The modern theory of marriage is that two people who are in love should join as a union. Nothing else matters and is subjected to this quality. Interesting enough, the reason to get married is less about love and more financial or legal advantages. There are tax incentives and social contractual obligations for both the couple and State. According to the law, the two become essentially one with some caveats. It also seeks to publically legitimize the relationship, opening up an acceptance of the bonding. These social, financial, and political fortunes have always been the glue that holds the concept of marriage together. Love is actually the least important issue, and history has until relatively recently recognized that fact.
Pointing out that historically there have been many reasons for marriage beyond love is not to say it wasn’t a factor until the modern era. Instead, it is a recognition that marriage is a social construct for contractual and not emotional connections. Kings and Queens married to continue ruling an Empire. The rich conspired to marry off sons and daughters to create fortunes. Religious people married as an obligation to God for the perpetuation of the next generation. Love and attraction was necessary, but secondary or less. Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising at a time when “love” trumps all, that less than half the marriageable population actually ties the knot. Who needs commitment when one can (as easy divorces indicate) fall in and out of love? The rich apparently, as a NYT article (see side link) explains according to a study. Its just become expensive for especially the poor.
For Mormonism, marriage is more old fashioned than the “new” old fashion. It reaches farther back than gender roles, white picket fences, and 3 or more kids. Like the traditional religious purpose, the main factor of marriage is an obligation to God for raising up the next righteous generation. Romantic love is not discouraged, but its not required. Above all, this marriage between a man and woman to form a family is far more than a suggestion; it is a commandment of God. For this reason, anyone who is capable must get married as a religious practice. More than this, it is necessary for full Exaltation in the Eternities. Those who claim to be attracted to the opposite sex can be as equally obligated to form a proper family unit as a heterosexual, so long as they are honest about their weakness.
The source for this view of marriage requirement can be found, although not the only place, in section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants. It is here that the new and everlasting covenant in relation to marriage is revealed. The subject is how the ancient Patriarchs were allowed to marry more than one women, but goes beyond this question. The significant portion in verse 7 reads:
7 And verily I say unto you, that the conditions of this law are these: All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations, that are not made and entered into and sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, of him who is anointed, both as well for time and for all eternity, and that too most holy, by revelation and commandment through the medium of mine anointed, whom I have appointed on the earth to hold this power (and I have appointed unto my servant Joseph to hold this power in the last days, and there is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred), are of no efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end have an end when men are dead.
This is a very legal sounding statement. No room is open for error in understanding the importance of proper actions by the proper authority. Relationships cannot exist in the next life without sealing by the Holy Spirit as predicated on official Priesthood involvement. If there is anything done by the world’s standards or authority, it will not last longer than mortality.
Consequences for not getting sealed to a spouse is in verse 16 to be held back from full blessings:
Therefore, when they are out of the world they neither marry nor are given in marriage; but are appointed angels in heaven, which angels are ministering servants, to minister for those who are worthy of a far more, and an exceeding, and an eternal weight of glory.
Perhaps remaining as an angel in the Celestial Kingdom is not the worst that can happen. Certainly there is happiness to be found in serving those who have reached a greater reward. Conditions in the lower Kingdoms are less than known. Nevertheless, those who do get married in the everlasting covenant, according to verse 20, are in a far better position:
Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them.
The section continues to explain those who are sealed must still follow the commandments for it to be of any power in the next life. Unauthorized marriages past the first one are a sin that can cost Exaltation. Jacob 2 in the Book of Mormon warns of the gross error having more than one wife without revelation to support its practice.
Other scriptures insist that the only proper union of marriage is between a man and a woman to start the foundation of a family. When God first created the male, he saw how lonely life would be for the single individual. It teaches in Gen. 2:21-24 that He responded to this situation by making a second half of the human family who became a couple:
“21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
22 And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
Jesus reiterated in Matt. 19 the creation of marriage by God, although in the context of divorce. He was challenged to answer the question if it was right to “put away” a wife for any reason. He responded by saying, “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,” and then, “Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” The bonds of marriage are not to be trifled with or there will be serious consequences both for this life and the next.
Marriage is instituted to increase the human population and not companionship alone. Genesis 1:28 states God blessed Adam and Eve and said, “be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it.” That isn’t to say this is only possible in the marriage state, but by the commandment of God it is the only authorized condition to have children. That includes making some official and public commitment to each other that may only last for time.
It is the responsibility shared by both men and women to get married. Once together as one, these couples are commanded to have children no matter if boys or girls. The only thing that should be stopping these two commandments, if in our power, is adherence to the promptings of the Holy Ghost. There is no waiting. There is only guidance and revelation. Otherwise, the Lord wants both genders to take the creation of family seriously. President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve stated:
The ultimate end of all activity in the Church is to see a husband and his wife and their children happy at home, protected by the principles and laws of the gospel, sealed safely in the covenants of the everlasting priesthood. Husbands and wives should understand that their first calling—from which they will never be released—is to one another and then to their children.
Those who consider themselves gay are not immune from the commandments of God to get married. And as has been taught, the only rightful eternal marriage is between a man and a woman. There is evidence to believe that even those who might not be romantically inclined to marry the opposite gender are still obligated to do just that. There are examples of such unions working out when full disclosure for both parties before the ceremony is brought forward. Doctrine teaches that one doesn’t have to go on a mission to be Exalted, but one does have to be married in the House of the Lord. Hopefully in most cases its done for those who are in love, but sometimes following the Lord is about sacrifices. Joseph Smith said, “a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has the power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation.” Certainly many who entered into plural marriage, both men and women, were sacrificing their own and society’s understanding of morality.
One doesn’t have to be married in mortality to be exalted either, as was pointed out during a personal discussion. Many who have died before the proper age, or who have mental or physical conditions that prevent marrying, would have no chance of salvation. That means that the alternative, considering that male and female union is the required Eternal and biological condition for marriage and family, is to remain single and celibate. Perhaps there are some who are “called” to this position. There is certainly precedent for this, although the Matt. 19:12 scripture is vague:
For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.
Most commentators reject this as having anything to do with gays. After all, Paul in 1 Cor. 7:4-11 talks about serving as unmarried with no hint he is speaking to anyone other than those who would marry opposite gender. That doesn’t preclude this used as an example for gays who want to remain active and faithful to God in the Church if they so feel the Spirit. The official position of the LDS Church on the subject of marriage still demonstrates a strong and yet compasionate stand:
The Church distinguishes between same-sex attraction and behavior. While maintaining that feelings and inclinations toward the same sex are not inherently sinful, engaging in homosexual behavior is in conflict with the “doctrinal principle, based on sacred scripture … that marriage between a man and a woman is essential to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.”
Because the Church believes that the sacred powers of procreation are “to be exercised only between a man and a woman lawfully wedded as husband and wife, … any other sexual relations, including those between persons of the same gender, undermine the divinely created institution of the family.” Accordingly, the Church favors measures that define marriage as the union of a man and a woman. However, “protecting marriage between a man and a woman does not remove Church members’ Christian obligations of love, kindness and humanity toward all people.”
In then end it is up to each person to decide for themselves how to respond to weaknesses that invite sin. Some challenges might be more difficult than others. Clearly from the above it should be understood that only marriage between a man and a woman is acceptable to the Lord. Eventually, in this life or the next, it is required for full blessings of Exaltation in the Eternal plan of Salvation. Marriage for those who are attracted to the same gender is an option so long as its with the opposite gender if following the Lord’s directives. However, the LDS Church also warns that it is not to be an answer to the problem of same gender attraction. Perhaps remaining single and celibate, and gays are not the only ones who go through that in life, is the better or revealed choice. Other options than marriage to opposite gender or single celibacy are not acceptable to the Lord as revealed by Scripture and modern prophets.