“Marriage between man and woman is essential to [God’s] eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity.”1
President Gordon B. Hinckley has taught: “The Church lays great stress on the sanctity of the home and teaches that children are a blessing from the Lord. There is no principle on which the Latter-day Saints lay greater emphasis than the sacredness of the marriage covenant.”2 Because we know that family relationships can endure eternally, we understand the importance of marrying a righteous person in the right place and creating a home into which God can send His spirit children to be raised in righteousness.
The word bond has many meanings, including “a covenant,” “a uniting force,” and “an adhesive that combines, unites, and strengthens.” The bonds of matrimony are bonds of love uniting two people in a covenant relationship that strengthens them and gives them a higher purpose. In this sense, these bonds liberate men and women to reach their full eternal potential.
Such a covenant relationship is the foundation of a home in which children are welcome and where they can learn and grow in an atmosphere of love and security, without fear of abuse or abandonment.
Church leaders have consistently affirmed that children are better off when born and reared in a family with both a mother and a father. The First Presidency made the following statement: “When a man and woman conceive a child out of wedlock, every effort should be made to encourage them to marry. When the probability of a successful marriage is unlikely due to age or other circumstances, unwed parents should be counseled to place the child for adoption through LDS Family Services to ensure that the baby will be sealed to temple-worthy parents.”3 Where LDS Family Services is not available, priesthood leaders should encourage adoption through a legally authorized agency.
Research by family scholars supports the Church’s position. A recent publication compares children of single or cohabiting parents with children of married parents. While single parents often succeed in rearing well-adjusted, responsible children, the report concludes that, taken as a whole, children who live with married parents are less likely to divorce or become unwed parents themselves, are less likely to experience poverty, tend to have higher grades, are more likely to attend college, and experience lower rates of unemployment. On average, children of married parents also experience better physical and mental health, have lower rates of substance abuse, experience less child abuse, and are less likely to commit suicide or engage in criminal behavior.4 Parents can give children no greater gift than the example of a strong, loving marriage.
Because of pressures on government to permit marriages between two men or two women, in July 2004 the Church released a statement in support of defining marriage as the lawful union of a man and a woman. This definition is far more than a question of civil rights. Protecting marriage is a matter of deep commitment to an institution established by God our Father. This commitment shapes the moral climate in which mothers and fathers rear their children.
If governments were to alter the moral climate by legitimizing same-sex marriages, gender confusion would increase, particularly among children, and this would further blur the line between good and evil (see Isa. 5:20).
Marriage is indeed essential to God’s plan, but marriage alone is not the solution to all the problems families might encounter. Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926–2004) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said: “Deliberate decisions must be made in order to achieve that desirable condition, ‘love at home,’ such as budgeting enough time at home to, among other things, express love to children by adding to their storehouse of happy memories. Singing that song is not enough;5 it must be matched by wise scheduling to benefit the family, which is often victimized by our busyness.”6
Other deliberate decisions husbands and wives can make include being faithful; overcoming personal weakness, including the tendency to criticize; and serving each other so that love deepens over time—ensuring that “love at home” is not just a trite phrase but a reality that each family can achieve.