Some lessons are mostly personal narrative, and not a lot of doctrine. This lesson is very little narrative, and almost all doctrine. I intend to hit just the highlights of the doctrines President Joseph Fielding Smith covers, and give you some perspectives to think about for this important topic.
Establishing a Happy Home
In an almost off-handed manner the manual says of President Smith’s first marriage, that “they established a happy home…” When I read this my first thoughts were about whether or not it just happened. Does a happy home just exist because it is either there or it isn’t? What does it take to “establish” anything?
If you think of settlers moving into an area for the first time and establishing a colony, what is it they have to do? There are so many logistical decisions to be made. Where do we live? What are our resources? Should we build closer to here or closer to there? Where is it safest to be? What will we do to protect ourselves, etc? Sounds like trying to decide where you will go for Thanksgiving and Christmas as newlyweds, doesn’t it? Whose job will determine where you live? Who pays for which bills? Do we keep separate bank accounts or have just one joint account? The list is endless. At least that is how it seems when you start at the top of it.
Just when you think you have begun to get a handle on life and your social affairs as a couple, you find out you are adding to your family, and suddenly everyone has a vested interest in the grandchild, the new niece or nephew or cousin. Everyone wants to have a say. What you thought was a long list as a couple just tripled in length as you start to make plans for new members to join your family. What kind of parenting will we do? Who will take responsibility for each new job, etc.
My point is this, that establishing a happy home is anything but accidental. It takes a lot of hard work, cooperation, dedication, sacrifice, and more often than not, more giving than taking on both sides of the companionship. But is there a shortcut to a happy home? Can anyone just walk into our marriages and make us do everything right? Not at all. This is something we have to discover on our own. We have to claw our way through all the pitfalls of relationship time bombs and emerge on the other side still grateful we are together. This is something we have to really want!
Is it worth all the effort? Of course it is! So tell me this, “Why would you want to go through what it takes to establish a happy home, then throw it all away just because you or your partner dies and breaks the marital contract?
The Eternal Nature of Marriage
When the Lord established marriage in the Garden of Eden, it was eternal in nature. Adam and Eve were eternal companions. Marriage was not meant to be a solely mortal institution. The wickedness and disobedience of God’s children introduced that concept. But wait, where did the eternal nature of marriage enter into mortality. Aren’t eternal things supposed to happen after earth life?
Sometimes we forget just how important mortality really is. Remember the one third of the children of God who never earned the right to come here and receive bodies? Those who earned the right to come here earned more than just the right to get a body to try on for 80 years, give or take a decade. Along with the privilege of being here comes the right to participate in an activity only gods get to experience, that of creating and maintaining a family. This is where most of us are blessed to come and find a companion we want to spend the rest of eternity with, someone with whom we can start our eternal increase. This is where we learn what it means to be parents, like our heavenly parents. Now that we have bodies, we get to experience what bodies can do.
That is the “fun” part. But with that fun part comes a mess of responsibilities, heartache, and tons of growth and maturing that we didn’t know we were signing up for. What is the point of the gospel of Christ anyway? Is it so we can just get a body? Is it only so we can be resurrected? Why did our Father in Heaven and Christ put all this effort into the whole gospel package? What is the purpose of the gospel?
Simply put, the gospel is designed to help us make decisions and live in such a way that we will be worthy to return to our Father in Heaven so we can live with our eternal companion forever as gods, just like our heavenly parents. We are literally walking in our parent’s footsteps. This is why the crowning ordinance of the temple is the sealing of a couple to become one in the Lord. This is why we get baptized, keep commandments, make covenants, serve in the Church, all of it. It is so we can learn the lessons of what it takes to be good parents to our children for the rest of eternity. Yes, school is most definitely in session.
We cannot walk back into our Father’s presence as a single person and receive a fulness of glory. We cannot have eternal increase without a companion, since it takes a companion to create that increase. Our children is that increase.
So is it hard to establish a happy home? You bet! Is there heartache and trauma, trials and tribulation along the way? Of course! Will we spend our nights weeping over the wayward among us? Will that wayward person sometimes be us or our spouse? Unfortunately, yes. Do we keep loving, praying, fasting, striving, and forgiving in the hopes that lives will change for the better? Our Father hasn’t stopped doing it yet, so why should we?
This lesson is one you should read more than once. The doctrine of eternal increase and eternal lives is at the top of the celestial blessings we can receive. We have so many things to do to prepare for these blessings. We’ve talked about the principle behind creating a happy home, but what about the actions and decision that make that happen. Perhaps you could share something you have done that have helped you create a happy home?
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To read the full lesson, click here: Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Fielding Smith, Chapter 15: Eternal Marriage
Labels: eternal marriage, marriage, relief society, Relief Society Lesson, RS Lesson 2014, temple marriage