“Till death do you part . . . ” A common statement made by pastors and priests of Christian religions, when they conduct a wedding ceremony. Because those words are used, and taught so often amongst the congregations of different religions, most brides and grooms don’t know that there is something far greater, than a marriage ‘till death. The priesthood authority of Jesus Christ found in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, can perform eternally-binding ordinances.
There is such a thing as marriage for eternity, a bond with the one you love that lasts for the duration of this lifetime and beyond into eternity. Marriage on earth is a difficult journey even for the most loving of couples. On earth in our mortal state, we are fraught with physical, mental, and emotional handicaps that are part of mortality. We all have faults. For the loving and patient couple that has forged a life-time bond despite their frailties, the prospect of an eternal marriage should be exciting. Beyond this life, we are resurrected, and most of our weaknesses drop away. We can enjoy marriage without the challenges of illness, the baggage of unhappy childhoods or prior abuse, without the misconceptions that keep us from understanding what is real, without the flaring temper, without the handicap of pride or depression.
A Mormon temple wedding, or celestial marriage, is a bond of both the body and the spirit of a man and a woman. Breaking the chains of death through the grace of the Savior, temple marriage goes beyond the grave and into the eternity that is the afterlife. To be a part of a celestial marriage, there is a process that must be followed. The man and woman, must be sealed together by a worth member who holds the authority to perform sealings. Another step to a celestial marriage is that both man and wife, as individuals and as a couple, must strive to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ all their lives (repentance helps when they stumble). And more importantly, the sealing must me confirmed by God through his Spirit.
As the Bible says, Jesus ordained his apostles, giving them the power to heal the sick and cast out devils. But to his apostle Peter, he gave a higher power.
“…whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matt 16:19)
This sacred power, known as the sealing power, is what’s used to bind a man and a woman together for not only this life, but also the next. The sealing power was lost when the early apostles passed away, but was restored to Joseph Smith when the ancient church of Christ was re-established in these latter days. Because the power was not available to most of our ancestors, we have the opportunity to do “sealings” for the dead in the same room of the temple, called a “sealing room,” in which earthly couples are sealed.
Once you’re sealed in the temple and pronounced as man and wife, it doesn’t mean that everything has been done and you no longer have anything to work for. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. After a couple is married, it is important that they continue to keep God’s commandments, and strive to live worthily, as individuals and more importantly as an eternal couple.
After going through the first two steps of a celestial marriage, the last step is something that can come during or after this life. A confirming of the sealing between a couple, is given to them and only them, by God’s Holy Spirit. It’s God’s way of confirming that He knows that the union between the couple is an eternal one. This is called “being sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise.” This is the promise of eternal life, which is exaltation into God’s presence forever.
Couples who have entered into the sacred ordinance of eternal marriage work hard to sanctify their unions. Forgiveness, patience, centering the family on Christ, and exercising charity in the home are ways to overcome inside and outside challenges to the family.