An Eternal Perspective
Elder Merrill J. Bateman, a member of the Seventy, stated: “A view of marriage and the family based on eternal principles increases the probability of success. When one takes the long view, one tries harder to be patient, long-suffering, kind, gentle, and meek. These characteristics, in turn, strengthen the marriage” (“The Eternal Family,” in Brigham Young University 1997–98 Speeches , 115).
Principle 1: A view of marriage and the family based on the gospel of Jesus Christ increases the probability of marital happiness.
During this class, we will focus on principles, meaning gospel truths that give us counsel and guidance for a variety of situations.
The scriptures can’t tell us everything to do or not do in every situation (Mosiah 4:29-30), and the Lord won’t compel or command in all things (D&C 58:26). As Joseph Smith said, “I teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves.” We should ponder the principles we are taught and then apply them to our individual lives.
Bishop Glenn L. Pace warned of becoming too rigid when applying the programs of the Church: “Programs blindly followed bring us to a discipline of doing good, but principles properly understood and practiced bring us to a disposition to do good” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1986, 29; or Ensign, May, 1986, 24).
The theories of men change, but the beauty is that the principles of the gospel are unchanging and always true, no matter the time, culture, or situation. They related to the big picture. By applying the principles you learn, you will better be able to keep your covenants and receive the Lord’s blessings.
Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles noted: “While easy to find, true principles are not easy to live until they become an established pattern of life” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1993, 43; or Ensign, May1993, 34).
Elder Scott gave counsel on how to do this: “As packets of knowledge unfold, they must be understood, valued, obeyed, remembered, and expanded” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1993, 119; or Ensign, Nov. 1993, 88).
An eternal perspective means to use the knowledge God gives His children through scripture and the prophets. Heavenly Father sees our past, present, and future. His eternal perspective has no mortal limitations.
Scriptures for reference:
- Alma 40:8. “All is as one day with God, and time only is measured unto men.”
- Doctrine and Covenants 38:2. “For all things are present before mine eyes.”
- Doctrine and Covenants 130:7. “All things for their glory are manifest, past, present, and future, and are continually before the Lord.”
- Dallin H Oaks – “The pure in heart have a distinctive way of looking at life. Their attitudes and desires cause them to view their experiences in terms of eternity. This eternal perspective affects their choices and priorities. As they draw farther from worldliness they feel closer to our Father in Heaven and more able to be guided by his Spirit. We call this state of mind, this quality of life, spirituality” (Pure in Heart, 111).
- Neal A Maxwell – A “trap to be avoided . . . is the tendency we have—rather humanly, rather understandably—to get ourselves caught in peering through the prism of the present and then distorting our perspective about things. Time is of this world; it is not of eternity. We can, if we are not careful, feel the pressures of time and see things in a distorted way. How important it is that we see things as much as possible through the lens of the gospel with its eternal perspectives. . . “. . . It is very important that we not assume the perspectives of mortality in making the decisions that bear on eternity! We need the perspectives of the gospel to make decisions in the context of eternity. We need to understand we cannot do the Lord’s work in the world’s way” (“But for a Small Moment,” 453–54).
- Elder L. Tom Perry –“Are we investing, first and foremost, in the things that are eternal in nature? Do we have an eternal perspective? Or have we fallen into the trap of investing in the things of this world first and then forgetting the Lord?” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1987, 40; or Ensign, May 1987, 34).
- President Gordon B. Hinckley – “God is weaving his tapestry according to his own grand design. All flesh is in his hands. It is not our prerogative to counsel him. It is our responsibility and our opportunity to be at peace in our minds and in our hearts, and to know that he is God, that this is his work, and that he will not permit it to fail” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1983, 5; or Ensign, May 1983, 6).
- Elder Bruce R McConkie – “It is the hope of a better life to come that enables the saints to stand against the perils and enticements of this world. Whenever men gain the Lord’s eternal perspective of whence they came, why they are here, and what lies ahead in the eternal realms of living and being, they are able better to govern the deeds done in the flesh. A knowledge of the resurrection thus leads to personal righteousness” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 2:396).
Elder Bruce R. McConkie – “From the moment of birth into mortality to the time we are married in the temple, everything we have in the whole gospel system is to prepare and qualify us to enter that holy order of matrimony which makes us husband and wife in this life and in the world to come. “Then from the moment we are sealed together by the power and authority of the holy priesthood . . . everything connected with revealed religion is designed to help us keep the terms and conditions of our marriage covenant, so that this covenant will have efficacy, virtue, and force in the life to come. “Thus celestial marriage is the crowning ordinance of the gospel. . . . Thus the family unit is the most important organization in time or in eternity. “And thus we should have more interest in and concern for our families than for anything else in life. . . .“There is nothing in this world as important as the creation and perfection of family units” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1970, 27).
Teachings in the plan of salvation that support that the creation and perfection of family units is the most important thing are:
- We are children of God. He is the father of our spirits. We are “after the order” of God (see Moses 6:67) and have the potential to become like our heavenly parents.
- We came to this earth to gain a physical body and prove obedient to “all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them” (Abraham 3:25). “God himself, finding he was in the midst of spirits and glory, because he was more intelligent, saw proper to institute laws whereby the rest could have a privilege to advance like himself” (Joseph Smith, in History of the Church, 6:312).
- Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ and by following His commandments, we can live with our Heavenly Father again and become like Him: “Wherefore, as it is written, they are gods, even the sons of God” (D&C 76:58).
- The creation of the earth provided a place for us to gain mortal experience and learn to be more like our heavenly parents.
Elder Eyring spoke of the Proclamation to the World on the Family and asked that we read it as if we were little children:
“Understanding these truths ought to make it easier for us to feel like a little child, not just as we read the proclamation, but throughout our lives, because we are children—but in what a family and of what parents! We can picture ourselves as we were, for longer than we can imagine, sons and daughters associating in our heavenly home with parents who
knew and loved us. But now we can see ourselves home again with our heavenly parents, in that wonderful place, not only as sons and daughters but husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers, grandsons and granddaughters, bound together forever in loving families. And we know that in the premortal world we were men or women, with unique gifts because of our gender, and that the opportunity to be married and to become one was necessary for us to have eternal happiness. With that picture before us we can never be tempted even to think, “Maybe I wouldn’t like eternal life. Maybe I would be just as happy in some other place in the life after death. I’ve heard that even the lowest kingdoms are more beautiful than anything we have ever seen.” We must have the goal not just in our minds but in our hearts. What we want is eternal life in families. We don’t just want it if that is what works out, nor
do we want something approaching eternal life. We want eternal life, whatever its cost in effort, pain, and sacrifice” ( To Draw Closer to God ).
Husbands and wives have different views when it is time to make decisions. There are normally three ways couples decide:
- The wife gives in and the husband gets his way.
- The husband gives in and the wife gets her way.
- The husband and wife compromise and come up with a solution that partially satisfies each of them.
In an eternal marriage, there is a fourth way that can help bring peace and unity to the marriage:
- Each partner seeks to understand the gospel principles taught in the plan of salvation and to learn, through study and faith, the mind of the Lord. Both partners are willing to sacrifice or adjust their own desires to be obedient to the Lord. Unity is possible for two people with different views when they adopt a common set of gospel principles.
An example: A couple has been married a couple years. The husband, Bill, has just graduated from college and has gotten his first job. He wants to buy a new car. The wife, Susan, wants to have a baby. They can’t afford to do both.
What would a compromise be? Would there be a fourth answer based on an eternal perspective? How can they come to this conclusion?
Ex: Discuss options and consequences of each option. Think about the Plan of Salvation and how your decision fits with that. Review blessings that would come from each option. Pray together.
Ezra Taft Benson – “Prayer in the home and prayer with each other will strengthen your union. Gradually thoughts, aspirations, and ideas will merge into a oneness until you are seeking the same purposes and goals. Rely on the Lord, the teachings of the prophets, and the scriptures for guidance and help, particularly when there may be disagreements and problems.”
Recap: The principle we learned about today was A view of marriage and the family based on the gospel of Jesus Christ increases the probability of marital happiness.
Jesus told His followers to “Go, and do thou likewise” after he taught the parable of the good Samaritan. We should take the principles we learn and make them the foundation for our Christ-centered marriage relationships.