“Lesson 7: Marriage between a Man and a Woman Is Ordained of God,” The Eternal Family Teacher Manual (2015)
“Lesson 7,” Teacher Manual
Heavenly Father established the divine pattern of marriage with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. In our day, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles have confirmed this pattern by stating, “Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 129). Although laws of men may attempt to alter this definition, God’s laws remain the same forever.
D. Todd Christofferson, “Why Marriage, Why Family,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2015, 50–53.
Dallin H. Oaks, “No Other Gods,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2013, 72–75.
Sheri L. Dew, “It Is Not Good for Man or Woman to Be Alone,” Ensign, Nov. 2001, 12–14.
“The Divine Institution of Marriage,” mormonnewsroom.org/article/the-divine-institution-of-marriage.
Gospel Topics, “Same-Sex Marriage,” lds.org/topics.
Write the following doctrine on the board: “Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God.” Ask students what the word ordain means in this sentence. (Possible answers include the following: to order, decree, or appoint by virtue of superior authority.) Ask students how this definition helps them to understand the meaning of the doctrine on the board. Ask students to silently read Doctrine and Covenants 49:15–17 to find a scriptural restatement of this doctrine.
Ask a student to read Moses 3:21–24 aloud. Invite the class to look for which important step in the plan of salvation is described in these verses. (As students respond, explain that the reference to Adam’s rib is symbolic—God did not actually remove a rib from Adam. You may also want to suggest that students write the following definition of the word cleave in the margin of their scriptures: “create a close, lasting, and unwavering union.”)
What do you think God wanted to teach us by describing the physical creation of Eve in this manner? (Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught: “The rib, coming as it does from the side, seems to denote partnership. The rib signifies neither dominion nor subservience, but a lateral relationship as partners, to work and to live, side by side” [“Lessons from Eve,” Ensign, Nov. 1987, 87].)
What can we learn from Moses 3:24? (Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said that God “joined [Adam and Eve] as husband and wife. … Neither we nor any other mortal can alter this divine order of matrimony. It is not a human invention” [“Why Marriage, Why Family,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2015, 52].)
Display the following statement by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and ask a student to read it aloud. Ask the class to look for insights into why God has ordained that marriage take place only between a man and a woman.
“After the earth was created, Adam was placed in the Garden of Eden. Importantly, however, God said ‘it was not good that the man should be alone’ (Moses 3:18; see also Genesis 2:18), and Eve became Adam’s wife and helpmeet. The unique combination of spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional capacities of both males and females was needed to enact the plan of happiness. ‘Neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord’ (1 Corinthians 11:11). The man and the woman are intended to learn from, strengthen, bless, and complete each other” (“We Believe in Being Chaste,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2013, 41–42).
Based on your understanding of Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness, why is marriage between a man and a woman ordained by Him?
What value is there in following a pattern when making something like an item of clothing?
What value would there be in studying the ideal pattern of marriage?
Explain that the marriage of Adam and Eve presents the Lord’s pattern of what a marriage should be. Ask a student to read Moses 3:18 aloud.
What is your understanding of the term “help meet”? (“Help” is translated from a combination of two Hebrew roots, one meaning to rescue or save, and the other meaning to be strong. “Meet” is translated from a Hebrew word suggesting suitable and equal. Thus, a “help meet” is a suitable and equal companion possessing power to save. Suggest that students write this definition in their scriptures next to Moses 3:18. See also Howard W. Hunter, “Being a Righteous Husband and Father,” Ensign, Nov. 1994, 51.)
What kind of relationship does this term suggest for a husband and wife? (Summarize students’ responses by writing the following doctrine on the board: Heavenly Father has ordained that a husband and wife are to be equal partners.)
What do you think it means for a husband and wife to be equal partners?
Divide the class into small groups, with perhaps three or four students in a group. Ask students to scan Moses 5:1–5, 12, and 16, looking for ways in which Adam and Eve labored together as equal partners, and to discuss their findings within their groups.
Display the following statements by President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994) and Sister Sheri L. Dew, former counselor in the Relief Society general presidency. Ask a student to read them aloud:
“From this inspired record [Moses 5:1–2, 4, 12, 16] we see that Adam and Eve provided us with an ideal example of a covenant marriage relationship. They labored together; they had children together; they prayed together; and they taught their children the gospel—together. This is the pattern God would have all righteous men and women imitate” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson , 183).
“Ponder the scriptural accounts of Adam and Eve and see what the Lord will teach you that will strengthen your marriage [and] your family. … Our Father’s patterns help us avoid deception. Look to the Lord and not to the world for your ideas and ideals about men and women” (Sheri L. Dew, “It Is Not Good for Man or Woman to Be Alone,” Ensign, Nov. 2001, 14).
When have you have seen a husband and wife labor together as equal partners?
How do you think understanding the divine pattern for marriage could influence your future?
Give students a few minutes to make two lists: (1) the attitudes they currently have that will help lead them to a marriage ordained of God, and (2) the attitudes they may need to change in order to move closer toward that goal. Express confidence that the Lord will bless them in their efforts.
(Note: Be sensitive to students who express differing opinions on this issue. Focus the class discussion on the statements of the General Authorities of the Church.)
How is God’s ordained pattern of marriage affected when governments pass laws legalizing behaviors that are contrary to this pattern? (As students respond, use Mormon 9:9 to show that God and His laws are unchanging. God’s unchanging nature helps us to have confidence and faith in Him.)
Give each student a copy of the following statement from the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and invite students to look for reasons why Church leaders have spoken on same-sex marriage:
“Legal proceedings and legislative action in a number of countries have given civil recognition to same-sex marriage relationships, and the question of same-sex marriage continues to be widely debated. As we confront this and other issues, we encourage all to bear in mind our Heavenly Father’s purposes in creating the earth and providing for our mortal birth and experience here as His children [see Genesis 1:27–28; 2:24]. … Marriage between a man and a woman was instituted by God and is central to His plan for His children and for the well-being of society. Strong families, guided by a loving mother and father, serve as the fundamental institution for nurturing children, instilling faith, and transmitting to future generations the moral strengths and values that are important to civilization and crucial to eternal salvation.
“Changes in the civil law do not, indeed cannot, change the moral law that God has established. God expects us to uphold and keep His commandments regardless of divergent opinions or trends in society. His law of chastity is clear: sexual relations are proper only between a man and a woman who are legally and lawfully wedded as husband and wife” (quoted in Gospel Topics, “Same-Sex Marriage,” lds.org/topics).
How does understanding God’s plan and doctrine help us to recognize the importance of marriage between a man and a woman?
Also give each student a copy of the following statement, which comes from a document published by the Church titled “The Divine Institution of Marriage.” Ask students to look for reasons why the definition of marriage between a man and a woman should be preserved in laws and policies:
“Marriage is far more than a contract between individuals to ratify their affections and provide for mutual obligations. Rather, marriage is a vital institution for rearing children and teaching them to become responsible adults. Throughout the ages, governments of all types have recognized marriage as essential in preserving social stability and perpetuating life. Regardless of whether marriages were performed as a religious rite or a civil ceremony, in almost every culture marriage has been protected and endorsed by governments primarily to preserve and foster the institution most central to rearing children and teaching them the moral values that undergird civilization. …
“In view of the close links that have long existed between marriage, procreation, gender, and parenting, same-sex marriage cannot be regarded simply as the granting of a new ‘right.’ It is a far-reaching redefinition of the very nature of marriage itself. It marks a fundamental change in the institution of marriage in ways that are contrary to God’s purposes for His children and detrimental to the long-term interests of society” (“The Divine Institution of Marriage,” mormonnewsroom.org/article/the-divine-institution-of-marriage).
What are some reasons why societies have traditionally endorsed and protected marriage between a man and a woman?
How could a person come to recognize the truth of the Church’s position on this significant issue?
Encourage students to consider how their opinions compare to God’s teachings on marriage as taught by Church leaders. Share your testimony that believing in and supporting God’s pattern for marriage will bring eternal blessings.