Bishop David Williams, July 12, 2015
Provo, Utah, USA
1. President Ostergar encouraged us to focus more on faith than on marriage and we have done that for nearly two years. Like the pioneers we celebrate this month and as President Uchtdorf reviews in the July 2015 Ensign’s First Presidency message, we have the opportunity to step forward every day with faith in every footstep that God will guide us in receiving His greatest blessings. Even like Nephi, we don’t know exactly where obedience will lead us but we are confident it will be to greater joy than disobedience could ever bring.
2. Although I’ve hesitated in these two years to discuss the elephant in our ward’s room, I’ve realized recently that marriage is a faith issue for most of us too. So, I want to discuss marriage and the marriage covenant in terms of faith and receiving God’s love for us- the two themes we’ve addressed this year and last.
3. The doctrine of eternal marriage is quite clearly presented by the prophets in the scriptures, the Proclamation on the Family, the Presidents of the Church manuals we use for Priesthood and RS (see in particular lessons 13 and 14 that we’ll be discussing this Sunday and next), in the temple sealing ordinance and in many talks by general authorities over the years. Here are few quotes my son shared from a marriage prep class he took a few years ago:
Elder Holland: If you want safety in relationships, become a true disciple of Christ. “Believe that your faith has everything to do with your romance, because it does.”
Pres. Eyring: “You need never be discouraged or afraid. The way through difficulties has always been prepared for you and you will find it if you exercise faith.”
Elder Scott– God blesses your decisions rather than Him deciding for you and telling you what to do. If you are living worthily and your choice is consistent with the Savior’s teachings, proceed with trust. Pay attention to the whisperings of the Spirit. “God will not let you proceed too far without a warning impression if you have made the wrong decision.”
There is not just “one right person”–not your last chance of happiness in this life. Falling in love is great, but the “magic sparkle needs continuous polishing”. When it lasts, it’s because the couple made it happen. Even if there aren’t soulmates, once you commit to marriage, your spouse becomes your soulmate. Our actions turn from “looking” to “creating”. They must be made, and not found. The “one and only fit” is something that we create.
-Spouses are like rough stones rolling that fill each other’s gaps and you fit to your spouse and the relationship over time. In a marriage, over time, there is only one person for you–there is no one on this other better suited for you. But you CREATE that. You BECOME that.
– “The only perfect people you might know are those you don’t know very well…Since you won’t find perfection in your partner, and your partner won’t find it in you, your only chance at perfection is in creating perfection together.” (Pres. Uchtdorf)
But the key is that there is CHOICE involved.
-The formation of family units is part of the second state. That implies that we did not form families or know who we would marry before this life.
Pres. Kimball is not emphasizing that it doesn’t matter who it is. He’s emphasizing that we shouldn’t get so caught up in the finding–find a right person. Not the right person. We are looking for a type of person that is a disciple of Christ and that is compatible with you. At the core is choice. You also want someone who chooses you.Then when marriage gets hard, you were the one who chose that relationship and you have to take responsibility.
4. This doctrine of the eternal marriage covenant is stated briefly in articles by David Yarn and Paul Hyer on “sealings” from the Encyclopedia of Mormonism.
a. The sealing together of husband, wife, and children in eternal family units is the
b. The President of the Church holds and exercises the keys of sealing on earth. When a culminating ordinance of the priesthood, to which all others are preparatory. I WANT TO EMPHASIZE THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THAT STATEMENT that was reiterated by a sealer when my family went to do sealings last week for our reunion! It must be performed by one holding the sealing power and today in an LDS temple dedicated to God. The Savior referred to this sealing power when he gave his apostle Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven, saying that “whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven” (Matt. 16:19).
In modern times this sealing authority was restored to the earth in the Kirtland Temple on April 3, 1836, by the prophet Elijah, who was the ancient custodian of this power (D&C 110:13-16). Both ancient and modern prophets have observed that if families are not sealed together in eternal units-if the hearts of the children and the fathers are not turned to each other (as alluded to in Malachi 4:5-6)-then the ultimate work and glory of God are not attained and the highest purposes of the creation of the earth are not achieved. “For we without them [ancestors or progenitors] cannot be made perfect; neither can they without us be made perfect” (D&C 128:16-18).
When a man is ordained an apostle and set apart as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, sealing is one of the powers bestowed upon him. Other General Authorities of the Church, the presidencies of temples, and a limited number of officiators in each temple receive this sealing power during their tenure.
This is the authority by which “all covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations” can be “made and entered into and sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise” and receive “efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection of the dead” (D&C 132:7).
5. So, receiving and faithfully keeping all the Priesthood ordinances and covenants is the Lord’s way of preparing us for the culminating and crowning sealing ordinance during a temple wedding. Everything we have discussed in our ward about receiving God’s blessings and invitations has been about using our agency to choose to faithfully receive His will and blessings for us.
This is something that we usually think of as individual choice. Which it is. And we are each responsible for making these choices and living with the consequences of our choices. We should never think we can leave our choices up to someone else, like we might do in a group project in school or at work.
6. However, I’ve come to realize recently that the thing that is truly noteworthy about marriage is that it is an ordinance and covenant that one enters into with God AND with another person. It is a three-way covenant rather than a two way covenant. I alone am not sufficient for this covenant with the Lord and the associated ordinance, even though my baptism, participation in the sacrament, and reception of the initiatory and endowment in the temple can all be done alone. The crowning sealing ordinance cannot. It must be entered into with another person also covenanting with the Lord. So I, my spouse, and the Lord form a triangle as I and my spouse unite with the Lord.
7. This complicates the faith principle that we’ve been discussing in our ward a bit. Another concept comes into play in a major way. It is the principle of councils and of counseling together. It is illustrated by how my wife and I decided to marry and by what we inscribed in our rings to each other. We both had had serious dating experiences just prior to meeting and we had prayed continually in those situations to know what the Lord would have us do. We both followed the Spirit in many interesting ways to end up in the same neighborhood in Provo and attending the same ward instead of doing other things we thought we probably should have been doing or marrying the people we had been praying about.
As soon as we met, I knew I wanted to marry Denise. She and I both, independently began praying that we would know if we were NOT supposed to marry because we both felt good about marriage from the time we began dating. After constant dating and praying, we were satisfied that the Lord was not opposed to and even wanted us to join Him in His marriage covenant.
We had inscribed in our rings words to support this idea. I wrote in hers- Somos Tres or “We are three” and she wrote in mine, You, me and Him-forever. We knew that we had both been counseling together with the Lord and we would have to continue to do so for eternity to raise our children and become one with and truly know the Lord.
In this ward, we have addressed this principle of councils and counseling in another way when we’ve talked about becoming one with Heavenly Father and Christ and the Holy Ghost (John 17:11-23). Becoming one is what Christ urges for his disciples in every era and He invites us to become one with each other and with Him as we seek to create Zion. Marriage and family unity is the highest form of council that we can all participate in. And these councils follow the same principles of unity through counsels that we see in the leaders of the church. The 12 and the First Presidency will defer decisions until they are united through counseling together. None of them can act unilaterally or their faith is insufficient. We need that kind of faithful unity in:
a. Preparing for and deciding to marry
b. Growing eternally in a marriage relationship
c. Enduring to the end in keeping all our covenants.
8. I know that many of you have fears, habits and other challenges to your faith that make entering into the marriage council and covenant frightening, seemingly impossible, too hard, undesirable or unlikely. But Christ’s atonement is available to help you overcome all fears through faith in Him. I too want to work with each of you individually during this coming year to do four things. Please consider meeting with me soon to:
a. explore where you are in your faith that you can become one with God by faithfully keeping all the covenants you have already entered into and by entering into others,
b. explore how to move forward in counseling together with another person and with God to reach consensus on when and where to enter into the culminating marriage covenant,
c. faithfully move forward to receive God’s love and become more at one with Him by entering into and faithfully keeping the marriage covenant through receiving the sealing ordinance He offers in the temple, and
d. make and keep a plan for enduring to the end in keeping your covenants and counseling with others to do so and to help them do so until all your covenants and associated ordinances are sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise and you truly become one with God, Christ, the Holy Ghost and all the Church of the Firstborn (see D&C 76:54; butread as much of the following as possible too):
9. Read the following from D&C 76 and stop and comment as time permits to note that this is where our faith should be centered so we can call upon God for miracles to happen in our lives now and forever. Miracles that we can’t perform ourselves:
50 And again we bear record—for we saw and heard, and this is the testimony of the gospel of Christ concerning them who shall come forth in the resurrection of the just—
51 They are they who received the testimony of Jesus, and believed on his name and were baptized after the manner of his burial, being buried in the water in his name, and this according to the commandment which he has given—
52 That by keeping the commandments they might be washed and cleansed from all their sins, and receive the Holy Spirit by the laying on of the hands of him who is ordained and sealed unto this power;
53 And who overcome by faith, and are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, which the Father sheds forth upon all those who are just and true.
54 They are they who are the church of the Firstborn.
55 They are they into whose hands the Father has given all things—
56 They are they who are priests and kings, who have received of his fulness, and of his glory;
57 And are priests of the Most High, after the order of Melchizedek, which was after the order of Enoch, which was after the order of the Only Begotten Son.
58 Wherefore, as it is written, they are gods, even the sons of God—
59 Wherefore, all things are theirs, whether life or death, or things present, or things
to come, all are theirs and they are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.
60 And they shall overcome all things.
61 Wherefore, let no man glory in man, but rather let him glory in God, who shall subdue all enemies under his feet.
62 These shall dwell in the presence of God and his Christ forever and ever.
63 These are they whom he shall bring with him, when he shall come in the clouds of heaven to reign on the earth over his people.
64 These are they who shall have part in the first resurrection.
65 These are they who shall come forth in the resurrection of the just.
66 These are they who are come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly place, the holiest of all.
67 These are they who have come to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of Enoch, and of the Firstborn.
68 These are they whose names are written in heaven, where God and Christ are the judge of all.
69 These are they who are just men made perfect through Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, who wrought out this perfect atonement through the shedding of his own blood.
70 These are they whose bodies are celestial, whose glory is that of the sun, even the glory of God, the highest of all, whose glory the sun of the firmament is written of as being typical.
(To his ward members) Please come talk to me in the next few weeks about where you are in this process and what you want me to do to help you move forward in it.
I bear testimony that everyone in this ward can have all these blessings, whether in this life or the continuation of life into the eternities or both. It is all a matter of faith in Jesus Christ and the promises He makes to all who keep His covenants.