Eternal Mormon Marriages
Many people are puzzled about Mormon marriages. Why, they wonder, do so many Mormons want so much to marry in Mormon temples? After all, no one else does.The question that a Mormon might ask back: “Why wouldn’t we want to be married inside a temple?” The Mormon temple is far more than some unusual building the Mormons build to set themselves apart. It is a supremely holy place where holy ordinances can be performed. And marriage is one of those holy ordinances.
In today’s world, where marriage is becoming undefined and disposable, and independence is esteemed as the greatest gift, and even in previous generations, where marriage was often a matter of loveless contracts and simple survival, how can Mormons think of marriage as so holy?
First, and most obviously, marriage is ordained and commanded of God. Here are three scriptures to support this. From First Corinthians 11:11, “Neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man in the Lord.” From Genesis 2:18, “And the Lord God said, it is not good that the man should be alone.” From Genesis 2:24, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”
Why would God command marriage? Why would He present it as holy and necessary? We are also commanded to “multiply and replenish the earth,” to have children. And God apparently would not have us be lonely. But the answer may be deeper than practical matters, or companionship. We are meant to be together.
And, in Mormon belief, we are meant to be together forever. Indeed, in the Mormon temples, marriage is far more than “until death do we part” – the man and the woman are sealed together forever. If they’re faithful to each other and keep the promises they make—in the marriage, to each other, and to God—the marriage will last beyond this life and on into the eternities. God is the foundation of eternal marriage.
The commitments couples make in temple marriage are more powerful than those made in a civil marriage. They can seem pretty overwhelming. You might think (and many would-be couples do) “Do I really, really want to live with this person forever?” This kind of question can actually be helpful – it helps couples evaluate their commitment to each other. If you’re both able to go to the temple and able to make the commitments, you at least have some strong goals in common. But the commitment of eternal marriage might make a Mormon think twice if he or she is just marrying to get married. Mormons who are considering marriage are counseled to seek the ratifying spirit of the Lord, which will manifest itself if the decision is a correct one.
This doesn’t mean that eternal marriages are perfect, or that a couple that wants to live together forever will never have disagreements. Every couple disagrees, every couple goes through rough spots in their marriage. To be sealed together forever doesn’t work if the spouses break the covenants they made when they were married. Even in the Mormon Church, there is divorce. However, the divorce rate for temple marriages hovers around 7%, lower than for any other U.S. demographic.
In many ways, a Mormon marriage is like any other marriage. Two people used to living their own lives in their own way are suddenly a pair. They each have their own traditions, their own habits, their own backgrounds, and these are inevitably going to clash. But, in Mormonism, compromise is essential and most problems can be solved through effort and love. After all, the couple has made promises to each other and to God, and these shouldn’t be broken lightly. Essentially, both husband and wife (co-equals) are servants to the marriage covenant.
Through time and devotion and commitment, small clashes become unimportant. If a problem too serious to overcome shows up, be it abuse or unfaithfulness, then the covenants have already been broken.