Mormon doctrine teaches that the family can be, and should be, forever. This gives the Mormon family a unique perspective on relationships. While one would always hope that parents would be loving to each other and to their children, and that siblings would be loving towards each other, this is sadly not always the case.
The family seems to be under attack in society as being old-fashioned and outdated. The world is telling us that parents don’t need to be married and that if things don’t work out, then it is better and easier to just give up and start over again with someone else. Mormon doctrine teaches that a marriage should be eternal when performed in the temple. When a couple is married in a Mormon temple, they are married for “time and eternity,” not just “until death do you part.” Though many people seem to believe that they will be with their spouses after they die, no other church actually teaches this doctrine, other than the Mormon Church.
Temples are so important because it is only in them that a Mormon family can be sealed together for eternity. When a couple’s marriage begins in the temple, under the sealing power of the priesthood, all children born to them are sealed to them automatically through the covenants they have already made. If a couple gets sealed after they have children, or if they adopt children later, the children can still be sealed to them, but have to be present in the temple ceremony.
With an eternal perspective, parenting and Mormon family relationships become much more important than anything else in our lives. We should nurture and strengthen each other, make sure our spiritual needs are met as well as our physical and emotional needs.
Though there are certainly Mormon families who do have problems, who do struggle with such things as abuse, abandonment, and worse, these things are always due to individuals’ choices. Mormon doctrine is very clear on how serious the sins are which tear a family apart.
Mormons believe that men and women have unique, but complementary, attributes and characteristics which are both essential for raising a family in the best possible environment (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World“). This is why mothers are encouraged to stay home with their children when possible, rather than pursue a career. Children need this love and guidance as a foundation in their lives, and mothers can give a type of love and understanding that men are incapable of. The opposite is also true, however. Men have their own contributions which no mother can give. This is why the Mormon Church is opposed to same-sex marriage.
Families are units of eternity and should be treated and protected as such. We should cherish our families and do all we can to build them up and to strengthen them.
From a very young age, Mormons are taught to look towards the temple and to have the desire to be married in a temple. This is because Mormon doctrine teaches that a Mormon wedding, or a marriage performed in a Mormon temple is for time and all eternity, not just “until death do you part.” Many people believe that when they marry, they will be with their spouse again after they die. However, no church doctrine teaches this. It is always a union which dissolves with the death of one spouse.
Mormons believe that, through the power of the priesthood, a Mormon wedding performed in the temple can last forever. There are still conditions which must be met in order for this to happen: the couple makes promises to God and to each other, and if either of them fails to keep these promises, then God’s promise to them that their marriage will last forever may not hold true. God promises blessings which are conditional upon our faithfulness (Doctrine & Covenants 130:20–21). If both parties keep their promises, however, this is one of the greatest blessings one could imagine. Mormon doctrine also teaches that any children born to a couple who have been previously sealed in the temple are “born in the covenant,” meaning they are automatically sealed to their parents and to each other, again conditional upon the faithfulness of the parents.
With these blessings available, it is hard to imagine that anyone would choose to not get married in the temple, but there can be sacrifices. If a parent, both parents, grandparents, siblings, good friends, etc., are either not members of the Mormon Church or are members but are not worthy to enter the temple, then they cannot be present at a temple wedding. This is a lot to ask, and often, if they do not understand this Mormon doctrine, they can have their feelings hurt or may even be angry. There is simply no replacement for a temple marriage, though. The blessings, protection, and peace which come with being sealed in the temple are unparalleled in the world, and it is worth any sacrifice in order to be worthy to participate in this beautiful ordinance.
Mormon temple marriages, or Mormon weddings, take place in sealing rooms. The bride and groom kneel across from each other at an altar and face parallel mirrors, which create infinite reflections. This image symbolizes the eternal nature of their union. It is stretching out forever. Here each person makes promises to each other and to God. They receive promised blessings in return for their faithfulness.
The bride does not walk down an aisle, is not “given away” by her father. The ceremony is very simple, but beautiful. The exchange of rings is in fact not a part of the temple ceremony, though in countries where it is traditional to exchange rings, this can be done quietly. Some couples, who have relatives or friends not able to enter the temple, will choose to hold a separate ring-exchange ceremony at the location where their reception is held. This allows their loved ones the opportunity to feel part of the marriage union.
In order to be worthy to have a temple marriage, individuals must remain chaste before marriage, in addition to keeping several other high standards. They must continue to keep these high standards after their marriage in order for the wonderful blessings to remain in force in their lives.