Fascinating title, isn’t it? And no, it’s not what you think either. Marriage is not Punishment. 🙂
I came upon a fascinating little scripture that opened up my eyes to something new that I hadn’t considered before:
10 For, behold, the mystery of godliness, how great is it! For, behold, I am endless, and the punishment which is given from my hand is endless punishment, for Endless is my name. Wherefore—
11 Eternal punishment is God’s punishment.
12 Endless punishment is God’s punishment.
–D & C 19:11-12
This is Jesus Christ speaking and teaching about the nature of the words Endless and Eternal. Even Christ is doing a bit of wordplay here: When we hear ETERNAL, we can also say GOD. Thus:
- Eternal Punishment = God’s Punishment (Punishment that comes from God, or Punishment…God’s style)
- Eternal Life = God’s Life (Life…in God’s style or God’s ways; Life…like God, Life…with God)
- Eternal Perspective = God’s Perspective (seeing the way God sees, understanding how He understands)
- Eternal Love = God’s Love (God’s style of love…outward focusing, selfless, understanding the worth of Self and its ability to reach out)
- Eternal Marriage = God’s style of Marriage (a marriage relationship that’s based on His way, His love, His life, His Perspective. It’s also a marriage…with God involved.)
The Covenant of Marriage
Simply put, Marriage is two people agreeing to be husband and wife.
As husband strives to love his wife, she becomes more than a companion in the promised blessings of physical intimacy. She becomes his companion and partner in the purpose of raising a family. He strives to provide an infrastructure for his companionship to flourish, and an infrastructure for their family to grow. She strives to do the same things…with him.
In an earlier post, I wrote about the Companionship of Covenants. In a nutshell, a covenant is more than just a promise betweeen two parties. Rather, a covenant is a relationship that consists of:
- Partnership: Each person has a role to perform, tasks to fulfill, that each agrees to do to help out the other parties involved. But we do this work together. The whole relationship is a team that works together, with independent…and interdependent….roles and tasks.
- Promised blessings: There are benefits and rewards (blessings) that each person can give…and anticipate…from each other, ranging from the physical to mental, emotional, and spiritual.
- Purpose: The whole relationship is working together to accomplish a common goal. They are united, working in tandem, side-by-side, each person doing what they do best, each person filling in the others’ gaps, strengths and weaknesses working in harmony…all working towards a fulfilling common goals.
In LDS Temples, when a man and wife get married, there’s a simple covenant we make with each other…which I’ve written about in a different post. Simply put, the covenant is this: a husband will receive this woman to be his wife for time and all eternity, and the wife will receive this man to be her husband, and she will give herself to him, for time and all eternity. There are some pretty serious implications with this covenant…and it really boils down to selflessness…and embracing the other’s strengths and weaknesses…all in an atmosphere of love, willingness, and God-fulness.
Thus, while Marriage, alone, is the joining of Husband and Wife to be together, the Covenant of Marriage is when Husband and Wife come together, not just to be together, but also: to work together… to raise each other up, and to work together to raise a family.
Eternal Marriage and its Covenant
Remember the wordplay I mentioned at the beginning? Eternal = God? Well, that means, Eternal Marriage = God’s Marriage. This means a few things. First, it is Marriage…Like God. This is God’s way or style of marriage…marriage in the way He built it, designed it, to be able to accomplish the purposes He had in mind when He designed it. And that purpose is to receive the spirits he sends to us to be our children (ultimately giving them bodies to house their spirits). Then we raise them up and teach them to remember Him, want to be with Him and be like Him; and help them all come back Home to Him.
But that’s not all! Eternal marriage also means Marriage with God. It means Husband+Wife+God, working together, in tandem, side by side. To do what? Well, to do what God needed us to help Him with in the first place: Help all His children, including us, come back home to Him.
Here’s how that Covenant Relationship could look like: God gives instructions to Husband who’s waiting for them while trying to figure out what to do. Husband receives those instructions. Wife works with Husband in fulfilling those instructions. Husband and Wife pray for guidance and more instruction. God gives them strength, ideas, and people and resources to fulfill those instructions. God sends spirits to raise. Husband and Wife join together to provide bodies for those spirit individuals. Husband and Wife seek guidance from God on how to best raise these spirit children of God. God gives needed guidance and instructions. Husband, Wife, and God raise this family…together, and God blesses Husband and Wife with promised blessings of Peace, Happiness, Love, Strength, Unity, as well as the physical resources needed to fulfill His purposes. If Husband and Wife will give their all to each other, and give their All to God, He gives His All to them.
And what about all those quirky weaknesses and irksome failings? That’s why Charity…the Pure Love of God…is there. Because it never fails, it can be used to deal with anything else that does fail…including personal failures and weaknesses. Best. Gift. Ever. (Right next to the Atonement of Christ, of course.)
Lastly, Eternal Marriage is a Marriage…by God. This may mean that the ceremony of joining the Husband and Wife is performed by one delegated by God, and is authorized to pronounce the promised blessings in his behalf. They make it official, and sealed for time and eternity, in behalf of God. It also means that this is a partnership that God, Himself, is willing to enter into…with the Husband and the Wife. God is willing to stand by (beside) this husband and wife, to work with them because it is done according to His designs and purposes.
So there you go!
Marriage may be the joining of Man and Woman to raise a family together, but Eternal Marriage is the joining of Man, Woman, and God to be Partners in bringing spirits to this world, raise them up to remember and follow God, and help all come back to Him. And while not everyone can bear children due to unmanipulated physical limitations out of their control (and that’s okay, too), that is what God designed marriage to be, that is what a family is for: to keep us connected to Him…and each other, to help us work out life’s issues with Him…and with each other, and ultimately, to help all of us come back Home to Him.