Covenants and Ordinances

“Covenants and Ordinances,” Eternal Marriage Student Manual (2003), 38–50

“Covenants and Ordinances,” Eternal Marriage Student Manual, 38–50

Covenants and Ordinances

Selected Teachings

Keeping Our Covenants

President Joseph Fielding Smith

“The Holy Spirit of Promise is the Holy Ghost who places the stamp of approval upon every ordinance: baptism, confirmation, ordination, marriage. The promise is that the blessings will be received through faithfulness.

“If a person violates a covenant, whether it be of baptism, ordination, marriage or anything else, the Spirit withdraws the stamp of approval, and the blessings will not be received.

“Every ordinance is sealed with a promise of a reward based upon faithfulness. The Holy Spirit withdraws the stamp of approval where covenants are broken” (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:45).

Divorce Not Part of Gospel Plan. If all mankind would live in strict obedience to the gospel, and in that love which is begotten by the Spirit of the Lord, all marriages would be eternal, divorce would be unknown. …

Lord’s Penalty for Divorce. …

“Marriage according to the law of the Church is the most holy and sacred ordinance. It will bring to the husband and the wife, if they abide in their covenants, the fulness of exaltation in the kingdom of God. When that covenant is broken, it will bring eternal misery to the guilty party, for we will all have to answer for our deeds done while in the flesh. It is an ordinance that cannot be trifled with, and the covenants made in the temple cannot be broken without dire punishment to the one who is guilty. …

Man Commanded to Be Fruitful and Multiply. The obligations which married couples take upon themselves should conform in every particular to the commandments given by the Lord.

“In the beginning, the Lord said when he gave Eve to Adam, ‘Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it.’ [Genesis 1:28; Moses 2:28.] This earth was created for the very purpose that the spirit children of our Father might have the privilege of the temporal existence, receiving bodies of flesh and bones as tabernacles for the spirits which occupy them, and then, through the atonement of Jesus Christ, receive the resurrection in which the spirit and the body become inseparably connected so that man may live again. …

“The covenant given to Adam to multiply was renewed after the flood with Noah and his children after him. The Lord said to Noah: ‘And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein. And God spake unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying, And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you.’ [Genesis 9:7–9.]

“This covenant is still binding, although mankind has departed from the way of eternal life and has rejected the covenant of marriage which the Lord revealed. …

Enormity of Sex Sin. …

“Is there any wonder, then, that the Lord places the violation of this covenant of marriage and the loss of virtue as second only to the shedding of innocent blood? [see Alma 39:5–9.] Is there not, then, sufficient reason for the severity of the punishment which has been promised to those who violate this eternal law? Moreover, have we not forgotten in large measure the enormity of the crime of unchastity and breaking of marriage vows? Do those who are guilty think the enormity of the offense of maliciously or wickedly tampering with the laws of life will be overlooked by a just God? Do they think that only a few stripes, if any punishment at all, will amend this broken law?” (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:80, 83–84, 86–87, 92).

Elder Marion G. Romney

“These fruits of the gospel—assurance that we shall obtain eternal life, peace in this world sustained by such an assurance, and finally eternal life in the world to come—are within the reach of us all. Sometimes, however, because of our lack of understanding and appreciation of them, I am persuaded that we take too much for granted. We assume that because we are members of the Church, we shall receive as a matter of course all the blessings of the gospel. I have heard people contend that they have a claim upon them because they have been through the temple, even though they are not careful to keep the covenants they there made. I do not think this will be the case.

“We might take a lesson from an account given by the Prophet of a vision of the resurrection, in which he records that one of the saddest things he had ever witnessed was the sorrow of members of the Church who came forth to a resurrection below that which they had taken for granted they would receive” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1949, 43; italics added).

Elder Robert D. Hales

“As taught in this scripture [D&C 132:19], an eternal bond doesn’t just happen as a result of sealing covenants we make in the temple. How we conduct ourselves in this life will determine what we will be in all the eternities to come. To receive the blessings of the sealing that our Heavenly Father has given to us, we have to keep the commandments and conduct ourselves in such a way that our families will want to live with us in the eternities. The family relationships we have here on this earth are important, but they are much more important for their effect on our families for generations in mortality and throughout all eternity.

“By divine commandment, spouses are required to love each other above all others. The Lord clearly declares, ‘Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else’ (D&C 42:22)” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1996, 87; or Ensign, Nov. 1996, 65).

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and Patricia T. Holland

JRH: That is why we can make covenants with such confidence, knowing with certainty God’s power over darkness and danger and troubles of every kind. We should give gratitude from the depths of our soul for a plan of happiness that provides for escape from every personal mistake we have ever made and every dumb thing we have ever done. We should express eternal thanks for the pure, single-minded, divine goodness that can cover every concern, heal every wound, make up for every defect, and eventually dry every tear. That’s the God and Christ and plan King Lamoni saw, and that is what stunned him so. It will stun us, too—by its strength and by its splendor—when our need is great enough, our faith strong enough, and our view clear enough to see it. In our hour of extremity, we will, if we keep our covenants, see the clouds of darkness lift, the veil of unbelief cast away by the hand of a Father who is eternally committed to our happiness.

PTH: … Covenants not only commit us to being unshakable in our devotion to God, they remind us God will always be unshakable in his devotion toward us. And though we may falter and make mistakes, he never falters. He never makes a mistake. He is ever faithful to us. That is the beauty and majesty inherent in the covenants we make with God.

JRH: Covenants are binding, supernal, consummate contracts between God and his children. They are the solemn promises of Deity—a God who always keeps his word—that heaven will pour out unmeasured blessings upon all who are faithful and honor the conditions of their pledge. An individual can swear an oath, but only when God reciprocates in kind is a covenant established.

“We know that oaths are never to be spoken lightly, and covenantal language is of a higher order yet. By definition, covenants invoke the most sacred language we can utter in this world. This language establishes a bond and a relationship unique in the human experience. It is the means by which individuals in a fallen family make their way back to eternal splendor. It is the means by which each one of us can be, in the Lord’s own words, ‘a peculiar treasure unto me above all people’ (Exodus 19:5). That is why keeping our covenants will, as the scripture says, add ‘glory … upon their heads for ever and ever’ (Abraham 3:26)” (in Green and Anderson, To Rejoice as Women, 99–100).

Our Covenant-Based Relationship with the Lord

Concerning the importance of reviewing our gospel covenants, Elder M. Russell Ballard stated:

“A periodic review of the covenants we have made with the Lord will help us with our priorities and with balance in our lives. This review will help us see where we need to repent and change our lives to ensure that we are worthy of the promises that accompany our covenants and sacred ordinances. Working out our own salvation requires good planning and a deliberate, valiant effort” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1987, 15; or Ensign, May 1987, 14).

From the following charts, review the promises we make and the blessings offered for obedience to each gospel covenant. Do you sense a need to improve? What can you do to be more faithful in keeping the covenants that prepare us for eternal marriage? What can you do to be more faithful in keeping the covenants associated with the new and everlasting covenant of marriage?



Covenants We Make with God

Blessings Promised

A priest in the Aaronic Priesthood (or any Melchizedek Priesthood holder) may perform the ordinance upon approval of the local priesthood leader. He offers the scripturally prescribed baptismal prayer and then completely immerses the baptism recipient in the water.

We covenant to:

  • Come into the fold of God.

  • Take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ.

  • Stand as a witness for Jesus Christ.

  • Always keep the commandments.

  • Bear one another’s burdens.

  • Manifest a determination to serve God unto the end.

  • Manifest by works that we have repented of our sins.

  • Prepare to receive the Holy Ghost for the complete remission of sins.

See 2 Nephi 31:17–21; Mosiah 18:8–10; D&C 20:37; Articles of Faith 1:4.

  1. We qualify for membership in Christ’s Church.

  2. If we are worthy, the Lord promises to:

    • Pour out His Spirit upon us.

    • Redeem us from our sins.

    • Raise us up in the First Resurrection.

    • Give us eternal life.

Gift of the Holy Ghost


Covenants We Make with God

Blessings Promised

A Melchizedek Priesthood holder, authorized by the local priesthood leader, may confer the gift of the Holy Ghost by prayer and the laying on of hands.

In order to qualify for the gift of the Holy Ghost we must fulfill the covenants of baptism, continue in humility and faith, and otherwise be worthy of the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost (see Articles of Faith 1:4).

  1. We are confirmed as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

  2. We receive the right or privilege to enjoy the continual companionship of the Holy Ghost. We can receive inspiration, divine manifestations, spiritual gifts, and direction from the Holy Ghost continually. We also receive blessings by receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost as the Holy Ghost bears witness of Jesus Christ and of divine truths, provides spiritual guidance and warnings, and enables us to discern right and wrong.

  3. We are sanctified or cleansed by the power of the Holy Ghost and are born of God as we continue faithfully. Through this baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost, individual hearts and desires are cleansed and spirits are made pure. Receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost is the culmination of the process of repentance and baptism (see 2 Nephi 31:13, 17; 3 Nephi 27:20).

  4. We know the gift of the Holy Ghost is the key to all of the spiritual gifts found in the Church, including the gifts of prophecy and revelation, healing, speaking in tongues, and translating and interpreting tongues.



Covenants We Make with God

Blessings Promised

A priest in the Aaronic Priesthood (or any Melchizedek Priesthood holder) may administer the sacrament upon approval of the local priesthood leader. Sacramental prayers are revealed in the scriptures.

We covenant to:

  • Renew our baptismal covenants.

  • Recommit to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ, always remember Him, and keep His commandments. Partaking of the sacrament is a time for personal introspection, repentance, and rededication.

See 3 Nephi 18:28–29; Moroni 4–5; D&C 20:75–79; 27:2; 46:4.

  1. The Lord forgives sins we repent of.

  2. The Lord promises that we may always have His Spirit to be with us.

Receive the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood


Covenants We Make with God

Blessings Promised

A Melchizedek Priesthood holder with the authority to do so may ordain worthy male members to the Melchizedek Priesthood by prayer and the laying on of hands.

Priesthood holders covenant to:

  • Receive in good faith and with honest intent both the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods (see D&C 84:33).

  • Magnify callings by fulfilling all responsibilities associated with the priesthood offices they are called to.

  • Teach the word of God and labor with all their might to advance the Lord’s purposes (see Jacob 1:19).

  • Obtain a knowledge of the gospel (see D&C 107:31).

  • Give service by comforting and strengthening the Saints of God (see Mosiah 18:8–9).

  • Be obedient and “give diligent heed to the words of eternal life” (D&C 84:43).

  • Listen to and follow revelation from the Lord. “Live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God” (v. 44).

See also Elder Carlos E. Asay, in Conference Report, Oct. 1985, 56–58; or Ensign, Nov. 1985, 43–44.

Worthy priesthood holders receive these promises:

  1. Be “sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies” (D&C 84:33).

  2. “Become the sons of Moses and of Aaron and the seed of Abraham” (v. 34).

  3. Become members of “the church and kingdom, and the elect of God” (v. 34).

  4. Receive the Father’s kingdom and “all that my Father hath shall be given unto him” (v. 38).

  5. Receive of the Father’s fulness and glory and become “gods, even the sons of God” (D&C 76:58).

  6. Are warned that anyone who rejects this covenant and “altogether turneth therefrom, shall not have forgiveness of sins in this world nor in the world to come” (D&C 84:41).

    President Marion G. Romney of the First Presidency made the following comment about D&C 84:41: “I don’t think he is talking here necessarily about the unpardonable sin, but I am saying that those of us who receive this priesthood and understand what it is about and fail to magnify our callings will lose something we cannot recover hereafter” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1974, 116; or Ensign, May 1974, 80).

Temple Endowment


Covenants We Make with God

Blessings Promised

The temple endowment is a gift of spiritual power and blessing from above. It consists of a course of instruction, receiving saving ordinances, and making covenants administered by authorized officiators only in dedicated temples (see D&C 95:8; 97:14; 109:13–15).

The temple endowment is seen as the continuation and culmination of the covenants made at baptism. Temple covenants include “tests by which our willingness and fitness for righteousness may be known” (John A. Widtsoe, Program of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 178).

We covenant to:

“Observe the law of strict virtue and chastity, to be charitable, benevolent, tolerant and pure; to devote both talent and material means to the spread of truth and the uplifting of the race; to maintain devotion to the cause of truth; and to seek in every way to contribute to the great preparation that the earth may be made ready to receive her King,—the Lord Jesus Christ” (James E. Talmage, House of the Lord, 84).

  1. “With the taking of each covenant and the assuming of each obligation a promised blessing is pronounced, contingent upon the faithful observance of the conditions” (Talmage, House of the Lord, 84).

  2. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that the endowment was designed to give us “a comprehensive view of our condition and true relation to God” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 324), “to prepare the disciples for their missions unto the world” (p. 274), to prevent us from being “overcome by these evils” (p. 259), and to enable us “to secure the fullness of those blessings which have been prepared for the Church of the Firstborn” (p. 237).

  3. President Gordon B. Hinckley in the dedicatory prayer of the Vernal Utah Temple said, “We pray that Thou wilt visit it, and may Thy Holy Spirit dwell here to sanctify it and make it holy unto all who enter its portals” (“We Thank Thee for This Sacred Structure,” Church News, 8 Nov. 1997, 4). Through the temple endowment, we may seek “a fulness of the Holy Ghost” (D&C 109:15). Temple ordinances are seen as a means for receiving inspiration and instruction through the Holy Spirit and for preparing to return to God’s presence.

Celestial Marriage


Covenants We Make with God

Blessings Promised

A temple officiator who has the sealing power of the priesthood invokes covenants intended to be efficacious for time and for all eternity. Celestial marriage involves a ceremony performed in a holy temple (see D&C 131:1–3; 132:18–19).

Couples who promise to abide the law of celestial marriage:

  • Covenant in pure love to remain faithful to each other and to God through all eternity.

  • Covenant to confine their intimate affections and sexual relations to each other.

  • Commit to live in ways that contribute to happy and successful family life.

  • Covenant “to ‘be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth’ (Gen. 1:28). A primary purpose of temple marriage in this life is to grow and mature in sharing God’s creative work in raising a family in righteousness. Parents enter into a partnership with God by participating in the procreation of mortal bodies, which house the spirit children of God” (in Ludlow, Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 2:859).

  1. Husbands and wives will receive eternal life in the world to come, the glory of the celestial kingdom (see D&C 88:4; Moses 6:59).

  2. They shall become gods with all power and “shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers” (D&C 132:19).

  3. They shall obtain exaltation in the highest degree of the celestial glory (see D&C 131:1–4).

  4. They will come to know God the Father and Jesus Christ (see D&C 132:48–50).

Wayward Children Born under the Covenant

President Brigham Young

“Let the father and mother, who are members of this Church and Kingdom, take a righteous course, and strive with all their might never to do a wrong, but to do good all their lives; if they have one child or one hundred children, if they conduct themselves towards them as they should, binding them to the Lord by their faith and prayers, I care not where those children go, they are bound up to their parents by an everlasting tie, and no power of earth or hell can separate them from their parents in eternity; they will return again to the fountain from whence they sprang” (in Discourses of Brigham Young, 208).

First Presidency—Spencer W. Kimball, N. Eldon Tanner, Marion G. Romney

“In a day when the sanctity of the home is being invaded and where the care of children has been regarded lightly, we, by means of the family home evening manual, have endeavored to impress upon the parents the importance of developing a love in the home so that in the future, should those children thus taught stray away, they would eventually return again, lest they lose their place in the eternal family circle” (Family Home Evening: Love Makes Our House a Home, 2).

Elder Boyd K. Packer

“It is not uncommon for responsible parents to lose one of their children, for a time, to influences over which they have no control. They agonize over rebellious sons or daughters. They are puzzled over why they are so helpless when they have tried so hard to do what they should.

“It is my conviction that those wicked influences one day will be overruled.

“‘The Prophet Joseph Smith declared—and he never taught a more comforting doctrine—that the eternal sealings of faithful parents and the divine promises made to them for valiant service in the Cause of Truth, would save not only themselves, but likewise their posterity. … Pray for your careless and disobedient children; hold on to them with your faith. Hope on, trust on, till you see the salvation of God’ (Orson F. Whitney, in Conference Report, Apr. 1929, p. 110).

“We cannot overemphasize the value of temple marriage, the binding ties of the sealing ordinance, and the standards of worthiness required of them. When parents keep the covenants they have made at the altar of the temple, their children will be forever bound to them” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1992, 94–95; or Ensign, May 1992, 68).

Elder James E. Faust

“There are some great spiritual promises which may help faithful parents in this church. Children of eternal sealings may have visited upon them the divine promises made to their valiant forebears who nobly kept their covenants. Covenants remembered by parents will be remembered by God. The children may thus become the beneficiaries and inheritors of these great covenants and promises. This is because they are the children of the covenant” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1990, 43; or Ensign, Nov. 1990, 35).