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.