Teachings Concerning
Marriage and Child-Bearing

By President Spencer W. Kimball

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"The Lord's Plan for Men and Women,"
Ensign, Oct. 1975, pp. 2, 4

We have indicated that they, the Gods, had [page 4] planned this creation and had formed all things, including man and woman, and life was given to all things. There was real purpose in what they had done.

"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

"And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it." (Gen. 1:27-28.)

And he could have said, "And God blessed them that they might multiply and replenish the earth, for in that comes a great blessing that many people are missing."

This is no accident that children would be born. This is a program carefully planned. The Lord could have provided some other way, but how could parents love and nurture their children in such a case?

The bodies of men and the bodies of women were created differently so they complemented each other, so that the union of the two would bring a conception which would bring a living soul into the world, one of those numerous, uncountable spirits that Abraham saw when the Lord had pulled back the curtains.

Now we must emphasize here that the Lord made man and woman, male and female to reproduce after their kind, and in the billions of unions there has continued to come a male or a female. Their bodies are still so formed that they will continue to the end of time in producing male or female, the spirit children of God.

And when the Gods had completed each of the "times" of creation, they had noted that they were obeyed--the word had been obeyed! The Gods said "it is good, very good," as they looked over their total world and plan.

This was the normal, proper way to preserve the total program, to bring souls into the world and to give them opportunities for growth.

Let no carnal mind decide in his or her feigned brilliance or pretended wisdom that a mistake was made. The whole program was intelligently organized to bring children into the world with love and filial interdependence. Had the superficial ideas of many mortals of today prevailed, the world, the human race, and all proper things would long ago have come to an end.

It was the Lord Jesus Christ himself who said to the Pharisees, during his earthly ministry: "Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female," and no other kind? (Matt. 19:4.)

And they were given the commandment that the man should cleave to his wife, "and they twain shall be one flesh.

"Wherefore, they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." (Matt. 19:5-6.)

And therein is a strong denunciation by our Lord against the evils of divorce and family disruption.

The union of the sexes, husband and wife (and only husband and wife), was for the principal purpose of bringing children into the world. Sexual experiences were never intended by the Lord to be a mere plaything or merely to satisfy passions and lusts. We know of no directive from the Lord that proper sexual experience between husbands and wives need be limited totally to the procreation of children, but we find much evidence from Adam until now that no provision was ever made by the Lord for indiscriminate sex.

Knowing the proper order of the Lord's plan, then, let there be no prostituting of this sacred program.

"The Marriage Decision,"
Ensign, Feb. 1975, pp. 2-4

May we talk of marriage and your life in total? Marriage is a vital part of life.

The Lord has said:

"Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." (Gen. 2:24.) And then he carried forward, saying further:

"… Multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it. …" (Gen. 1:28.) Accordingly, the program for every normal man and every normal woman is laid out for them. And it is expected by the Lord that every normal man and woman will find a companion and have a marriage in which they and their children will live in joy and happiness.

Recently I met a young returned missionary who is 35 years old. He had been home from his mission for 14 years and yet he was little concerned about his bachelorhood, and laughed about it.

I shall feel sorry for this young man when the day comes that he faces the Great Judge at the throne and when the Lord asks this boy: "Where is your wife?" All of his excuses which he gave to his fellows on earth will seem very light and senseless when he answers the Judge. "I was very busy," or "I felt I should get my education first," or "I did not find the right girl"--such answers will be hollow and of little avail. He knew he was commanded to find a wife and marry her and make her happy. He knew it was his duty to become the father of children and provide a rich, full life for them as they grew up. He knew all this, yet postponed his responsibility. So we say to all youth regardless of what country is your home, and regardless of the customs in your country, your Heavenly Father expects you to marry for eternity and rear a good, strong family.

The Lord planned that men and women would find each other and have a happy family relationship, be true to each other, and remain clean and worthy.

The Lord could have organized his world without this propagation program; he could have filled the earth with physical human bodies in some other way than that which he designed, perhaps some incubator process, but it seems that merely filling the earth with human beings was not the great objective of our Lord, and therefore a father and a [page 4] mother were designed to be given to every child that was born, and they should love and teach that child and prepare him to become like his Father in heaven, in righteousness and purity.

It was never intended by the Lord that a large portion of one's life should be spent in the unmarried state. At a reasonable time in life it was intended that each young man should find that young woman who is best for him, and she should find the young man who would be her best companion. Long-delayed marriages are certainly not approved of the Lord. . . .

It would be our hope that your parents would train you from your infancy to do odd chores, to earn some money, and to put it away for your missions and your marriages.

We hope that young people will be willing to sacrifice the pomp and show and pageantry of the civil weddings so that they and generally their parents with them can go to the holy temple for their marriages. Often the cost of a reception or a holiday or expensive gifts would more than pay for a temple wedding. When Sister Kimball and I were married, we had no ring nor costly reception. Eight years later I bought her a small diamond. She was content to wait until then.

Now is the time for you to plan good strong marriages and organize your programs and set your standards and solidify your determination to prepare for that married period of your lives which will be beautiful and rewarding. . . .

After marriage young wives should be occupied in bearing and rearing children. I know of no scriptures or authorities which authorize young wives to delay their families or to go to work to put their husbands through college. Young married couples can make their way and reach their educational heights, if they are determined.

Our young people should realize, as quoted from President J. Reuben Clark, Jr.:

"There is some belief, too much I fear, that sex desire is planted in us solely for the pleasures of full gratification; that the begetting of children is only an unfortunate incident. The direct opposite is the fact. Sex desire was planted in us in order to be sure that bodies would be begotten to house the spirits; the pleasures of gratification of the desire is an incident, not the primary purpose of the desire." And then he says further:

"As to sex in marriage, the necessary treatise on that for Latter-day Saints can be written in two sentences: Remember the prime purpose of sex desire is to beget children. Sex gratification must be had at that hazard. You husbands: be kind and considerate of your wives. They are not your property; they are not mere conveniences; they are your partners for time and eternity." (Conference Report, General Priesthood Conference, October 1949, pp. 194-195.)

The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball,
pp.292, 301-312, 315-319, 324-333

Marriage should not defer to education.

For a young man to get his mission two years and then four to six to eight years of university training, the way must look long and forbidding. When the times demand highly trained people; when keen competition requires extended education; when ambition and desire push one toward multiple degrees; when family and friends expect great accomplishment; when the wealth and renown of those who have become highly trained loom haughtily up before the beginner, it must indeed take a stout heart to let wisdom and propriety rule.

This often brings a rather natural, but not always justified, delay and postponement of marriage and there seems to be an increasing number who abandon the idea of marriage.

There will be many excuses, of course: "I could not support a wife and go to college." "I could not have children and maintain myself in school." "I thought it would be proper to wait a few years for my marriage and my children." What the Lord will say to these excuses we can only imagine. We are sure he will at least say, "You have not placed first things first." (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.292)

The Marriage Decision

Choosing a marriage partner is a vital decision.

The greatest single factor affecting what you are going to be tomorrow, your activity, your attitudes, your eventual destiny is the one decision you make that moonlit night when you ask that individual to be your companion for life. That's the most important decision of your entire life! It isn't where you are going to school, or what lessons you are going to study, or what your major is, or how you are going to make your living. These, though important, are incidental and nothing compared with the important decision that you make when you ask someone to be your companion for eternity.

Spouses should be chosen prayerfully.

The question "whom shall I marry?" is an important one to ask, for the proper answer to this question brings a proper answer to many others. If you marry the proper "whom" and if you marry in the proper "where," then you will have an infinitely better chance of happiness throughout all eternity.

Therefore, the decision is not made on the spur of the moment. It is something you plan all your life. Certainly the most careful planning and thinking and praying and fasting should be done to be sure that of all decisions, this one is not wrong.

In true marriage there must be a union of minds as well as of hearts. Emotions must not wholly determine decisions, but the mind and the heart, strengthened by fasting and prayer and serious consideration, will give one a maximum chance of marital happiness.

Cultural differences pose dangers for marriage.

When I said you must teach your people to overcome their prejudices and accept the Indians, I did not mean that you would encourage intermarriage. I mean that they should be brothers, to worship together and to work together and to play together; but we must discourage intermarriage, not because it is sin. I would like to make this very emphatic. A couple has not committed sin if an Indian boy and a white girl are married, or vice versa. It isn't a transgression like the transgressions of which many are guilty. But it is not expedient. Marriage statistics and our general experience convince us that marriage is not easy. It is difficult when all factors are favorable. The divorces increase constantly, even where the spouses have the same general background of race, religion, finances, education, and otherwise.

The interrace marriage problem is not one of inferiority or superiority. It may be that your son is better educated and may be superior in his culture, and yet it may be on the other hand that she is superior to him. It is a matter of backgrounds. The difficulties and hazards of marriage are greatly increased where backgrounds are different. For a wealthy person to marry a pauper promises difficulties. For an ignoramus to marry one with a doctor's degree promises difficulties, heartaches, misunderstandings, and broken marriages.

When one considers marriage, it should be an unselfish thing, but there is not much selflessness when two people of different races plan marriage. They must be thinking selfishly of themselves. They certainly are not considering the problems that will beset each other and that will beset their children.

If your son thinks he loves this girl, he would not want to inflict upon her loneliness and unhappiness; and if he thinks that his affection for her will solve all her problems, he should do some more mature thinking.

We are unanimous, all of the Brethren, in feeling and recommending that Indians marry Indians, and Mexicans marry Mexicans; the Chinese marry Chinese and the Japanese marry Japanese; that the Caucasians marry the Caucasians, and the Arabs marry Arabs.

Choose a spouse who will motivate growth.

You [missionaries] go home and find a person that will stimulate you, one that will keep you on your toes, that will make you be bigger than you are -- never anyone that will let you relax. I would never be in the Council of the Twelve today if I had married some of the girls that I have known. Sister Kimball kept me growing and never let me be satisfied with mediocrity.

Go all over the Church if you need to, to find the girl that is better than you are. The first time if she measures up, invite her again. If she measures up again, you are old enough to go steady!

Choose a spouse who will encourage righteousness.

He takes time enough to find the girl who has all those great qualities that makes her wanted the most. Not just a pretty face, not just a beautiful form, but the girl who will help him when life begins to get difficult, when there are questions to be answered and decisions to be made. He wants to have a girl who will help him to pay tithing, help him to get to priesthood meeting on time, help hint to rear their children. He will be a man to help her to properly discipline the children who come along, and be a real father, be a real husband. That is what honorable and righteous girls want. They are not interested in the fun things so much anymore. They are mature. After marriage and after the children come, there are many things to get their attention, like how many children; how to make a good living; how to make things work; how to do many things in the community in which one lives.

Returned missionaries are good marriage candidates.

As the young women begin their steady dating, it could properly be with the more worthy, the more personable, the more delightful returning missionaries who can worthily take them to temple marriage and a happy future. Every Latter-day Saint girl who grows up wholesome, sweet, clean, and personable is entitled to the best and should be satisfied with no less; and generally, every normal, young Latter-day Saint boy from infancy should dream of a mission to meet his obligation to the world and to the Lord. Accordingly, with this grand experience in the future, most young men will not get too serious in their romance until after their missions.

Building a Good Marriage

Newlyweds should establish independence.

Happiness in marriage requires continued effort.

Maintaining a Sound Relationship

Marriage requires unselfishness and loyalty.

Marriage requires fresh effort.

There are many marriages where the spouses have permitted their marriage to grow stale and weak and cheap. There are many spouses who have fallen from the throne of adoration and worship and are in the low state of mere joint occupancy in the home, joint sitters at the table, joint possessors of certain things which cannot be easily divided. These people are on the path that leads to trouble. These people will do well to reevaluate, to renew their courting, to express their affection, to acknowledge kindness, and to increase their consideration, so their marriage again can become beautiful, sweet, and growing.

Spirituality enhances marriage.

If two people love the Lord more than their own lives and then love each other more than their own lives, working together in total harmony with the gospel program as their basic structure, they are sure to have this great happiness. When a husband and wife go together frequently to the holy temple, kneel in prayer together in their home with their family, go hand in hand to their religious meetings, keep their lives wholly chaste, mentally and physically, so that their whole thoughts and desires and love are all centered in one being, their companion, and both are working together for the upbuilding of the kingdom of God, then happiness is at its pinnacle.

Spouses of nonmembers must be patient.

I can understand quite fully the problems that have arisen in your family life because of your conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ sometimes called "Mormonism." It always has been so and sadly the future will continue to see it so. ...

It would be our hope that, instead of bringing a chasm between your husband and you, the gospel could be the welding link that could bring you close together and finally into an unalterable, unterminating relationship with your precious children.

The Lord knew that it would not be easy for people to receive him and to accept his total truth. He knew full well that there would be numerous problems and misunderstandings between relatives and friends.

It seems to me that your position would be to become the perfect wife and the perfect mother and make your husband love you so intensively that he would never give thought to the possibility of losing you for eternity, and that you would so thoroughly and properly rear your children so that their father would never entertain the thought of a possible loss of them.

As he studies the gospel, he must certainly come to a realization that the marriage of himself and you was a temporary matter and that the minister or other person who performed the ceremony made no claim that the marriage could last beyond death. Certainly, he will come to realize that death could come at any time and separate two people who are devoted to each other and love each other very much.

In my experience of many years, I have seen many unbelieving spouses finally brought into the Church in great happiness in the cases where there was long-suffering and deep understanding and much patience.

The ideal spouse is constant.

While one is young and well and strong and beautiful or handsome and attractive, he or she can (for the moment) almost name the price and write the ticket; but the time comes when these temporary things have had their day; when wrinkles come and aching joints; when hair is thin and bodies bulge; when nerves are frayed and tempers are taut; when wealth is dissipated; when man needs something firm and solid to hold to. There comes a time when those who flattered us and those whose wit and charm deceived us may leave us to our fate. Those are times when we want friends, good friends, common friends, loved ones, tied with immortal bonds -- people who will nurse our illnesses, tolerate our eccentricities, and love us with pure, undefiled affection. Then we need an unspoiled companion who will not count our wrinkles, remember our stupidities nor remember our weaknesses; then is when we need a loving companion with whom we have suffered and wept and prayed and worshiped; one with whom we have suffered sorrow and disappointments, one who loves us for what we are or intend to be rather than what we appear to be in our gilded shell.

Responsibility to spouse supersedes even children.

The Lord says in definite terms: "Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shall cleave unto her and none else." (D&C 42:22.)

The words none else eliminate everyone and everything. The spouse then becomes preeminent in the life of the husband or wife, and neither social life nor occupational life nor political life nor any other interest nor person nor thing shall ever take precedence over the companion spouse. We sometimes find women who absorb and hover over the children at the expense of the husband, sometimes even estranging them from him. This is in direct violation of the command: None else.

Sex in Marriage

Sex is for procreation and expression of love.

Sexual relations in marriage are not unrestrained. Even though sex can be an important and satisfactory part of married life, we must remember that life is not designed just for sex. Even marriage does not make proper certain extremes in sexual indulgence. To the Ephesian saints Paul begged for propriety in marriage: "So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself." (Ephesians 5:28.) And perhaps the Lord's condemnation included secret sexual sins in marriage, when he said: "And those who are not pure, and have said they were pure, shall be destroyed, saith the Lord God." (D&C 132:52.)

If it is unnatural, you just don't do it. That is all, and all the family life should be kept clean and worthy and on a very high plane. There are some people who have said that behind the bedroom doors anything goes. That is not true and the Lord would not condone it.

Relationship Between Men and Women

Marriage is a full partnership.

Men and women are complementary.

The husband presides in marriage. In the beginning when God created man and the woman, he said to the woman, "Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule [but I like the word preside] over thee." (Genesis 3:16.)

The husband rules only by persuasion. "No power or influence ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood." (D&C 121:41.)

We have heard of men who have said to their wives, "I hold the priesthood and you've got to do what I say." Such a man should be tried for his membership. Certainly he should not be honored in his priesthood. We rule in love and understanding.

The wife follows the husband only as he follows Christ. No woman has ever been asked by the Church authorities to follow her husband into an evil pit. She is to follow him as he follows and obeys the Savior of the world, but in deciding this, she should always be sure she is fair.

The husband is head of the family only insofar as he sacrifices for them. One of the most provocative and profound statements in holy writ is that of Paul wherein he directs husbands and wives in their duty to each other and to family. First, he commands the women:

"Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.

"For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.

"Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing." (Ephesians 5:22-24.)

This is no idle jest, no facetious matter. Much is said in those few words.

Paul says, "as unto the Lord."

A woman would have no fears of being imposed upon nor of any dictatorial measures nor of any improper demands if the husband is self-sacrificing and worthy. Certainly no sane woman would hesitate to give submission to her own really righteous husband in everything. We are sometimes shocked to see the wife take over the leadership, naming the one to pray, the place to be, the things to do.

Husbands are commanded: "Love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it." (Ephesians 5:25.)

Here is the answer: Christ loved the Church and its people so much that he voluntarily endured persecution for them, stoically withstood pain and physical abuse for them, and finally gave his precious life for them.

When the husband is ready to treat his household in that manner, not only the wife, but also all the family will respond to his leadership.

Certainly, if fathers are to be respected, they must merit respect; if they are to be loved, they must be consistent, lovable, understanding, and kind, and must honor their priesthood.

Men often give women inadequate respect.

The Seductiveness of Two Incomes

Normally, the husband is the breadwinner.

When both spouses work, tensions result. Pursuit of luxury prejudices children. Too many mothers work away from home to furnish sweaters and music lessons and trips and fun for their children. Too many women spend their time in socializing, in politicking, in public services when they should be home to teach and train and receive and love their children into security.

Rationalization can make convenience into necessity.


God established families.

The Lord organized the whole program in the beginning with a father who procreates, provides, and loves and directs, and a mother who conceives and bears and nurtures and feeds and trains. The Lord could have organized it otherwise but chose to have a unit with responsibility and purposeful associations where children train and discipline each other and come to love, honor, and appreciate each other. The family is the great plan of life as conceived and organized by our Father in Heaven.

To any thoughtful person it must be obvious that intimate association without marriage is sin; that children without parenthood and family life is tragedy; that society without basic family life is without foundation and will disintegrate into nothingness and oblivion.

We must share the gift of life.

John and Mary, tomorrow when I repeat the phrases which will bind you for eternity, I shall say the same impressive words which the Lord said to that handsome youth and his lovely bride in the Garden of Eden: "Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth." (Genesis 1:28.) The Lord does not waste words. He meant what he said. You did not come on earth just to "eat, drink, and be merry." You came knowing full well your responsibilities. You came to get for yourself a mortal body which could become perfected and immortalized, and you understood that you were to act in partnership with God in providing bodies for other spirits equally anxious to come to the earth for righteous purposes. And so you will not postpone parenthood. There will be rationalists who will name to you numerous reasons for postponement. Of course, it will be harder to get your college degrees or your financial starts with a family, but strength like yours will be undaunted in the face of difficult obstacles. Have your family as the Lord intended. Of course it is expensive, but you will find a way, and besides, it is often those children who grow up with responsibility and hardships who carry on the world and its work. And, John and Mary, do not limit your family as the world does.

Don't think you will love the later ones less or have fewer material things for them. Perhaps, like Jacob, you might love the eleventh one most. Young folk, have your family, love them, sacrifice for them, teach them righteousness, and you will be blessed and happy all the days of your eternal lives.

Have large families regardless of social norms.

In America and elsewhere in the world, the family limitation program is gaining much strength. Latter-day Saints do not believe in this. We believe in following the admonition of the Lord in having large families and rearing them righteously. We hope that our Latter-day Saints will not trade children for accommodation and luxury.

When you go to the temple for sealing, you will note that the Lord continues to command his people to live this commandment. It is not easy. It is much easier to limit the family to one or two, but great blessings come to those who struggle through the years with the small children. When they have reared them righteously, they will have crowns throughout eternity. The time will come when those men and women who have neglected their duties because they wanted luxuries will be very jealous of the joys and happiness of those who sacrificed in the early years of marriage. Certainly we do not just wish to bring children in the world and turn them loose to go wild. We must rear them in righteousness. Generally, you will find that the people that come from the large families are generally the best trained and the most faithful.

Motherhood and fatherhood are primary.

Now, it is wise for every young woman to be grateful for her womanhood and her privilege to create, with her husband and the Eternal God as her partners. To be a mother, to be a wife of a good man -- what a great joy! While she is waiting for that holy, sacred hour, let her be happy and content to develop her mind and accumulate knowledge and prepare herself emotionally and spiritually for the happy times.

For the young man, his education is important, his mission vital; but his proper marriage and his proper life to be a righteous father and to properly provide for and give leadership to a family -- that is wonderful, a wonderful role in life to play.

Motherhood is a noble work.

Technology frees time for better child rearing.

Today's women, especially in the United States and some other countries, have ease, comfort, leisure, conveniences, and time, such as no other women in history have had.

What has she done with her new-found liberties and freedoms and opportunities and time? Has she perfected her own life? Is she more dutiful and faithful to her reduced home duties than was her great-grandmother with her multiplicity of arduous ones? Is today's woman a better wife to her husband? Is the modern, electrically driven home of today a happier haven of refuge than the four walls of the last centuries? Is she today a better, more congenial neighbor than yesterday's woman? Does she have more children now that she has more time, better facilities, and more help? Does she train her children better than her ancestors did? Does she herself have more faith and piety than the women of old? And does she better instill into her children the faith which will make gods of them?

God bless the women, the wonderful women of every time and age and place, who establish first in their lives their Lord, his work, and their families.

Women who are deliberately childless will regret it. I am not sorry for women who sacrifice their lives for children. I am not sorry for those women who have many children. But I am sorry ... for women who come to the Judgment Day who have never assumed the responsibility of rearing children, who have been afraid of pain, resistant to sacrifice. They are the ones whose hearts will be heavy. I know there are many women who could not have children -- God bless them!

Childbearing should not be delayed for convenience.

Not everyone can have children.

We realize, of course, there are some women who cannot have children, some men who cannot reproduce. The Lord will take care of all that if we have done everything in our power, if we have done what we could to make ourselves normal and productive and to follow the commandments of the Lord. (74-39)

Few couples need remain childless.

Men and women who have been unable to have children should build their faith. Many a barren woman like Sarah has had children through special blessings of the Lord. She was blessed in having a son -- a son to a barren woman.

Sometimes operations or adjustments or hormones may make parenthood possible. Frequently fears and frictions and tenseness are causes for barrenness and sterility. Such people should do everything in their power to put themselves in a position to have their babies. Adoption of parentless children brings joy to many hearts. Few, if any, parents need be childless through their years.

Mother's health should he considered.

In family life, men must and should be considerate of their wives, not only in the bearing of children, but in caring for them through childhood. The mother's health must be conserved, and the husband's consideration for his wife is his first duty, and self-control a dominant factor in all their relationships.

Sterilization as a medical measure is a serious personal responsibility. On ... sterilization or other surgery to prevent conception ... the Church has felt that it was the individual responsibility of the couple; and while the Church leaves it to the individual to determine whether the ill health of the mother is sufficient to warrant the surgery which would make pregnancy impossible, yet it is a definite personal responsibility. In your case, since the surgery has already been completed, it cannot be undone, so it must be accepted as a fact and life can go on. Both parents should give themselves totally and fully to the rearing of their six children which they now have in a loving home with ideal surroundings.

Sterilization to avoid the inconvenience of children is sinful.

The world can provide for growing population.

Many people, some of them innocently caught up in the whirlpool of delusion errors, are worrying about the earth failing to provide for the oncoming generations. They take such means to influence the thinking of the people and repeat it so often that many of us were gullible and accepted it. We tend to believe what the world says. We often do not even ask what the Lord's program is.