Mormon Celestial Marriage
Mormon Celestial Marriage
Mormonism offers many great and wonderful promises, such as happiness, peace, and a deeper understanding of God and His works. Perhaps the greatest promise of Mormonism, however, is embodied in the Mormon doctrine of celestial marriage.
Celestial marriage refers to a type of marriage which Mormons believe is intended to last beyond the grave and through eternity. "Celestial" means "heavenly," and indeed, a celestial marriage is a heavenly marriage. This does not indicate a marriage that takes place in heaven, but rather a kind of marriage that is heavenly in nature; it is divine in its origin and potential.
Mormons assert that for a celestial marriage to occur, several key steps must be followed. First, the man and woman must be sealed, or bound, by one holding the authority of God to perform such sealings, which can only take place in Mormon temples. Second, the couple must seek, with all their hearts, to individually and jointly follow Jesus Christ. Third, the sealing must be confirmed by God through His Spirit.
During Christ's life on earth, He passed His authority on to chosen individuals who acted in His name. The Bible records, for example, that He ordained his apostles and gave them the "power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils" (Mark 3:14-15). To at least one of His apostles, Peter, he gave an even greater power: "whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Matt 16:19).
This authority to bind both on earth and in heaven is today referred to as the sealing power. It is part of the full authority of God, or the priesthood. Lost to the earth after the death of the early apostles, the priesthood was restored to Joseph Smith, the first Mormon prophet. By heavenly decree the priesthood and constituent sealing power were passed from Joseph to others, including the apostles, in the Mormon Church. The divine power is used to seal marriages in the temples, thus establishing the foundation for eternal families—the type of families that God wants His children to have.
If a man and woman have been married only by a civilly recognized authority (such as a government or religious representative), their marriage will end at death. They can, however, work towards gaining permission to enter a Mormon temple and be sealed together so that their marriage will be "bound" on both earth and in heaven. More frequently, Mormon couples are encouraged to be married and sealed together in the temple at once, contingent on local laws.
A temple sealing is considered one of the very highest ordinances that Mormons can receive, and Mormons believe that an eternal marriage is something highly desirable and extremely sacred.
Eternal marriages do not just happen; faithful Mormons do not consider them a "checklist item" that can be performed at a specific place and time and then be forever done. Rather, eternal marriages are a constant work in progress. Although the start of the eternal marriage may be dated from the point at which the sealing was done with proper authority, the couple must live their lives in a way worthy of the blessing of eternal marriage.
A couple shows their continued desire for their marriage to be eternal by following Christ in their daily life. Faithful Mormons who have been sealed together strive to understand and keep God's commandments. They continually try to be like Christ, seeking to be humble, patient, honest, obedient, loving, forgiving, and kind. These are but a few of the godly attributes which they try to instill in their lives and in their relationship.
After a couple has been sealed together by the proper authority, and after they have proven their commitment to an eternal marriage through persistent actions, they have the opportunity to have their sealing confirmed by God's Holy Spirit. This is not an earthly ordinance; it only comes through revelation from God directly to the individuals in the marriage. Such a divine confirmation may occur in this life or in the next.
In many ways, the confirmation of a couple's sealing is a "stamp of approval" given by God, a divine recognition that their union will be eternal. This is the true definition of a celestial marriage—one that has been ratified by God as being in full force for the eternities.
The sealing power that is integral to creating a celestial marriage also has a role in the rest of the family. Children can be sealed to their parents by the same authority, with the expectation that the entire family structure can endure through this life and extend into the hereafter. If a couple was sealed together prior to the birth of their children, then those children are, in Mormon terminology, born in the covenant, and partakers of the divine promise possible through the sealing of their parents. If a couple is sealed after their children are born, then the children can be sealed to the parents in a special ceremony that takes place, again, in a holy temple.
To build an eternal family is not an easy task. It requires faith, commitment, and a lot of hard work. Such a family is viewed by Mormons as the desired ideal for their own family. Not everyone is successful, but thanks to a merciful God we can have confidence that the intentions and honorable desires of our hearts will be given full consideration on Judgment Day. Faithful Mormons have the God-given hope that through the three elements previously discussed they can come as close to the ideal as possible and take part, through God's grace, in the celestial family they desire.
Such an aspiration might not have ever been even conceived of were it not for the revelations granted from God in the form of Mormonism. Truly, the Mormon Church is the very restoration of the full gospel of Jesus Christ in these modern times.
Article authored by the More Good Foundation.