Consecration in Marriage
Marriage provides wonderful and countless opportunities to practice consecration. What does consecration have to do with marriage? Pres. Benson has taught, “This law is that we consecrate our time, talents, strength, property, and money for the upbuilding of the kingdom of God on this earth and the establishment of Zion. Until one abides by the laws of obedience, sacrifice, the gospel and chastity, he cannot abide the law of consecration, which is the law pertaining to the celestial kingdom.” (Loc 2021). This sacred law is foreign to the “natural man.” But those who have experimented with the ways of the God and come to truly know Him realize that the “more they turn their lives over to God, the better their lives become.”(Loc 2029). Elder Maxwell said this about the irony of consecration, “Consecration is the only surrender which is also a victory. It brings release from the raucous, overpopulated cell block of selfishness and emancipation from the dark prison of pride.” (loc 2029) In marriage we cannot have all that God offers us in the way of joy and peace until we bring our all to the altar and are willing to consecrate all things for the building up of Zion in our own homes. This is where Zion is built, one heart and one home at a time. “This ultimate sacrifice is combined with obedience and informed by the gospel of Jesus Christ to provide an appropriate sacrifice.” (loc 2130). This means that we are willing to sacrifice our whole souls in order to know the godliness in our partners and to sanctify our relationships. In this process we also come to know God.
We will experience great struggles in marriage even hurt, betrayals, insults, judgements, disappointments, broken trust, lack of appreciation, etc. but at these critical junctures – “consecration invites us to put everything we have on the altar – to hold nothing back. We are willing to minister to a mixed-up spouse. We are willing to love a failing partner.” Of course no partner should have to tolerate physical violence but “every married person must accept abundant limitations if they hope to have a strong relationship. Then consecration moves us from acceptance to using our spiritual power to rescue our imperfect partners.” (Loc 2157) I had never before considered the significance of my own spiritual power in helping to rescue another person but as I ponder this concept I realize there are many stories in the scriptures that are evidence of this truth. I think of Alma the younger and his mighty change of heart because of the faith his father had and the prayers he offered in his behalf. I think of Helaman’s warriors who were strengthened and protected because of the spiritual power of their mothers. I think of the faith and spiritual power of great missionaries like Ammon and Alma and Amulek and the sons of Mosiah who helped to convert thousands who were lost and fallen. I think of the Savior and the greatest sacrifice for all mankind. Ultimately we are all saved because of His spiritual power. But if our own spiritual power leads people to Him then we have aided in their rescue. We can do this in our own homes, in our marriages. This is a powerful truth and helps me see my covenant in marriage very differently.
Consecration is much more than just “staying together.” It is deliberate actions which have the purpose of redeeming our partners and our covenants. It is realizing the true significance of the covenants we make in marriage. “There is nothing in God’s work [we] will ever do that will be more important than blessing [our] covenant partner (loc 2164). Here is yet another irony. “Those who will bear whatever is necessary in order to honor their covenants will be made glorious. They will experience eternal joy. They are, after all, those who have honored eternal things above temporal things” (loc 2186). We can choose to look past the unmet expectations and the disappointments and we can choose to appreciate all that our spouse does offer. We can choose to “give gladly and receive graciously” with our whole hearts (loc 2201). “Rather than wondering if [our] marriage is a good investment that will pay us a handsome return, we ask for heavenly grace that we may love and serve as Jesus served – without though of reward. While there are destructive relationships that should end, the vast majority of relationships can survive and flourish is each of us brings our whole soul as an offering” (Loc 2262).