1: Developing an Eternal Prospective

Preparing for an Eternal Marriage Teacher Manual, (2003), 1–3


Doctrinal Overview

President Spencer W. Kimball taught, “If we live in such a way that the considerations of eternity press upon us, we will make better decisions” (“The Things of Eternity—Stand We in Jeopardy?” Ensign, Jan. 1977, 3; see also student manual, 81).

Principle

An eternal perspective enriches all of life, including our dating and courtship decisions.

Student Manual Readings

Statements in “Eternal Perspective,” President Spencer W. Kimball (81)

“Living by Gospel Principles” (viii)

“Acquiring Spiritual Knowledge,” Elder Richard G. Scott (148)

Suggestions for How to Teach

Discussion. Briefly review the circumstances surrounding the courtship of the Prophet Joseph Smith and Emma Hale (see Joseph Smith—History 1:56–59). Explain that while Joseph was courting Emma, he knew he had upcoming annual appointments with the angel Moroni to receive instruction concerning the bringing forth of the Book of Mormon (see Church History in the Fulness of Times [Religion 341–43 student manual, 2000], 41–44). Ask:

Joseph and Emma
  • How might it influence your decisions about dating if you knew you would someday be called to a position of responsibility in the Church?

  • How might your efforts to be worthy to build the kingdom of God influence your conduct while dating?

Group work. Divide the class into groups of three or four. Have each group choose one of the following questions. Have them give the popular position of their culture on the question and explain its likely short- and long-term consequences. Then have them use their index to find counsel on the subject in the student manual, and ask them to identify the likely consequences of following that counsel.

  • Generally speaking, who should we date?

  • What level of physical intimacy is appropriate in a dating relationship?

  • How should we treat those we date?

  • How do we choose a spouse?

  • What level of commitment should spouses have to their marriage vows?

  • What values are important to have in common with a possible marriage partner?

  • What are some emotional or psychological differences between men and women? In what ways may these differences affect our dating conduct?

Have a representative from each group report their findings to the class. (Keep the discussion brief, as all of these important topics are addressed in later lessons.)

Scripture activity. Read Mosiah 26:1–4 and ask:

  • What problem did the “rising generation” have?

  • What led to their unbelief?

  • How did their limited, worldly perspective affect their conduct?

  • What consequences can we see today among youth who grow up without giving heed to the words of the prophets and apostles?

  • In what ways can heeding the words of the prophets and apostles influence our dating and courtship experiences? (Answers might include that we will have the guidance of the Spirit and the protection of God’s counsel through His prophets.)

Discussion. Draw on the board the following diagram from the “Eternal Perspective” section (student manual, 81).

God's View triangle

Discuss the advantages of having an eternal perspective. Read the statements by President Spencer W. Kimball in the same section. Ask students what they learned from this statement about the importance of having an eternal perspective in dating and marriage.

Suggestions for How to Teach

Scripture activity. Read 4 Nephi 1:35–38, and ask students if they think there is a “great division” among the people of the earth today. Tell students that Doctrine and Covenants 1:14–16 describes a great division in our day. Write Faith in Jesus Christ on one side of the board and No Faith on the other. Have students read verses 14–16, and ask: What types of conduct described in these verses might demonstrate that a person belongs on the “Faith in Jesus Christ” side? Answers should include:

  • Hearing the voice of the Lord and His servants.

  • Giving heed to the words of the prophets and apostles.

  • Receiving ordinances and keeping covenants.

  • Seeking the Lord and His righteousness.

Ask: What conduct described in these verses might demonstrate that a person belongs on the “No Faith” side? Answers should include:

  • Ignoring the voice of the Lord and His servants.

  • Straying from ordinances and breaking covenants.

  • Not seeking the Lord, but walking in one’s own way after the image of the world.

Ask:

  • Why is faith in Jesus Christ important in gaining spiritual knowledge?

  • Why is faith in Jesus Christ important in our dating and courtship experiences?

  • What might be the result if we approach our dating and courtship experiences without faith in Jesus Christ? (We could be cut off and risk being part of Babylon when it is destroyed [see D&C 1:14–16].)

Suggestions for How to Teach

Group work. Prior to teaching this lesson, be sure to review carefully the “Living by Gospel Principles” section (v–vi; or student manual, viii–ix) to gain an understanding of how a principle is defined for this course. Religion 234 is a principle-based course, and it is important that both you and your students understand how true principles can bless our lives.

Invite students to turn to the “Living by Gospel Principles” section. Divide the class into three groups and assign each group a heading from the section. Give them a few minutes to review the material under their assigned heading and prepare to teach it to the class in their own words using their own examples. Have each group briefly teach its principle to the class. Ask students what they learned from this exercise.

Object lesson. Bring a compass and a map to class. Discuss how these items can be related to gospel principles. (For example, the map and the compass, like gospel principles, guide us to our destination but do not show all the details of the terrain.)

Scripture activity. Read Mosiah 4:29–30. Ask: According to verse 30, what must we watch, and what must we do, to avoid perishing?

Discussion. Invite students to read “Acquiring Spiritual Knowledge,” by Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (student manual, 148). Discuss the following questions:

  • Of all the kinds of learning, which is the most important? Why?

  • What is an example of how a true principle can be applied in dating and courtship decisions in a variety of situations and cultures?

Invite students to state a true principle about dating and courtship. Have them explain how we can apply the principle using Elder Scott’s five-part formula of understanding, valuing, obeying, remembering, and expanding the knowledge.

Conclusion

Draw the eternal perspective diagram again (see p. 2). Read Isaiah 55:8–9 and ask:

  • How does the diagram relate to these verses?

  • How can understanding the nature of God help us have faith in His teachings and commandments?

  • How can studying and applying the principles of the gospel help us in our dating experiences?

  • How can having an eternal perspective help us make righteous decisions in dating, courtship, and marriage?