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Marriage in the Covenant and our Birthright


Rob Osborn

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This topic was part of our lesson yesterday in church and it really got me to thinking about how we view marriage and covenants- perhaps, ina negative manner.

It was mentioned that when a person who is a member marrys outside the church it is like "selling" their birthright as compared to Esau selling his birthright to Jacob. The church manual says-

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So what about all those members who marry outside the church only later find themselves being sealed in the temple?
I'm pretty sure that is the very tiny majority of such marriages, unfortunately. Thus, it's not the Pattern taught by the General Church leaders.
Are we being too prejudice by limiting only finding marriage prospects already as members?

I personally would find it more on a level of practicality than prejudice. I know I, personally, would find it very frustating on many deep levels if my spouse did not share the most essential aspects of my beliefs and life with me, and in fact thought that I was decieved or deluded on those things. My Faith motivated many important choices and decisions in our family. Also, It can have very negative results when it comes to decisions as to how to raise the children, as per the commandment in D&C 68:25.

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Rob, I'm glad things worked out for you. However, for many people, marriage ends up being a death sentence. We risk losing our birthright when we choose something less. Esau married outside of the covenant, marrying Canaanite and Hivite women. The danger primarily came from this: 1. they brought their idolatry and wrong belief system with them, 2. they chose something less than was initially offered.

Yes, things worked well for you. But what if they hadn't? 80% of LDS women who marry outside the Church end up not converting their spouses. Often times, even if the spouse is initially supportive of the LDS member, later on contention begins when it comes time to raise the kids in a religion. I've known far too many LDS men and women who slowly went inactive, because they did not feel they had the support from a spouse to keep going.

In your case, you received a second chance at the full birthright. Perhaps others will too, but there is no guarantee that it will occur in every instance.

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The Church has to counsel what generally works best. Sure there are some people who marry out of the Church and then their spouse later joins. There are also people who live hard lives of crime and drug abuse and then sober up, repent, and become bishops. That doesn't mean that, because it works out okay for some people, the Church will stop counseling it's members to avoid crime and drug abuse.

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It was also mentioned in class that "who" we marry" and "where" we marry will affect our eternal salvation- that we place our "eternal salvation in jeopardy when we marry outside the church".

I would point out that one's eternal salvation is not at stake with regards to the absence of a temple marriage. Exaltation, however is another issue.

But hey, there is always proxy ordinances after death.

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That sounds about right. Do you have a reference?

It was old data given to us in a stake meeting by a GA about 20 years ago. I'd be amazed if it has changed, though.

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The Church has to counsel what generally works best. Sure there are some people who marry out of the Church and then their spouse later joins. There are also people who live hard lives of crime and drug abuse and then sober up, repent, and become bishops. That doesn't mean that, because it works out okay for some people, the Church will stop counseling it's members to avoid crime and drug abuse.

Interesting analogy.

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If you compare the blessings that come from being born to righteous parents who have been sealed and who therefore both teach their children AND install good habits on them, with the lack of those blessings (and sometimes even the lack of peace in the home because of the differing religious views), you understand what the lesson is talking about giving up brithright blessings by marrying outside the covenant in really practical today terms. There is no bigger blessing that anyone can ever have than being born to two righteous parents who have been sealed and who honor their covenants. (And yes, I know that there is a really good argument to be made that righteous parents who have never heard of the gospel can be a really good blessing in their children's lives too; and that many a couple who have been sealed don't set their kiddos the example that they should about a lot of things.)

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that we risk eternal separation from the Father by marrying outside the covenant. So what about all those members who marry outside the church only later find themselves being sealed in the temple?
If one chooses to place a specific relationship at a higher priority in one's life than seeking God, then there is a greater probabilty that they will continue to do so all through their lives in other areas as well...and that is what leads to the risk of eternal separation; not the act of marrying outside the covenant itself, but rather doing so is placing the covenant as second class in our lives.
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Personally i think we place too much concern upon "only" dating LDS and finding "only" LDS temple ready members to marry- that we risk eternal separation from the Father by marrying outside the covenant. So what about all those members who marry outside the church only later find themselves being sealed in the temple? Isn't everyone who comes to this earth part of the eternal birthright which includes finding an eternal companion? Are we being too prejudice by limiting only finding marriage prospects already as members?

Yes I believe so, and it drives me crazy.

It may drive you crazy, but you are DEAD WRONG. You may have "lucked out" in your choice of a companion, but this is not the "norm." My oldest sister married a fine honorable man who was a Baptist, (later he changed to Methodist) but unfortunately for her he still has not yet joined the Church, and it has been 40 plus years! Perhaps it will work out, perhaps it will not. Yes finding your eternal companion is difficult when you limit it to only active members of the Church, but that will be my fatherly counsel to my son. I waited over 20 years after my mission, because I refused to settle for a non-LDS wife, and now I am very happy that we have been married in the House of the Lord now over 8 years. My parents were not members when they married but later after joining the Church they were challenged to go to the Temple and be sealed. They did so and inherited the great blessings that are found there.

I am not condemning you or my sister, I am only saying that to an active LDS the potential to sell your birthright is there when you marry outside the Temple. It so states here:

(D&C 131:1-4) "IN the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees; And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage]; And if he does not, he cannot obtain it. He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase."
If failing to enter into this covenant is not "selling your birthright" I do not know what is. It worked out for you, but not all are so lucky so if it drives you crazy get over it, it is a correct principle. If you marry someone that does not have the same religious values you have then it will be a stormy relationship unless someone compromises... and how can we compromise our principles without selling our birthright?
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In Sunday School, I quickly shot down the statement by one of the members that Reuben lost the birthright because the covenant was through Rachel, not Leah. Were I teaching the class I might have explained that Reuben's deed, apart from being a greivous sexual sin, was also an attempted power grab. As I wasn't teaching, I was content to say that Reuben lost the birthright as a result of his own actions.

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Are we being too prejudice by limiting only finding marriage prospects already as members?

Well, it certainly didn't limit my "prospects." I can understand some situations where it may not be the best choice to restrict one's associations to LDS people. It has always slightly rubbed me the wrong way to hear a happily married person (usually raised in Utah or an area of the church where there were lots of LDS people) advise single people that it is better to remain single for a lifetime than to marry "out of the covenant." I was fortunate enough that I had enough LDS people to associate with that I didn't need to look outside that group to find a mate. Not everyone is in that situation and I'm not really the kind of person who would be happy without a husband and children around me to travel through life with. Still, I think a devout LDS person is going to happier married to another devout LDS person than they would be to a non believer. It is just one of those fundamental things that can be a deal breaker in marriage. There aren't any guarantees even if you DO marry within the covenant, but I think it increases the odds. People have defied the odds (like you), but it is still a gamble.

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In Sunday School, I quickly shot down the statement by one of the members that Reuben lost the birthright because the covenant was through Rachel, not Leah.

I agree that Reuben disinherited himself. I'm not sure there's enough information to conclude that Reuben's actions were a "power grab" though. He may very well have just been feeling uncontrollably libidinous. Absalom, on the other hand... Now that was a major power grab.

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I agree that Reuben disinherited himself. I'm not sure there's enough information to conclude that Reuben's actions were a "power grab" though. He may very well have just been feeling uncontrollably libidinous. Absalom, on the other hand... Now that was a major power grab.

And when we compare both Absalom and Adonijah to Judah,we see that sleeping with the concubine of one's father was a power grab.

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n a positive note, our teacher did point out that the youth are no longer told to look for "missionary service" on their checklist of requirements for potential spouses.

Oh, boy!

That check mark was made with a magic marker! It will take years in the sun to simply fade that away.

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Our lesson on the same subject included some very specific quotes from President Kimball in the manual:

After reading that quote, there wasn't much room for discussion on the subject.

On a positive note, our teacher did point out that the youth are no longer told to look for "missionary service" on their checklist of requirements for potential spouses.

The quote by Kimball is his own opinion and counsel. Unfortunately I believe a lot of the rather prejudice may stem from an Old Testament philiosophy of racism. I find it very interesting that the BoM, part of which takes place in Old Testament times, is void of any racism and the marriage covenant. It bothers me that we have adopted this standard of seeing our own religion as being so far superior to anything else that those who just by chance don't belong at the present moment are somehow inferior and not worthy of bearing our future children and being compatible with a higher standard! Needless to say, it was time to ring the bell (last Sunday)and I was glad to get up and leave the class to do such.

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It may drive you crazy, but you are DEAD WRONG. You may have "lucked out" in your choice of a companion, but this is not the "norm." My oldest sister married a fine honorable man who was a Baptist, (later he changed to Methodist) but unfortunately for her he still has not yet joined the Church, and it has been 40 plus years! Perhaps it will work out, perhaps it will not. Yes finding your eternal companion is difficult when you limit it to only active members of the Church, but that will be my fatherly counsel to my son. I waited over 20 years after my mission, because I refused to settle for a non-LDS wife, and now I am very happy that we have been married in the House of the Lord now over 8 years. My parents were not members when they married but later after joining the Church they were challenged to go to the Temple and be sealed. They did so and inherited the great blessings that are found there.

I am not condemning you or my sister, I am only saying that to an active LDS the potential to sell your birthright is there when you marry outside the Temple. It so states here:If failing to enter into this covenant is not "selling your birthright" I do not know what is. It worked out for you, but not all are so lucky so if it drives you crazy get over it, it is a correct principle. If you marry someone that does not have the same religious values you have then it will be a stormy relationship unless someone compromises... and how can we compromise our principles without selling our birthright?

I am not saying we shouldn't counsel our children to marry in the covenant, I am saying that we place "too much" emphasis on marrying "only" LDS members- that we shouldn't even look twice at the nonmembers as being compatible. I just don't think it's sound doctrine for the church leaders to promote such a philosophy. There are many relationships blessed upon by the Lord bringing souls together who eventually join the church and are sealed. the Lord works in mysterious ways, not racism ways. We are all his children who all have an equal birthright just by being born into mortality. As such the counsel from the leaders of the church could be way less offensive if we just stated the importance of temple marriage and not get into the whole- "do not marry outside the church" attitude. It make my wife and me both feel like we did something wrong- that our eternal salvation and exaltation was sorely in jeopardy. And that to me is not the doctrine of Christ. The Lord does not work through these means.

The church should adopt a more neutral stance on their counsel on marriage and be more forgiving to other races, creeds, gospels and such- especially that concerning marriages of peoples from different backgrounds and upbringins. I am glad my mother took counsel from heavenly Father and married my Dad the sailor (he converted to her religion) and not listened to some dead end philosophy of looking only for the "same".

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It may drive you crazy, but you are DEAD WRONG. You may have "lucked out" in your choice of a companion, but this is not the "norm." My oldest sister married a fine honorable man who was a Baptist, (later he changed to Methodist) but unfortunately for her he still has not yet joined the Church, and it has been 40 plus years! Perhaps it will work out, perhaps it will not. Yes finding your eternal companion is difficult when you limit it to only active members of the Church, but that will be my fatherly counsel to my son. I waited over 20 years after my mission, because I refused to settle for a non-LDS wife, and now I am very happy that we have been married in the House of the Lord now over 8 years. My parents were not members when they married but later after joining the Church they were challenged to go to the Temple and be sealed. They did so and inherited the great blessings that are found there.

So... my sister married a nice mormon boy from a nice mormon family in the temple. He was cheating on her before their first anniversary. My niece married a nice mormon RM from Utah also in the temple. He's verbally and emotionally abusive and is leaving her a shell of her former self.

All I'm saying is that marriage in the church, even marriage in the temple, is not the golden ticket. Both of the women I described would have had a significantly better life marrying good men outside the church. A man with a good heart may convert in this life and WILL convert in the next. A man with evil in his heart won't be a good match simply because he's LDS. Better a dry mormon thatn a bad mormon or MINO.

The real answer is to stay close to the Lord and follow the course that He plots for your life.

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I am not saying we shouldn't counsel our children to marry in the covenant, I am saying that we place "too much" emphasis on marrying "only" LDS members- that we shouldn't even look twice at the nonmembers as being compatible. I just don't think it's sound doctrine for the church leaders to promote such a philosophy. There are many relationships blessed upon by the Lord bringing souls together who eventually join the church and are sealed. the Lord works in mysterious ways, not racism ways. We are all his children who all have an equal birthright just by being born into mortality. As such the counsel from the leaders of the church could be way less offensive if we just stated the importance of temple marriage and not get into the whole- "do not marry outside the church" attitude. It make my wife and me both feel like we did something wrong- that our eternal salvation and exaltation was sorely in jeopardy. And that to me is not the doctrine of Christ. The Lord does not work through these means.

The church should adopt a more neutral stance on their counsel on marriage and be more forgiving to other races, creeds, gospels and such- especially that concerning marriages of peoples from different backgrounds and upbringins. I am glad my mother took counsel from heavenly Father and married my Dad the sailor (he converted to her religion) and not listened to some dead end philosophy of looking only for the "same".

Too much emphasis? I don't think it can be emphasized enough to not only marry, but date within the Church. On what basis can you claim that it is not sound doctrine to promote marring within the covenant? Yes there are many marriages blessed by the Lord and that are sealed later in the Temple. My parents were one such marriage, yet they were both non-members when they met and were married. For those already in the Church then the norm should be date and marry members only. Why? because it is a commandment of the Lord to the Church! Also I am rather tired of those throwing around the "R" word of late (racist) it seems to be the talking points for the enemies of the Lord's Church. You deem anything racist and you automatically disqualify their viewpoint. It is used relentlessly in politics and I grow weary of it being used on this board. The council is not offensive and is not intended as such. Your wife and you should not feel guilty, you were less active and she was a non-member... it worked out wonderfully for you. But that is not the norm, it is not the rule and to teach anything less would be cowardly as well as disrespectful to the Lord. My sister married the good baptist fellow during a time when the Church did not "emphasize marrying only LDS members" and now she must feel betrayed that she was not pre-warned. I personally feel that if she lives the Gospel to the best of her ability that she will have the blessing of being sealed in the Temple even if her hard headed husband never converts. But who wants to set out taking that chance? If a person knows the law of the Gospel and it is indeed a law if you will read D&C 131 and 132, then if they do not abide by it, then they have no promise. Then they stand in jeopardy every hour. We are all free to choose as we will, but then we must be willing to live with the consequences which could be lost or delayed blessings. I believe the Lord inspires His servants and that it is not some vain "racist" philosophy that motivates the brethren in this teaching. There are some exceptions, but as the Lord liveth and as I live, they are rare exceptions.
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So... my sister married a nice mormon boy from a nice mormon family in the temple. He was cheating on her before their first anniversary. My niece married a nice mormon RM from Utah also in the temple. He's verbally and emotionally abusive and is leaving her a shell of her former self.

All I'm saying is that marriage in the church, even marriage in the temple, is not the golden ticket. Both of the women I described would have had a significantly better life marrying good men outside the church. A man with a good heart may convert in this life and WILL convert in the next. A man with evil in his heart won't be a good match simply because he's LDS. Better a dry mormon thatn a bad mormon or MINO.

The real answer is to stay close to the Lord and follow the course that He plots for your life.

Nobody said a temple marriage was a "golden ticket" there are no free rides in the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. Yes my other sister also dated non-members but set down the gauntlet that she would only marry in the temple. So her first husband was baptized, waited a year and were married in the Temple. That marriage lasted about two years, he was a cheating lying sleaze-ball. He married my sister under false pretenses and when she finally got rid of him she found a humble, good young man (ten years her junior) life long member, and they were married in the Temple and have been for over 20 years and I might add are very happy. The Gospel is not a cover for unrighteous people, we are not "saved-Mormons" it takes a lot of work and much faith and righteousness to make a marriage last. There are no absolute sure thing in just marrying members, but marring outside of the Church is a sure way to not get the blessings that they may have had if they had only followed the spirit of the Lord. We must choose what type of marriage we want a civil marriage or an eternal marriage and we must work to bring our desires to pass. I think we can agree on the last line of your post: "The real answer is to stay close to the Lord and follow the course that He plots for your life."
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