I wish to talk about an ordinary word. I have tried for months—really tried—to find some way to hold this word up in such a way that you would be very impressed with what it means. The word is marriage. I have wished that I could set before you a finely carved chest, placing it where the light is just right. I would carefully unlatch it and reverently uncover the word—marriage. Perhaps then you would see that it is priceless!
- ~Boyd K. Packer, “Marriage,” Ensign, May 1981, 13
Marriage has been a part of God’s plan for his children from the beginning. After looking down on Adam, then a lone man, God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him” (Genesis 2:18). Eve was then created. And she became his wife and he became her husband. This is one of the fundamental purposes of marriage—companionship.
Temple marriages allow couples to be sealed together, not just for this life, but also after death. Marriage is meant to last forever. Christ taught this principle when he said, “What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.” (See Matthew 19:6.) Elder James A. Cullimore said, “Marriage in the temple for time and eternity should be the goal of every member of the Church, for marriage is ordained of God. Marriage is a commandment. Marriage was instituted by divine edict” (James A. Cullimore, “Marriage Is Intended to Be Forever,” Ensign, June 1971, 93).
The purpose of marriage is to rear a family. In 1995 the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles issued The Family: A Proclamation to the World, part of which states, “the first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife. Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to care for each other and for their children.”
The Church encourages strong marriages and teaches couples to find ways to make the marriage and family strong. That is why activities such as family home evening, family prayer, and scripture reading are such an important part of LDS family life. Elder F. Burton Howard spoke about marriage, saying:
If you want something to last forever, you treat it differently. You shield it and protect it. You never abuse it. You don’t expose it to the elements. You don’t make it common or ordinary. If it ever becomes tarnished, you lovingly polish it until it gleams like new. It becomes special because you have made it so, and it grows more beautiful and precious as time goes by. Eternal marriage is just like that. We need to treat it just that way. I pray that we may see it for the priceless gift that it is.
- ~F. Burton Howard, “Eternal Marriage,” Ensign, May 2003, 92
Marriage trends among Mormons in America are in one way following those of the general population — the trend to stay single longer and marry later. This concerns the leadership of the Church for several reasons. While young men dawdle, young women are forced to forgo motherhood. Young men who put off the responsibility of marriage and family life tend to postpone those very things that catapult them into manhood. The new phenomenon of the "boy-man," wherein young men are still hanging out with their friends and playing video games, is very much alive in America, and it has carried over to the young men of the Church. In the world at large, these young men are able to find accomplished young women as sexual partners, without making any commitment. Because of the Law of Chastity, which forbids sex outside of marriage and complete fidelity in marriage, young Mormon men cannot live like others not in the Church. But they can fall away and become less spiritual and more worldly, when they postpone marriage. Marriage and parenthood within the framework of the gospel can provide strong and anchoring spiritual experiences that can make church members more Christlike, and those who delay marriage and parenthood, also delay these spiritually maturing experiences.
To read an article about older Mormon singles and watch a video about their experiences, click here.
To read an article about Mormon singles delaying marriage, click here.For More Information about some of Mormonism's unique views on marriage see Celestial marriage and Plural Marriage (which is no longer a Mormon practice).