Lesson 3 – Keeping the Sacred Covenant of Marriage
Principle: Obeying covenants made during sacred ordinances increases the power of godliness in our Marriage.
22 For without this no aman can see the face of God, even the Father, and live.
“In the Church the word ordinances usually refers to rites and ceremonies that the Lord has given us for our salvation, guidance, and comfort. . . . These ordinances are physical actions that symbolize spiritual experiences. By taking part in them we receive the spiritual power we need to change our lives” (Duties and Blessings of the Priesthood: Basic Manual for Priesthood Holders, Part B , 27).
When we enter into the covenant of marriage, the union becomes far more than a civil contract. The ordinances in the temple draw us heavenward as God becomes a partner to our covenants. These ordinances can help us gain an eternal perspective of our marriage and be more committed to each other and to God.
Elder M. Russell Ballard: “A periodic review of the covenants we have made with the Lord will help us with our priorities and with balance in our lives. This review will help us see where we need to repent and change our lives to ensure that we are worthy of the promises that accompany our covenants and sacred ordinances. Working out our own salvation requires good planning and a deliberate, valiant effort” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1987, 15; or Ensign, May 1987, 14; student manual, 40).
SEE CHARTS on pages 41-46 of the student manual: https://www.lds.org/manual/eternal-marriage-student-manual/covenants-and-ordinances?lang=eng
Elder Boyd K. Packer
“It is not uncommon for responsible parents to lose one of their children, for a time, to influences over which they have no control. They agonize over rebellious sons or daughters. They are puzzled over why they are so helpless when they have tried so hard to do what they should. “The Prophet Joseph Smith declared—and he never taught a more comforting doctrine—that the eternal sealings of faithful parents and the divine promises made to them for valiant service in the Cause of Truth, would save not only themselves, but likewise their posterity. Though some of the sheep may wander, the eye of the Shepherd is upon them, and sooner or later they will feel the tentacles of Divine Providence reaching out after them and drawing them back to the fold. Either in this life or the life to come, they will return. They will have to pay their debt to justice; they will suffer for their sins; and may tread a thorny path; but if it leads them at last, like the penitent Prodigal, to a loving and forgiving father’s heart and home, the painful experience will not have been in vain. Pray for your careless and disobedient children; hold on to them with your faith. Hope on, trust on, till you see the salvation of God.” (Orson F. Whitney, in Conference Report, Apr. 1929, p. 110.) (Orson F. Whitney, in Conference Report, Apr. 1929, p. 110). “We cannot overemphasize the value of temple marriage, the binding ties of the sealing ordinance, and the standards of worthiness required of them. When parents keep the covenants they have made at the altar of the temple, their children will be forever bound to them” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1992, 94–95; or Ensign, May 1992, 68).
How faithfulness brings power to bless families
- Mosiah 27:14. How did Alma’s faithfulness enable him to bless his family? (He was able to pray “with much faith” concerning his son Alma the Younger that he would “be brought to the knowledge of the truth.”)
- Mosiah 28:5–7. How did King Mosiah’s relationship with the Lord bless his family? (When his sons asked him if they could go on a dangerous mission to the Lamanites, he was worthy of asking for and receiving an answer from the Lord.)
- Alma 53:20–21; 56:45–48, 56. To what did the sons of Helaman attribute their protective power? Discuss how this kind of power is available today. How will keeping all our covenants, including those that accompany eternal marriage, increase our ability to bless our families?
President Joseph Fielding Smith – Holy Spirit of Promise
“The Holy Spirit of Promise is the Holy Ghost who places the stamp of approval upon every ordinance: baptism, confirmation, ordination, marriage. The promise is that the blessings will be received through faithfulness. “If a person violates a covenant, whether it be of baptism, ordination, marriage or anything else, the Spirit withdraws the stamp of approval, and the blessings will not be received.“Every ordinance is sealed with a promise of a reward based upon faithfulness. The Holy Spirit withdraws the stamp of approval where covenants are broken”(Doctrines of Salvation, 1:45).
What function does the Holy Spirit of Promise perform in our eternal marriage covenant?
President Joseph Fielding Smith – Divorce
“If all mankind would live in strict obedience to the gospel, and in that love which is begotten by the Spirit of the Lord, all marriages would be eternal, divorce would be unknown. . . .“Marriage according to the law of the Church is the most holy and sacred ordinance. It will bring to the husband and the wife, if they abide in their covenants, the fulness of exaltation in the kingdom of God. When that covenant is broken, it will bring eternal misery to the guilty party, for we will all have to answer for our deeds done while in the flesh. It is an ordinance that cannot be trifled with, and the covenants made in the temple cannot be broken without dire punishment to the one who is guilty. . . .
What did he say is the Lord’s penalty for breaking the marriage covenant through divorce?
President Joseph Fielding Smith – Sexual Sin
“Is there any wonder, then, that the Lord places the violation of this covenant of marriage and the loss of virtue as second only to the shedding of innocent blood? [See Alma 39:5–9.] Is there not, then, sufficient reason for the severity of the punishment which has
been promised to those who violate this eternal law? Moreover, have we not forgotten in large measure the enormity of the crime of unchastity and breaking of marriage vows? Do those who are guilty think the enormity of the offense of maliciously or wickedly tampering with the laws of life will be overlooked by a just God? Do they think that only a few stripes, if any punishment at all, will amend this broken
law?” (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:80, 83–84, 86–87, 92).
Elder J. Ballard Washburn
“Thus we see that in marriage, a husband and wife enter into an order of the priesthood called the new and everlasting covenant of marriage. This covenant includes a willingness to have children and to teach them the gospel. Many problems of the world today are brought about when parents do not accept the responsibilities of this covenant. It is contradictory to this covenant to prevent the birth of children if
the parents are in good health. “Thirty-five years ago when I first started practicing medicine, it was a rare thing for a married woman to seek advice about how she could keep from having babies. When I finished practicing medicine, it was a rare thing, except for some faithful Latter-day Saint women, for a married woman to want to have more than one or two children, and some did not want any children. We in the Church must not be caught up in the false doctrines of the world that would cause us to break sacred temple covenants. “We go to the temple to make covenants, but we go home to keep the covenants that we have made. The home is the testing ground. The home is the place where we learn to be more Christlike. The home is the place where we learn to overcome selfishness and give ourselves in service to others” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1995, 13; or Ensign, May 1995, 12).
According to Elder Washburn, what aspect of the marriage covenant do many couples neglect? Why do you think this is happening? What does it take to keep this part of the new and everlasting covenant of marriage?
Elder Marion G. Romney
“These fruits of the gospel—assurance that we shall obtain eternal life, peace in this world sustained by such an assurance, and finally eternal life in the world to come—are within the reach of us all. Sometimes, however, because of our lack of understanding and appreciation of them, I am persuaded that we take too much for granted. We assume that because we are members of the Church, we shall receive as a matter of course all the blessings of the gospel. I have heard people contend that they have a claim upon them because they have been through the temple, even though they are not careful to keep the covenants they there made. I do not think this will be the case. “We might take a lesson from an account given by the Prophet of a vision of the resurrection, in which he records that one of the saddest things he had ever witnessed was the sorrow of members of the Church who came forth to a resurrection below that which they had taken for granted they would receive” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1949, 43; italics added).
Based on Elder Romney’s assessment, why should we take our covenants seriously? In what ways are we sometimes careless or casual about sacred covenants and ordinances?
Elder Boyd K. Packer
“My message is to you who are tempted either to promote, to enter, or to remain in a life-style which violates your covenants and will one day bring sorrow to you and to those who love you. “Growing numbers of people now campaign to make spiritually dangerous life-styles legal and socially acceptable. Among them are abortion, the gay-lesbian movement, and drug addiction. They are debated in forums and seminars, in classes, in conversations, in conventions, and in courts all over the world. The social and political aspects of them are in the
press every day. “The point I make is simply this: there is a MORAL and SPIRITUAL side to these issues which is universally ignored. For Latter-day Saints, morality is one component which must not be missing when these issues are considered—otherwise sacred covenants are at risk! Keep your covenants and you will be safe. Break them and you will not. . . . “The laws of God are ordained to make us happy. Happiness cannot coexist with immorality: the prophet Alma told us in profound simplicity that ‘wickedness never was happiness’ (Alma 41:10)” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1990, 107–8; or Ensign, Nov. 1990, 84).
What can we do to help assure that these temptations never cause us to lose our promised blessings?
Elder Robert D. Hales
“As taught in this scripture [D&C 123:19], an eternal bond doesn’t just happen as a result of sealing covenants we make in the temple. How we conduct ourselves in this life will determine what we will be in all the eternities to come. To receive the blessings of the sealing that our Heavenly Father has given to us, we have to keep the commandments and conduct ourselves in such a way that our families will want to live with us in the eternities. The family relationships we have here on this earth are important, but they are much more important for their effect on our families for generations in mortality and throughout all eternity. “By divine commandment, spouses are required to love each other above all others. The Lord clearly declares, ‘Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else’ (D&C 442:22)” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1996, 87; or Ensign, Nov. 1996, 65).
Why does the Lord expect us to continue to love our spouse even if there are things about our marriage that we are not satisfied with? How can the desire to honor our covenants help us in situations like this?
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and Patricia T. Holland
“JRH: That is why we can make covenants with such confidence, knowing with certainty God’s power over darkness and danger and troubles of every kind. We should give gratitude from the depths of our soul for a plan of happiness that provides for escape from every personal mistake we have ever made and every dumb thing we have ever done. We should express eternal thanks for the pure, single-minded, divine goodness that can cover every concern, heal every wound, make up for every defect, and eventually dry every tear. That’s the God and Christ and plan King Lamoni saw, and that is what stunned him so. It will stun us, too—by its strength and by its splendor—when our need is great enough, our faith strong enough, and our view clear enough to see it. In our hour of extremity, we will, if we keep our covenants, see the clouds of darkness lift, the veil of unbelief cast away by the hand of a Father who is eternally committed to our happiness.
“PTH: . . . Covenants not only commit us to being unshakable in our devotion to God, they remind us God will always be unshakable in his devotion toward us. And though we may falter and make mistakes, he never falters. He never makes a mistake. He is ever faithful to us. That is the beauty and majesty inherent in the covenants we make with God.
“JRH: Covenants are binding, supernal, consummate contracts between God and his children. They are the solemn promises of Deity—a God who always keeps his word—that heaven will pour out unmeasured blessings upon all who are faithful and honor the conditions of their pledge. An individual can swear an oath, but only when God reciprocates in kind is a covenant established. “We know that oaths are never to be spoken lightly, and covenantal language is of a higher order yet. By definition, covenants invoke the most sacred language we can utter in this world. This language establishes a bond and a relationship unique in the human experience. It is the means by which individuals in a fallen family make their way back to eternal splendor. It is the means by which each one of us can be, in the Lord’s own words, ‘a peculiar treasure unto me above all people’ (Exodus 19:5). That is why keeping our covenants will, as the scripture says, add ‘glory . . . upon their heads for ever and ever’ (Abraham 3:26)” (in Green and Anderson, To Rejoice as Women, 99–100).
What is the power of covenants as taught by Elder and Sister Holland?
Elder Bruce C. Hafen Of the Seventy In Conference Report, Oct. 1996, 33–36; or Ensign, Nov. 1996, 26–28
He spoke of contract marriages vs covenant marriages:
- You walk away from your troubles. 1. When troubles come, you endure them together.
- You do your part only when the other does. 2. 100/100 effort.
- 50/50 effort. 3. You sustain and lift each other in times of trial. 4. You obey God and sacrifice for each other 5. You need and sustain each other. 6. You are given the strength to give your life for your sheep (spouse, child) 7. You are bound to each other and to the Lord.