of single (LDS) young women–

    facebook makes it very difficult–

    one teenaged girl in our ward was texting our son (many states away) after he married and left; he wasn’t sure what to do with her–

    his wife wasn’t sure what to do with her–

    finally, the young woman stopped, but our son had to say, “why are you doing this?”–

    our societal boundaries have become very fuzzy; it’s really difficult–

    things that were taboo decades ago are no longer taboo–

    a person has to be quite strong to keep a successful marriage now–

  4. Brian
    January 23, 2011 at 7:49 pm #

    Charles D, if we are going to take marriage out of government entirely, leaving only civil unions in its place, then why have civil unions at all? What social problem does the tax-advantaged status of civil unions purport to solve? I was under the impression that marriage, as opposed to cohabitation & “sleeping around” etc, was originally made tax advantaged because it was viewed as a good thing to society in general. So, what makes so-called civil unions “good” for society? Why do we want to encourage them? Many of the legal advantages gained from the status of being civilly joined can be obtained in different ways. Ex: a will. By making an explicit will, you can leave all of your inheritance to whomever you want when you pass away.

    If marriage is ever completely removed from government, leaving only civil unions, I would think hard about fully supporting the full removal of civil unions from said government, including any tax and legal advantages of them.

  5. Charles D
    January 24, 2011 at 8:48 am #

    It’s quite true that many aspects of our modern culture threaten traditional marriage. The sexualization of our popular entertainment and the advent of effective birth control have made alternative liaisons more attractive to many. Unfortunately there is little that can be done about these societal changes and they are welcomed by many of our fellow citizens. The behaviors noted by mormonconsecrationist are private ones that government is powerless to stop, short of unacceptable levels of interference in our private lives.

    Brian, you raise a good point. The many rights and privileges that are now assigned only to those legally joined (usually called marriage) are based on a traditional belief that committed relationships are better for society than promiscuity. Given the high rates of divorce, adultery, and domestic abuse these days, that position is much harder to defend. Those who have the strength of character and the strong moral code to make a lifetime exclusive commitment do benefit society, but there’s really nothing the government does or can do here. Marriage is properly a religious institution and one’s religious community is better qualified to evaluate and support that kind of commitment and morality.

    If we continue providing significant advantages to persons who have a civil union then we should not place artificial restrictions on those who are eligible to enter into those unions. Alternatively as Brian suggests, we should eliminate the tax and legal advantages now associated with marriage.

  6. JJL9
    January 24, 2011 at 11:37 am #

    I agree that government really has not business “encouraging” good, moral behavior, like marriage between a man and a woman, even when that behavior benefits society.

    The reason that we can’t trust government to encourage moral behavior is because then it will be up to government to decide what moral behavior is and what behavior will benefit society.

    While all of us in this discussion agree and even know with certainty that strong marriages between men and women and strong family units are the fundamental building blocks of society and the only way to create a stable society, “government” may not, and in the case of the Federal government, certainly will not, agree with us.

    That is why we must fight to keep government in its proper roll.

    This discussion validates this principle because although a majority of Americans and governement itself once recognized the benefit of marriage between a man and a woman, and hence laws were created to encourage that behavior, we have moved into an era where good is called evil, and evil good. It is no longer “politically correct” to encourage marriage between a man and a woman and not afford the same encouragement to marriage between same sex couples.

    This same idea will carry over to virtually any other behavior that we want to use government to encourage. Don’t like alcohol? Well, ban it. But if you do, be prepared to see salt banned too. And what else is next? Meat?

    Not to change the topic of the discussion, but the principle does not change based on the circumstance.

    The answer is not to allow same sex couples the same benefits as “normal” couples, (at which point we would be using government to actually encourage same sex marriage) but to eliminate the benefits all together.

  7. mormonconsecrationist
    January 25, 2011 at 10:10 am #

    well, I haven’t been understood . . . lol!

    which isn’t unusual–

    when I saw the term ‘external threats’ and read Charles D’s comment that those threats couldn’t ‘hurt’ *his* marriage–

    I wasn’t implying that the government should get involved, not at all–

    I’m not sure government should be involved either–

    I was simply pointing out that cultural influences are becoming an overwhelming concern–

    I’m not asking that the government step in, but as in the case of the young woman in our ward who just happened to ask for my son’s cell phone number at his open house when he was here with his bride–
    (after a temple marriage)

    and began texting him–and why did he give it to her? Well, all he could see was a sweet, harmless girl he had known years earlier as a ‘little’ girl, and in his moment of joy at his open house he gave it to her–thinking little of it–

    30 years ago girls didn’t do that–

    or if they did, someone ‘spoke’ to them about it–

    technology and cultural changes ARE a threat–

    My son’s marriage was not damaged by the young woman in our ward, but her behavior has gone on to becoming more and more out of control, and she has influenced others in the ward–

    and yes, she is still ‘active’, but very out of control–

    one of my single young adults recently said, “what ever happened to manners, boundaries, etc.? Why don’t parents and YW leaders TALK to these girls?”–

    (since that young woman isn’t the only one out of control)

    I see serious problems ahead for more than marriages–

    :(

    And I am the last one to call for government interference–

    the parents of this young woman think the behavior is ‘cute’–

    and they are ward leaders–

    yes, trouble ahead–

    all will pay for the irresponsibility of some–

  8. Justin
    January 25, 2011 at 4:20 pm #

    Another way to keep marriage on the offense is to teach that marriage without a marriage license is ordained of God and act accordingly.

  9. AV
    January 26, 2011 at 1:26 am #

    The destructions coming very soon, because of the disintegration of marriage & family are probably unstoppable at this point, because everyone in the Church, except a rare person, has been deceived to fall for the destructive philosophies of men regarding ‘marriage’, which is the lifeblood of the Church & the world.

    Everyone today, even most Church leaders it seems, considers ‘Satan’s favorite tool’ of divorce, a sad but exceptable solution to any marriage problem. But even most all justified divorces destroy whole families, churches & societies. Divorce is always destructive.

    Divorce has become a rampant plague in the Church & in society, that is ever growing because of how extremely contagious it is. Only those who actively join the fight against it, are safe from it. All those who stand silent or choose to support divorce around them, will bring the plague upon their own house.

    The basic cause for all divorces is because one or both spouses has broken their covenants to love & serve their spouse above themselves & everything else. They have not taken their covenants seriously & have given up on their spouse & marriage & God.

    Staying & being in love with our spouse is always a choice, no matter what our spouse is like, & only those with Unconditional True Love for their spouse, as Christ has for us, will be able to preserve their promise of Exaltation & save their marriages & families for eternity, no matter what.

    It must be understood that some form of ‘spouse abuse’ (force & selfishness) is always the basic reason for these broken covenants & divorce, either because the spouse themselves are abusive or their spouse is abusive, which usually causes the abused spouse to break their covenants too, for few turn to God for guidance & relief from their pain, sorrow & anger at being abused.

    It must be realized that spouse abuse, in any of it’s many forms, has always occurred in most all marriages throughout the earth’s existence. It is only now that it has been given a name & an easier way out of abusive marriages.

    God knew beforehand that this would be the case in most all marriages on earth. Thus he has warned us through Prophets that it is the disposition of nearly all men to immediately become abusive when given any seeming authority, this is especially true in marriage.

    Though women also can be very abusive, men have controlled & abused women & forced them into a secondary position in the home & society in almost every major society since the world began. Most women throughout history have enjoyed very few of their God given rights compared to the many rights men have allowed themselves to have. Most men have believed themselves to have authority & say over the women & have not honored a wife’s equal voice, power & position in the home, church & society.

    Even modern Prophets have confirmed the abusiveness of most men. Pres. Hinckley said that men are the cause of most divorces. And history & statistics prove this to be true.

    So what is the remedy? When God himself knew that most men would abuse their wives? Why would he ask women to marry men & become so vulnerable to them when most men would not be able to keep their covenants to love & serve her above himself?

    The answer is in civil & religious leaders. God instituted churches & governments to protect women, especially from their husband’s abuse. Abusive husbands pose more of a threat to nations, societies & churches then any foreign power or corrupt government leader ever did.

    For when marriages fall apart or when wives & mothers are not safe & happy, it is impossible to raise righteous children & thus society soon fails.

    If women are wise & good enough to marry as righteous a man as she could find in the 1st place, then God has set up a system that if & when the man started to abuse her, the civil & religious leaders would protect her & discipline him & force him to repent if he wanted to remain free & with his family.

    We all know how Moroni would handle abusive men & the penalties he would enforce on those who won’t repent & even the penalties he would enforce upon any man or leader who wouldn’t protect women & children, from such abuse.

    Most all divorces can be stopped almost immediately by 2 vital things. ‘Women’ willing to teach & expect respect & faithfulness from their husbands (for most women go along with abuse, usually denying it) & ‘leaders’ willing to back up women & protect them, instead of protecting the abusive man, which is usually what happens today.

    The divorce problem will only get worse & the destructions coming upon us will only get closer if leaders do not do their most important responsibility, (that of protecting women & children from abuse). If leaders continue to ignor women’s pleas & instead support men in their abuse & abandonment of wives & families & allow men to abandon their sacred responsibilities of completely supporting the family, then things will only get much worse in the Church & society.

    The coming destructions are almost upon us because most Church leaders today seem to look the other way & tolerate & even often encourage abuse & abandonment. Most seem to completely lack discernment to detect men who are abusive & abandoning their wives & seem unwilling & unable to help stop abuse & abandonment & instead allow unjustified divorce & unjustified remarriage with few questions asked.

    If men & leaders won’t protect women & children, then God will do it himself, by destroying those who won’t.

    If women are not once again protected by righteous men & leaders from abuse & abandonment, so these mothers can once again raise & nurture their children in peace & safety, society & even the Church has no chance of survival.

    Nothing will save our nation or this Church until women are saved from the abuse & abandonment of their husbands. And it only takes a few good men to protect 100’s if not 1000’s of women.

    By 1st dealing with the problem of abusive men, we can then easily & effectively deal with any problems with abusive women.

  10. mormonconsecrationist
    January 26, 2011 at 10:23 am #

    #9, AV, interesting–

    I think you have some good points here, but I also think it is more complicated than this–

    there are cultural and economic issues as well.

    *We* could simply say that happy marriages are difficult to maintain in a telestial world (Babylon). *We* could mention that since Roe versus Wade the divorce rate has soared.

    *We* could add that a crumbling empire that invests in perpetual war destroys families.

    There are other factors. In my ward, now, one of the chief problems *we* have is in a family dominated by a very hard-hearted woman whose husband quakes and obeys her every command.

    So, I don’t know.

    I think you have some valid points. Abuse should not be tolerated. Nor should war. Nor should destruction of the constitution–(Roe versus Wade is only one example)–

    http://www.comewhatmaythemovie.com/

    nor should bad treatment of the poor and minorities–

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jwGWDis2dJw

    There are many factors, but then one has to start somewhere. I think the destruction at this point can not be held back; I do believe there will be a humbling.

  11. AV
    January 26, 2011 at 11:16 am #

    Mormonc.,

    I agree that there a many many issues that all contribute to the downfall a society but I believe that most of these issues stems from one thing, the failure of spouses to keep their marriage covenants to have unconditional true love for their spouse no matter what.

    As one prophet said, Marriage is the foundation of happiness in the home & the nation.

    If couples would be righteous & kept in check by leaders, they could raise mostly righteous children, which in turn would correct most all the other cultural & economic issues & wars & unconstiutional laws & even abusive women.

    BY said that most all women would be righteous if their husbands were righteous & loving, but he said it is not so with men. He said even men who have loving good wives often still will not live their religion. Thus the need for leaders who will protect women & even men when needed.

    Most abusive women would repent if men did not allow such abuse & instead expected respect & taught their wives how to treat them respectfully & lovingly, (assuming he was respecting & loving her in return) & the leaders backed up even abused men in such cases.

    Thanks for your reply.

  12. AV
    January 26, 2011 at 2:33 pm #

    Mormonc,

    I also believe, that in the last 50 years or so, women have become more hard-hearted than ever before. So a man today must be careful asking for respect from a hard-hearted wife who can unfortunately leave him & take the children if he complained too much about her behavior.

    Thus it’s a tricky thing, especially since the innocent spouse’s rights (like with children & finances) in a marriage aren’t usually protected by law anymore from their spouse’s abuse or abandonment.

    Such a man’s best bet is probably to continue to love & serve his wife, for obeying a wife’s every wish is not a bad thing, in fact it is what Heavenly Father wants husbands to do & what he promised to do, no matter what the wife is like, unless she asks for something evil. And women should do the same for husbands.

    And If the man is serving her this way she is more likely to respond to his small (at 1st) requests of asking her for things he would like. For helping her learn to serve him more & more is what will bring the Spirit & love for him back into her heart.

  13. mormonconsecrationist
    January 27, 2011 at 2:45 pm #

    it’s all difficult and complicated, isn’t it? I guess that is why *we* are ‘down here’ on earth, to experience this.

    Oh, that man could be persuaded to be holy, and women would follow–

    !

  14. soph
    February 3, 2011 at 3:42 pm #

    The real evil is not the divorce itself, when it is justified and in some cases required by God, but rather, the real evil is what happened in the marriage making a divorce the best option for the safety, spirituality, and self-respect of the individuals and children involved. It’s all avoidable, of course, but it takes 2 people to make a happy marriage and only one to make a hellish one.
    We’re more often than not too quick to judge what happens in other homes, and we do need to trust our church leaders rather than criticize them when they seem to be too lenient on someone during or after their divorce. Sometimes divorce is the only way a righteous person can have a second chance at eternal marriage after a terrible marriage to someone who doesn’t care to work for that same goal. Like was said in conference, it can be a needed escape hatch, but it would be nice if escape wasn’t needed in the first place.

  15. Howard
    February 5, 2011 at 11:01 pm #

    Mormonc, I scanned this thread and believe I have a solution for the situation concerning your son, if it becomes an issue again. Justin seems to have some insight on D&C section 132.(see his link) Perhaps if a young lady (assuming she is a virgin, we don’t want to go against the celestial law) begins to pursue your son, he could fulfill the “new and everlasting covenant” described in section 132. If his young bride has an issue with it, there are words of comfort that were spoken to Emma in the section as well. Just a thought, hope it helps.

  16. AV
    February 6, 2011 at 11:42 am #

    Soph,

    God never requires divorce. He never wants anyone to divorce & break their covenants to even their wicked spouse & remarry. He requires & commands us to have True Love, at least for those who want to gain Exaltation. A spouse with the True Love of Christ never fails, tires or gives up, even on a wicked spouse.

    Even if a ‘temporary’ life long separation for safety is needed from a destructive spouse, that does not mean the innocent spouse should break their sacred covenants too & date & remarry someone else & abandon their wicked spouse just when they need them most.

    There is no second chances for a celestial marriage. We either prove we will have true love for our 1st spouse or we don’t.

    The Prophets have said that the sacredness of marriage has entirely been lost today, for most everyone will jump out of the boat when the going gets rough & not keep their covenants to have true love.

    True love doesn’t come because our spouse loves us, we gain it by loving them anyway, even when they don’t deserve it, like Christ does for us.

    A Celestial marriage requires True Love, no matter what. For anyone can love someone who loves them back, that is no test. The test is loving your enemy, especially if it’s your spouse, even if you have to love & serve them & stay faithful to them from a safe distance til they repent someday.

    Good & honorable people may justifiably divorce & remarry but that would be a Terrestrial level marriage, for they have still ‘broken’ & ‘not honored’ their ‘sacred celestial marriage covenants’ to their 1st spouse & have refused to have the Celestial requirement of ‘true love’ for their 1st spouse & thus have destroyed their children’s right to have their parents love each other forever.

    Those who divorce & remarry without justification would be living a Telestial remarriage for it would just be adultery, even if they deceived their way through interviews & into the temple for their remarriage.

    We don’t promise to love each other over the altar just until the other stops loving us. We instead promise ‘unconditional true love’.

    Almost every couple in the church has at times, at least one spouse not willing to work for the same goal & who is abusing the other in some way. Does God want everyone to divorce when ever they feel their spouse has stopped working at the marriage or has become wicked? That would mean God wants a 90%+ divorce rate. I don’t believe that for one moment.

    No, of course not, he wants them to save their marriage & spouse by the power of True Love, if even from a safe distance.

    Divorce, even justified divorce, destroys both spouses & the children & churches & societies as we are seeing today, & swiftly brings the destructions & calamities & holocausts foretold by prophets.

    Only True Love can save a marriage & family & society. Anything less will bring destruction.

    And It only takes ‘one’ spouse who has true love to save any marriage, for eventually, even if not until the next life, the other spouse will repent & do the same.

    Marriage is not about getting our own needs met or being happy & loved in this life necessarily, though that is nice when it happens, but for most it doesn’t. Like Christ did, we are here on earth to forget about our own needs & desires, & put our spouse’s welfare 1st, both physically & spiritually, whether they deserve it or not.

    God commands us to marry & prove our willingness to love, serve & save if necessary, our spouse & children, even if they become wicked, with the power of True Love & our faithfulness to them & our covenants.

    Even if a rare temporary divorce is necessary for safety reasons, a person with true love would never break their covenants & date or remarry. They just could never do it. They would love their wicked spouse too much.

    Though that doesn’t mean they like what the wicked spouse does, but they would have forgiveness & love in their heart & they would wait for & help their wicked spouse to repent someday, (for everyone must eventually repent in this life or the next). A person with true love would rather die than remarry & break their covenants to & lose their wicked spouse.

    True love is the requirement of Exaltation, no matter what your spouse is like.

    Heavenly Father knew that in nearly every marriage. even in the church, one or both spouses would be justified to divorce, so he tests us to see who will keep their covenants anyway & have the true love of Christ for their spouse & thus save their marriage & family for all eternity.

    God gave us ‘Marriage’ & ‘the sealing power of true love’ so we could save our spouse’s soul & by doing so save our own in the process.

    Even ‘justified’ divorce & remarriage destroys everyone involved, for it destroys the Celestial example & teaching of True Love, which is the whole Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    Rare is the person who actually believes in the true Gospel of Jesus Christ today & possesses this true love for their spouse.

    The sad reality is that if parents don’t teach true love by example, their children will not believe in it or have it either.

    True love is manifest not in easy marriages but in the hardest ones of all.

  17. mormonconsecrationist
    February 7, 2011 at 3:27 pm #

    um, Howard, #15, I assume you are being entertaining–

    #1–*I* am old-fashioned and don’t believe young women should be pursuing young men, even if they aren’t already married and . . .

    #2–her virginity may or may not be in question, but her emotional/social/mental/spiritual stability certainly is!

    She’s . . . H . . . e . . . double toothpick on wheels and long out of my son’s life–

    but still in our ward, wrecking havoc–

    If you were serious about section 132 . . . I’m not. I think it was written to fulfill a requirement, no more, no less–

    and even if it WERE to be reinstated . . . girls chasing men are . . . trouble–

    no hard feelings, o.k.?

  18. Howard
    February 7, 2011 at 5:17 pm #

    mormonc, yes I was being a little snarkey. I’m sorry. I have four daughters of my own, not of dating age yet.

    My wife and I have discussed the issue and agree courting is a much better system than dating. Our view is why get involved with someone who you would not consider marrying.

    It is a shame that young girls can be so forward. It puts young men in difficult positions. Perhaps the pressure put on girls to find an eternal partner contributes to this pursuit problem.

    As far as the D&C reference. I understand in order to keep faith in the religion, certain utterances of past prophets need to be marginalized into the realm of dispensationalism.

    My wife and I pray for our girls’ future spouses, that God is raising them up to be men of God and men who will lead their household in a way pleasing to Him.

  19. mormonconsecrationist
    February 8, 2011 at 8:54 am #

    only two unmarried daughters here (one of marriageable age), and we’re doing the same thing; we also believe that dating is such a flawed concept that it should be scrapped–

    to this point both of our daughters have agreed with us–

    finding a place within the LDS system is very difficult, however; this culture pushes dating; the YSA program is very dating-centered.

    It can be discouraging–

    Perhaps it is marginalization; in reality, that is what *I* do with section 132, but I also think that to every thing there is a season, and for that issue, this is not the season, thankfully–

    We, too, pray for our children’s spouses–

  20. mormonconsecrationist
    February 8, 2011 at 9:05 am #

    AV, you have some bold ideas, and the more I think about them, the more I like them, yet . . .

    this is very much like the old ‘idea’ about the Ten Commandments–

    I remember when, many years ago, someone suggested that Jehovah first gave the Celestial law to the Israelites, that Moses realized they couldn’t handle it, so he went back and asked for the Ten Commandments, which are good, but–
    and which grew into rabbinical tradition, etc.–

    (I don’t have all the correct history here, for the sake of ‘argument’ I won’t even try)–

    the fact is that, just as the Israelites wanted a king, the present-day LDS want their divorce to be ‘handy’, just in case.

    I want to be very careful; I have seen some instances where it did seem that divorce was the only answer, and I don’t want to be self-righeous, because I have had no personal involvement in divorce, not with myself/companion–

    but I have seen how divorce wrecks children from firsthand–

    it has been all around me, while I have, *knocking on wood here*, been able to keep the wolves from the door, so to speak–

    In *my* humble opinion, much of the blame for this needs to be placed at the feet of the present U.S. legal system–

    the idea of no-fault divorce, the idea that expensive divorces are the answer, when, in fact, separation, CAN be a much more humane option–

    but it is humane only when partners agree not to remarry–

    it is humane only if there is a certain amount of chastity involved–

    I once read an essay on divorce/separation about how, since lawyers were able to make SO much more money on divorce than on separation, few people even KNEW that there was an option–
    and I read another essay/article on the concept of the difficult spouse, or the recalcitrant spouse, as long as he/she was not a child abuser . . . living in something like a ‘widow’s’ house in the backyard, having access to the children under certain circumstances and remaining, as either the husband or wife, responsible for his/her part of raising the children, taking care of the home, etc.

    In other words, if a wife decided she no longer could be married . . . that she refused to participate, and there was little or no fault in the husband, she would live in the little house out back and continue to take care of the children as a mother–
    and if the husband decided that he would no longer participate, he would continue to go to work, provide for the family and play with the children, and there would be no money lost to lawyers, or very little, but with the one stipulation, there could be no remarriage, and there would be no cohabitation; the children would see each parent as single–
    but together they would raise the family; women would not have to go to work, etc., etc.–

    it all sounds good on paper, but in actuality, people will get what they want–

    thanks to the 60s, most people believe that s#x is a ‘right’, not a responsbility–

    so people will get/take what they want–

    but I liked that concept, even the idea that people could KNOW about it–

    because, frankly, marriage is not required in this life; it is encouraged, but as long as the individual remains faithful, it will not be held, at least against women, that there be no marriage–

    the idea that a woman whose husband has abused her MUST divorce and remarry or she has no ‘hope’ is silly when there are so many women around who never marry at all, through no fault of their own–

    and yet, in real life, all of us know those people who have done so–

    children are damaged; I can ‘testify’ to that; I am married to a child of divorce, and I can see the deep, deep damage–

    one of my siblings divorced, and I can see the deep damage in his children–

    one of my siblings is married to the child of a divorce, and again, there is deep damage–

    really, the only thing that helps is to obey–

    and most of Father in Heaven’s children don’t want to do that–

    it’s hard to obey, after all.

    :(

  21. AV
    February 8, 2011 at 9:55 am #

    Mormonc,

    You make some great points. Thank you for commenting.

    I do realize that there may be some rare divorces that are needed for ‘safety & legal reasons’, but remarriage after divorce is ‘never’ necessary or best & usually, if not always, only brings more problems. But few have the spirituality & true love to remain unmarried & focus all their time, energy & money on the former spouse & children & help them heal & help put the marriage back together someday when it’s safe.

    You are right, people will usually do what they want, not considering the cost to others, especially their children.

    I agree that No-fault divorce has added greatly to the disintegration of the family. ‘Divorce’ is big business, not just for lawyers but for many other professionals too, so there is little hope that anyone but the truly humble will help stop it all.

    And even though most present LDS do support or choose divorce & ‘justified’ divorce is a lesser law, it still is not a Celestial law & thus will not save us & we lose our Exaltation for living a lesser law instead of the higher law of ‘True Love’.

  22. mormonconsecrationist
    February 8, 2011 at 2:35 pm #

    Thank you for your comments, too–

  23. soph
    February 11, 2011 at 4:00 pm #

    Let me just state for the record that I absolutely agree with the post, but I do heartily disagree with some of the blanket statements made in the comments section. I find it dangerous and cruel to say that there are no second chances at eternal marriage for those who have been divorced, justified or otherwise.

    Who are we to judge whether the divorces of our neighbors will keep them out of the highest level of the Celestial kingdom?

    I know that God commands some divorces, from both experience and from discussing it with priesthood leaders. It’s one of God’s tender mercies, allowing us to be absolved of a covenant when it has been broken already on our behalf, and allowing us to make a new covenant in its place, which will not be any less valid in this life or in the hereafter.

    God states in D&C 132: 44-45 that he takes some wives away and gives them to more righteous men under particularly egregious circumstances. If He states that He does it in scripture, then we need to be less judgmental and acquiesce that sometimes divorce is (more often it’s not, but I’m addressing the assertion that divorce is always the wrong course of action) commanded.

    For a divorced person Celestial marriage is still within grasp considering that repentance DOES work, and that no righteous person will be denied any of the blessings of God, including an eternal marriage. The changes that need to be made to make that possible can happen in this life or in the next, including and up to a change of partner.

    Divorce is a negative thing, being born of evils in the relationship, but it’s not always wrong as it’s sometimes made out to look by people who would rather judge their neighbors than trust that sometimes God asks us to do things that our peers might judge us harshly for (consider Abraham, Nephi, etc.), but which are right.

    Staying married while separated for a lifetime may be right for some people, but it’s not the best thing for everyone, and that does not mean that true love, charity, and forgiveness are not present. God is more merciful than we even know, and sometimes it’s in the moments when he tells us that it’s time to end our suffering that we can learn to what extent he really loves us. And who are we to say that that’s going too easy on us?

    What’s right for one is not necessarily right for all. God treats us as individuals looking at what’s best for us rather than what is usually best, and he also commanded us to not judge, partially for that very same reason.

  24. mormonconsecrationist
    February 12, 2011 at 5:28 pm #

    I think it’s very important to realize that divorce has become a massive epidemic, and because of that it seems necessary to try to stem it.

    I’m a considerably older than most people on discussion boards, I believe; I was a mature adult before personal computers became common. I have seen so very many unnecessary divorces.

    Even now, someone close to me is having a marriage threatened by a toxic in-law.

    I can’t even begin to tell you, as a person who married a child of divorce how long-lasting and far-reaching the effects can be. If I went into too much detail I would be exposing my privacy in ways I prefer not to, but I can tell you that a tremendous amount of unnecessary suffering was caused by one divorce. It extended into so many areas of life.
    As I said now, my heart is in my throat as we make an attempt, contacting bishops, etc. to try to stop a toxic in-law who has become almost evil in a desire, for reasons we aren’t sure how to comprehend, to end a marriage.
    The society, the culture supports divorce; selfish people know that and will push and destroy families.

    There may be times when people survive epidemics; there may be times when the immune systems of a few are strengthened by having endured a plague, but far too often there are only dead victims.

    Theoretically, philosophically, of course, you are right.

    But, I’ll continue to work with all my heart and might to end this plague–

    always realizing that free will comes into play, but also realizing that often free will is countered by those pushing for the destruction of marriages.

    It is, after all, a very big business.

  25. mormonconsecrationist
    February 13, 2011 at 9:28 am #

    I apologize, Soph, for not addressing you directly–

    I did use *you*, so I should have the courtesy to respond to YOU.

    :)

    I understand exceptions. More than many people, I think. And I do understand that the Atonement is for this very reason.

    Trouble is, I see the pollutions of a culture/society . . .

    and I want very much to see things be clear and clean.

  26. jim
    February 25, 2011 at 1:21 pm #

    Connor,
    Thats definately a Christian and specifically LDS view of things. What I would kindly ask christians and Mormons to pause maybe once in their life and humbly think that perhaps they aren’t seeing the complete picture, and could be wrong about something.

  27. robert j wildin
    March 24, 2011 at 9:18 pm #

    The problem with marriage is “marriage”. The joining of a couple in a marriage ceremony before a religious leader, be it a minister, rabbi, bishop, prophet, priest, pope, etc. is accepted as a ‘religious’ marriage. The joining of a couple before a clerk, mayor, etc. is a ‘civil’ marriage. the ‘relig[ous’ marriage is a covenat between god and the couple. The ‘civil’ marriage is a contract between the couple and the state. In order for a ‘religious’ marriage be recognized by the state, it must be recorded in a state record.

    The two different meanings of marriage is a major point of controversy. Couples can be divored in a civil ceremony which disolves the ‘cilvil’ marriage. This does not mean the the couple are divorced religiousy.

    A second problem exists because the laws which refer to marriage are civil laws. These laws are often used to provide benefits to those who have a ‘religious’ marriage while excluding those wh do not meet the requirements for a ‘religious’ marriage. The most obvious today are the (gay and lesbian couples seeking the benefits of ‘civil’ marriage. First they are restricted from a ‘civil’ marraige because the laws were law makers writing these laws only concerned with ‘religious’ marriage. From this, it naturally follows that all benefits associated with marriage actually only
    with ‘religious’ marriage. These benefits include taxes, health, pension, and service in the military. A married couple with a single working spouse receives a deduction for both spouse plus a lower tax rate. If one of the gay or lesbian couple is hospitalized, the other cannot authorize treatment. It must be a relative. If there is no provisioh for a judge to authorize the treatment, or the relative or judge does not authorize the treatment in time, the person hospitalized in extreme cases could die. Many pension plans have provisions for a spouse to receive a pension if the breadwinner dies before he or she dies. A man joined the military during a time of crisis and checked yes where it asked if he was gay. He served 18 years with distinction. It was only when he attempted to reenlist to complete twenty years and retire. He was denied reenlistment. It was only after he fought through the federal legal system, that he was allowed to reenlist and retire.

    As mormons, we must be careful of what we support. Without care, the church can become so authoritarian that it tries to replace Rome wiht the prophet becoming the Pope.
    In this day and age, with the internet available, it might be wise to broach major policy issues there. This would provide time to consider both negative and positive consequences of the policy.

  28. Jim
    March 29, 2011 at 6:19 am #

    Robert,
    You bring up a great point. The LDS perspective is that a Temple Marriage is a ‘saving ordinance’ like the temple endowment, baptism, and perhaps other lds ceremonies. This immediately places an lds member under the spiritual authority of at least one LDS authority. Any possible witnesses to an LDS temple marriage are limited to those holding a temple recommend.

    In the larger cultural view, marriages are more public in nature, and a recognition and celebration of the couples relationship. Its not necessarily a ‘saving ordinance’ as civil marriages by atheists are recognized. NonLDS couples are not under spiritual authority of any LDS leadership or LDS doctrines or persective.

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