From the beginning of creation, God’s great plan has included the union between man and woman.
“… but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” (Gen. 3: 20-24).
The story is replete with symbolism that the author sums up concisely, stating, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” And so from the beginning of the Bible marriage between a man and woman was established as an important part of God’s creation.
The institution of marriage is no stranger to adversity, but in recent years, it has been deemed in many circles old-fashioned and unnecessary. One need only look to the decreasing marriage rate in the United States to confirm those sentiments. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes strongly that life’s greatest joys are found in the family. Strong family relationships require effort, but such effort brings great happiness in this life and throughout eternity. Marriage, in its truest sense, is a partnership of equals, with neither person exercising dominion over the other, but with each encouraging, comforting, and helping the other.
Part of the reason for the Church’s emphasis in marriage is the belief that couples can be married for eternity, rather than only for time or “until death do they part.” In temples dotted throughout the world (distinct from the Church’s meetinghouses which are common in most communities), members can participate in an ordinance called “sealing,” eternally uniting a husband and wife, or children and their parents.
Many people may ask, “Am I not going to be with my spouse in heaven anyway? Why is it necessary for me to be sealed?” In the United States, only those marriages that are sanctioned by the proper local authority are afforded the protection of the laws of the land, like tax benefits and hospital visitation rights. The local authority does this to ensure that those marrying are following the proper procedures and are committed to the relationship. Similarly, for marriage relationships to continue after death, those marriages must be sealed in the right place and with the right authority. This ensures that God’s patterns and laws are followed in bringing about the union. The right place is the temple and the right authority is the priesthood of God.
In our Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness, a man and a woman can be sealed to one another for time and all eternity. Those who are sealed in the temple have the assurance that their relationship will continue forever if they are true to their covenants.