Chapter 23: Understanding the New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage

Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, (1997), 163–69


In the spring of 1847, President Brigham Young left his family at Winter Quarters and led the first company of Saints west. In a letter to his wife Mary Ann, describing the company’s efforts to “prepare for moving,” he said: “My dear companion partner in tribulation, … I thank you a thousand times for your kind letters to me more especially for your kind acts and still more for your kind heart. I pray for you and the children continually and for all of our family. I do think the Lord has blessed me with one of [the] best families that any man ever had on earth” (MAAY). For President Young, the gospel was to prepare the Saints for eternal life, a life which has marriage and family as the ultimate goal. The new and everlasting covenant of marriage lays the foundation “for worlds, for angels, and for the Gods” (DBY, 195).

Teachings of Brigham Young

The new and everlasting covenant of marriage lays the foundation for eternal life.

It [eternal marriage] is without beginning of days or end of years. … We can tell some things with regard to it; it lays the foundation for worlds, for angels, and for the Gods; 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—of the Gospel of the Son of God; it is from eternity to eternity (DBY, 195).

Let the father and mother, who are members of this Church and Kingdom, take a righteous course, and strive with all their might never to do a wrong, but to do good all their lives; if they have one child or one hundred children, if they conduct themselves towards them as they should, binding them to the Lord by their faith and prayers, I care not where those children go, they are bound up to their parents by an everlasting tie, and no power of earth or hell can separate them from their parents in eternity; they will return again to the fountain from whence they sprang (DBY, 208).

We find quite a large number of young people who have arrived at a marriageable age and still they remain single. … Our young men and women should consider their obligations to each other, to God, the earth, their parents, and to future generations for their salvation and exaltation among the Gods and for the glory of Him whom we serve (DNSW, 25 Oct. 1870, 2).

I will give each of the young men in Israel, who have arrived at an age to marry, a mission to go straightway and get married to a good sister, fence a city lot, lay out garden and orchard and make a home. This is the mission that I give to all young men in Israel (DBY, 196).

There is not a young man in our community who would not be willing to travel from here to England to be married right, if he understood things as they are; there is not a young woman in our community, who loves the Gospel and wishes its blessings, that would be married in any other way; they would live unmarried until they could be married as they should be, [even] if they lived until they were as old as Sarah before she had Isaac born to her [see Genesis 17:17]. Many of our brethren have married off their children without taking this into consideration, and thinking it a matter of little importance. I wish we all understood this in the light in which heaven understands it (DBY, 195–96).

One of the first transgressions of the family called Israel, was their going to other families or other nations to select partners. This was one of the great mistakes made by the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, for they would go and marry with other families, although the Lord had forbidden them to do so, and had given them a very strict and stringent law on the subject [see Genesis 28:1–2]. He commanded them not to marry among the Gentiles, but they did and would do it [see Genesis 24:3] (DBY, 196).

Be careful, O ye mothers of Israel, and do not teach your daughters in future, as many of them have been taught, to marry out of Israel. Woe to you who do it; you will lose your crowns as sure as God lives (DBY, 196).

There are multitudes of pure and holy spirits waiting to take tabernacles, now what is our duty? … It is the duty of every righteous man and woman to prepare tabernacles for all the spirits they can (DBY, 197).

Fathers should follow Christ as they love, instruct, and provide for their families.

Now let me say to the First Presidency, to the Apostles, to all the Bishops in Israel, and to every quorum, and especially to those who are presiding officers, Set that example before your [wife] and your children, before your neighbors and this people, that you can say: “Follow me, as I follow Christ.” When we do this, all is right, and our consciences are clear (DBY, 198).

Let the husband and father learn to bend his will to the will of his God, and then instruct his [wife] and children in this lesson of self-government by his example as well as by precept, and his neighbors also, showing them how to be brave and steadfast, in subduing the rebellious and sinful disposition. Such a course as this will eventually subdue that unhallowed influence which works upon the human heart (DBY, 198).

Never cease a day of your life to have the Holy Ghost resting upon you; and never cease, fathers, to pray that your wives may enjoy this blessing, that their infants may be endowed with the Holy Ghost from their mother’s womb. If you want to see a nation rise up full of the Holy Ghost and power, this is the way to bring it about (BYP, 8 Apr. 1852).

If we do not take the pains to train our children, to teach and instruct them concerning these revealed truths, the condemnation will be upon us, as parents, or at least in a measure (DBY, 207).

Let the father be the head of the family, the master of his own household; and let him treat them [his family] as an angel would treat them (DBY, 197–98).

It is for the husband to learn how to gather around his family the comforts of life, how to control his passions and temper, and how to command the respect, not only of his family but of all his brethren, sisters, and friends (DBY, 198).

Kind looks, kind actions, kind words, and a lovely, holy deportment towards [children] will bind our children to us with bands that cannot easily be broken; while abuse and unkindness will drive them from us, and break asunder every holy tie, that should bind them to us and to the everlasting covenant in which we are all embraced. If my family … will not be obedient to me on the basis of kindness, and a commendable life before all men, and before the heavens, then farewell to all influence (DNW, 7 Dec. 1864, 2).

The father should … endeavor to happify [please] and cheer the mother, that her heart may be comforted and her affections unimpaired in her earthly protector, that her love for God and righteousness may vibrate throughout her whole being, that she may bear and bring forth offspring impressed and endowed with all the qualities necessary to a being designed to reign king of kings and lord of lords (DBY, 199).

Let every man in the land … take a wife, and then go to work with your hands and cultivate the earth, or labor at some mechanical business, or some honest trade to provide an honest living for yourselves and those who depend upon you for their subsistence; observing temperance, and loving truth and virtue; then would the woman be cared for, be nourished, honored and blest, becoming honorable mothers of a race of men and women farther advanced in physical and mental perfection than their fathers. This would create a revolution in our country, and would produce results that would be of incalculable good (DBY, 194–95).

Let the husband make an improvement upon his kitchen and pantry and upon his bedrooms for the benefit of his family, and improve his gardens, walks, etc, beautifying your habitations and their surroundings, making pavements and planting shade trees (DBY, 198).

Mothers should love and instruct their families and have a good influence on the world around them.

When I reflect upon the duties and responsibilities devolving upon our mothers and sisters, and the influence they wield, I look upon them as the mainspring and soul of our being here. It is true that man is first. Father Adam was placed here as king of the earth, to bring it into subjection. But when Mother Eve came she had a splendid influence over him. A great many thought it was not very good; I think it was excellent (DBY, 199).

The duty of the mother is to watch over her children and give them their early education, for impressions received in infancy are lasting. You know, yourselves, by experience, that the impressions you have received in the dawn of your mortal existence, bear, to this day, with the greatest weight upon your mind. The child reposes implicit confidence in the mother, you behold in him a natural attachment, no matter what her appearance may be, that makes him think his mother is the best and handsomest mother in the world. I speak for myself. Children have all confidence in their mothers; and if mothers would take proper pains, they can instill into the hearts of their children what they please (DBY, 201).

You will, no doubt, recollect reading in the Book of Mormon, of two thousand young men, who were brought up to believe that, if they put their whole trust in God, and served him, no power would overcome them. You also recollect reading of them going out to fight, and so bold were they, and so mighty their faith, that it was impossible for their enemies to slay them. This power and faith they obtained through the teachings of their mothers (DBY, 201).

It is the calling of the wife and mother to know what to do with everything that is brought into the house, laboring to make her home desirable to her husband and children, making herself an Eve in the midst of a little paradise of her own creating, securing her husband’s love and confidence, and tying her offspring to herself, with a love that is stronger than death, for an everlasting inheritance (DBY, 198).

Many of the sisters grieve because they are not blessed with offspring. You will see the time when you will have millions of children around you. If you are faithful to your covenants, you will be mothers of nations (DBY, 200).

It is not my general practice to counsel the sisters to disobey their husbands, but my counsel is—obey your husbands; and I am sanguine and most emphatic on that subject. But I never counselled a woman to follow her husband to the Devil (DBY, 200–201).

The mothers are the moving instruments in the hands of Providence to guide the destinies of nations. … Consequently, you see at once what I wish to impress upon your minds is, that the mothers are the machinery that gives zest to the whole man, and guide the destinies and lives of men upon the earth (DBY, 199–200).

Suggestions for Study

The new and everlasting covenant of marriage lays the foundation for eternal life.

  • President Young stated that eternal marriage “lays the foundation for worlds … [and] for intelligent beings to be crowned with glory.” How can we dedicate our marriages to that eternal purpose? What specific things can you do to maintain that perspective each day?

  • What did President Young say is the mission of every young man? How does that apply to you?

  • What did President Young refer to when he counseled young people to be “married right”? What blessings come to those who do all things necessary to “raise up a kingdom”? (See also Abraham 2:9–11.)

  • “One of the great mistakes” made by some of the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was to marry outside of the new and everlasting covenant of marriage. (See also Genesis 28:1–2.) What blessings are denied those who marry outside of the new and everlasting covenant of marriage? What can you do to ensure that you remain worthy of this marriage covenant and can receive its blessings someday?

  • What is the “duty of every righteous man and woman”? Why is creating physical bodies for God’s spirit children such an important responsibility of a marriage in the new and everlasting covenant? How does a couple determine when they have fulfilled this responsibility according to God’s will for them? (See also your bishop or branch president regarding the counsel given in the General Handbook of Instructions.)

Fathers should follow Christ as they love, instruct, and provide for their families.

  • What example should every father set before his wife and children? What does it mean for a man to follow Christ? How does a man “learn to bend his will to the will of his God”? What have you learned from fathers who have submitted themselves to doing God’s will?

  • What truths are parents to teach to their children? (See also D&C 68:25.)

  • According to President Young, how should a father preside in the family? (See also D&C 121:41–46.) How should a man treat his family? What actions “break asunder every holy tie, that should bind them to us, and to the everlasting covenant”? How does a man filled with kindness and the Spirit enable his wife and children to fulfill their roles?

  • What did President Young say would result if a husband faithfully provides for his family? (See also D&C 83:1–2.) How could this “create a revolution”?

Mothers should love and instruct their families and have a good influence on the world around them.

  • According to President Young, what are the duties and callings of a wife and mother?

  • What comfort does President Young give to those who do not or cannot have children?

  • How have Latter-day Saint women influenced you, your family, and your community? How can they do so in the future?

  • What did President Young mean when he said, “I never counselled a woman to follow her husband to the Devil”? How can a wife know whether her husband is following Christ? What blessings come to husbands and wives who together submit to God’s will?

  • President Young stated that mothers will “guide the destinies of nations.” How can women fulfill this promise?