I am 17 and seriously considering joining the Church of Latter-day Saints within the next couple of years. However, I worry about the “pressure” to get married. I hear from my friends (who are members) that there is a huge amount of pressure from the Church to get married very young and it seems not long after dating the significant other. Although I agree that everyone should be married, I worry about rushing into marriage and marrying the wrong person because of this. What is your opinion on this?
Michele, from California
You are perfectly right in your desire not to rush into something as serious as marriage. Sometimes the various concepts that we discuss get blown a little out of proportion. I doubt very much that were you to join the Mormon Church you would receive any pressure at all to marry early or before you felt that you were ready. The concept of marriage in the Mormon Church, however, is a completely integral and fundamental doctrine. Although civil marriages are recognized and accepted in the Mormon Church, they are far from the ideal union of a man and a woman. The way that marriage is promoted in the Mormon Church is that the couple desiring to be married to each other are to keep themselves perfectly chaste before marriage and obedient to all the laws of the gospel. Then, when the time comes to be married, they are interviewed by their bishop and stake president to determine their worthiness to enter one of the holy temples of the Lord. Their marriage would be performed in the temple in an ordinance so sacred that it cannot be performed anywhere in the world other than in one of the Lord’s holy temples. They would be sealed together as husband and wife by the power of the holy priesthood for the duration of time and throughout all eternity. This temple marriage is the only husband and wife relationship that will endure beyond the grave. By their own admission and consent, all other marriages end in divorce. Every civil marriage that is performed is a declared contract for this life only. Phrases such as “until death do you part” or “for the duration of your mortal lives,” are voiced as part of the marriage contract that people consenting to a civil marriage enter into. However, temple marriages are for eternity. We read in the scripture called the Doctrine and Covenants—
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 (D&C 131:1-4).
The term “increase” means an increase in posterity. Thus, in such unions after the resurrection and final judgment, the couple may continue to bear children. However, as exalted eternal beings the children born to such unions will be spirits, just as we were before coming to mortality. This unique doctrine, hardly mentioned in the ancient scriptures, but fully documented in modern scriptures, is found only in the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints, and is one of the fundamental truths of eternity.