President Brigham Young taught that celestial marriage “lays the foundation for … intelligent beings to be crowned with glory, immortality, and eternal lives. In fact, it is the thread which runs from the beginning to the end of the holy Gospel of Salvation” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young , 163). This is because receiving and keeping the new and everlasting covenant of marriage prepares us to attain the highest degree of glory in the celestial kingdom (see D&C 131:1–3).
Living Worthy of an Eternal Marriage
Obtaining a celestial marriage begins with marriage in the temple. Unfortunately, not everyone who desires a temple marriage receives that blessing immediately. But, as President Gordon B. Hinckley reminds us, “under the plan of a loving Father and a divine Redeemer, no blessing of which you are otherwise worthy will forever be denied you” (“Daughters of God,” Ensign, November 1991, 98).
The Lord knows our worthiness and the desires of our hearts and blesses us for our faithfulness.
On the other hand, those who do have the opportunity to be married in the temple must keep their temple covenants to enjoy the privileges promised them. Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught: “Celestial or eternal marriage is the gate to exaltation. To … obtain eternal life a man [and woman] must enter into this order of matrimony and keep all of the covenants and obligations that go with it” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 volumes [1966–73], 1:547).
An Eternal Covenant with Temporal Blessings
Although temple marriage is associated with eternal promises, a husband and wife need not wait for eternity to experience the blessings of celestial marriage. Many temporal blessings also come from preparing for and being married in the temple. About eight years ago, Lee Hing Chung of Hong Kong lost an arm in an industrial accident. As a result, he also lost his job and became sick and despondent. But today faith fills his heart as he contemplates being sealed in the temple with his wife, Kumviengkumpoonsup, and their children.
“Before we joined the Church,” he says, “I was primarily concerned with making money. Now I have different priorities. … I am so grateful that we are together and that we can be together forever. … The presence of the temple reminds me to be good, to be disciplined, to be worthy” (quoted in Kellene Ricks Adams, “A Dream Come True in Hong Kong,” Liahona, March 1997, 38).
Certainly, strong marriages are possible without the covenants of the temple to help anchor a husband and wife’s commitments to each another. But a temple marriage provides an eternal perspective and a greater measure of divine assistance than a civil marriage can offer. Elder Bruce C. Hafen of the Seventy calls temple marriage covenant marriage and observes that “when troubles come to a covenant marriage, the husband and wife work them through. They marry to give and to grow, bound by covenants to each other, to the community, and to God” (“Covenant Marriage,” Ensign, November 1996, 26).
What must we do to be worthy of the highest degree of celestial glory?
How does a covenant marriage protect us in today’s world?