2: The New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage

Preparing for an Eternal Marriage Teacher Manual, (2003), 4–7


Doctrinal Overview

Marriage for eternity is an essential part of Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation. Elder Joseph Fielding Smith, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, taught, “Nothing will prepare mankind for glory in the kingdom of God as readily as faithfulness to the marriage covenant” (The Way to Perfection [1970], 232). Doctrine and Covenants 131:1–4 teaches:

Married couple

“In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees;

“And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage];

“And if he does not, he cannot obtain it.

“He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase” (brackets in original).

We have been promised that through obedience to the new and everlasting covenant of marriage, we may become like God and live forever as families in His presence.

Principle

If we understand and value the new and everlasting covenant of marriage, we will be better able to date and court in a way that keeps us worthy of its sacred promises.

Student Manual Readings

“The New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage” (in “Marriage for Eternity,” 167)

Statements in “Marriage for Eternity,” Elder Bruce R. McConkie (167)

“The Eternal Family,” Elder Robert D. Hales (100)

Selected Teachings from “Commitment” (21)

Selected Teachings from “Divorce” (73)

Selected Teachings from “Holy Spirit of Promise” (136)

Statement in “Covenants and Ordinances,” President Joseph Fielding Smith (38)

“Why Marry in the Temple?” Elder John A. Widtsoe (178)

“Those Who Do Not Marry,” (in “Marriage for Eternity,” 168)

“Remember the Importance of Marriage,” Elder Bruce R. McConkie; in “Marriage and the Great Plan of Happiness,” Elder Joe J. Christensen (284)

Suggestions for How to Teach

Object lesson. Show students a jigsaw puzzle and ask some or all of the following questions:

  • How many of you enjoy putting together puzzles?

  • Have any of you ever tried to put together a difficult puzzle without having a picture of what the completed puzzle looks like? Describe your experience.

  • How can the process of dating and courtship be compared to putting together a puzzle?

  • In dating, what might be compared to the “picture” of the completed puzzle? (Having an eternal perspective of life, including an understanding of the plan of happiness, the new and everlasting covenant of marriage, and the importance of the family.)

  • How are dating and courtship without an eternal perspective similar to trying to complete a puzzle without a picture?

  • How does understanding the new and everlasting covenant of marriage help those who are dating make righteous decisions?

Scripture activity. Read Doctrine and Covenants 131:1–4. Discuss the meaning of each important word in the phrase new and everlasting covenant of marriage. You may want to include the following statements in the discussion:

“The marriage covenant had, for many centuries, been considered valid only ‘till death doth us part’; now a new covenant was about to be revealed, which would cover both eternity and time. It would be everlasting as well as new. It is new; and yet, it is as old as the gospel; it is as old as the plan of salvation adopted in the Council of Heaven, before the foundations of the world were laid. … It is part of that plan, that covenant, of which Jesus Christ is the Representative and Mediator” (Hyrum M. Smith and Janne M. Sjodahl, The Doctrine and Covenants Commentary, rev. ed. [1972], 822).

“The new and everlasting covenant … is everything—the fulness of the gospel. So marriage properly performed, baptism, ordination to the priesthood, everything else—every contract, every obligation, every performance that pertains to the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise according to his law … , is a part of the new and everlasting covenant.

“… Therefore, all who seek a place in the kingdom of God are under the obligation and commandment to abide in the new and everlasting covenant, which is the fulness of the gospel with all its rites, covenants, gifts, and obligations” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 1:158–59).

Ask:

  • Why are the words everlasting and covenant important to our “big picture” of dating and courtship? How do these words help you understand the “puzzle” of courtship and marriage?

  • If an understanding of the new and everlasting covenant of marriage were not part of your perspective, how might that affect your dating behavior?

Student manual. Read the subsection “The New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage” (in “Marriage for Eternity,” student manual, 167). Discuss how these statements help us understand this order of marriage.

Suggestions for How to Teach

Discussion. Ask students to read the following scriptures and statements and find the doctrines that relate to eternal marriage. The questions following each reference may be used to encourage discussion.

  • Read Doctrine and Covenants 49:16–17. For what purpose was this earth created?

  • Reread President Brigham Young’s statement in the subsection “The New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage.” In what ways is marriage for eternity essential to our reaching our divine potential?

  • What is the Abrahamic covenant? (see Bible Dictionary, “Abraham, covenant of,” 602). How is it related to the new and everlasting covenant of marriage?

  • Read Doctrine and Covenants 131:1–4; 132:19–25. How do we qualify to have “eternal increase”?

  • Read the statements by Elder Bruce R. McConkie, who was then a member of the Seventy, in the “Marriage for Eternity” section (student manual, 167–68). Read also “The Eternal Family,” by Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (student manual, 100). How does one become a king or queen in eternity?

  • Read the selected teachings in the “Commitment” section (student manual, 21). In what ways is commitment essential to strengthening a marriage?

  • Read the selected teachings in the “Divorce” section (student manual, 73). In what ways might a couple married for eternity view divorce differently than a couple married by secular authority?

Suggestions for How to Teach

Discussion. Ask students: What does it mean to be sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise? (see “Holy Spirit of Promise,” student manual, 136; see also President Joseph Fielding Smith’s statement in “Covenants and Ordinances,” 38). Explain that the Holy Spirit of Promise is the Holy Ghost, who places a “seal of approval” on ordinances. If we break covenants, He removes the seal. When we live worthy to have the companionship of the Holy Ghost, our ordinances are sealed and we can receive the promised blessings. Ask:

  • What might prevent the Holy Ghost from ratifying a covenant? (see D&C 132:18).

  • Why is it essential to have our ordinances sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise?

Scripture activity. Read Doctrine and Covenants 130:20–21; 132:5. Explain that a person must meet the conditions of a law in order to receive the blessing associated with that law. Write on the board the headings What the Lord Has Commanded and Then, According to Our Faithfulness. Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 132:19–20. Have them identify the requirements and blessings associated with the new and everlasting covenant of marriage. Write their answers under the appropriate headings on the board. The completed chart should look similar to the following:

Promised blessings chart

Student manual. Invite students to read “Why Marry in the Temple?” by Elder John A. Widtsoe, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (see student manual, 178). Have them comment on the value of each of the blessings that Elder Widtsoe discusses. How does a righteous temple marriage lead to happiness in this life and a fulness of joy in the world to come?

Student manual. Read the statements under “Those Who Do Not Marry” (student manual, 168). Ask students what these statements teach about those who do not have the opportunity to be married in this life.

Conclusion

Read the statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie under “Remember the Importance of Marriage” in “Marriage and the Great Plan of Happiness,” by Elder Joe J. Christensen (student manual, 284). Ask:

  • What constitutes worthiness to receive a temple recommend?

  • Why is it important to be worthy to enter into the new and everlasting covenant of marriage?

  • In what ways does understanding the doctrine of marriage for eternity help you obey the Lord’s counsel on dating and courtship?

Testify that we need to keep in mind the sacredness of the new and everlasting covenant of marriage. Explain that it is only by honoring this marriage covenant that we can eventually be crowned with glory and receive eternal life.