Lesson 45: “The Family Is Ordained of God”
1922: An Everlasting Covenant: YLMIA Lessons on Marriage and Family Life
Lesson 15: Half Marriage and Divorce
I. Half Marriage – Meaning of Term.
1. In history.
2. The advice of the Priesthood.
1. In history.
a. The Mosaic law.
b. The Greek and Roman law.
c. The early Christian church.
d. The Catholic church.
e. Divorce a civil question.
2. Regulation of divorce.
a. The evils of divorce.
b. The benefits of divorce.
3. Divorce should be reduced.
III. Divorce in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
I. Definition of Half Marriage.
In lesson VIII reference is made to the fundamental requirement of religious harmony existing between husband and wife and the reason is given therefor. Young people who allow themselves to be placed where it is a temptation to marry one not of their faith must face the issue squarely. Such a union can never bring complete happiness here nor hereafter. One may think that religion is a small matter and that it need not figure much if one truly loves. On can’t truly love unless one is in spiritual attune with the loved one. It is as impossible as that flowers should bloom in mid-winter snows or that the sun may shine at midnight. It is against the laws of nature. There may be apparent harmony for a time but sooner or later the knowledge must come that one is enjoying only a small part of the harmony of life that one is entitled to. This would be the testimony of thousands of people in the world today – for this condition affects not only our Church but other churches as well.
Occasionally people marry without love; they may feel that respect is all that is necessary and that love will develop after marriage. But such a thing is a tremendous risk, for true love is just as apt not to come as it is to come. True, sometimes very successful marriages result from such unions but it is entirely a matter of chance.
Members of this Church who are married by civil law for time only are also not partakers of the full benefits of the blessing of the Priesthood and are not truly married in the fullest meaning of the term. They have only a half contract of joy.
So half marriage may be defined as the marriage which is not complete – one in which two people are not truly mated and who do not enjoy that joyous communion of spirit, mind, and body that belong to the perfect married state.
Also half marriage refers to those who are married only for this life – “till death do ye part!”
1. In History.
There has always been need of warning young people that spiritual harmony is necessary for complete happiness. The Apostle Paul many centuries ago gave the following exhortation:
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
And what concord hath Christ with Belial. Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?
And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God and they shall be my people.
Wherefore come out from among them and be ye separate saith the Lord and touch not the unclean thing: and I will receive you. And be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord God Almighty. (II Corinthians 6:14-18)
“Protestants in all lands at first followed the ruling of the Mother church which positively forbade marriages between Christians and non-Christians. Such unions were called mixed-marriages, and German literature concerning marriage abounds in bitter discussions of the disadvantages attending such unions.” [the Family as a Social and Educational Institution,” Goodsell, p. 251.]
The application of this exhortation to the young people of today is quite clear; though the inference must not be drawn that all those who are not members of this Church are infidels or are intrinsically inferior. The contention is made and clung to that lasting happiness can never result where young people are irregularly yoked – the believer with the unbeliever. this condition holds good in any church. There must be harmony of religion to secure harmony of life.
2. The Advice of the Priesthood.
Modern scripture is full of admonitions to young people to associate with and to marry those of their own faith. President Jos. F. Smith says:
But do not marry those out of the Church, as such unions almost invariably lead to unhappiness and quarrels and often finally to separation. Besides, they are not pleasing in the sight of heaven. the believer and unbeliever should not be yoked together, for sooner or later, in time or in eternity, they must be divided again. [Gospel Doctrine, p. 345.]
I would rather go myself to the grave than to be associated with a wife outside of the bonds of the new and everlasting covenant. Now I hold it just so sacred. But some members of the Church do not so regard the matter. Some people feel that it does not make very much difference whether a girl marries a man in the Church, full of the faith of the Gospel, or an unbeliever. Some of our young people have married outside the Church, but very few of those who have done it have failed to come to grief. I would like to see Latter-day Saint women marry Latter-day Saint men; Latter-day Saint men marry Latter-day Saint women; and let Methodists marry Methodists, Catholics marry Catholics and presbyterians marry Presbyterians, and so on to the limit. Let them keep within the pale of their own Church and marry and intermarry there; and let the latter-day Saints do the same thing in their Church; then we will see who comes out best in the end. [Gospel Doctrine, page 350.]
Any contract made by men may be broken when either party to the contract does not live up to the terms of the contract. marriage is so deeply a concern of the church and the state that no two individuals may annul their own marriage contract without legal authority. Such annulment by a power having authority is termed divorce.
1. In History.
The frailties of human nature are such that in every age of the world it has been necessary to recognize cases where the marriage tie may be severed.
Among primitive people divorce was easy to obtain – often a mere whim being all that was necessary. Marriage was a private affair and could be terminated at will. In some tribes today this ease of dissolution is possible.
As the Church came to be recognized as a factor in marriage contracts it became somewhat difficult to secure divorce. The man found it much easier to give the bill of divorce than did the woman usually.
a. The Mosiac law provides for annulment: “When a man hath taken a wife and married her and it come to pass that she find no favor in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her, then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand and send her out of his house.” [Deut. 24:1.] The Hebrew law further maintained, “To assimilate the right of the woman to the right of the man it is ordained that even as the man does not put away his wife except of his own free will, so shall the woman not be put away, except b her own consent.” [Amram, “the Jewish Law of Divorce,” p. 52.]
b. The Greek husband had freedom to give divorce by dismissing his wife in the presence of witnesses if she was undesirable. In Rome divorce could be granted only for capital offenses, adultery, wine drinking or counterfeiting the keys of the household. It was here still largely a private matter.
c. The early Christian church set its face against divorce on the ground that since marriage was a sanctified union it should be a permanent one.
d. The Catholic church has always set its face against divorce and declares the marriage tie is indissoluble. However separation may be granted for specific causes: adultery, heresy or apostasy, or excessive cruelty.
e. That divorce has become a civil question is recognized by most churches today. “And so after many centuries of ecclesiastical regulations, following upon a barbarous period of great individual freedom, divorce has become in most civilized countries a matter of state concern and judicial control. Neither the individual nor the church but the state is now commonly regarded as the proper authority to adjudicate all cases of friction arising within the marriage relation.” [“The Family as a Social and Educational Institution,” Goodsell.]
2. Regulation of Divorce.
Every attempt should be made to make the marriage covenant more permanent. Of course, where justifiable cause arises such as insanity or incurable drug habits or extreme incompatibility, separation at least, or complete divorce should be secured.
a. The evils of divorce are many: it has a tendency to weaken society in that it strikes at the very core of civilization and tends to disrupt the home. it causes participants to become notorious to a greater or less degree and tends to lessen self respect. The harmful effect on children should be mentioned since one parent can seldom give the cihld all the love and the care he is entitled to.
b. The benefits of divorce, however, should be remembered. There are cases where it would be a great injustice to force men and women to live together. Children have the right to have a happy home and the greatest injustice that can be heaped upon them is to force them to live in an atmosphere of continual harshness and bickering where they may learn to hate either parent.
3. Divorce Should be Reduced.
In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints divorce should be a very rare thing, for those who live right are entitled to the direct guidance of the Holy Spirit. Greater care should be taken before marriage is entered into, for hasty marriage often leads to unhappiness.
If young people have a better understanding of what marriage demands of them there will be fewer divorces. Parents are not always guiltless here.
If differences arise, as they must to a greater or less degree, both parties must try to be more agreeable and to understand that neither must expect perfection of the other. if arbitration and compromise are to settle the difficulties of the world then they must first find their feasible accomplishment in the individual lives of the members of society. Always let divorce be the last thought and the last resort. but much better divorce than permanent unhappiness with its tendencies to cause bitter hatreds.
III. Divorce in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The Church recognizes that there are cases where human judgment has erred and where in justice divorce should be granted. it would indeed be a cause for wonder if any church should expect its members to be always perfect – least of all the Church founded by Jesus Christ. We read:
“Now the nature of this ordinance consists in the power of the Priesthood, by the revelation of Jesus Christ, wherein it is granted that whatsoever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” [Doc. and Cov. Sec. 128:8.]
If the binding power only had been given to God’s vicegerent on earth one would have cause to doubt its completeness, but the binding power presupposes the power to loose. For a just cause only can divorce be obtained in the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints.
1. (a) What do you think about the question of girls marrying men not of their own religious faith? (b) Why is it a mistake and what are you doing to prevent your making it?
2. What is your opinion of a man or a woman that would “join the Church” in order to marry the loved one”
3. Do you know many cases of “half-marriage’ and knowing them would you advocate it, and why?
4. What stand does your Church take on the question of divorce?
5. What can be done to lessen the divorce evil in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
6. Why should divorce be the last resort in marital differences and what should govern its being granted?
7. Why is divorce a concern of the State?
1922: An Everlasting Covenant: YLMIA Lessons on Marriage and Family Life
Lesson 16: The Rewards of Marriage.
I. Life’s Greatest Satisfaction.
1. According to plan.
2. Together they stand.
3. Opportunity of being help-meet.
4. The lessons of united lives.
II. They Become as Gods.
I. Life’s Greatest Satisfaction.
In no other way than through happy marriage and parenthood may mortals experience complete earthly joy – and this joy is so soul-satisfying that it must approach heavenly joy in its completeness, in a small degree at least. In no other way can a man or a woman attain to their full stature of earth completeness and heap to the full the “measure of their creation.” This rich life experience is so convincing that men and women may well understand the justice of the teaching in modern revelation that those who do not obey the correct law of marriage cannot enter the celestial kingdom. (vicariously, as has been explained, this privilege may come to all in the hereafter – even though they do not have the privilege here.)
1. According to Plan.
That a joy so complete should come to mortals as a “hit or miss proposition” is absurd. If an experience or state of being so perfect in its satisfying completeness is the most previous thing imaginable surely it is worthy all possible preparation and prayerful expectancy. One can’t think that chance alone governs this state in life and that some are just lucky and some are not!
2. Together They Stand.
Our beloved leader Joseph F. Smith taught that complete happiness may be enjoyed only within the marriage relation. We read:
No man will ever enter there unless he has consummated his mission, for we have come here to be conformed to the likeness of God. He made us in the beginning in his own image, and in his own likeness, and he made us male and female. We never could be in the image of God if we were not both male and female. Read the scripture and you will see it for yourselves, as God has said it. He has made us in his own form and likeness, and here we are male and female, parents and children. And we must become more and more like him – more like him in love, in charity, in forgiveness, in patience, longsuffering, and forbearance, in purity of thought and action, in intelligence, and in all respects that we may be worthy of exaltation in his presence. It is for this that we have come to the earth. This is the work that we have to perform. God has shown us the way and given us the means by which we may consummate and fill our mission upon this earth and perfect our destiny; for we are destined and foreordained to become like God and unless we do become like Him we will never be permitted to dwell with Him. When we become like Him you will find that we will be presented before Him in the form in which we were created, male and female. The woman will not go there alone, and the man will not go there alone and claim exaltation. They may attain a degree of salvation alone, but when they are exalted they will be exalted according to the law of the celestial kingdom. [“Gospel Doctrine,” Joseph F. Smith, p. 346.]
3. The Opportunity of Being Help-meet.
Every good wife may have the satisfaction of knowing that in large measure she becomes responsible (whether she knows it or not) for her husband’s success or failure in life.
In addition to home government women often stand with their husbands in responsible places and share in some measure the success or failure which characterizes their husband’s administration of affairs. In selecting men to occupy responsible positions in the Church, it not infrequently happens that a useful and competent man is barred from consideration because of the deplorable want of fitness in the wife; and thus though a wife may not always bar a husband’s opportunities, she may nevertheless prove a great hindrance to him in the discharge of the duties that belong to his office. If our sisters could only realize how helpful they might be to their husbands who hold responsible positions in the Church and if they would only take pride and pleasure in their husband’s administration of affairs, the conduct of men in public office would in many instances be very greatly improved. [“Gospel Doctrine,” p. 363.]
The responsibility which women bear in this respect is very grave and they should understand it and prepare themselves early in life to be true help-meets, dependable inspirations to all the good men whose lives they will share.
In like manner men may encourage or handicap women in the exercise of their gifts. The two are linked so closely together that their united lives becomes a mirror of the true worth of each.
It is a great satisfaction to know that each may become a greater man or woman through association with the other.
4. The Lessons of United Lives.
It is the learning of the priceless lessons of life that brings joy to mortals and in no other way can real abiding happiness be attained. Happiness is never handed around on a platter. Even the happiest marriage cannot always be as a joyous dream experienced as if living on a bed of roses. Sorrow and grinding care come sooner or later to all mortals and they must know how to meet it and how to translate necessary suffering into a precious lesson that will tend to unite rather than to separate life partners in happiness.
To gain the greatest satisfaction from life one must know the meaning of struggle, of trial, of constant endeavor to overcome faults in oneself and of overlooking faults in others. the constant application of the law of adjustment of difficulties, of the meaning of compromise, and of arbitration will give great breadth to human character and make for greater sympathy with life and for a broad and comprehensive human understanding. Marriage and family life give a wonderful chance to learn well these intangible life lessons and develop the best of one’s nature as can no other relationship.
If all these lessons of life are learned well a happy home may be assured to every earnest student of these lessons. The certain possession of great joy and power in their mission of righteousness on earth may be promised.
III. They Become as Gods.
The modern Prophet Joseph Smith taught that even in God-hood men and women are united. He taught that there is a Mother as well as a Father in heaven. How else indeed can one interpret the first chapter of Genesis: “In the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.” But it remained for modern revelation to make clear to the world the first chapter of the Bible!
When men and women live together in righteousness and testify to the full meaning of their creation by having a splendid family of children then do they truly “become as Gods.”
For they are given unto him to multiply and replenish the earth, according to my commandment, and to fulfil the promise which was given by my Father before the foundation of the world; and for their exaltation in the eternal worlds that they may bear the souls of men, for herein is the work of my Father continued, that he may be glorified. [Doc. and Cov. 132:63.]
Then shall they be Gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all because all things are subject unto them. then shall they be Gods, because they have all power and the angels are subject unto them. [Doc. and Cov. 132:19-20.]
Thus it is made known that in marriage and parenthood only is man living to the full stature of his being – and in no other way can he fully glorify his maker and carry out the plan for eternal progression and perfection of the human race. If man does less than this, wilfully, he is shirking his duty and is on the downward path. But if he puts himself in full harmony with this law he is on the sure road to eternal progress and perfection. “But, if ye receive me in the world, then shall ye know me, and shall receive your exaltation, that where I am, ye shall be also.” “This is eternal lives, to know the only wise and true God, and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent. I am he. Receive ye, therefore, my law. [Doc. and Cov. 132:23-24.]
Note: Please read these questions to the girls one week before you ask them, that they may have time to think them over.
1. What is your favorite lesson of all the sixteen you have studied in this course on An Everlasting Covenant? and why? (Ask three or four girls to answer this.)
2. What are a few of the most valuable truths you have learned during this course of study?
3. Do you feel that you are a better and a wiser girl than you were a year ago, and why?
4. In what ways are you better prepared to meet your future life than you were a year ago, and why?
5. (a) What will you do with your life if you never marry? (b) In what ways do you intend to make of yourself a useful member of your Church and of society?
6. Name three factors that make for a successful courtship and discuss them.
7. Name three factors that may make marriage a success or failure and discuss them. (Ask three or four girls this question.)
8. Tell what you feel about Temple marriage and why it is desirable.
9. In what ways can you be of service in causing civil marriages in our Church to be reduced to a minimum?
10. How have these lessons strengthened your testimony regarding your faith in your religion?
SOME PERTINENT QUESTIONS ASKED BY YOUNG PEOPLE
There are many questions that young people are continually asking regarding the important subject of marriage. This is a good sign – young people should think more not less about this far-reaching step in their lives. But they should think more seriously – not in terms only of parties and balls and amusements that dissipate their strength, but more in terms of serious concern regarding a life journey that stretches away into the eternity beyond.
Two of the many pertinent questions will be briefly considered here, though no conclusive answer can be given to either one of them this side of eternity.
1. One Special “Mate.”
So many young people ask if there is one special mate for every man and woman born into the world. Around this question cluster many conjectures and one could hazard any number of conflicting theories which are after all mostly guesses.
Often one will find a couple who are perfectly assured upon the first or second meeting that they associated before they came here and that they will be associated throughout eternity – they are so sure of this that they recognize each other upon first meeting and never lose the conviction that they belong to each other.
Again, one will find too many couples who are unhappy at the thought of even being tied together “for time” and for whom the thought of eternal association produces absolute terror.
Why such apparent divergence? ask the young people of today. Then, too, what about the few men and many women who go through life never seeing anyone whom they could care enough for to marry?
To all these questions there is a simple answer: we do not know definitely that there is a soul-mate on earth for every individual born. there has never been any revelation directly bearing on the subject and conjecture thereon is worse than useless.
We do know, however, that there is a “belongingness” about this important association and that one is entitled to Divine guidance concerning it. All spirits born into the world are in need of certain phases of earth experience to help them gain strength of character; and if they live in accordance with law they will receive only those experiences that will enrich them and make them ready for progress here and in the life to come. All having their free agency they may always go down as well as up hill. As regards marriage, they may be foolish, hasty; may marry for a mere whim or for spite or may refrain altogether. The mistakes of men cannot be fastened to anyone but themselves.
2. How to Recognize One’s Mate.
Another question often asked is: “How is one to know when he has found the right one?” The young man remarks that there are so many fine girls – one could scarcely make a mistake by choosing one of a half dozen or so. the young girl may have a similar difficulty.
The answer is given that when after earnest and honest prayer, the decision is made it should not be questioned. When one has found the “right partner” for this stage of life experience, he is perfectly sure concerning it. He may doubt everything else in the universe but can never doubt that he has found his true companion.
a. Prayer the only sure guide. In making any important decision one is entitled to Divine Guidance if he lives so that he is entitled to it. Prayer is the only sure guide one has with respect to the important step of marriage. But it must be prayer in the right way, as when one places all he has on the altar and accepts the guidance and inspiration that follows. One does not truly pray when he pleads to be able to do as he wants to do; or asks, “Let me do this; or let this or that happen.” A prayer must always concede that there is a right thing to do; and he wishes for guidance to know what is that right thing and then for strength to do it.
If young people will early form the habit of prayer and especially regarding their marriage they will not make a mistake but may rest assured that whatever experiences come to them as a result of prayerful decisions are for their soul’s eternal progress and to serve some righteous purpose. If only joy were experienced on earth many of the most valuable lessons of life would go unlearned. Sorrow and suffering are often the surest way to enrich one’s soul or character.
If sorrow and suffering result from such decisions they may know that such experiences are for their own good – to enrich their souls or character. Still man is entitled to have joy – but he must often take things as they come and shape them so that joy or at least peace may result.
If a mistake seems to follow a prayerful decision regarding marriage one may rest assured that in eternity readjustments will be made and that there, if not here, the true mate will be found.
It must be remembered, also, that this earth experience tends to round out character and to overcome faults and that those who seem incompatible here may in the resurrection be most companionable. All must learn to trust their Heavenly Father for all his ways are just. We are perfectly assured that all who have honestly lived their religion and been true to their marriage vows on earth will be joyously happy in the Hereafter.
1950: The Principles and Practice of Genealogy, by Joseph Sudweeks
Course of Study for the Sunday Schools
Lesson 38, 39: The Latter-day Saint Concept of Marriages
A. Previous discussion of Marriage
In four previous chapters (V, VI, VII, and XVIII) marriage from the standpoint of a Latter-day Saint has been given some attention. In order to consider all phases of this important subject of Mormon theology in this chapter, a short summary of the previous treatment will be given first.
According to the word of God, persons can attain the highest stage of celestial glory only through having complied with the principle of eternal marriage. Individuals can be exalted only in family groups. They may reach the telestial degree, the terrestrial degree, or even the celestial degree without this, but not exaltation – the highest stage of the celestial. Only exaltation leads to continued parenthood and to possibilities of Godhood.
That authority for performing marriage for eternity was in the primitive church is indicated by Christ’s declaration to Peter, as follows:
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter,
… and I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (Matt. 16:18-19.)
This sealing power, which offers possibilities of exaltation, was restored to the earth in 1836 when it was given to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery; and it has continued to the present time through the authority of the President of the church. The sealing ordinances must be performed on the earth – directly for the living parents (and any of their children born before they are married or sealed in the temple), and by proxy for those who have already died.
One of the great responsibilities of Latter-day Saints, according to the word of God, is to marry and rear a righteous posterity. However, we recognize that there are persons who are not to be condemned for never marrying; and that some who marry are not at fault for never becoming parents. Attention was called to the responsibilities of parents in bringing up children, setting a proper example to them, and teaching them righteousness through the gospel.
We regard the ordinance of sealing husband and wife as a marriage for eternity and a sealing of children to parents as making them a part of the family unit which has a possibility of continuing forever. The marriage ceremony in a temple is, indeed, an ideal marriage for a latter-day Saint. it is beautiful, impressive, and sacred. A couple so married, who are worthy and faithfully try to carry out their covenants, have a good beginning for a happy married life, joyful parentage, and prospects for such a relationship to continue after this mortal life.
The rest of this chapter will be devoted to a discussion of the Latter-day Saint ideal of marriage as an institution. It will be presented under sections B and C.
B. Marriage and the Home
If Rome had maintained the early strength and purity of her domestic institutions, she might have remained the mistress of the world. (Quoted by Charles R. Mabey, “Temple Marriage and the Home,” Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine, Vol. 30 (1939), p. 193.)
An important cause of the decay of the roman empire was the loss of wholesome home life and the degradation of woman. In the earlier age of the republic, the women were comparatively virtuous and respected. During the time of the empire there was a decline in the regard with which they were treated and in their domestic status. (John Lord, Beacon Lights of History, Vol. 2, Part 1, pp. 37-371.)
Biologically, the only justification for marriage is the possibility of producing offspring. We are not justified in saying that the only purpose, or the only justifiable purpose, of that institution is to perpetuate the race, because that is not the only advantage of marriage. But a marriage that is not blessed with normal children is imperfect; it falls short of opportunities for the development of the couple, the satisfaction that comes from association of parent and child, and the security that successful parentage may mean to parents who pass into an unproductive period of life. The plight of a childless couple is often sad to contemplate and perhaps sadder to experience. Then, too, it must be remembered that the question of children or no children should be considered in the light of eternity as well as mortality.
The power of parenthood.
parenthood is regarded by true Latter-day Saints as a great privilege. The birth of a child to a normal couple is regarded as a blessing, not as an event to be guarded against or to be prevented.
In no other way do human beings approach the power of Godhood so closely as in their ability to become parents. Just as the birth of the spiritual body provides a tabernacle to an intelligence through the operation of God’s power of parenthood, so the birth of the mortal body provides a tabernacle to a spirit, through the operations of man’s power of parenthood. “The worth of souls is precious in the sight of God.” Similarly should the offspring of mortal parents be regarded as precious by those whoa re mainly responsible for their being. Man may thus be regarded as a partner with God in his work of “bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”
The responsibility of parenthood.
Knowledge, power, and ability always carry a responsibility for the proper use of the acquisition. A rather full discussion of responsibility in general and of the obligation of parents for their children is presented in Chapter VII. Therefore, there will be no further discussion of the subject here, beyond the following very pertinent quotation:
We may desire the wealth of the world, but the most important treasures that we have are the sons and daughters that God sends to our homes. I want to say to the Latter-day Saints one of the responsibilities of every married couple is to rear a family to the honor and glory of God. Those who follow the customs and habits of the world in preference to that blessing will some day find that all the things that they have struggled for are wasted away like ashes, while those who have reared their families to honor God and keep his commandments will find their treasures not altogether here upon earth in mortality, but they will have their treasures when the celestial kingdom shall be organized on this earth, and those treasures will be their sons and daughters and descendants to the latest generation. (George Albert Smith, “The Work of God,” Improvement Era, Vol. 50 (1947), p. 267.)
Group solidarity and loyalty.
Successful family life develops the idea indicated by the terms we and our as opposed to terms I and my. Such group life develops unselfishness and regard for the rights of others – qualities that the world is sorely in need of today. There are many cases in which some members of the family need to make sacrifices for others. Although such group life offers many opportunities for quarreling and fighting, the overcoming of such tendencies give good preparation for parenthood and a successful life on the part of the children. Civilization is indicated by the ability of mankind to live together peacefully and profitably. since continued family relationships are contemplated by Latter-day Saints, they should welcome the opportunities afforded by earth life to train for such relationships.
A mutual covenant that may last forever.
Consider the following words of President Wilford Woodruff, in a marriage ceremony of his daughter Alice in 1897:
You are now husband and wife, having entered into a mutual covenant. promises for time and eternity have been made unto you. If you, yourselves, honor God and your parents and keep His commandments and the covenants entered into, you will be true and faithful throughout all eternity. And I will tell you why. While we are here, we are surrounded by temptations, because we are where devils dwell. … but there is no man or woman who has been true and faithful here until death that will ever be disturbed or annoyed by them after death, for the reason that when faithful saints receive their resurrected bodies, they will occupy a place in the celestial kingdom, and there devils do not dwell. In that kingdom, there will be no power to tempt you or lead you astray. If you are true and faithful here, you will be true and faithful there, and be so throughout all eternity. (Charles R. Mabey, Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine, Vol. 30 (1939), pp. 200-201.)
The sanctity of the temple marriage.
Not all temple marriages are equally impressive. The degree to which this condition is attained depends upon the couple themselves – their worthiness and the preparation they have received for the ceremony – and upon the one who performs the ceremony. The writer visualizes the ideal situation. Consider the following statements:
The Latter-day Saint couple who gaze upon the spires of a great temple, which reach heavenward, have a spiritual thrill vibrate through their souls. If they enter that temple, built to Him who controls the destinies of men and women, their love may be consummated into a beautiful union that will endure forever. Time will not dim their love, and eternity will permit continued happiness to come to their companionship. (Roy A. West, “Marriage and the Latter-day Saint Family,” Improvement Era, Vol. 50.)
People are likely to find what they are seeking – to feel and receive what they expect. this emphasizes the importance of a proper attitude for one who is entering upon a new experience. After witnessing a good number of temple marriages, it is difficult for the writer to believe that anyone who worthily enters a temple and hears and sees the marriage ceremony will not be impressed with its beauty and dignity.
Marriage is the grandest, most glorious and most exalting principle of the gospel. It is that which the Lord holds in reserve for those who become His sons and daughters; all others are servants only, even if they gain exaltation. they do not become members of the household of our father and our God if they refuse to receive the celestial covenant of marriage. … Nothing should be held in greater sacredness and honor than the covenant by which the spirits of men – the offspring of God in the spirit – are privileged to come into this world in mortal tabernacles. It is through this principle that the blessing of immortal glory is made possible. (Our Lineage, Lesson 36, quoted.)
An exalted love.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16.) If love of their children is any measure of excellence of parents, our Heavenly Father is a good father. The degree of His parental love is used in this sentence as an indication of His love for the world. The possible love of a man and woman for each other is about equally great. Parley P. Pratt describes this family love in these words:
It was Joseph Smith who taught me how to prize the endearing relationships of father and mother, husband and wife; of brother and sister, son and daughter. It was from him that I learned that the wife of my bosom might be secured to me for time and all eternity; that the refined sympathies and affections which endeared us to each other emanated from the foundation of divine eternal love. It was from him that I learned that we might cultivate these affections and grow and increase in the same way to all eternity; while the result of our endless union would be an offspring as numerous as the stars in heaven or the sands of the seashores. …
I had loved before, but I knew not why. But now I loved with a pureness – an intensity of elevated, exalted feeling, which would lift my soul from the transitory things of this groveling sphere and expand it as the ocean. I felt that God was my Heavenly Father indeed; that Jesus was my brother; and that the wife of my bosom was an immortal, eternal companion; a kind ministering angel given to me as a comfort, and a crown of glory forever and ever. (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, pp. 329-330.
C. Advantages of Temple Marriages
Following is a list of what the author believes to be the most important advantages of temple marriage as compared with civil marriage. Some of the points are based upon previous discussion in this chapter or in earlier chapters; some seem to follow from statistics regarding marriage, divorce, and unhappy homes. An effort is made to keep these advantages distinct from each other, but some overlapping is inevitable.
More serious consideration is given to selection of mate.
Realizing that such a marriage is to continue into eternity, both parties are likely to think it over very carefully before taking such a step. It would be much easier to be married by a civil officer, and freedom from each other under such a marriage would be easier to obtain. Prayer for wisdom in choice of a companion is more likely when such a union is contemplated.
The couple is impressed with the importance and sanctity of the marriage vows.
They have covenanted before each other and witnesses that they will be true to each other; the promise was made in a House dedicated to the Lord and His holy purposes and before one of His servants who was authorized to bind for time and eternity. They resolved to live in accordance with the agreement, that they might realize the promised blessings. The opportunity of such a union is enjoyed by relatively few people. Many Latter-day Saint couples, even, will never have that blessing. The whole setting for such a marriage is beautiful and impressive.
A happier and more successful marriage results.
This is indicated by statistics of comparative divorce rates between Latter-day Saints married in temples and those married by civil or ecclesiastical officers outside a House of the Lord. (See some of the references given on the subject in the next section of this chapter.) The following statements are quoted from a paragraph under the title, “Temple marriage tends to insure marital happiness”:
Experience has shown that temple marriages are generally the happiest. there are fewer divorces among couples who have been sealed over the altars of the temple. This is shown by dependable statistics. today’s views of marriage are notably loose; yet no person with a decent outlook on life will enter the marriage state as an experiment. Life’s happiness is made or marred by marriage. Divorce does not return the individuals to their former condition. Scars remain. (John A. Widtsoe, “Why Marry in the Temple?” Improvement Era, Vol. 44 (1941), p. 353.)
If the first two advantages be admitted, this third one would logically follow.
The covenants entered into help to insure faithfulness on the part of the contracting parties.
In this case, also, if the first two claims are valid, one would expect the couple to be loyal to each other – to be more than usually willing to fulfill the marriage obligations because of the covenants they made in the temple ordinances. Mormon theology emphasizes the importance of the seventh commandment, that relating to chastity. It teaches that lack of chastity stands next to murder in seriousness among all crimes. President Brigham Young said on one occasion regarding chastity and virtue:
The defiler of the innocent is the one who should be branded with infamy and cast out from respectable society, and shunned as a pest or as a contagious disease is shunned. The doors of respectable families should be closed against him, and he should be frowned upon by all high-minded and virtuous persons. Wealth, influence, and possession should not screen him from their righteous indignation. His sin is one of the blackest in the calendar of crime, and he should be cast down from the high pinnacle of respectability and consideration to find his name among the worst of felons. (Brigham Young, quoted by David O. McKay in “Honoring the Utah Pioneers and Lasting Values,” Improvement Era, Vol. 50 (1947), p. 346.)
Sex crimes, as regarded by Latter-day Saints, are thus discussed by another:
We consider the sex crime the most blighting curse that infests the earth today. Adultery is considered as next in the catalogue of crime to murder. Individuals guilty of fornication or adultery are promptly excommunicated from the Church, unless the sin is followed by the most profound repentance and the best reparation which can possibly be made. The children around the family altar, in the Sunday schools, Mutual Improvement Associations, and all the institutions of the Church, are taught to hold their virtue more sacred to them than is life itself. When they attain to years of maturity and enter the holy state of matrimony, they vow before God, angels and the living witnesses that they will never violate the marriage covenants. (Matthias F. Cowley, Talks on Doctrine, p. 179.)
Children who grow up in happy homes are more likely to become parents with similar homes.
If children grow up in an atmosphere of love, harmony, and cooperation they will likely exercise that patience, forbearance, and judgment that will result in the same kind of home. No other kind of training could be expected to be so effective. It is true that persons whoa re associated as members of even an ideal Latter-day Saint family may have occasions when they become tired of each other, when they become selfish and jealous, or when they quarrel, and perhaps even when they come to blows. But they also have a fine opportunity to learn to control such tendencies – to build characters that will promote good will in all relationships, whether they be family, community, national, or international!
With Righteous living, continuation of family ties hereafter is guaranteed.
This is a distinct Latter-day Saint doctrine. It has been sufficiently considered in the references given to four chapters at the beginning of this chapter.
Continued parenthood with possibilities of godhead in the distant future is provided for.
These possibilities are brought out in Chapter V, Section C on exaltation; and in Chapter XVIII, division 5, 6 on sealings. This idea is beautifully expressed by Elder Widtsoe:
In the long eternities we shall not be lone wanderers, but side by side with our loved ones who have gone before and those who shall follow, we shall travel the eternal journey. What mother does not value this promise! What father does not feel his heart warm towards the eternal possession of his family! … Temple marriage becomes a promise of eternal joy. (John A. Widtsoe, “Why Marry in the Temple,” Improvement Era, Vol. 44 (1941), p. 381.
This will be the joy supreme. “Men are that they may have joy!” That is the purpose of their existence. What more inspiring hope could be held out to a child of God? What greater incentive could operate to motivate one to a life of service and righteousness? What greater comfort could come to one in the hour of sorrow and suffering than to realize that he is destined to reach this greatest of all goals? Parents who have deep joy in association as husband and wife and as parent and child come about as near the heavenly state as mortal man can experience. It is only a taste of what is in store for those who attain the state known as exaltation.
D. Marriage and Divorce Statistics
Although statistics in marriage and divorce are sometimes unreliable, incomparable, and difficult to interpret, the following conclusions regarding marriage and divorce among members of the Latter-day Saint Church seem to be justified.
1. The divorce rate among our members is lower than for non-members. This applies to non-members in Utah and in the other states.
2. The rate is much less for those married by latter-day Saint Church authorities (in or out side of a temple) than for those joined in wedlock by civil authorities.
3. A temple marriage is less likely to end in divorce than a civil marriage of Latter-day Saints.
1957: An Introduction to the Gospel, by Lowell L. Bennion
Lesson 36: Marriage and Family Life
We read in the creation-story in Genesis, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. so the Lord created a woman, “and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were naked; the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.” (Genesis 2:18, 22-25)
With this ancient account in Genesis, we are in full accord. God created man and woman to fulfill his purposes in the earth. he ordained that they should be one, declaring marriage to be the normal, healthful, and desirable state of man. In a revelation to Joseph Smith, the Lord declares:
And again, verily I say unto you, that whoso forbiddeth to marry is not ordained of God, for marriage is ordained of God unto man. (Doctrine and Covenants 49:15)
Reasons for Marriage
Marriage is good because it is one important and essential means through which man can realize the full measure of his creation. It is consistent with God’s purpose in human life. Let us indicate briefly the functions of marriage as we understand them.
“It is not good that the man (or the woman) should be alone.” Man is a social being by nature. By himself he is not a complete human being. In the society of others, he develops his own personality, his speech, his ability to think, his moral and spiritual life. Man’s greatest need beyond the physical necessities of life is to love and be loved, to be wanted and needed, to feel that he belongs to other human beings. Marriage affords two people the opportunity of knowing a continuous, intimate, and abiding companionship. together each may feel the strength of two in meeting the vicissitudes that normally occur in human experience.
Ma and woman complement each other. In a good marriage their basic needs, biological, social, moral, and spiritual, may be realized and their personalities in rich measure fulfilled. Men and women know this and marriage, despite its burdens and failures, remains, therefore, the desired state of normal adults.
The other great value of marriage is children and family life. In the beginning man and woman were told to “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it.” (Genesis 1:28) Man, like the whole of organic creation, was made to be creative and productive, and life is not completely fulfilled in marriage except I child-bearing and in child-rearing.
Marriage, to Latter-day Saints, includes a third partner in the relationship. children born to us are also children of God. They belong to him because he created them his spirit-children in a pre-earth existence. the Creator, our Spiritual Father, designed life on the earth as being good for man, a step in eternal progression. Hence, in becoming parents, we are co-operating with God in bringing “to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” When we bear children and give them a rich opportunity to learn of God and his will and purpose in their lives, then we are fulfilling his wishes and contributing greatly to his plan. God wants us to have children and to teach them by precept and example Christian faith and ideals.
Latter-day Saint families are quite large on an average. The birth rate in the stakes of the Church in 1955 was 37.64 per 1000 against a death rate of 5.53 per 1000. [According to report given at the 128th Annual Conference in April, 1956.] the large size of families is encouraged by our faith that man’s life on earth is part of God’s creative plan. We have faith in life, in its potential value and goodness for those who will learn and do God’s will. We believe in having large families provided:
1. that hereditary factors are favorable; 2. that in child-bearing and rearing we can preserve the physical and mental health of the mother, father, and the children; and 3. that we can obtain the means by which to provide for the necessities of life and health for our children.
It is not our place to judge others who may disagree with this philosophy or in any way to cast reflection on parents with small families. no one knows all the circumstances of another. And everyone has a right to choose his own values as long as he does not jeopardize the equal rights of his fellow men.
Latter-day Saint Ideals of Marriage
We believe in marriage, and we have teachings and practices which are designed to strengthen marriage and enrich family life. Let us consider some of these, which are either unique or receive great emphasis among Latter-day Saints.
I. Marriage of Time and Eternity
latter-day Saints practice what is called em>temple marriage. We recognize civil marriages performed by the justice of the peace, or a minister, or a bishop. But we have another marriage, performed only in the temples of the Church, which we believe to be of greater meaning and worth. This we call temple marriage, or marriage for both time and eternity.
In civil marriages a man and a woman are married “until death do you part.” The couple may have feelings of “eternal” love in their hearts, but the very ceremony itself places a time limit on the duration of their marriage. Elizabeth Barrett Browning, who knew such a rich life of love and companionship with Robert Browning, expressed a hope that their love might endure beyond the grave.
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints – I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! – and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning would likely have rejoiced in the Latter-day Saint view of marriage. When we go to our temples to be married in sincerity and worthily, we are promised in the marriage ceremony that we shall be companions, husband and wife, throughout eternity. And this is not all! We are also promised that children who are born to us will belong to us everlastingly. These promises are, of course, contingent upon faithfulness to each other and to the ideals and purposes of the Gospel of Christ.
The exact nature of marriage in life after death has not been revealed. We are told, however, that those who are married for time and eternity and live worthily shall receive a glory – which means a joy and fulness of life – beyond that attainable by the unmarried. In fact the married are promised the highest degree of glory or blessedness in the celestial kingdom of God.
In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees; and in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood (meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage). And if he does not, he cannot obtain it. He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase. (Doctrine and Covenants 131:1-4)
the promise is made that they shall have eternal increase. In some way not revealed to man, those who are married will help God to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man, even after death. There shall be no end to their kingdom and no end to their creative living in behalf of others.
We believe that this temple marriage-ceremony through which man and woman are married for time and eternity, is a sacred and divine ordinance and is to be administered by those who hold the priesthood of God on behalf of those who believe in immortality and who desire in their marriage to live in harmony with Christian ideals.
II. Values of Temple Marriage
We have already indicated the value of temple marriage for the life to come. Faith in and preparation for temple marriage brings some immediate values to one’s marriage here and now.
1. Thinking of marriage in an eternal perspective adds meaning and importance to the idea of marriage. It should make a person more careful and selective in his choice of a marriage partner. Eternal marriage is a serious undertaking, even more serious than a temporal marriage. Asking for a girl’s love and pledging one’s own love to her – not for time only, but for all eternity – certainly ought to enhance feelings of trust, admiration, and love between the couple.
2. Temple marriage gives added religious sanctity to this relationship. Temples are sacred edifices dedicated entirely to spiritual things. In Latter-day Saint temples, members of the church renew their faith in God’s creation and purpose in their lives and pledge themselves anew to devote themselves to their faith n Christ and to his work. Temple marriage is not an isolated event in one’s life, but is an integral part of the entire purpose of temple work. Hence it is sanctified not only by the sacredness and inspiration of the setting, but also by the meaning of the entire temple ceremony which is participated in before the marriage ceremony. The marriage ceremony itself is richer in meaning and promise than ceremonies we know which limit marriage to this life.
3. Temple marriages are always between couples within the Church of Jesus Christ. Worthy and active membership is a prerequisite to gain admission to the temples of the Church. Many careful sociological studies show that people who marry within their own religious affiliation have a considerably greater chance for happiness than those who marry persons not of their faith. This is not because there are not wonderful people in every religious group; it is because religion is so intimately related to one’s whole view of life and to one’s values and attitudes. If these cannot be shared, marriage is limited; if religion is a source of conflict, it is most disruptive to marriage.
4. Temple marriages invite careful preparation. The man and woman prepare themselves in mind and heart to go to the House of the Lord. Each is interviewed by two men in the community, the bishop and the stake president. These men are wise, experienced in human relations, spiritual in desire and purpose, and usually they are well acquainted with those to be married. Temple marriages, therefore, are not hasty marriages. Time is required to make arrangements. Counselling is certain to be given in all kindness and in a spirit that lends sanctity to the venture.
Marriage is an act of faith. Faith is ever hopeful and idealistic in character. Great ventures in faith are enhanced by the idealism and trust born of religion. Temple marriage can bring the optimum of religious faith and sanctification to the sacred order of marriage.
5. A final value which we appreciate in temple marriage is the fact that one may go to the temple again and again to see friends and loved ones married in the same room in which one was once married. One thus relives his own marriage ceremony as he witnesses it given in behalf of those close to him.
Latter-day Saints believe in personal and in family prayer. Children are taught to pray alone, to pray in secret each day and learn personal communion with our Father in heaven.
We are also encouraged to pray daily as a family. This is difficult to do in this complex age of noise and haste, but it is all the more needed because of these characteristics of modern life. Family prayer is best achieved if it is begun the first night of marriage by the bride and groom and is continued. Thus little children become established in a fine tradition quite naturally and happily. when they are quite young, they take their turn in giving the prayer. Individually, members of a family gain strength through family prayers, and their feeling of unity is increased.
IV. Home Evening
About a half-century ago a fine tradition called “home evening” was begun among latter-day Saints. A certain night of the week, Monday in our parents’ household, was set aside for home evening. Everyone stayed home. Children helped plan the program. Father read from the scriptures, commented on their meaning and the children asked questions. Some evenings there were special treats in the nature of homemade ice cream, hot-cross buns, or some other tasty refreshment. The evening was closed with family prayer.
Modern life, with its heavy and diversified schedule, plus the intrusion on the privacy of the home by telephone, radio, and television, have all but destroyed leisurely home life. The Church makes repeated efforts to renew this fine tradition of home evening. Sometimes it is called “family hour,” which suggests that the occasion may be celebrated equally well at times by going out together as a family.
Latter-day Saints believe in chastity. They are taught that intimate relations between men and women are to be reserved exclusively for marriage. This, we know is the will of God. It is one of the Ten Commandments: “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” The Savior reiterated the command, adding a spiritual and inward meaning to it in his Sermon on the Mount:
Ye have heard that it was said y them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery; But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. (Matthew 5:27, 28)
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. (Matthew 5:8)
In a revelation to Joseph Smith, dealing with moral standards, we are admonished again to be chaste:
Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else. And he that looketh upon a woman to lust after her shall deny the faith, and shall not have the Spirit; and if he repents not he shall be cast out. Thou shalt not commit adultery; and he that committeth adultery, and repenteth not, shall be cast out. But he that has committed adultery and repents with all his heart, and forsaketh it, and doeth it no more, thou shalt forgive; but if he doeth it again, he shall not be forgiven, but shall be cast out. (Doctrine and Covenants 42:22-26)* [*Read also Jacob 2 in the Book of Mormon.]
Reasons for this divine commandment are evident; some are more social and others more personal in character. Ever child of God born into the world needs the loving care of a father and mother. The child’s purpose in life can best be realized in the atmosphere of a good home. Since children are the fruit of intimate love, thoughtful and socially responsible persons will, for the sake of the children, wish to conceive and bear children only under the ideal conditions of marriage.
Furthermore, every woman entering upon th creative, responsible, and often painful and difficult experiences of pregnancy and child-birth needs and merits the moral support and loving care of a husband. When we consider the welfare of both mother and child, marriage alone in our society provides a favorable setting for procreation.
Chastity is just as desirable on personal grounds as it is for social reasons. Intimate love is not merely physical nor biological by nature, but involves the entire personality. it affects man’s whole nature. Out of wedlock, a couple cannot be one. It is only in marriage that we promise “to love, honor, and cherish one another” in the presence of God and man. It is only in marriage that we can prove our complete devotion and loyalty to one another by living, working, and sacrificing together.
Unchastity breeds distrust, fear, and contempt; it encourages unbridled passion and tends to make of another person a means to one’s own selfish desire.
Chastity develops self-control, trust, an attitude of reverence for personality, and frees the individual from the danger of sacrificing the total welfare of himself and others to a limited and selfish desire.
there is no double standard of morality in the Church. both men and women have the same need and responsibility to be chaste and pure of heart.
We believe marriage is ordained of God for the good of man. A good marriage helps immeasurably to satisfy many of man’s basic needs. We believe in children and in having large families if they are healthy and of good heredity. We believe in family prayer and in devoting evenings to family life. We believe in chastity before marriage and in complete loyalty and fidelity to one’s companion after marriage. And we believe that if marriage is entered into with these ideals and is sealed b the priesthood of God and in his House, it will last for time and for eternity with unlimited promises of everlasting joy.
1957: Living the Gospel, by Gerrit DeJong, Jr.: Gospel Doctrine Lessons
Lesson 32: Latter-day Saint Family Life
The Latter-day Saints consider no ordinance connected with the Gospel of Jesus Christ of greater importance, or of more solemn and sacred nature, or more necessary to the eternal joy of man, than marriage. Through this covenant, with other sacred ordinances, we accomplish the perfect degree of the Divine will.
Professor Charles Horton Cooley, in his discussion of the function of primary groups in human society, shows that what he calls “primary groups” are the primary builders of human social life. He mentions especially the family among these groups, for it is a primary builder and bearer of the social values and traditions everywhere and in all ages. It is especially in the family that the child gets his spiritual inheritance. Here he receives his ideas, beliefs, and standards concerning industry, government, law, art, morals, and religion. Thus the family becomes the chief carrier of culture and civilization. The family must be regarded as the most important educative agency un building a social character for it furnishes the immediate environment of the child during the most plastic years. Thus the social sciences look upon the good home as the normal environment of the child, for which no adequate substitute can be found.
Professor Charles A. Ellwood suggests that social religion should be supremely interested in family life, for it is the original fount of altruism and of life, upon which social order and progress largely depend. Great social ideals, such as love, service, self-sacrifice, brotherhood, motherhood, fatherhood, derive in the main from family experiences. The family has been, and still is, the cradle of civilization.
In summing up what should be done to safeguard the status of the family, so that it might properly contribute to the larger life of humanity, Professor Ellwood gives us what is essentially the Christian ideal. He would have social religion make three demands. First, it should seek to subordinate material conditions to the social and spiritual values of the family. Too often are family requirements for the good birth and the proper rearing of children sacrificed for the sake of business or industry. Inadequate remuneration, child labor, labor of women outside the home, unsatisfactory housing conditions, all these help to destroy the kind of family life a public conscience should be trying to build. Second, the animal nature of man should be subjected to the service of mankind through family relations. While sex is the indispensable means for the performance of the chief function of the family, it must never be allowed to become the end. Nor will a merely negative and repressive policy toward the sex element bring about the desired results; with a positive and constructive attitude towards it, the human intelligence can make it serve the highest interests of humanity. The proper control of sex impulses in the interest of the child, the family, and the race, will aid in the greatest service to society, the birth and rearing of normal children in a normal home. And third, family life should be based upon some specific form of unselfish service which is peculiarly its own. The larger social purpose of the family is the creation of an ideal social world. It therefore becomes the great concrete end of the family to serve the child, to satisfy his physical wants, and to develop his social and spiritual character.
Now let us take a look at the prevailing social theory concerning the family. It should, of course, be remembered that the current social theories are not often in harmony with the current social tendencies and practices. In fact, the reader of works on all phases of sociology is impressed with the thought that all the better writers in this important field decry the prevailing tendencies and are really calling society to repentance.
The importance of the family as a social unit is almost universally upheld, not only by writers in the field of religion, but by sociologists generally. The decline in the size of the family, and the degeneration of its character are seen as items that should be duly considered by all who have the welfare of society at heart. Divorce, childless families, irreverent children, and the decadence of the old type of separate home life are signs of forgotten ideals, lost motives, and insufficient purposes.
Too many families fail completely because they do not think of “home” in terms of sacrifice and service. The race needs to revive its idealism with which to face the family problem. Young people should establish homes primarily to enrich the world with other lives, and to make these of the greatest possible worth to the world. No matter how much we do for the child in material ways, the family group fails as a real home unless that child becomes high-0minded, truth-loving, habituated in his good will toward others. In other words, the family must consider the production of spiritual persons its main task. The character of the members of the family is the surest measurement of the success of the family. Quality counts here more than anywhere else, although it takes quantity to make the most desired quality in each member of the family. It is difficult for an only child to develop a strong social sense.
The religious motive, demanding sacrifice and often suffering, is the best motive upon which to build the ideal family from the sociological point of view. It is our best defense and weapon if we would go against the tendencies and common practices of modern times and avoid the disaster that inevitably overtakes those who merely follow the lower impulses.
(For interesting and stimulating reading along these lines, the following works are especially recommended: Charles Horton Cooley, Social Organization, especially Chapter VII; Charles A. Ellwood, The Reconstruction of Religion, Chapters VI and VII; Henry f. cope, Religious Education in the Family, chapters I to VI.)
A distinguishing feature among the many good things that grow out of the teachings of the Church of Christ is the home life of the Latter-day Saints. Many Mormon homes are really ideal, and in many others that have not yet reached that state, faithful Latter-day Saints are striving to make them ideal. In these times it may seem old-fashioned, but the Church of Christ still teaches that the home furnishes surest anchorage, and is the greatest single stimulus for good to all the members of the family. In no organized unit of society are the opportunities for the development of a worth-while character quite so good, quite so real, and quite so numerous and inclusive as in the well-regulated home where the spirit of the Gospel dominates. It is the best place for the early development of the necessary Christian virtues, such as industry and thrift, truthfulness, loyalty, and chastity; and in no place can the spirit of true service be stressed with more propriety than I the home. Father, mother, and the “heritage of the Lord,” a goodly number of children (without children we can hardly speak of a “family” or “home” in the better sense of these words), who together live and work in mutual confidence, union, harmony, and devotion to each other – that is the setting in which the attributes that go into the making of a splendid character can be practiced.
Practiced? Yes, for that is the only way in which these qualities can be acquired by young and old. They cannot be inherited, or received directly from someone else; they become traits of character only through the consistent and frequent exercise in living them in a significant social setting. And for this purpose there exists no better organized social unit than the home. all physical, educational, social, and religious activities should, for the best results, find their center in the home.
The Ideal Latter-day Saint Home
On October 3, 1940, President J. Reuben Clark, Jr. gave an address entitled “Our Homes” in the Relief Society conference. We reproduce here the part that describes the perfect earth home.
True love must be there, true love that blesses and hallows every thought and act. Mere sex passion will not do; that soon burns out and leaves only ashes to be tossed about by the wind. The divorce court, not the divine destiny of a celestial family, waits at the end of that short road.
There must be chastity in this home. An unchaste wife tears out the very heart of home. “A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones,” says the Proverb. (Proverbs 12:4.) The unchaste mother marks her offspring with disgrace. An unchaste father brings to the home a canker that consumes it and leaves only dross behind.
There must be respect in this home, and honor.
Patience in abundance and a full measure of charity must be found there.
Discord must not find therein a resting place and distrust must not cross the threshold.
Loyalty in thought and word and deed must there abide; disloyalty puts out the sacred fire of family life.
Therein must be kindliness; loving trust must throw its stalwart arms about them.
High hope must lodge there; despair must be driven from the door.
Children must have a welcome; motherhood and fatherhood bring the highest happiness and are our loftiest destiny.
Modesty must dwell always in the bosoms of the daughters, and respect for womanhood must fill the hearts of the sons.
God’s Word of Wisdom must be kept; then health shall fill the air as a sacred incense.
Sloth must not creep over the door sill; industry and thrift must rule there in undisputed sway.
Faith must cover the home as a kindly light; unbelief must be given no shelter.
Righteousness must clothe them as a mantle; their feet must go always along the path of duty.
Prayer shall ascend to our Heavenly Father as from a holy altar; God’s peace and blessing will hedge them about against evil.
Obedience to God’s commandments must guide and cheer them; Satan must be shut out from their presence.
Wisdom shall stand guard always at the threshold; so shall their outgoings be along paths of eternal progress, and their incomings laden with righteousness.
Honesty must be treasured as a jewel; truth must be worn as a crown.
They must banish worldly pride from their fireside; vanity must be trodden under foot.
They must cast out selfishness through the door, nor let greed and envy ever enter.
The poor must not cry out to them in vain; a hard heart is the herald of destruction.
The virtuous and lovely must be delved for; things of good report and praiseworthy must be sought out.
Honor and respect must be given to the Holy Priesthood of God; no celestial home can be built in any other presence. (Relief Society Magazine, December 1940.)
1957: Living the Gospel, by Gerrit DeJong, Jr.: Gospel Doctrine Lessons
Lesson 33: Latter-day Saint Family Life (Continued)
President Joseph F. Smith explained how the home is the foundation of all good, in the Juvenile Instructor, volume 51, page 739. He wrote: “The very foundation of the kingdom of God, of righteousness, of progress, of development, of eternal life and eternal increase in the kingdom of God, is laid in the divinely ordained home; and there should be no difficulty in holding in the highest reverence and exalted thought, the home, if it can be built upon the principles of purity, of true affection, of righteousness and justice. The man and his wife who have perfect confidence in each other, and who determine to follow the laws of God in their lives and fulfill the measure of their mission in the earth, would not be, and could never be contented without the home. their hearts, their feelings, their minds, their desires would naturally trend toward the build of a home and family and of a kingdom of their own; to the laying of the foundation of eternal increase and power, glory, exaltation and dominion, worlds without end.” He also gave us one of the most satisfactory descriptions of the ideal home, in the Improvement Era, Volume 8, pages 385-388: “What then is an ideal home – model home, such as a young man starting out in life should wish to erect for himself? And the answer came to me: It is one in which all worldly considerations are secondary. One in which the father is devoted to the family with which God has blessed him, counting them of first importance, and in which they in turn permit him to live in their hearts. One in which there is confidence, union, love, sacred devotion between father and mother and children and parents. One in which the mother takes every pleasure in her children, supported by the father – all being moral, pure, god-fearing. As the tree is judged by its fruit, so also do we judge the home by the children. In the ideal home true parents rear loving, thoughtful children, loyal to the death, to father and mother and home! In it there is the religious spirit, for both parents and children have faith in God, and their practices are in conformity with that faith; the members are free from the vices and contaminations of the world, are pure in morals, having upright hearts beyond bribes and temptations, ranging high in the exalted standards of manhood and womanhood. Peace, order, and contentment reign in the hearts of the inmates – let them be rich or poor, in things material. There are no vain regrets; no expressions of discontent against father, from the boys and girls, in which they complain: ‘If we only had this or that, or were like this family or that, or could do like so and so!’ – complaints that have caused fathers many uncertain steps, dim eyes, restless nights, and untold anxiety. In their place is the loving thoughtfulness to mother and father by which the boys and girls work with a will and a determination to carry some of the burden that the parents have staggered under these many years. There is the kiss for mother, the caress for father, the thought that they have sacrificed their own hopes and ambitions, their strength, even life itself to their children – there is gratitude in payment for all that has been given them!
“In the ideal home the soul is not starved, neither are the growth and expansion of the finer sentiments paralyzed for the coarse and sensual pleasures. The main aim is not to heap up material wealth, which generally draws further and further from the true, the ideal, the spiritual life; but it is rather to create soul-wealth, consciousness of noble achievement, an outflow of love and helpfulness.”
With the parents married for time and eternity in the House of the Lord, a basis is laid for the proper spirit of a truly Latter-day Saint home, from the steadying influences of which the children would escape with difficulty. It is a tacit admission by all concerned that they fully realize that all we do here and now affects us for good or evil throughout the eternities. President David O. McKay was successful in catching this true spirit of the home and depicting it: “Every home has both body and spirit. You may have a beautiful house, with all the decorations that modern art can give, or wealth bestow. You may have all the outward forms that will please the ye, and yet not have a home. It is not home without love. It may be a hovel, a log hut, a tent, a wickiup, if you have the right spirit within, the true love of Christ, and love for one another – fathers and mothers for the children, children for parents, husband and wife for each other – you have the true life of the home that Latter-day Saints build. No matter what they may be without, are your homes pure within? Are morning prayers offered there regularly? Or do the things of this world take you away from your homes and make you deprive yourself of morning prayers with the children? Woe to that home where the mother abandons her holy mission or neglects the essential duties in her own household in her enthusiasm to promote public reform. We must consider the home; it is the spring of life, if you please, of our social conditions today.
“Latter-day Saints, how thankful I am that true ‘Mormon’ homes are pure homes – you know they are; if they are not pure, they are not Latter-day Saint homes, no matter what the world thinks. We know the lives of the latter-day Saints, and we know that their influence is to produce pure boys and girls. O, my heart rejoices that we can bear testimony to the world that the homes of the Latter-day Saints are godly homes. if there are those among us who contaminate the world, or who take advantage of their neighbors, we can truly say they have not been influenced by the Latter-day Saint home, but by influences they have come in contact with outside the home. Parents, you Latter-day Saints, let us beautify our homes. It is all right to make them as attractive as possible, but O, live within, live within! if mothers feel incompetent to train their children, if they find that there are conditions outside which are counteracting their influence in the home, go to the parents’ classes, and there unite with your neighbors in overcoming the social conditions that may be contaminating your children. Let us live within!” (In Inspirational Talks for Youth, by Preston nibley, pages 91, 92.)
One of the indispensable attitudes that must characterize the home is reverence, not as something added or superimposed, but as something fundamental to its spirit. This feeling, experienced and shared by all members of the home, is a reverence for all that is holy and elevated. It is not to be confused with sanctimoniousness, for the religious spirit that dominates the life and home of the Latter-day Saint is not of that kind, but breathes rather the cheer and happiness without which the Gospel of the Lord is unthinkable. The reverence characteristic of many homes often finds a special periodic expression in the so-called “home night,” in which all members of the family meet as a unit for the enjoyment of some scripture reading, or other religious study and the display of musical and literary talents of some of its members. To the serious training of youth the regular observance of “home night” is a valuable, impressive, and enjoyable adjunct. the family spirit is noticeably and greatly improved by the “home night.”
Regular visits by the “ward teachers” aid materially in maintaining the proper spirit of Latter-day Saint homes. Visits by the Relief society teachers similarly affect the spirit of the home for good. Church magazines should be in every home where the Gospel is appreciated, for they do immeasurable good. the Instructor, The Improvement Era, The Children’s Friend, the Church Section of the Deseret News, the Relief Society and genealogical Society’s magazines – these and others breathe the very spirit of the Restored gospel.
To say grace on each meal is a common Christian practice that characterizes every Mormon home. Among the Latter-day Saints any member of the household may be designated to “ask the blessing on the food,” as it is usually called. Persons so designated receive valuable practice in leading a group in prayer vocally.
This also applies to what is known as “family prayer,” a religious observance which is certainly not such a common practice among Christian people generally, but which is one of the distinguishing characteristics of well-regulated Latter-day Saint family life. In many homes of the Saints the families come together morning and evening to kneel and to be led in prayer by the head of the household or any one else he may designate. The benefits that come to the home where this rite is regularly observed are inestimable. It will do more than any other one practice to help all members of the family feel the proper reverence and devotion, and to make them feel that they are really drawing closer to God day by day.
Psychologically, family prayer increases the ease with which parents control and lead their children, and promotes that family spirit and unity that cannot be prized too highly. “I am convinced,” said President Grant in the October Conference of 1923, “that one of the greatest and one of the best things in all the world to keep a man true and faithful in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, is to supplicate God secretly in the name of Jesus Christ, for the guidance of His Holy Spirit. I am convinced that one of the greatest things that can come into any home to cause the boys and girls in that home to grow up in a love of God, and in a love of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, is to have family prayer. It is not for the father of the family alone to pray, but for the mother and for the children to do so also, that they may partake of the spirit of prayer, and be in harmony, be in communication with the Spirit of the Lord. I believe that there are very few who go astray, that very few lose the faith, who have once had a knowledge of the gospel, and who never neglect their prayers in their families, and their secret supplications to God.”
All families that have allowed themselves to become careless in this matter of family prayer, could take no quicker and surer step toward fostering greater spirituality in the home in these chaotic and restless times, than to see to it that family prayers are from now on regularly observed in their homes.
And again, inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized, that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy ghost by the laying on of hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the children.
For this shall be a law unto the inhabitants of Zion. …
And they shall also teach their children to pray, and to walk uprightly before the Lord. (Doc. and Cov. 68:25, 26, 28.)