“Marriage is perhaps the most vital of all the decisions and has the most far-reaching effects, for it has to do not only with immediate happiness, but eternal joys as well. It affects not only the two people involved, but also their families and particularly their children and their children’s children down through many generations.” (Spencer W. Kimball, Marriage and Divorce, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976, p. 10.)
Because temple marriage is central to the happiness and eternal progression of every Latter-day Saint family, the importance of teaching children to be prepared for this ordinance cannot be overemphasized. Unless children are taught from an early age to properly value a temple marriage, they may not seek this holy, eternal union when the time comes for them to marry.
George Durrant reported a conversation he had with his fifteen-year-old son. He had asked him, “Where are you going to get married?”
“In the temple,” was the reply.
“I’ve just never thought of getting married anywhere else.”
“Why?” the father pressed.
“Well, that’s where you go so you can be married forever.”
“But,” the father asked, “what if you meet a girl who doesn’t feel that the temple is that important?”
There was a long pause. Then he replied, “Dad, I wouldn’t marry her.” (See Ensign, Jan. 1977, p. 55.)
That may be a difficult decision to make if a boy or girl has fallen deeply in love but has not determined ahead of time that a temple marriage is important enough to work and wait for.
If either the prospective bride or groom has failed to prepare for a temple marriage, it may be necessary to postpone the nuptials until both parties are worthy to enter the temple. If this requires drastic changes in lifestyle or sacrifices—such as paying tithing—it may take several months of preparation before the couple is fully ready for the holy ordinances. Impatience may tempt an unprepared couple to forego a temple wedding in favor of a civil ceremony and promise themselves they’ll be sealed in the temple “later, when we’re worthy.”
The dangers of such a course are evident. Without the immediate goal of a temple marriage to strive for, it is easy to postpone indefinitely the actions necessary for temple worthiness.
Most Latter-day Saint couples contemplating matrimony recognize the necessity of getting started on the right foot. For this reason, the commitment to eternal marriage is vitally important. Only by receiving the temple sealing ordinance do families have the potential of living together throughout the eternities. Those marriages sealed in the temple may continue into eternity, and those husbands and wives who keep the covenants they make when entering into such a marriage may be exalted in the celestial kingdom of God.
By their very nature, temple vows imply a deeper, more serious commitment. With the many wonderful blessings that come with a temple marriage, what Latter-day Saint couple would willingly settle for second best?
How can you instill a desire for a temple marriage in your children? As a first step, you can teach the standards of personal worthiness necessary for admission to the temple. Those who enter the temple must—
Be morally clean.
Sustain the President of the Church as the only one on earth authorized to exercise all priesthood keys, and sustain their local and general Church leaders.
Live according to Church standards.
Have no unresolved sins that would affect their Church membership.
Be active in the Church.
Pay a full tithe.
Have righteous relationships with their family.
Keep the Word of Wisdom.
Have no apostate affiliations.
Generally, young people first go to the temple to receive their endowment just prior to serving a mission or being married. A man must hold the Melchizedek Priesthood. A single person may receive his or her endowment without going on a mission or being married in the temple when the bishop feels he or she is spiritually prepared and mature enough to receive it. A convert to the Church waits a year before being eligible to enter the temple. Except in circumstances where special permission is granted, couples who have been married outside the temple wait a year before they can be endowed or have their marriage sealed in the temple. Your bishop can answer other questions your children may have regarding the requirements for temple marriage.
Helping children understand exactly what must be done to prepare for a temple marriage removes some of the mystery children may associate with this ordinance. This helps make temple marriage a realistic and attainable goal.
While children can and should be instructed in the importance of temple marriage, there is probably no single act or discussion that will give them a firm resolve to marry in the temple. Children learn much more from example than they do from lectures and are strongly motivated by what they see in the home.
The way husbands and wives who have been married in the temple treat each other daily serves as perhaps the most powerful example their children have of a temple marriage. This example can be either positive or negative, depending on whether the couple show honest love and affection for each other and their temple commitments.
Parents who have not been married or sealed in the temple, but who want to be sealed once any obstacles have been overcome, can still explain to their children the wonderful advantages of temple marriage and the eternal nature of such a commitment. The loving way they treat each other, too, can do much to motivate children to want a similar relationship that will continue into eternity.
There are many things that can help motivate children to desire a temple marriage. When addressing a Samoa Area Conference session in 1976, President Spencer W. Kimball gave advice about how to guide children toward temple marriage:
“Now if you put into your living room or into the bedrooms of your little boys a picture of the temple, they will go to the temple not only in preparation for their missions, but they will go to the temple in preparation for their lives. As they arrive at maturity and find a young lady that is pleasing to them, both the girl and boy will have been saving their money for many years looking toward a temple marriage. There are very few young men and women who couldn’t save enough money to go to [a temple] … for a temple marriage, but the parents will need to remind them constantly all through their lives as they grow toward maturity.”
Another way to help familiarize children with temple marriage is to invite a newly married-in-the-temple couple to come to family home evening and tell about their temple marriage. The enthusiasm felt by the new bride and groom is almost sure to be communicated to the listening children.
Children can be encouraged to set temple marriage as a goal during family interviews, and appreciation for the sealing ordinances of the temple can be expressed during family prayers. Demonstrating continued reverence for temples and temple clothing is also important. A parent’s attitudes and actions toward sacred things will affect the way children feel about the temple.
In the conversation George Durrant had with his teenage son, Brother Durrant asked his son, “Tell me when it was that we taught you that you should be married in the temple.”
He replied, “There’s no particular time. It’s just the way that you and Mom treat each other that makes me want to get married in the temple. Once in a while when I look in your room, I see you and Mom kneeling in prayer and it makes me feel good.”
Brother Durrant pushed the issue, asking, “‘But haven’t I said something? Wasn’t there one time you can recall when either your mother or I said something that really stands out in your mind?”
He said, “Yes, once in home evening you told Kathryn [the older sister] about how much you looked forward to her getting married in the temple. But it is not so much what you say, it’s how things are. I just want to have the kind of home and family that we have. I know it all starts with the temple. That way you know that you are a family not only in this life but forever.’” (See Ensign, Jan. 1977, pp. 55–56.)