IS IT BETTER TO MARRY OUTSIDE OF THE TEMPLE THAN TO WAIT FOR A TEMPLE MARRIAGE THAT MAY NEVER HAPPEN?
It isn’t impossible for children of part-member families to be anchored to the gospel, but it places all the responsibility upon the shoulders of one parent. That is a heavy burden to bear.
Sometimes we find ourselves in a situation where we must make a difficult choice, where we no longer are the rule but hope to be the exception. A decision to marry in the temple should never be a flippant one. It isn’t the same as choosing which tie or which dress to wear to church. The covenants we make in the temple not only influence our decisions in this life but throughout eternity. Anything which points to eternity ought to be done with the utmost care.
The counsel given in the For Strength of Youth pamphlet regarding dating says, “Choose to date only those who have high moral standards and in whose company you can maintain your standards.” That is sound counsel for those in the dating phase. We are not instructed to only date those of our faith but those who have high moral standards like our own. That does not change with age. Dating and courting are different things. Dating gives one the opportunity to get to know a number of people. Courting, on the other hand, is preparing for marriage. Once we reach the courting phase, we ought to keep our eyes firmly focused on eternity.
If we truly understand the purpose of our lives on this planet in regard to what awaits us afterward, I think the decision will come easily. Elder Christofferson spoke in conference about marriage and families several years ago. He said there were four important things that we needed to know regarding the Lord’s divine plan. I wish to focus on the last. He said, “Fourth, and finally, is the setting for our physical birth and subsequent spiritual rebirth into the kingdom of God. For His work to succeed to ‘[exalt us] with himself,’ God ordained that men and women should marry and give birth to children, thereby creating, in partnership with God, the physical bodies that are key to the test of mortality and essential to eternal glory with Him. He also ordained that parents should establish families and rear their children in light and truth, leading them to a hope in Christ.”
If we choose a spouse who is not rooted in the gospel, we are willingly giving away the vital support for our families of having two parents firmly anchored in the gospel where we can rear our children in light and truth. Elder Christofferson goes on to say, “A family built on the marriage of a man and woman supplies the best setting for God’s plan to thrive—the setting for the birth of children, who come in purity and innocence from God, and the environment for the learning and preparation they will need for a successful mortal life and eternal life in the world to come…It has never been just about the love and happiness of adults.” 1
It isn’t impossible for children of part-member families to be anchored to the gospel, but it places all the responsibility upon the shoulders of one parent. That is a heavy burden to bear. It is important that we make such weighty decisions with the Lord through prayer and even fasting. There is no promise that every marriage will be successful, whether officiated in or out of the temple, but we can choose to do all we can to make an eternal family our reality. We do so by choosing to make sacred covenants within the walls of the temple, not hoping for things to change in the future from the beginning of a marriage. It would be unrealistic to expect our spouses to change. While that sometimes does happen, there is certainly no promise.
I can only speak for myself when I say that heaven would have no reward if I couldn’t dwell with my Father there and with my Savior Jesus Christ. This is my deepest desire and though it sounds harsh, no mortal relationship is worth the loss of that eternal reward. May we choose our path prayerfully and always follow the wise counsel of the Holy Ghost in each of our personal circumstances.
- “Why Marriage, Why Family”, Elder D. Todd Christofferson, April 2015 General Conference