Sunday, February 8, 2009

Celestial Marriage

This entry is part of my general conference application series.

Celestial Marriage, by Elder Russell M. Nelson
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

While shopping at an arts and crafts store this weekend, a picture frame caught my attention. It simply said, "Families Are Forever." I pointed it out to Maryann, commenting that it is interesting that the truths of the gospel that we've enjoyed for years and years are just now beginning to be marketed. I thought of how grateful I am that, as Elder Nelson reminded, "when a family is sealed in the temple, that family may become as eternal as the kingdom of God itself" (note the word "may").

All at once, Elder Nelson's talk came flashing back to my mind. It was fresh on my mind because we had recently used an adapted version of his "homespun" parable of the shopper in trying to help our five-year-old understand that in order to receive dessert, he had to qualify for it—he couldn't be a dessert shoplifter. He understood the concept, but still wanted the dessert without dinner.

I thought it appropriate that the memories of the parable of the shopper were triggered by an item whose message is based on celestial marriage—the title of this talk. It seems that many today are trying to force the blessings of the plan of salvation, without having authority. I've heard that the recent trend in civil (not temple-) marriages is for the person officiating to declare that the couple are married for eternity. This is quite the change from the traditional "'til death do us part" wording. Whereas the older saying is actually in line with the authority of the official (outside of the temples' sealers), the newer trend suggests that there is a desire for marriage and family to endure forever.

I shouldn't be surprised by this; after all, eternal marriage and family is the whole purpose of the whole program:

The earth was created and this Church was restored so that families could be formed, sealed, and exalted eternally.

So, the next time I'm asked, even hypothetically, what the purpose of life is, I'll have a solid answer: to be exalted as an eternal family.

I recall that many, many times as a missionary I was told by those I was teaching that they had always believed that families can be together forever (exalted eternally), but that their church never taught such. With this in mind, it makes sense that the picture frame said what it said: it is in our nature as children of God to want what our Father has. Given all that I know, love, and appreciate about the nature and potential of my marriage and family, I still understand that there is much more in store. Elder Nelson taught:

The full realization of the blessings of a temple marriage is almost beyond our mortal comprehension. Such a marriage will continue to grow in the celestial realm. There we can become perfected. As Jesus ultimately received the fulness of the glory of the Father, so we may “come unto the Father . . . and in due time receive of his fulness.”

Because "Celestial marriage is a pivotal part of preparation for eternal life," I'm grateful for the love and peace I find in my little family and loving wife. I'm grateful for the guidance we receive from our loving Father, for He, too, is a part of our family: "a temple marriage is not only between husband and wife; it embraces a partnership with God." And if we can all work together, I know we will succeed.

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