In countless ways, elements in our world come together and work together to achieve something bigger than they can ever be by themselves.
A piano has 88 keys. Each by itself can only sound a single note. But as the keys are played together, all kinds of amazing melodies and harmonies are created. A series of lights together illuminate a whole room. If just one of them shined at a time, the room would be dim. And even our bodies are made up of various systems working together to allow us to live. When one of those systems is damaged, our lives are diminished or even threatened.
Humanity is tied together by relationships, which can either strengthen or destroy societies. The most important of these relationships is marriage. In it is the power to positively influence entire communities and generations of people. It happens through no-strings-attached charity, or pure love, where the partners join as equal elements, together being much more than they could ever be apart. Both must simply love and care for the other, no matter what.
Pure love is long-suffering, without envy or selfishness and is focused on selfless serving, rather than being self serving (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). Such love results in marriages lasting 50-plus, happy years. There is kindness. There is an ability to work out differences without insults or abuse. There is the capacity to work together to accomplish a goal. There is genuine, mutual concern for the others’ well being. Here’s a great example:
It is only when we adhere to true principles do things fall in place. Only then is marriage properly defined. This doesn’t mean that every marriage and family looks and acts the same way. We maintain the uniqueness of our individual personalities and cultures while applying the universal principles that allow true joy to spring from this most important relationship.
In my own family history, I am a aware of marriages that took place in the post-war 50s, the roaring 20s and the Victorian era. The attitudes and roles of those marriages were certainly influenced by the culture of the time, but they were also influenced by my ancestors’ personal beliefs and adherence to principles that allowed their marriages to be happy, successful and lifetime-lasting. This is a continual blessing to their posterity.
In addition to the pure love marriage partners have for each other, it’s also important for them to have pure love for their fellow man and an understanding that their relationship is an element of an even larger whole. It starts most directly with the children that join their union. When a couple deliberately chooses to create a child and make that child a top priority in their lives to provide for and care for him or her with everything they’ve got, there is no greater impact for good.
The married couple and children help shoulder the burdens of the household together. They work together on common goals. They are not necessarily rich, but their lives are stable and they are positioned to be an important contributor to their community. They preserve a tradition of love, stability and unselfish service to society from one family generation to the next. There is no greater gift to give to posterity than the keys to living well and loving completely.
Society should recognize that the primary purpose of marriage is to form strong families where children are raised by a biological mother and father who are committed to each other and to their child. While this can’t always be the circumstance for every person, it nevertheless should be recognized as an ideal to strive for.
Marriage is about far more than a license written on government paper. It is about what our society identifies as the family ideal. The position, succinctly stated in The Family: Proclamation to the World outlines the ideal path for a couple, their children and society. Regardless of the law of the land, there is a higher ideal that should be written on our hearts, regardless of individual circumstances. If we as a people accepted the reality that sexual relationships are best reserved for marriage between a man and a woman and that a husband and wife must honor their solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children, think of the type of society we would be living in.
Do you want to end violence?
Do you want to end poverty and hunger?
Do you want to end the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases?
Do you want to improve our education system?
Then teach and encourage men and woman to marry and be selflessly committed to each other, their children and their fellow man.
This relationship that adds such light and strength to our world is eternal in nature. It’s impact echos through the generations. My happy life is a direct result of the choices my ancestors made. I feel a kinship with them. With my grandparents and great grandparents who I knew in my lifetime, I carry their love, influence and memories with me. And those who I didn’t know, I’ve come to know by studying the writings they left behind. I am indebted to all of them and have felt their spiritual presence from time to time. I hope to similarly pass on the love given to me to my children and grandchildren.
Our lives don’t end with death. Our spirits are eternal and we continue existing. We take our relationships with us. Ultimately, because of the Son of God, our spirits will be reunited with immortal bodies and we will continue on. Our family relationships can be sealed for eternity through temple ordinances. Some day, I’ll write more about that. But suffice it for now to say those sealing ordinances affirm the reality of what marriage and family relationships are meant to be – connected and strengthened by selfless, pure love that lasts joyfully and triumphantly forever.