“Lesson 21 Teacher Material: The Doctrine of Eternal Marriage and Family,” Foundations of the Restoration Teacher Material (2019)
“Lesson 21 Teacher Material,” Foundations of the Restoration Teacher Material
Begin class by asking the following question (remind students to refrain from making judgmental statements about people):
What are some of the current views and attitudes you see in the world about marriage?
Explain that just as in our day, some people in Joseph Smith’s day had differing views of marriage. Invite students to recall from section 1 of the preparation material what they learned about the Shakers’ beliefs about marriage.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 49:15–17 aloud. Ask the class to look for the doctrine the Lord revealed about marriage.
What did the Lord teach about marriage in this passage? (Students may identify several truths, including the following: Marriage is ordained of God. Husbands and wives are commanded to have children. As men and women marry and have children, they help fulfill God’s purpose in creating the earth. Consider displaying or writing on the board some or all of these ideas.)
Consider explaining that the phrase “measure of man” in verse 17 refers to God’s spirit children that He has prepared to inhabit the earth. Explain also that the phrase “marriage is ordained of God” in verse 15 means that marriage is decreed and established by God. In 1995 the Lord reemphasized through His prophets in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” (ChurchofJesusChrist.org) that “marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God.”
Invite students to briefly review Elder David A. Bednar’s statement from section 1 of the preparation material. Ask the class to look for reasons marriage between a man and a woman is essential to Heavenly Father’s plan.
How do Elder Bednar’s teachings deepen your understanding of why marriage between a man and a woman is essential to God’s plan?
If you have a student who has been married in the temple, consider asking what it means to him or her to be married for eternity. Explain that prior to the completion of the Nauvoo Temple, Joseph taught the doctrine of eternal marriage to a few faithful Church members and sealed them together. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 131:1–4 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Prophet taught.
What truth can we learn about eternal marriage from these verses? (After students respond, display the following principle: In order to obtain the highest degree of the celestial kingdom, we must enter into the new and everlasting covenant of marriage. You might point out that it is only in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom that we receive exaltation.)
Point out to students that in Doctrine and Covenants 132:19, the Lord further taught that we are to “abide in [His] covenant” in order to receive the blessing of exaltation.
What does it mean to you to “abide in [His] covenant” as it relates to eternal marriage?
You may want to emphasize that it is not enough just to be sealed in the temple. Both spouses must be diligent in their efforts to keep their temple covenants and to build a strong and lasting relationship.
Add “and abide in” to the displayed principle so that it reads, “… we must enter into and abide in the new and everlasting covenant of marriage.”
Ask students to list on the board some other blessings of eternal marriage. (Invite students to draw on what they learned from section 2 of the preparation material.)
Which of these blessings are most important to you? Why?
Remind students that they were asked in the preparation material to talk with a married couple they know who have a strong and loving marriage. They were invited to discuss what the couple have done to build an eternal marriage and how their marriage has enriched their lives. Ask a few students to share what they learned from their conversations.
Invite students to prayerfully ponder what attributes, characteristics, or actions will help them abide in the marriage covenant and create loving, righteous marriages. Provide time for students to record and make a plan to act on promptings they receive.
Ask the following:
Why is it important for us to defend the doctrine of marriage and family? (Students could review section 3 in the preparation material to help them answer this question.)
Have you ever defended the doctrine of marriage or family? If so, what was your experience like?
Display the following text for students, and ask them to consider if they have ever heard something that reflects the following mind-set:
“Why do you want to get married now? You have your whole life ahead of you. Why don’t you use this time to have fun and get ahead in life?”
Remind students that one of the principles of acquiring spiritual knowledge is to examine concepts and questions with an eternal perspective. The following activity can help students practice this principle as it relates to questions about marriage.
Divide students into small groups, and invite them to discuss how they would respond to someone who has this perspective. Give students a copy of the following questions (or display them) to help guide their discussion:
What assumptions may this person have that could be limiting his or her view of the importance of marriage and family?
How could understanding marriage and family from the perspective of God’s plan of salvation help address this person’s point of view?
What doctrine, scriptures, or prophetic teachings might you share to help this person view marriage and family from an eternal perspective?
After sufficient time, ask a few students to share what their group discussed.
Conclude class by sharing your testimony of the truths identified in this lesson.
As you end class, remind students that the Lord also revealed the doctrine of plural marriage to the Prophet Joseph Smith. Encourage students to carefully read their preparation material for lesson 22 and come prepared to discuss why the early Saints practiced plural marriage.