Last year, when I wrote about Mission Companions, I mentioned that learning to get along with your mission companion is excellent practice for learning to get along with your eternal companion, your wife. Today I’d like to elaborate more on how a mission prepares you for temple marriage.
The Importance of Temple Marriage
Those who are sealed in the temple have the assurance that their marriage will continue forever if they obey their covenants. They know that nothing, not even death, can permanently separate them.
Our prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, said, “Make certain that the marriage in your future is a temple marriage. There is no scene so sweet, no time so sacred as that very special day of your marriage. Then and there you glimpse celestial joy. Be alert; do not permit temptation to rob you of this blessing.” (From Whom Shall I Marry?, New Era, Oct. 2004)
Heber J. Grant, 7th president of the Church, emphasized the importance of every young man and woman starting their life together with a temple marriage.
I believe that no worthy young Latter-day Saint man or woman should spare any reasonable effort to come to a house of the Lord to begin life together. …The blessings and promises that come from beginning life together, for time and eternity, in a temple of the Lord, cannot be obtained in any other way and worthy young Latter-day Saint men and women who so begin life together find that their eternal partnership under the everlasting covenant becomes the foundation upon which are built peace, happiness, virtue, love, and all of the other eternal verities of life, here and hereafter (Heber J. Grant, “Beginning Life Together,”Improvement Era, Apr. 1936, pp. 198–99).
Jacob’s Efforts to Marry in the Covenant
The story of Jacob marrying Rachel has always seemed to me as a good example of the making every possible effort for a temple marriage. When Jacob was ready to get married, his father, Isaac, instructed him not to marry any of the daughters of Canaan because they were not of their faith. Rather, Isaac instructed Jacob to go to his uncle Laban’s home and seek a wife there, among people of their same faith (see Genesis 27 & 28).
So great was Jacob’s desire to marry someone of his faith that he traveled a great distance to meet Rachel, the daughter of Laban. They met at a well, feel in love, and Laban promised they could get married if Jacob would complete seven years of service. Genesis 29: 20 says, “And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her.”
A Mission Prepares You for Temple Marriage
Elder Richard G. Scott said that mission “experiences will develop a foundation for the later blessing of your being a strong husband and father.”
Now may I speak from my heart of what an honorable full-time mission has meant to me personally…I fell in love with an exceptional young woman. At a critical point in our courtship, she made it very clear that she would only be married in the temple to a returned missionary. Duly motivated, I served a mission in Uruguay. It was not easy. The Lord gave me many challenges that became stepping-stones to personal growth. There I gained my testimony that God the Father and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, did in fact visit Joseph Smith to begin a restoration of truth, priesthood authority, and the true Church on earth…At the same time, my future eternal companion, Jeanene, was being molded to become an exceptional wife and mother by her own mission. Most important, all that I now hold dear in life began to mature in the mission field. Had I not been encouraged to be a missionary, I would not have the eternal companion or precious family I dearly love. (From Now Is the Time to Serve a Mission! Elder Richard G. Scott, Ensign May 2006)
Elder Gene R. Cook of the Seventy also explained how a mission prepares you for temple marriage:
May the Lord bless you to go forward humbly, prayerfully, and worthily to the mission field and serve as instruments in bringing many souls to him. Know clearly that there are hundreds of thousands who have done so, who have served and are serving faithfully and worthily in the work of the Lord. While you are young, set a pattern of worthiness and faithful service. Do so with all of your heart, and the Lord will greatly bless you, not only in the mission field, but through the rest of your life, your temple marriage, and right into the eternities. (From Worthy to Serve by Elder Gene R. Cook, New Era May 1994)
I know that my faithful missionary service helped prepare me for a temple marriage. It helped me learn to get along with others, to work together for common goals, and it helped me grow spiritually and provide a sound foundation for a Christ-centered life along with my wife. I love my wife with all my heart, and I am eternally grateful that we started off our marriage the right way, being sealed by priesthood authority with a temple marriage. I know that as you strive to do your duty as a missionary, the Lord will bless you with a stronger marriage, and a happier life on earth and in heaven.
The following is a great little video with Elder Packer and Elder Holland, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, talking about the blessing of a temple marriage.