I am back to writing. The wedding is over, the guests have gone, school has started and the house is somewhat put back together. Things have settled down, and as I take up my pen (code these days for computer keyboard), I’m still reveling in the fun and joy of the past few weeks. In fact, reveling in the joy of the past several months as I had the privilege of watching love blossom and grow between my son, Thomas, and his now wife, Chelsea.
Weddings can be and inevitably are hectic affairs as D-day approaches. No surprise then that I found myself at 2 a.m. the night before the wedding sitting down to compose some thoughts for the wedding luncheon that would follow their sealing. I had been thinking about what I might say for some time and pulled the scriptures off the shelf in an effort to consider what the Lord would have us understand about marriage.
Interestingly, my thoughts first veered to Catholic doctrine. I love the fact that in the Roman Catholic Church marriage is prominently positioned, and rightly so, as one of seven holy sacraments, critical and esteemed in the faith. At the 16th-century Council of Trent, the Catholic Church defined marriage as “the conjugal union between a man and a woman establishing a perpetual and indissoluble communion of lives.”
Catholic doctrine explains matrimony as coming from the Latin word mater, or mother, with the foremost goal of marriage to make the “maid” a mother who produces children. In Thomas Aquinas’ "Summa Theologiae," the two goals of marriage are explained as procreating and educating offspring and mutually supporting one another.
Clearly, in Catholic doctrine marriage is holy, ordained of God and the first and essential step in the creation of a nuclear family. This is consistent with LDS belief.
Turning to the book of Genesis in the Bible, I read not just Adam’s thoughts but his understanding of marriage, when Eve became his wife, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh.” Adam speaks of the necessity of unity and mutual devotion in marriage.
There is another group of scriptures on marriage, not as well known or considered, in 4 Nephi. The book of 3 Nephi recounts Jesus Christ’s appearance to the Nephites after his crucifixion. He ministers to the people, he gives them authority to act in his name, and he instructs them. Third Nephi explains that after being instructed by Christ, those who chose to be his disciples “did do all things even as Jesus had commanded them.”
Following Christ’s physical departure, in the early chapters of 4 Nephi, missionary efforts continued and the entire society was converted to Jesus Christ. Unified as one under God’s law they established a harmonious and loving community. These chapters describe many of their practices, but a few very important characteristics, followed in obedience to Jesus’s teachings, distinguish this Christlike, Zion community:
— First, they lived the law of consecration: they had all things in common among them. There were no rich and poor, no bond and free. All worked, sacrificed, shared equitably and all individuals were free. These people looked out for, helped and sustained one another.
— Second, they obeyed all the commandments. They loved and respected their fellowmen, they were honest and just, and there was no contention in the land.
— Third, “They were married, and given in marriage, and were blessed according to the multitude of the promises which the Lord had made unto them.” Additionally, “the Lord did prosper them exceedingly in the land. The people did wax strong, and did multiply exceedingly fast.”
Because they did these things, the scriptures make clear, “surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God.”
Marriage, family life and procreation within the bonds of marriage are ordained of God. In marriages where selfishness and worldliness take a back seat to discipleship, service, charity and filial loyalty, people will realize great blessings and find their greatest happiness.
Challenges and struggles will certainly come and will be bested as they work together, but three weeks ago Thomas and Chelsea, as have so many others, did something that not only pleased and gratified those who know and love them but they did something that pleased and gratified their Father in Heaven.
Kristine Frederickson writes on issue-oriented topics that affect members of the LDS Church worldwide in her column “LDS World,” which appears in Mormon Times.