Marriage and Family

Doctrinal Mastery New Testament Teacher Material, 2016


Note: The following doctrinal mastery activities could be done over the course of several class sessions or in a single class session.

Understanding the Doctrine (25–30 minutes)

Segment 1 (10 minutes)

Write 1 Corinthians 11:11 on the board. Point out that this is a doctrinal mastery passage, and invite students to locate it in their scriptures and mark it in a distinct way so they can find it easily. Explain that this passage helps us understand the doctrinal topic of Marriage and Family.

Explain that in a letter to members of the Church in Corinth (in modern-day Greece) the Apostle Paul taught about marriage. Invite a student to read 1 Corinthians 11:11 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Paul taught about the relationship between a husband and a wife.

Explain that “in the Lord” refers to Heavenly Father’s gospel plan, which enables us to receive eternal life and become like Him.

  • What does this verse suggest about the need for marriage between a man and a woman?

Ask students to read doctrinal topic 8, “Marriage and Family,” in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document, looking for statements that help us understand the need for marriage between a man and woman in God’s plan.

Invite students to report what they find. Then point out the following truth in that topic: Only by entering into and faithfully keeping the covenant of celestial marriage can a man and a woman fulfill their divine, eternal potential. You may want to suggest that students write or note this doctrine in their scriptures next to 1 Corinthians 11:11.

Segment 2 (5–10 minutes)

Write the following doctrine on the board: Only by entering into and faithfully keeping the covenant of celestial marriage can a man and a woman fulfill their divine, eternal potential. Ask students to find the doctrinal mastery passage in the New Testament that teaches this doctrine. Once the students have located 1 Corinthians 11:11, invite a student to read it aloud.

Invite a student to come to the front of the classroom. Then ask the student to hold out both hands.

  • How are your hands similar?

  • How are they different?

Ask the student to put one hand behind his or her back. Then ask the class the following questions:

  • What are activities that might be difficult to do with only one hand?

  • What are examples of how both hands working together make us stronger?

  • How might we relate the example of our hands to this doctrinal truth concerning marriage between a man and a woman?

Point out that some individuals do not have the opportunity to enter into the covenant of celestial marriage in this life. Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Howard W. Hunter:

President Howard W. Hunter

“No blessing, including that of eternal marriage and an eternal family, will be denied to any worthy individual. While it may take somewhat longer—perhaps even beyond this mortal life—for some to achieve this blessing, it will not be denied” (“The Church Is for All People,” Ensign, June 1989, 76).

  • Why do you think it is important to understand that in Heavenly Father’s plan, all worthy individuals will eventually have the opportunity to enter into the covenant of celestial marriage and have an eternal family?

Segment 3 (10 minutes)

Display or provide each student with a copy of the following statement by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Invite a student to read it aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for insights into the doctrine they have been studying regarding marriage between a man and a woman.

Elder David A. Bednar

“After the earth was created, Adam was placed in the Garden of Eden. Importantly, however, God said ‘it was not good that the man should be alone’ (Moses 3:18; see also Genesis 2:18), and Eve became Adam’s wife and helpmeet. The unique combination of spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional capacities of both males and females was needed to enact the plan of happiness. … The man and the woman are intended to learn from, strengthen, bless, and complete each other” (“We Believe in Being Chaste,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2013, 41–42).

Invite students to answer one of the following questions in their study journal:

  • What are some ways that the characteristics and responsibilities of men and women can complement each other in a marriage and a family?

  • What attributes can a husband and wife develop through their covenant marriage that will help them to become more like Heavenly Father?

Invite a few students to share their responses with the class.

Practice Exercises (45–55 minutes)

The following activities can help students implement the principles they learned at the beginning of the year in the learning experience on acquiring spiritual knowledge. To help remind students of these principles, it may be helpful to write them on the board:

  • Act in faith.

  • Examine concepts and questions with an eternal perspective.

  • Seek further understanding through divinely appointed sources.

These activities can be taught on the same day or on different days, depending on your schedule and the needs of your students.

Exercise 1 (20–25 minutes)

Note: If necessary, adapt the following scenario according to the life experience of your students.

Invite a student to read the following scenario aloud:

While pursuing additional education after a mission, you meet and begin to date someone who has a strong testimony of Jesus Christ, treats you with respect, and helps you to become your best self. Over time, your love for one another grows, and you begin to talk about marriage. However, as you consider getting married, you become worried about the stress and challenge of marriage and having a family while attending school, working, and starting a career. You think to yourself, “Wouldn’t it be easier and better to just wait and postpone marriage and family until I finish school, find a well-paying job, and save sufficient money?”

  • Why might it be tempting to postpone or avoid marriage in this situation?

  • What could you do to act in faith as you consider this question and make future plans?

  • How can seeking divine guidance help you to make wise choices regarding education, career planning, marriage, and family?

Ask students to consider what they know about the role of marriage and family in the plan of salvation.

  • How could the doctrine we have been studying in 1 Corinthians 11:11 relate to this situation?

  • How might you reframe, or restate, this concern in order to consider the issue from an eternal perspective? (Possible examples include: What might I be giving up if I wait to get married? What are the benefits and blessings both now and eternally of making marriage and family a priority in my life?)

Divide the class into groups of three to five students, and give them 5–10 minutes to search the scriptures and, if available, the most recent general conference addresses and other Church resources for additional understanding that could help guide their actions and decisions regarding marriage and family. To provide an example, you may want to invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Thomas S. Monson to men of the Church:

President Thomas S. Monson

“If you are concerned about providing financially for a wife and family, may I assure you that there is no shame in a couple having to scrimp and save. It is generally during these challenging times that you will grow closer together as you learn to sacrifice and to make difficult decisions” (“Priesthood Power,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2011, 67).

Invite students to report what scriptures or sources of additional understanding they found with the class.

  • Why do you think it is important to make marriage and family a priority in your life?

  • What can you do now to prepare yourself to establish an eternal marriage and family?

Exercise 2 (25–30 minutes)

Read the following scenario aloud:

As you talk with your brother one night, he confides in you that he is struggling with the Church’s teachings regarding same-gender marriage. He says, “It is difficult for me to understand why the Church continues to teach that same-gender marriage is wrong. Why deny people the happiness that could come from committed same-gender relationships?”

Ask students to consider how they would respond in this situation.

  • What could you do to act in faith as you strive to answer your brother’s questions?

  • What are ways you could help your brother to act in faith?

  • What doctrine did we learn from our study of 1 Corinthians 11:11 that can help us understand the issue of same-gender marriage through the Lord’s perspective?

  • What other doctrinal truths can help us see the issue of same-gender marriage with an eternal perspective?

handout iconTo help encourage students to look to prophetic teachings for further understanding, distribute copies of the handout “Why Marriage Is Essential,” at the end of this learning experience. It is taken from “Marriage Is Essential to His Eternal Plan,” by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Invite students to read it with a classmate and look for truths about marriage and family that could help them address the issue of same-gender marriage.

  • How might you use Elder Bednar’s teachings to help your brother look at the issue of same-gender marriage from the perspective of the plan of salvation and gospel of Jesus Christ?

Note: You might consider using a different or more recent talk from a Church leader in place of the one in the handout.

Doctrinal Mastery Review

To help students remember and know how to find the doctrinal mastery passages they have learned this school year, use clues to help them practice quickly locating the passages in their scriptures. Clues could include key words, context statements, doctrine and principles, and application ideas.

Scripture chase activities, in which students race to locate doctrinal mastery passages, can help them actively engage in learning the passages. Scripture chase activities should never result in hurt feelings or offend the Spirit. Help students avoid treating their scriptures irreverently or being overly competitive. Consider having them compete against a standard rather than each other. For example, students could race against the teacher, or you could have them race to see if a certain percentage of the class can find a particular passage in a specified amount of time.

To prepare students to participate in scripture chase activities, consider giving them a few minutes to review the references and key words of doctrinal mastery passages before beginning an activity. They could do this with a partner, or you could review the passages as a class.

Why Marriage Is Essential

Elder David A. Bednar

Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Excerpt from “Marriage Is Essential to His Eternal Plan,” Ensign, June 2006, 82–87; or Liahona, June 2006, 50–55

In “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles proclaim “that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children” [“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 129]. This keynote sentence of the proclamation teaches us much about the doctrinal significance of marriage and emphasizes the primacy of marriage and family in the Father’s plan. Righteous marriage is a commandment and an essential step in the process of creating a loving family relationship that can be perpetuated beyond the grave.

Two compelling doctrinal reasons help us to understand why eternal marriage is essential to the Father’s plan.

Reason 1: The natures of male and female spirits complete and perfect each other, and therefore men and women are intended to progress together toward exaltation.

The eternal nature and importance of marriage can be fully understood only within the overarching context of the Father’s plan for His children. “All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and … has a divine nature and destiny” [“The Family: A Proclamation to the World”]. The great plan of happiness enables the spirit sons and daughters of Heavenly Father to obtain physical bodies, to gain earthly experience, and to progress toward perfection.

“Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose” [“The Family: A Proclamation to the World”] and in large measure defines who we are, why we are here upon the earth, and what we are to do and become. For divine purposes, male and female spirits are different, distinctive, and complementary.

After the earth was created, Adam was placed in the Garden of Eden. Importantly, however, God said it was “not good that the man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18; Moses 3:18), and Eve became Adam’s companion and helpmeet. The unique combination of spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional capacities of both males and females were needed to implement the plan of happiness. Alone, neither the man nor the woman could fulfill the purposes of his or her creation.

By divine design, men and women are intended to progress together toward perfection and a fulness of glory. Because of their distinctive temperaments and capacities, males and females each bring to a marriage relationship unique perspectives and experiences. The man and the woman contribute differently but equally to a oneness and a unity that can be achieved in no other way. The man completes and perfects the woman and the woman completes and perfects the man as they learn from and mutually strengthen and bless each other. “Neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 11:11; italics added).

Reason 2: By divine design, both a man and a woman are needed to bring children into mortality and to provide the best setting for the rearing and nurturing of children.

The commandment given anciently to Adam and Eve to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force today. “God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife. … The means by which mortal life is created [are] divinely appointed” [“The Family: A Proclamation to the World”]. Thus, marriage between a man and a woman is the authorized channel through which premortal spirits enter mortality. Complete sexual abstinence before marriage and total fidelity within marriage protect the sanctity of this sacred channel.

A home with a loving and loyal husband and wife is the supreme setting in which children can be reared in love and righteousness and in which the spiritual and physical needs of children can be met. Just as the unique characteristics of both males and females contribute to the completeness of a marriage relationship, so those same characteristics are vital to the rearing, nurturing, and teaching of children. “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” [“The Family: A Proclamation to the World”].