What Do the Prophets Teach About the Obligation to Marry?

I married late, eight days short of my thirty-third birthday in 1978. For years I was active in the Melchizedek Priesthood MIA program in southern California. During that time, I was often criticized by some adult, single brothers for being overly concerned about my single status. In many cases, they seemed to be content with their single state, and seemed to think that I too should be content. Finally I found my sweetheart, and in three days I have been successfully married for twenty-seven years. I imagine that many of those who criticized me are still single. Here is what the modern prophets teach about the obligation to marry:

“My heart reaches out to those among us, especially our single sisters, who long for marriage and cannot seem to find it. Our Father in Heaven reserves for them every promised blessing. I have far less sympathy for the young men, who under the customs of our society, have the prerogative to take the initiative in these matters but in so many cases fail to do so. Strong words have been spoken to them in the past by Presidents of this church.” –President Gordon B. Hinckley
—“As a matter of priesthood responsibility, a man, under normal circumstances, should not unduly postpone marriage. Brethren, the Lord has spoken plainly on this matter. It is your sacred and solemn responsibility to follow his counsel and the words of his prophets.” –President Howard W. Hunter

“May I now say an additional word about an eternal opportunity and responsibility to which I have referred earlier and which is of greatest importance to you. I am referring to celestial marriage.

“Just a few weeks ago, I received a letter from two devoted parents, part of which reads as follows:

“Dear President Benson: We are concerned about what seems to be a growing problem—at least in this part of the Church familiar to us—that is, so many choice young men in the Church over the age of thirty who are still unmarried.

“We have sons thirty, thirty-one, and thirty-three in this situation. Many of our friends also are experiencing this same concern for unmarried sons and daughters.”

Their letter continues:

“In our experience these are usually young men who have been on missions, are well educated, and are living the commandments (except this most important one). There does not appear to be a lack of choice young ladies in the same age bracket who could make suitable companions.

“It is most frustrating to us, as their parents, who sometimes feel we have failed in our parental teachings and guiding responsibilities.”

“My dear single adult brethren, we are also concerned. We want you to know that the position of the Church has never changed regarding the importance of celestial marriage. It is a commandment of God. The Lord’s declaration in Genesis is still true: “And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone” (Gen. 2:18).

“To obtain a fulness of glory and exaltation in the celestial kingdom, one must enter into this holiest of ordinances.” –President Ezra Taft Benson

“Recently I met a young returned missionary who is 35 years old. He had been home from his mission for 14 years, and yet he was little concerned about his bachelorhood and laughed about it.

I shall feel sorry for this young man when the day comes that he faces the Great Judge at the throne and when the Lord asks this boy: “Where is your wife?” All of his excuses which he gave to his fellows on earth will seem very light and senseless when he answers the Judge.” –President Spencer W. Kimball

“Brethren, think seriously about your obligation to marry. There are some examples that point up an area of need which applies directly to young men in the past-25-age, who for some reason, and hard to understand, as holders of the priesthood, are shirking their responsibilities as husbands and fathers.” –President Harold B. Lee

“OBLIGATION OF MEN TO MARRY. Any young man who carelessly neglects this great commandment to marry, or who does not marry because of a selfish desire to avoid the responsibilities which married life will bring, is taking a course which is displeasing in the sight of God. Exaltation means responsibility. There can be no exaltation without it.” –President Joseph Fielding Smith

“REARING OF FAMILIES. Some young couples enter into marriage and procrastinate the bringing of children into their homes. They are running a great risk. Marriage is for the purpose of rearing a family, and youth is the time to do it.” –President David O. McKay

“We believe that every man holding the holy Priesthood should be married, with the very few exceptions of those who through infirmities of mind or body are not fit for marriage. Every man is a worse man in proportion as he is unfit for the married state. We hold that no man who is marriageable is fully living his religion who remains unmarried.” –President Joseph F. Smith

“THE DUTY TO MARRY-ADVICE TO THE YOUNG PEOPLE OF 1875. Another word of the Lord to me is that, it is the duty of these young men here in the land of Zion to take the daughters of Zion to wife, and prepare tabernacles for the spirits of men, which are the children of our father in heaven. They are waiting for tabernacles, they are ordained to come here, and they ought to be born in the land of Zion instead of Babylon. This is the duty of the young men in Zion; and when the daughters of Zion are asked by the young men to join with them in marriage, instead of asking “Has this man a fine brick house, a span of fine horses and a fine carriage?” they should ask “Is he a man of God? Has he the Spirit of God with him? Is he a Latter-day Saint? Does he pray? Has he got the Spirit upon him to qualify him to build up the kingdom?” If he has that, never mind the carriage and brick house, take hold and unite yourselves together according to the law of God.—JD 18:129-130, September 12, 1875.” –President Wilford Woodruff

Of course, I cannot point the finger. After all, I was well into middle age before I married myself. But at least I was trying. I think these prophetic words should serve as a warning to those single men who are not.

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3 Responses to What Do the Prophets Teach About the Obligation to Marry?

  1. Bishop Rick says:

    I am a year late to this blog, but, man!!

    Steve,
    The natural order being women should stay at home and have babies and submit to their husband? Men be married or be damned?
    You have got to be kidding me!!

    What is your view on Polygamy?

  2. Steve Graham says:

    I think that we should not forget other consequences of feminism:
    1) 40+ million abortions and counting (in the U.S. alone)
    2) The belittling of women who want to be homemakers and stay-at-home moms
    3) The confusion of the genders’ roles
    4) Sisters abandoning the prophets’ warnings to enter the workforce and abandon their children
    5) The one-sided family “justice” system where the fathers will virtually NEVER get a fair hearing
    6) The tendency of society to portray fathers/husbands as idiots or less than worthy of emulation.
    7) Men’s concluding that, based on the above, it is better to forego or postponse as long as possible entering into the state of matrimony.

    I find it hard to understand how anyone could have understood the plan of salvation and the teachings of the prophets and feel grateful for feminism. Of course, there were abuses prior to it. But it is not content to solely eliminate them. It is trying to restructure the natural order into something that is not.

    Steve

  3. Rebekah says:

    John, your comments concern me, as I don’t think it’s appropriate to entirely discount a movement that has done so much for the improvement of women’s lives in the US and around the world.

    I don’t think equal wages, the right to work and earn an education, the right to divorce abusive men, or the right to voice your opinion is “inspired of the devil” as you mentioned in your comments. The US is fortunate to have hosted the feminist movement, as is evidenced by a comparative look at other nations. Did you know that in regions of Africa and places in the Middle East, females forcefully endure the mutilation of their genitals, are stoned to death/imprisoned if they are the victims of rape (because they’re deemed unclean), can legally be married at the age of 9, and have virtually no shelters/governmetn asylum to run to in cases of abuse? It is a blessing that women in freer nations don’t have to live in fear of these things, and I wholeheartedly believe we owe that to the early feminists, suffragettes, and the modern feminist movement of the ‘6os and ’70s.

    Even our own church leaders should be thankful to some extent to the feminist movement. It’s because we have equal rights that people like Sheri Dew can be an advocate for the family at the White House. Did you know that when women were extended the right to vote in UT, that they voted to uphold polygamy? It seems to me that equal rights granted to women by the government can only help the Gospel flourish on this earth.

    As for the last name thing. Taking a man’s last name is a Western tradition that can be easily criticized for marking women as property. But, I won’t go into that argument, as I personally don’t have a problem with women taking the same name as their husbands. However, it needs to be recognized that it is only a tradition and not a sacred ordinace. Muslim women and various Native American nations keep their own last names, and many American Indian tribes require that a man take a woman’s last name as his own. Therefore, geneology can be traced just as easily through a matrilineal line. And as for geneology, when you do a family tree, you still mark the women by their maiden names anyway. I’m sure the proper licensing and paperwork will reveal legitimate marriages or not.

    Also, I don’t think you can blame men not choosing to marry on the feminist movement. Men and women were given a commandment to multiply and replenish the earth. If a man buys into certain propaganda of any kind that deters him from marriage, the onus is on him. Our Church is still extremely Traditional, giving men the freedom to ask women for dates and marriage. In this framework, they are responsible for forming families.

    In the beginning of my post, I discredited anti-men feminists and extremists. But I think if you throw out feminism entirely, you are denying the serious blessings that have resulted from that movement

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