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April 1949 General Conference

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Marriage For Eternity

by Elder Joseph Fielding Smith

Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

"And great multitudes followed him; and he healed them there.  The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?  And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female.  And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." (Matthew 19:2-6.)


I wish to call attention, first, to the fact that the Lord has declared that when a man and a woman are united in marriage, according to the Lord's plan and by his sanction, they become one, one flesh; and there is nothing in this commandment that indicates in the least that that means until death separates them. Here the Lord is teaching marriage for eternity, for he says, ". . . they are no more twain, but one flesh." (Idem.) We ought to keep that in mind.

I wish to read now more of this instruction he gave to these Pharisees:

"They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your heats suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so." (Idem. 7-8.)

Now I want to call your attention to the covenants a man and a woman make when they are married by the Lord, or by a servant of the Lord, acting by his authority. The Lord has revealed this to us, and you will find it recorded in the Scriptures, and I shall read from section seventy-six of the D&C, verses 54-60:

"For the Lord says of those who keep his covenants and are faithful and true and are sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise: They are they who are the church of the Firstborn.  They are they into whose hands the Father has given all things --   They are they who are priests and kings, who have received of his fulness, and of his glory; And are priests of the Most High, after the order of Melchizedek, which was after the order of Enoch, which was after the order of the Only Begotten Son. Wherefore, as it is written, they are gods, even the sons of God -- Wherefore, all things are theirs, whether life or death, or things present, or things to come, all are theirs and they are Christ's, and Christ is God's.  And they shall overcome all things." (D. & C. 76:54-60.)   

That is the doctrine the Lord taught to these critical Pharisees. It is the doctrine that was taught by his servants, the prophets. And Paul says, writing to the Roman Saints:    

"For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.  For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.  For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:   And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ;     if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.  For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.  For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God." (Romans 8:13-19.)    


Now I want to impress upon all my good brethren and sisters who have been married in the temple that they should never forget the great blessings which were bestowed upon them: That the Lord has given unto them, through their faithfulness, the right to become his sons and his daughters, joint heirs with Jesus Christ, possessing, as stated here, all that the Father has.

And yet, there are members of the Church who fail to comprehend this and after they are married for time and all eternity, become members of the Church of the Firstborn, receiving the promise of the fulness of the Father's kingdom, they permit things to come into their lives that bring friction and separate them. And they forget that they have made a covenant for time and all eternity with each other; and not only that, but they have made a covenant with their Father in heaven; and I want to say to you, my brethren and sisters, it isn't an easy thing to break a covenant that we make with our Father in heaven. And that is what they do.

Now this is impressed upon my mind at this particular time because I have had so many cases come before me. I haven't time to go into the details in regard to these matters, but I want to call attention to two cases that have come before me recently.  


At the close of a stake conference one time, a brother came up to me for counsel, which he did not follow when he got it. It wasn't counsel he wanted; it was confirmation. He said he and his wife had tired of each other. She was a good woman. She was living her religion. He claimed to be a good man. And the president of his stake, afterwards, when I spoke to him, said he was a good man. How could they be good and want to separate and throw into the discard all these glorious blessings that would bring to them the glory of godhood, as set forth in the revelations which I have read to you? How could they be good?

I want to say to you, my brethren and sisters, there never could be a divorce in this Church if the husband and wife were keeping the commandments of God.

And within the week, my attention was called to another case similar to this, where a man and a woman married in the temple for time and all eternity have tired of each other. They have raised a family. Now he wants to go his way, and she wants to go her way. But they want to be friends. There are no hard feelings between them. They have just got tired. They want a change. Do they have the spirit of the gospel in their hearts? I say to you, no, or they would not be tired of each other. That could not follow. They got tired of living the principles of eternal truth. A man would not get tired of his wife if he had the love of God in his heart. A woman would not get tired of her husband if she had in her heart the love of God, that first of all commandments. They could not do it! And then think of the children. Here you have a broken home. These people get a divorce, and then they want to get a cancellation, perhaps, of their sealing. They want to marry somebody else. And there you have a broken home. What is going to become of the parents? What is going to become of the children? Haven't the children any rights? The parents become separated. Each goes a different way, but they want to be friends. And then they expect to marry again for time and all eternity and enter into the celestial kingdom of God to receive all the blessings of exaltation! Are they entitled to do it? Not as I read these Scriptures--they are not entitled to do it. Of course, we have worse cases than that. We have cases, perhaps, where a woman is justified in seeking relief, to be separated from a brutal husband who lives after the flesh, whose incontinency is such that he makes her life miserable; and they are not keeping the commandments that were given to them when they were married in the temple for time and all eternity, where he is supposed to love and respect and care for his wife with all the humility, in all the faith, and the understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And the gospel of Jesus Christ is not carnal.


I have a statement here, from President Brigham Young that I want to read:

"I know that you good women get annoyed and provoked and out of patience many times with your husbands, and at times justly. They are not always as considerate of you as they ought to be; but if they provide for you and they are kind to you and otherwise treat you right, stay with them."

That is what President Young has to say. He said:   

"I think it has been taught by some that as we lay down our bodies they will so rise in the resurrection with all the impediments and imperfections that they have here; and that if a wife does not love her husband in this estate, she cannot love him in the next. This is not so. Those who attain to the blessings of the first or celestial resurrection will be pure and holy, and perfect in body. Every man and woman that reaches to this unspeakable attainment will be as beautiful as the angels that surround the throne of God. If you can, by faithfulness in this life attain the right to come up in the morning of the resurrection, you need entertain no fears that the wife will be dissatisfied with her husband or the husband with the wife, for those of the first resurrection will be free from sin and from the consequences and power of sin. This body is "sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. And as we have borne the image of the earthly, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly."

God has done his part towards putting us in possession of celestial glory and happiness, by providing the means whereby we may attain to it; and if we ever possess it, we must do so by conforming to the means provided. God has given the children of men dominion over the earth and over all things that pertain to it and has commanded them to subdue it, and sanctify themselves before him, and also sanctify and beautify the earth by their industry and by their wisdom and skill which cometh from God. . . .     To receive the gospel and believe and enjoy it in the spirit is the simplest part of the work the Latter-day Saints have to learn and perform.    

God has made man Lord over all things here below, and it is the labor of man to bring all things unto subjection to God by first subjecting himself to the will of God, and then subjecting all things over which he has control in their time and order. The will of God is eternal life to his people, and to all they control. (Journal of Discourses, 10:24-25.)    

The Lord bless you, I pray, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

(See Basic Beliefs home page; Teachings About the Family Home page; Teachings About Marriage home page) 

Copyright 1949. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. All rights reserved.

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