Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Jeffrey R. Holland and his wife on Marriage and Intimacy.

Today I went to a really fun institute class after an invite from my friend Jovan.

And thank goodness! The teacher shared a message from Jeffrey R. Holland and his wife Pat. One of my favorite apostles to listen to. I couldn't find the video online, but here is the text. It's definitely worth reading and gives a lot of insight on how to prepare ourselves to truly be and use sacred closeness with that one person we are to spend eternity with. I loved it!

This last topic is the most difficult of all, and probably the most important. I hope we can communicate our feelings about it. Much has been said to you during your dating years about the impropriety of intimacy before marriage. We have spoken on that here in this setting in earlier speeches. It is a message we hope you continue to hear often and one which we hope you honor with the integrity expected of a Latter-day Saint man or woman. But in these concluding moments we wish to say something about intimacy after marriage, an intimacy that goes far beyond the physical relationship a married couple enjoys. Such an issue seems to us to be at the very heart of the true meaning of marriage.
Pat: Marriage is the highest and holiest and most sacred of human relationships. And it is, because of that, the most intimate. When God brought Adam and Eve together before there was any death to separate them, he said, "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh" (Genesis 2:24). To reinforce the imagery of that unity, the scriptures indicate that God had figuratively taken a rib from Adam's side to make Eve, not from his front that she should lead him and not from his back that she should despise him, but from his side, under his arm, close to his heart. There, bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh, husband and wife were to be united in every way, side by side. They were to give themselves totally to each other, and to "cleave unto [each other] and none else" (D&C 42:22).
Jeff: To give ourselves so totally to another person is the most trusting and perhaps the most fateful step we take in life. It seems such a risk and such an act of faith. None of us walking toward the altar would seem to have the confidence to revealeverything that we are--all our hopes, all our fears, all our dreams, all our weaknesses--to another person. Safety and good sense and this world's experience suggest that we hang back a little, that we not wear our heart on our sleeve where it can so easily be hurt by one who knows so much about us. We fear, as Zechariah prophesied of Christ, that we will be "wounded in the house of [our] friends" (Zechariah 13:6).
But no marriage is really worth the name, at least not in the sense that God expects us to be married, if we do not fully invest all that we have and all that we are in this other person who has been bound to us through the power of the holy priesthood. Only when we are willing totally to share life does God find us worthy to give life. Paul's analogy for this complete commitment was that of Christ and the Church. Could Christ, even in his most vulnerable moments in Gethsemane or Calvary, hold back? In spite of what hurt might be in it, could he fail to give all that he was and all that he had for the salvation of his bride, his church, his followers--those who would take upon them his name even as in a marriage vow?
Pat: And by the same token, his church cannot be reluctant or apprehensive or doubtful in its commitment to him whose members we are. So, too, in a marriage. Christ and the Church, the groom and the bride, the man and the woman must insist on the most complete union. Every mortal marriage is to recreate the ideal marriage sought by Adam and Eve, by Jehovah and the children of Israel. With no hanging back, "cleaving unto none other," each fragile human spirit is left naked, as it were, in the custody of its marriage partner, even as our first parents were in that beautiful garden setting. Surely that is a risk. Certainly it is an act of faith. But the risk is central to the meaning of the marriage and the faith moves mountains and calms the turbulent sea.
Jeff: It would be worth our time with you today if we could impress upon you the sacred obligation a husband and wife have to each other when the fragility and vulnerability and delicacy of the partner's life is placed in the other's keeping. Pat and I have lived together for twenty-two years, as she said earlier--roughly the time that each of us had lived alone prior to the wedding day. I may not know everything about her, but I know twenty-two years' worth, and she knows that much of me. I know her likes and dislikes, and she knows mine. I know her tastes and interests and hopes and dreams, and she knows mine. As our love has grown and our relationship matured, we have been increasingly open with each other about all of that for twenty-two years now, and the result is that I know much more clearly how to help her and I know exactly how to hurt her. I may not know all the buttons to push, but I know most of them. And surely God will hold me accountable for any pain I cause her by intentionally pushing the hurtful ones when she has been so trusting of me. To toy with such a sacred trust--her body, her spirit, and her eternal future--and exploit those for my gain, even if only emotional gain, should disqualify me to be her husband and ought to consign my miserable soul to hell. To be that selfish would mean that I am a legal, live-in roommate who shares her company, but I am not her husband in any Christian sense of that word. I have not been as Christ is to the Church. We would not be bone of one bone, and flesh of one flesh.
Pat: God expects a marriage, not just a temple-sanctioned understanding or arrangement or live-in wage earner or housekeeper. Surely everyone within the sound of my voice understands the severe judgment that comes upon such casual commitments before marriage. Today I want you to know that I believe there is an even more severe judgment upon me aftermarriage if all I do is share Jeff's bed and his work and his money and, yes, even share his children. It is not marriage unless we literally share each other, the good times and the bad, the sickness and the health, the life and the death. It is not marriage unless I am there for him whenever he needs me.
Jeff: You can't be a good wife or a good husband or a good roommate or a good Christian just when you "feel well." A student once walked into the office of Harvard Dean LeBaron Russell Briggs and said he hadn't done his assignment because he hadn't felt well. Looking the student piercingly in the eye, Dean Briggs said, "Mr. Smith, I think in time you may perhaps find that most of the work in the world is done by people who aren't feeling very well" (quoted by Vaughn J. Featherstone, "Self-Denial," New Era, November 1977, p. 9). Of course, some days are going to be more difficult than others, but if you leave the escape hatch in the airplane open because you think even before takeoff you may want to bail out in midflight, then I can promise you it's going to be a pretty chilly trip less than fifteen minutes after leaving the ground. Close the door, strap on those seat belts, and give it full throttle. That's the only way to make a marriage fly.
Pat: Is it any wonder that we dress ourselves in white and go to the house of the Lord and kneel before God's administrators to pledge ourselves to each other with a confession of Christ's atonement? How else can we bring the strength of Christ to this union? How else can we bring his patience and his peace and his preparation? And above all, how else can we bring his permanence, his staying power? We must be bonded so tightly that nothing will separate us from the love of this man or this woman.
Jeff: In that regard we have that most reassuring of all final promises; that the power which binds us together in righteousness is greater than any force--any force--which might try to separate us. That is the power of covenant theology and the power of priesthood ordinances. That is the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

thanks Jovan for the invite! 


  1. That was a super great talk! Thanks so much for sharing! :)

  2. You're welcome dear! It really makes all the difference! :)