|Our wedding day, on the bench where he proposed...|
I had a singular experience while speaking on Eternal Marriage in church this week.
It was unique and special to me for a few reasons: a. I received special insights while studying. b. It gave me the opportunity to solidify what I know and believe about the covenant and purpose of eternal marriage. c. It is also one of the only times in my life that I have prepared thoroughly to speak and still walked up to the stand without a clue as to what was actually going to come out of my mouth. You'd better believe I was praying.
Some of you have asked to see my notes, so I will attempt to replicate what I said here. The talk felt special and right to me, even though my perfectionist self was not 100% in control of the delivery and it wasn't as polished as I like to be! :) (Yes, I stumbled over my words...more than once...gasp!)
First, I greeted everyone and explained that while I had prepared well, I still was not exactly sure what the Lord wanted me to say, but that I prayed for the Holy Ghost to guide me and help us all to learn what it is that the Lord would have us know about Eternal Marriage.
I praised the youth speaker for her excellent words on agency and asked the congregation to think about how agency relates to eternal marriage. I asked them to hearken back to the words of the hymns that we had sung previously in the meeting (Hymn #240 "Know This, That Every Soul is Free" and #171 "With Humble Heart") and mentioned that the Lord is always inviting us to live a higher law, but he will force no one to do so.
Then I gave one more excuse that speaking on eternal marriage for just ten minutes was a challenge...(there's just so much to say) and then I dove right in:
"In the next ten minutes, I am going to tell you about the greatest love story ever told....but first I am going to tell you about my love story! :)
Steve and I met while we were living and working in Washington, DC. We were both happily enjoying single life in a big city. However the Lord seemed to take a special interest in getting the two of us together, and when gentle persuasion didn't do the trick, he dropped a tree on my car. (I explained this in more detail, but let's keep moving.)
The weekend that my car was smashed to bits by a tree I was supposed to leave town, but instead Steve and I ended up going on our first date, which lead to our first three dates, which lead to an engagement about three months later.
Steve took me up to the DC temple to propose. I remember how beautiful the world was at that moment. There were birds and butterflies fluttering around us. I kid you not, I even saw a family of bunny rabbits hopping in the grass.
Hopefully, anyone who has ever been in love remembers that feeling...the feeling that the whole world surely must have been created just so that two people could fall in love.
Well, in fact, the world was created so that two people could fall in love. Fall in love and form eternal families.
The Bible tells us that after the Lord created the world he "created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them."
So after creating the Universe, the very next thing that God did was place a man and a woman together and married them to each other for eternity.
Genesis 2:24 "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife and they shall be one flesh."
This is significant: The very first marriage performed on earth was an Eternal one! (No, "till death do us part" nonsense. Death had not yet entered the world!)
The Family: A Proclamation to the World states that "Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and the family is central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of his children."
In Saturday's Leadership Training Session, Elder Nelson reminded us that it is stated three times in scripture that without the power to seal families together, the earth would be utterly wasted or cursed at His coming. Further proof that the purpose in creating the earth was for the formation of eternal families.
(Here are two more quotes that I worked in there at some point:)
The eternal covenant of marriage has blessings attached to it. And like all of God's blessings, they too are attached to a law. Scripture tells us that the law of eternal marriage exists to bless us. It also existed as a law from before the foundation of the world: For all who will have a ablessing at my hands shall abide the blawwhich was appointed for that blessing, and the conditions thereof, as were instituted from before the foundation of the world." (D&C 132:5)
This is key:
The eternal family unit is only made possible by the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
Moses 1:39 - "For this is my work and my glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man."
What was the work of Jesus Christ? To bring about the Atonement. And the Atonement was two-pronged. The first part is the gift of immortality. This means that every person who has ever lived will be resurrected. This is a free and unconditional gift to the entire family of man.
The second part is the blessing of eternal life with God, to live in his presence enjoying our families and having eternal increase...having children of our own in eternity and the happiness that comes with being part of an eternal family unit. This blessing is conditioned upon our accepting Jesus Christ and applying his Atonement in our lives and in our marriages. It also involves accepting his gospel ordinances, repenting, and forgiving each other.
And as some point...not sure when, I shared D&C 132:7
And verily I say unto you, that the aconditions of this law are these: All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, boaths, cvows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations, that are not made and entered into and dsealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, of him who is eanointed, both as well for time and for all eternity, ...are of no efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end have an end when men are dead.
When I read this verse in preparation of the talk, it really struck me. I wondered: Why did the Lord use so many terms to describe the various contracts and conditions that men and women would enter into?
And then I understood. It's as if the Lord was saying, I see your day. I see how men will try to redefine the covenant of marriage. And so be it.
You have your agency. You can enter into contracts and associations of every kind and condition.
And you can call it whatever you like.
But if you want to experience the blessings associated with the law of eternal marriage you must enter into it by one who is in authority and it must be sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise.
So this is the greatest love story ever told. It is the story of the creation of the world. It is the story of Adam and Eve. It is the story of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
Jesus' life was the story of the giving of the Atonement, which would bring man back into the presence of God. Adam and Eve's life is the story of the receiving of that Atonement.
As we follow the pattern set for us by Adam and Eve, we too become part of the greatest love story ever told....A story that includes the extension of family relationships into eternity. It is the only story in history that rightfully owns the phrase..."and they lived happily ever after."
PS - Again, I apologize for not being polished here. Even now, my need to deliver a perfect message is sneaking in. There is much that I was not able to cover in ten to twelve minutes but I spoke as the spirit dictated and focused on sharing the most basic truths.
The rewarding thing for me in letting go of "control" of the talk was that I know that there was definitely someone in the audience who this talk was especially prepared for. And although my delivery of it was far from perfect, I know that the spirit delivered it as it was meant to be understood by that person. I hope others reading this after the fact will feel that spirit as well.