Saturday, April 26, 2014

Stop Telling Your Kids to Prepare for Temple Marriage

Since the beginning of Mormonism, parents have told their children that temple marriage is their goal. They hang up pictures of the various temples throughout their houses and relate stories of their own white-clad wedding days and sing "I Love to See the Temple" for every family home evening. I had this picture hanging in my bedroom when I was a teenager, even though it bothered me that the young girl looked nothing like the older girl, and therefore, couldn't really grow up to be her.

The temple was the goal, the focus, and reaching that day felt like crossing a finish line. Hooray! Temple marriage - check!

But then what?

I can't even count how many young women I know who are now divorced because their husbands chose not to take the steps necessary to overcome a pornography addiction. They got themselves clean long enough to get married in the temple because they knew their sweethearts wouldn't settle for anything less, but after that magic day, they chose not to go back.

On the other side of the coin, I know some women who choose to make other things their priority rather than temple attendance, and their husbands grieve that they can't share those sacred experiences together.

When we teach about temple marriage in such a way that it makes the wedding day sound like the end goal, the completion of a journey, something to be checked off the to-do list and then never thought about again, we are missing the mark.

I suggest that instead of teaching our kids to look for someone who will take them to the temple, we teach them to look for someone who will take them to the celestial kingdom. That is the real goal, with the temple being a crucial step, but not the end game. 

The temple marriage is the first leg of the journey. It creates incentive for teenagers to make wise choices during those growing-up years, and then, after the wedding day, it makes a foundation for other righteous choices to follow. A temple marriage opens the door to many other wonderful days spent in the temple. It gives the husband and wife a sense of unity as they face life together. The temple teaches them how to grow in love and to build on what they've been taught so that someday, they really can be together forever.

The thing is this - the temple ceremony makes it possible for the man and wife to be together forever, but if they don't live the gospel, they won't be worthy of receiving that blessing. You can't get married in the temple and then believe that you never have to do another thing to ensure your forever family - we are blessed according to obedience. And the more obedient we are, the more we're blessed. 

Yes, hang pictures of the temple all around your home. Sing the songs, teach the lessons, encourage your children to shoot for the temple. This is exactly how it should be. But along with that teaching, remind them that the real goal is eternal life, and that is a process of an entire lifetime. They should prepare for a temple marriage . . . and then prepare to be a temple-attending, temple-loving, temple-living person for the rest of their lives so they really can enjoy all the blessings that have been promised. 


Damon M said...

Great perspective, Tristi. I hold the same truth of going on a mission. It's the HOW and the WHY of taking these two STEPS in the process of life.

Stephanie said...

Excellent point!

Team Nielsen said...

I love and appreciate this so much. Due to circumstances m husband and I were married civily first and then were able to be sealed for time and eternity 2 years later. Growing up the push was always to get married in the temple. I think we all too often forget the end finish line of the celestial kingdom. Thank you for sharing this.

Keeley said...

Amen, sister!!

injilbiik said...

I was assigned to give a talk about temple marriage tomorrow. When I read the title, I thought you were going to write against it (like the other ones that I've read about)but you actually led us to the real goal. Thanks!

Tristi Pinkston said...

I'm so glad you liked it!!

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