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Relationships Through Priesthood Authority
H. Martins, Ph.D.
of a Mini-Lecture on Video – 04 June 2021
weeks ago, I received a message from a former student asking me the
having trouble with the Church policy of … not
allowing homosexual couples to be sealed in the temple. ...
contacted that former student and we had a long conversation about it.
Since then, I have been thinking more deeply about that topic, and I
would like to share some of the insights I have gained in these two
don’t understand why they could not enjoy the same blessings that
heterosexual couples enjoy including being sealed to children.
It’s not any different from adopted children in heterosexual households
households with half siblings (in the event that a homosexual parent
biological child by another individual) …
was wondering if you [could share] your thoughts on this topic."
from correspondence via Facebook Messenger, 18 May 2021)
fundamental concept is that God is first and foremost a Father—a
perfectly loving Father who has a plan of happiness for all his
children. For some, this statement may at first sound somewhat
simplistic. Even a child can understand this. However, the
consequences, the implications and the applications of the statement
are powerful and far-reaching.
will be a glorious heaven for our brothers and sisters who feel
same-sex attraction who accept the laws of God and live the principles
of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ to the best of their ability.
that the New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage is the highest order
(or “department”) of the Melchizedek Priesthood. It originated in the
heavens, not in Church policies based merely on interpretation of
Prophet Joseph Smith taught:
instituted in the heavens before the foundation of the world, in the
priesthood, for the salvation of men, are not to be altered or changed.
All must be saved on the same principles.” (Teachings of
the Presidents of the Church—Joseph Smith, p.417)
congresses, parliaments and courts may create their own interpretations
and variations of marriage and family, but these will have no impact on
that divine institution established eons ago in the heavenly courts by
the authority of the divine priesthood.
exactly is entailed in that divine institution? How is it presented to
us in this mortal sphere?
with a man and a woman feeling romantic love for one another, and a
firm desire to formalize that love and ascend together towards a
divinely-appointed glorious eternal destiny. And so, the man and the
woman choose to enter the House of the Lord together to formally
receive one another as a spouse, enter into a solemn covenant with each
other, and make certain solemn promises. These three
elements—receiving, covenanting and promising—being administered by the
authority of the Priesthood.
receive means to accept as authoritative, certified. It also means to
assimilate, or to make similar, to absorb the cultural tradition; as
well as to support or sustain. This verb must not be overlooked. It is
one of the components of the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood. We
receive the priesthood, we receive the Lord’s servants, we receive the
Savior, we receive the Father, and we receive the Father’s kingdom with
all that pertains to it (Doctrine and Covenants 84:35-38).
And in order
to obtain this celestial kingdom with all its adornments, a man and a
woman must formally receive one another in a solemn covenant
administered by the priesthood.
having accepted this covenant and made these promises, they are
pronounced—or “declared officially” husband and wife. Considering that
these titles (husband and wife) are declared by the authority of the
priesthood, in our minds we can see them in a new light, as offices, or
positions of responsibility, in effect priesthood-assigned roles in the
New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage.
that, the couple has eternal blessings, privileges and honors
provisionally sealed upon them also by the authority of the Priesthood,
predicated upon their righteousness as individuals and as a couple.
we observe carefully, we will notice that the perpetuation of the
relationship is dependent on the couple, not on the sealing ordinance
itself. While children are sealed to father and mother, a man and a
woman are not “sealed to one another”, but voluntarily covenant with
each other to be righteous spouses according to the “principles of
righteousness” spelled out in Doctrine and Covenants section 121 verses
and wife decide, through their exercise of moral agency as individuals
and as a couple, how stable and durable that covenant between the two
of them will be.
if they strive to the best of their ability to fulfill their
priesthood-assigned roles as husband and wife, having a good and
desirable relationship, relying on the power of Jesus Christ’s
atonement to continually improve and refine themselves and their
relationship, one day they will formally receive the divine
confirmation through the “Holy Spirit of promise” (Doctrine and
Covenants 132:7, 19) that indeed they will be
together as a couple for
what can we say about those who do not enter into this
divinely-appointed New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage?
must observe that the human feeling of love, which is part of our
divine nature, will always exist, independent of priesthood ordinances.
We can expect that the romantic love that exists between a man and a
woman, and the familial love that exists between children and their
parents, and among siblings, will exist forever, independent of temple
ordinances. Perhaps we might extend this to what in Greek is called
or the love that exists among good close friends. As an
increasingly popular saying goes, “Friends
are not sealed in the
temple, but they are forever”.
are good expectations for the future. And what’s in the future? What
could God, as a loving Father have in store for those who love one
another but do not have their relationships formalized through the New
and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage?
that all my judgments are not given unto men” (Doctrine and Covenants
29:30; brackets added)
on latter-day revelation, we understand that:
covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances,
connections, associations, or expectations [must be] 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 ...
Prophet Joseph Smith taught that “that
same sociality which exists
among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with
eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy.” (Doctrine and
doing so, such] covenants,
contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows,
performances, connections, associations, or expectations [will
efficacy, virtue, or
force in and after the resurrection from the dead
…” (Doctrine and Covenants 132:7;
mortal earth this “sociality”
often includes a desire for association,
which translates into affiliations to social or athletic clubs,
cultural or service organizations, social media groups, etc.
eternal worlds are resurrected glorified spheres inhabited by
resurrected glorified individuals. What kinds of associations might the
Lord have in those eternal worlds that would somehow formalize our
familial and friendly relationships that exist outside of the New and
Everlasting Covenant of Marriage?
don’t have an answer to this question, and I don’t know if we’ll have
to wait decades or even centuries to obtain the answer. Although our
mortal minds and imperfect understanding will not allow us to predict
what forms of social activities might be available in that glorified
environment, we can have a sure expectation that good things will come.
prophet Moroni taught that “whoso
believeth in God might with surety
hope for a better world” (The Book of Mormon - Ether 12:4).
Paul called Christ a “high
priest of good things to come, by a greater
and more perfect tabernacle” (Bible - Hebrews 9:11)
and the prophet
Mormon taught that “in
Christ there should come every good thing”. (The
Book of Mormon - Moroni 7:22)
conclude with the Prophet Joseph Smith’s invitation to the Church:
dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in
our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to
see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.”
and Covenants 123:17)
Marcus H. Martins is a professor of religion and leadership and former
dean at Brigham Young University-Hawaii, and has served as a
translator, temple officiator, high councilor, bishop, and mission
These remarks do not
constitute an official
statement of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
© Marcus H. Martins, 2021