marriage bed symbol

marriage bed symbol

Friday, December 27, 2013

LDS Doctrine or Cultural Myth? Finding ‘The One’/Being ‘The One’

“How do I know if I married my soul-mate?” “Did I marry the right person?” “If he/she is attracted to another person, does that mean I’m not the right one or they never really loved me?”

Are you familiar with these phrases romanticized for decades by our pop culture through song lyrics, poetry, movie and play dialogues?
  •  I only have eyes for you
  • You are  my one and only
  •  I won't marry until I find  my soul mate
  •  I could never love another man/woman
  • I don't want anyone else
  •  I want to be loved by you and nobody else but you
  • When he/she looks at me, he/she makes me feel like I'm the only man/woman in the room

President Spencer W. Kimball in a 1977 address at BYU said:

“’Soul-mates’ are fiction and an illusion; and while every young man and young woman will seek with all diligence and prayerfulness to find a mate with whom life can be most compatible and beautiful, yet it is certain that almost any good man and any good woman can have happiness and a successful marriage if both are willing to pay the price.”[i]

Whether or not the right person was married, we are counseled that it’s more important to be the right person. In the end, were not going to be judged for how our spouse treated us, but for how we acted and reacted to our spouse and what effort we put into ensuring the success of our marriage.

The idea that one person can save a marriage single-handedly can be hazardous. For a marriage to be successful, happy, joyful, and one you wouldn’t mind being part of for all eternity, does require the consistent effort of both to be successful.

In the same talk, President Kimball also said “The selection before courting and then the continued courting after the marriage process are equally important, but not more important than the marriage itself, the success of which depends upon the two individuals—not upon one, but upon two.”

President Gordon B. Hinckley gave this counsel on how we can be the right spouse to our eternal companion:

“Be worthy of the mate you choose. Respect him or her. Give encouragement to him or her. Love your companion with all your heart. This will be the most important decision of y our life, the individual whom you marry…A good marriage requires time. It requires effort. You have to work at it. You have to cultivate it. You have to forgive and forget. You have to be absolutely loyal one to another.”[ii]

But what if your spouse is attracted to another person after you are married? Does that mean they never loved you?

There seems to be this idea that when a man or woman commits to a marriage or kneels at the altar, somehow a switch that flips on in a person’s brain that makes them incapable of being attracted to another living person – and, if this switch didn’t turn on then that person never “truly” loved you in the first place.

This is utter romantic nonsense. It is a fantastical fallacy concocted by romance novels, movies and television.

We are sexual beings. Our bodies are designed to procreate. As demonstrated by anthropologist Helen Fisher[iii] from the ends of our hair to the tips of our toes, our bodies are designed to detect (even on a very unconscious level) if a person is healthy, a good genetic match to create children with, and whether or not that person is ready to mate.

Elder Boyd K. Packer said:

 “As the procreative power matures in early manhood and womanhood there occurs, in a natural way, very personal feelings unlike any other physical experience. It is not without meaning that the process through which life is conceived should be accompanied by feelings of such depth and attraction that they draw the individual to seek a repetition of them.”[iv]

Those sexual mechanisms (which are designed to work with greater precision than the most finely tuned Swiss watch) are what drew your spouse to you and helped in their decision to marry you. Those mechanisms never turn off and are always alert to the signals and pheromones given off by the thousands of others that would also be a good genetic match.

Give each other some credit as each day, even each moment, when those powerful sexual mechanisms are activated, you can know that your spouse loves you because they constantly choose you again over other compatible mates.

Should one of you pass away, such feelings will enable the living spouse to find another marriage partner. And, as Elder Packer mentioned above, it is those powerful drives that keep them coming back to you.

If those drives were easy to handle, we wouldn’t need to be commanded and constantly reminded to live the law of chastity, avoid profane erotica, to not fornicate, and to not commit adultery.

Conversely, we are constantly reminded to turn those powerful feelings toward each other…to continually court each other in order to ensure those feelings for each other are always nourished and never die.

A loving, loyal, committed eternal marriage is a journey, not a destination. It’s a step taken into eternity, every single day of our lives.

[i] Kimball, President Spencer W., Oneness In Marriage, Mar 1977 Ensign
[ii] Hinckley, President Gordon B. , Life’s Obligations, Ensign, Feb. 1999
[iii] Dr. Helen Fisher, The Science of Sex Appeal, 2009, Incubator, Discovery Channel
[iv] Packer, Elder Boyd K., The Fountain Of Life, Things Of The Soul, pg. 105-17


Anonymous said...

"Should one of you pass away, such feelings will enable the living spouse to find another marriage partner." Allowing oneself to act on those feelings would be an act of infidelity while the spouse is alive. Yet, if we believe we'll be with our spouse for eternity, how is allowing oneself to act on those feelings after being widowed not an act of infidelity? The moment you concede that it's acceptable to have serial spouses, then you de facto acknowledge a person may love more than one person, which in turn sets up plurality in the eternities. And if we can be plural in the eternities, why, then, can't we be plural in mortality? Why can't widows and widowers be expected to "wait" on their spouses until they, too, make it to the spirit world?

CoachSam said...

Dear Anon May 6,

The belief that we should only have one wife per husband originates from a Victorian paradigm that undergirds our modern Western culture.

The further idea that "if we truly love our spouse we could never feel love for another person" is also a fallacy. Dr. Helen Fisher, Dr. Vladas Griskevicious, Dr. David Schnarch and others have demonstrated how that is not true for us on a physiological level.

We absolutely are capable of falling in love over and over again [a condition known as limerance] and capable of having charity [the pure love of Christ] for multiple people.

There is nothing in the scriptures to support the argument that all couples should be one man and one woman in the eternities. In fact, just the opposite is shown. Abraham, Jacob, Moses, etc... were all prophets and considered worthy of God's greatest blessings, and all had plural wives.

We don't currently practice plural marriage between living people for two reasons.

1. The law says that we cannot be married to more than one "living" person at a time. (No law of the land anywhere can legislate what happens in the spirit world, and especially not the kingdom of God, so sealings to spouses who have passed on are not broken, but remain in force.) Widows and widowers who chose to be sealed to multiple people are not committing adultery or infidelity, as long as they are keeping the laws of God and the laws of the land.

2. God has not authorized the keys that allow plural marriage between living people at this time. (Doc & Cov 132)

The act of getting married in the temple alone doesn't guarantee you'll be sealed to your spouse for eternity. If the covenants are not kept, all promises are null and void. Remarriage would not be a breaking of this covenant. A woman can marry for time to another man. A man can be sealed to another woman. The Lord doesn’t consider this to be infidelity. (see 1 Cor 7:8-9)

Why make a widow/widower wait for companionship until the next life? I see remarriage as a great service one person can offer to another, who would also have to live alone otherwise. Remarriage is certainly not a requirement, but it’s not forbidden either.

Whether or not you personally choose to remarry is a matter of personal revelation between you and the Lord, and it’s not for me or anyone else to judge that person’s decision.