Twilight author, Stephanie Meyer, captivates her audience by weaving one single concept throughout her entire series -- the quest for eternal love. As romantic and fantastical as this may be to read, for Meyer, a Mormon, it is more than just mere fantasy--it’s reality – minus, of course, all the vampire action.
The belief that love is eternal is at the very heart of the meaning of love for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It’s the lens through which Mormons view their most personal relationships, serve community and extend their outreach in charitable humanitarian efforts globally.
The source of this eternal love emanates from God; whom individual members enter a covenant relationship to follow His Son, Jesus Christ, and emulate his teachings throughout their lives. With this priority firmly in place, Mormons set off with a desire, instinctively knowing that, “When ye have done it unto one of the least of these…” a spouse, child, friend, neighbor, even a stranger… “Ye have done it unto me.”
In Mormonism, the marriage relationship between a husband and wife is sacred; second only to God. In marriage, Mormons are “sealed” in temples, considered holy and set apart from the world for “time and all eternity” (versus “married” and “until death do you part”). Eternal marriages, or sealings, are performed in LDS temples, they are a necessary ordinance required for exaltation, according to the faith.
Having an eternal perspective adds a unique dimension to marriage for Mormons. The expectation that the marriage is to last into the next life requires a deep level of commitment to living the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, in order to overcome the many obstacles and challenges that will inevitably arise. Mormons believe that if they are diligent in keeping the marriage covenant it will continue forever in the presence of God.
The importance of eternal marriage is significant in the Mormon faith. Great emphasis is placed on its preparation from the time children are young. A familiar motto repeated in many member homes, families are forever, gives meaning to the special bonds of love that are developed within the immediate family. This belief also extends to relatives and to those who have passed – thus the special interest in genealogy and temple work in the LDS church -- a true labor of love.
Mormons are romantics at heart. How could they not be when they genuinely believe and live life with an eternal mindset? Interesting note: Mormons believe in an afterlife where families live together throughout eternity, but they also believe that they all lived together before they came to earth; a period referred to as pre-mortality.
A frequent, fun thought among some Mormon couples is the idea that perhaps they knew each other before this life --soul mates if you will; unexplained inklings from the past that make for a deep connection.
The concept of love inside Mormonism is also fundamentally formed by the true essence of eternal love: the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ has made it possible to be forgiven of sin, cleansed through baptism and made worthy to return back into the presence of God. That is love. In return, he has commanded that we are to love him, our brothers and sisters as self, and to forgive one other as we desire to be forgiven. This is the meaning of love in Mormonism and is the motivation behind our love for one another.
Mormons believe that one of the most effective and meaningful ways that they can show love for others is to emulate the love of Jesus Christ, as if he were here, through service. Service is another form of love, and that when one consistently serves, it helps us to develop charity, which is the pure love of Christ. Service is sometimes difficult, not always convenient, and can also be monetary; thus associated with sacrifice.
Ultimately, Mormons cherish their understanding of eternal love and honor their covenant relationship with God, which gives rich and symbolic meaning and purpose to their lives in every way imaginable.
“May we ever watch over one another assisting in times of need. Let us not be critical and judgemental but let us be tolerant, ever emulating the Savior’s example of loving-kindness. In that vein, may we willingly serve one another. May we pray for the inspiration to know of the needs of those around us, and then may we go forward and provide assistance.” -Thomas S. Monson, President, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Kathryn Skaggs writes on her personal blog, A Well-Behaved Mormon Woman.
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