Lesson 4 – Spirituality in Marriage
“If two people love the Lord more than their own lives and . . . both work together for the upbuilding of the kingdom of God, then happiness is at its pinnacle.” Spencer W. Kimball
Quotes page 157
Elder Orson Pratt
“The more righteous a people become the more they are qualified for loving others and rendering them happy. A wicked man can have but little love for his wife; while a righteous man, being filled with the love of God, is sure to manifest this heavenly attribute in every thought and feeling of his heart, and in every word and deed. Love, joy, and innocence will radiate from his very countenance, and be expressed in every look. This will beget confidence in the wife of his bosom, and she will love him in return; for love begets love; happiness imparts happiness; and these heaven born emotions will continue to increase more and more, until they are perfected and glorified in all the fulness of eternal love itself” (“Celestial Marriage,” The Seer, Oct. 1853, 156).
Why do you think “a wicked man can have but little love for his wife”? How would living gospel principles in a Christ-centered home help a man love his wife?
Elder John A. Widtsoe
“True love of man for woman always includes love of God from whom all good things issue” (Evidences and Reconciliations, 297).
Why is it that true love between men and women “always includes love of God”?
Elder Russell M. Nelson
“Without a strong commitment to the Lord, an individual is more prone to have a low level of commitment to a spouse. Weak commitments to eternal covenants lead to losses of eternal consequence” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1997, 98; or Ensign, May 1997, 72).
According to Elder Nelson, how does our commitment to the Lord increase our commitment to our spouse? Why is this true? What might be the consequences in a marriage if the partners’ commitment to their sacred covenants is weak?
Talk page 148
ACQUIRING SPIRITUAL KNOWLEDGE Elder Richard G. Scott In Conference Report, Oct. 1993, 117–20
How to Acquire Spiritual Knowledge
As you seek spiritual knowledge, search for principles. Carefully separate them from the detail used to explain them. Principles are concentrated truth, packaged for application to a wide variety of circumstances. A true principle makes decisions clear even under the most confusing and compelling circumstances. It is worth great effort to organize the truth we gather to simple statements of principle. I have tried to do that with gaining spiritual knowledge. The result is now shared in hope that it will be a beginning place for your study. That statement of principle is:
To acquire spiritual knowledge and to obey it with wisdom, one must—
- In humility, seek divine light.
- Exercise faith in Jesus Christ.
- Hearken to His counsel.
- Keep His commandments.
As spiritual knowledge unfolds, it must be understood, valued, obeyed, remembered, and expanded. I will explain that statement using examples from the scriptures, the prophets, and the precious, though difficult, laboratory of personal experience. My desire is that the suggestions given will help you in your quest for spiritual truth throughout your life. Then, in time, you may accomplish this objective given by President Joseph F. Smith: “The greatest achievement mankind can make in this world is to familiarize themselves with divine truth, so thoroughly, so perfectly, that the example or conduct of no creature living in the world can ever turn them away from the knowledge that they
have obtained. . . .“From my boyhood I have desired to learn the principles of the gospel in such a way . . . that it would matter not to me who might fall from the truth, . . . my foundation would be . . . certain in the truths that I have learned” (Gospel Doctrine [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1939], pp. 3–4). Like President Smith, you and I need that kind of secure anchor to keep our life centered in righteousness and to avoid being swept away by the ruthless waves of worldliness.
Humbly Seek Divine Light
The following scriptures teach why we should seek divine light:
“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105; italics added).
“I, the Lord, . . . will be a light unto them forever, that hear my words” (2 Nephi 10:14; italics added).
“It is I that speak; . . . I am the light which shineth in darkness, and by my power I give these words unto thee. “. . . Put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good—yea, to do justly, to walk humbly, to judge righteously; and this is my Spirit. “. . . I will impart unto you of my Spirit, which shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy; “And . . . by this shall you know, all things whatsoever you desire of me, which are pertaining unto things of righteousness, in faith believing in me that you shall receive” (D&C 11:11–14; italics added).
Analogies with physical light help us understand the power of spiritual light. A bulb ignited in a dark room overpowers darkness. Yet if the darkness is too intense, it can overpower light, as with a bulb plunged into a bucket of black ink. Spiritual light overcomes the darkness of ignorance and disbelief. When transgression severely clouds a life, the focused spiritual truths of repentance cut the blackness as a laser penetrates the darkest ink.
Humility is essential to the acquiring of spiritual knowledge. To be humble is to be teachable. Humility permits you to be tutored by the Spirit and to be taught from sources inspired by the Lord, such as the scriptures. The seeds of personal growth and understanding germinate and flourish in the fertile soil of humility. Their fruit is spiritual knowledge to guide you here and hereafter. A proud individual cannot know the things of the Spirit.
Paul taught this truth, saying:
“The things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. . . .“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:11, 14).
Since it requires much personal effort to gain and use worthwhile knowledge, you cannot endlessly sample from every fascinating arena of life. Therefore, you should select carefully a few vital areas where you can focus energy to learn and share vital truths. I know that to gain knowledge of great worth requires extraordinary personal effort. This is particularly true when our desire is to obtain spiritual knowledge.
President Kimball said it this way:
“The treasures of both secular and spiritual knowledge are hidden ones—but hidden from those who do not properly search and strive to find them. . . . Spiritual knowledge is not available merely for the asking; even prayers are not enough. It takes persistence and dedication of one’s life. . . . Of all treasures of knowledge, the most vital is the knowledge of God” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, pp. 389–90).
Brigham Young learned truth by carefully listening to Joseph Smith and striving to understand everything that was taught by word, example, or the Spirit. The resulting tutoring has blessed generations. It conditioned Brigham Young to learn additional truths and to share far more than he had received personally from Joseph Smith. Follow his example.
Exercise Faith and Hearken to Jesus’ Counsel
The need to exercise faith in Jesus Christ is absolutely essential. It is the foundation of the plan of salvation. When that exercise of faith is coupled with sincere effort based upon a willingness to hearken to His counsel, great personal growth and blessings follow.
The Savior declared:
“I now give unto you a commandment . . . to give diligent heed to the words of eternal life. “For you shall live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God. “For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light, and whatsoever is light is Spirit, even the Spirit of Jesus Christ. “And the Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world; and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit. “And every one that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit cometh unto . . . the Father” (D&C 84:43–47; italics added).
Obey the Commandments
The role of obedience in gaining spiritual knowledge is crucial, as this comment of President Joseph Fielding Smith confirms:
“Now the Lord would give us gifts. He will quicken our minds. He will give us . . . a knowledge that will be so deeply rooted in our souls that [it] can never be rooted out, if we will just seek for the light . . .and the understanding which is promised to us, and which we can receive if we will only be true and faithful to every covenant and obligation pertaining to the gospel of Jesus Christ” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1958, p. 22).
To keep the commandments, you must know them. The best single source for learning them is the scriptures.
President Joseph Fielding Smith gave this admonition:
“Today we are troubled by evil-designing persons who [endeavor] to destroy the testimonies of members of the Church, and many . . . are in danger because of lack of understanding and because they have not sought the guidance of the Spirit. . . . It is a commandment from the Lord that members . . . be diligent . . . and study . . . the fundamental truths of the gospel. . . . Every baptized person [can] have an abiding testimony . . . , but [it] will grow dim and eventually disappear [without] study, obedience, and diligent seeking to know and understand the truth” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1963, p. 22; or Improvement Era, Dec. 1963, p. 1062).
Profound spiritual truth cannot simply be poured from one mind and heart to another. It takes faith and diligent effort. Precious truth comes a small piece at a time through faith, with great exertion, and at times wrenching struggles. The Lord intends it be that way so that we can mature and progress.
Moroni said, “Dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith” (Ether 12:6).
To explain that truth, President Harold B. Lee gave this wise instruction:
“The Savior’s blood, His atonement, will save us, but only after we have done all we can to save ourselves by keeping His commandments. All of the principles of the gospel are principles of promise by which the plans of the Almighty are unfolded to us” (Stand Ye in Holy Places [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1974], p. 246).
What can you do to increase spirituality as an individual? What can you do as a couple to increase spirituality? How can the Spirit help solve daily problems in a marriage?
“The Family: A Proclamation to the World” in paragraph7, says:
“Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
The scriptures teach the importance of building on solid foundations:
- Luke 6:47-49
- Ephesians 2:20
The seventh paragraph of the proclamation lists nine principles that serve as a foundation for a successful marriage: faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.
How can each of these principles strengthen marriage?
Per our discussion:
Faith: We can’t see the whole perspective, but Christ will make it all possible. By small and simple things, great things can come to pass.
Prayer: Just as Sacrament prayers help us renew our baptismal covenants, personal, family and couple prayers can help renew our commitment and appreciation for each other. When we pray, we have serious and deep moments together. We can ask God to bless each other. We can express love and expectations for our kids. We teach our kids to pray by praying together. Praying for what we need helps us be humble. Praying brings the Spirit to us.
Repentance: We need to clear up disagreements quickly. We shouldn’t hold grudges with each other or insist on being right. We need to apologize.
Forgiveness: We need to forgive and forget. After discipline there should be more love. If our spouse as done something wrong, we should look at ourselves to see what we have done wrong to him. It helps bring perspective and helps us be more understanding and forgiving.
Respect: We need to treat our spouse as an adult and partner, not a kid. We should not name call or tease. We should compliment him. We shouldn’t gossip about him. We shouldn’t do to him what he doesn’t like.
Love: Love in a marriage is more than just falling in love. We grow in love. We see each other’s potential. We choose to love each other. Life changes us and our circumstances, so we need to find new ways to love each other.
Compassion: We should always be compassionate. We shouldn’t be too hard on each other. We should look over faults. We should be sympathetic and sad when something bad happens to our spouse or kids, even if they “deserved” it.
Work: Work helps us grow our character, and prevents us from being idle. Both spouses, as well as kids need to pitch in as they can. Have discussions as a family on which jobs are most appropriate for each person. We shouldn’t be lazy and expect the other spouse to do everything.
Wholesome recreational activities: Spouses and families need to have fun together so they can develop better relationships and love for each other. The activities should be appropriate so the spirit can dwell with them.
Elder James E. Faust, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “Having the companionship and enjoying the fruits of a Holy and Divine Presence is the kernel of a great happiness in marriage. Spiritual oneness is the anchor. Slow leaks in the sanctifying dimension of marriage often cause marriages to become flat tires” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1977, 14; or Ensign, Nov. 1977, 9; student manual, 186).
The closer a couple gets to the Lord, they closer they come to each other.