Deuteronomy 7: The consequences of the marriage decision

Deuteronomy 7 discusses the importance of making the right decisions with respect to marriage.  From the text we read:

Neither shalt thou make amarriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.  For they will aturn away thy son from following me, that they may bserve other gods: so will the canger of the Lord be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly.  (Deuteronomy 7:3-4)

The Lord is emphasizing here the importance of the marriage decision.  So much of our happiness rides on this choice and how we treat our companions after we have made this choice.  I love the often quoted saying by Presiden Monson, “you chose your love, now love your choice.”

Unfortunately for the Israelites, they do not listen to this counsel and slowly take on the stain of the Canaanites.  The underlying principle in this is that we take on the attributes of those we spend time with.  If we don’t like how we are turning out or where we are heading, perhaps we need to take a look at who we are spending our time with.  This includes the types of media we bring into our lives.  Show me the types of books, music and movies a young person brings into her life and I can tell you where she is heading.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie counseled:

“The most important single thing that any Latter-day Saint ever does in this world is to marry the right person, in the right place, by the right authority.”  (Agency or Inspiration? New Era, Jan. 1975, 38)

Certainly our lives turn on small hinges.  The story is told of a young couple who fell in love  and were married in the temple.  Over the course of their lives they had several children.  All of their boys served full time missions for the church and all of their children married in the temple as well.  After many years their grandchildren carried on the legacy of faith and were married in the temple.  Before they passed away they saw the fruits of their labor: their posterity had faith in Jesus Christ, were sealed in the temple, and had given many years of service in building the kingdom of God.  Their decision to marry right and then to keep their marriage covenants blessed countless lives.

The following illustration from Elder David B. Haight may be useful:

The Greatest Moment

When I was younger than most of you, growing up in a little town in Idaho, I thought the great moment of my life would be that I would be a successful baseball player for the New York Yankees. We would be in the World Series; the games would be three and three. Now, the seventh game–the deciding game–the ninth inning, score tied. And guess who would get up to bat? The pitcher would put the ball in just where I would like it, and I would knock it out of Yankee Stadium. The ball would become lost in the parking lot. I would be the hero of the World Series. I thought that would be the great moment of my life. But I want you to know that that isn’t so. Not that the World Series happened; however, I found the moment.

A few years ago I sat in a little white room in the Los Angeles Temple–a little, plain, simple room with no fancy adornments on the wall. My wife was there by my side. One son and his wife were there along with our daughter and her new husband. Our other son was kneeling at the altar holding the hand of the young lady he was about to marry. As I looked around the room, I thought, “David, you had your priorities out of order. Some athletic event or being the hero of some worldly event isn’t the great moment of your life.” I knew the great moment of my life was there, then, because all I had that was really important–remember, really important–was in that room. Some bishops and stake presidents somewhere had found all of my family worthy to be in that room. It is not the number of cars you own, or the number of white-faced cattle you might have in the hills, or the size of your bank account, but the eternal values that count. You remember the Lord said something about moth and rust getting through to our worldly possessions (see Matthew 6:20). I knew that the greatest moment in my life was having all of our family in that room in the Los Angeles Temple. Moments, reflection, blessings–these are the great moments of our lives. (Come, Listen to a Prophet’s Voice, Elder David B. Haight, fireside address, Brigham Young University, March 7, 1976.)

President Gordon B. Hinkley stated:

As I have said, you will wish to be married in one place and one place only. That is the house of the Lord. You cannot give to your companion a greater gift than that of marriage in God’s holy house, under the protective wing of the sealing covenant of eternal marriage. There is no adequate substitute for it. There should be no other way for you… You will know no greater happiness than that found in your home. You will have no more serious obligation than that which you face in your home. The truest mark of your success in life will be the quality of your marriage.  (Living worthy of the girl you will someday marry, Ensign, May 1998)

The youth love stories that illustrate ideas and principles.  When we think how seemingly small decisions can create major changes in our lives, it is sometimes difficult for them to see how their actions have lasting consequences.  This is in part due to the fact that they have not experienced the ramifications of their choices – they have not lived the history of their lives.  It is through history that we can see events unfold and understand how small actions (or in many cases inactions) create dynamic global change.

The following story helps to illustrate the idea that one event can affect millions of lives:

One chilly November afternoon in 1889, a fur-coated crowd assembled in Berlin’s Charlottenburg Race Course to enjoy a performance of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, which was touring Europe to great popular acclaim.  Among the audience was the Reich’s impetuous young ruler, Kaiser Wilhelm II, who had been on the throne for a year.  Wilhelm was particularly keen to see the show’s star attraction, Annie Oakley, famed throughout the world for her skills with a Colt .45.

On that day, as usual, Annie announced to the crowd that she would attempt to shoot the ashes from the cigar of some lady or gentleman in the audience.  “Who shall volunteer to hold the cigar?” she asked.  In fact, she expected no one from the crowd to volunteer; she had simply asked for laughs.  Her long-suffering husband, Frank Butler, always stepped forward and offered himself as her human Havana-holder.

This time, however, Annie had no sooner made her announcement then Kaiser Wilhelm himself leaped out of the royal box and strutted into the arena.  Annie was stunned and horrified but could not retract her dare without losing face.  She paced off her usual distance while Wilhelm extracted a cigar from a gold case and lit it with a flourish.  Several German policemen, suddenly realizing that this was not one of the kaiser’s little jokes, tried to preempt the stunt, but were waved off by His All-Highest Majesty.  Sweating profusely under her buckskin, and regretful that she had consumed more than her usual amount of whiskey the night before, Annie raised her Colt, took aim, and blew away Wilhelm’s ashes.

Had the sharpshooter from Cincinnati creased the kaiser’s head rather than his cigar, one of Europe’s most ambitious and volatile rulers would have been removed from the scene.  Germany might not have pursued its policy of aggressive Weltpolitik that culminated in war twenty-five years later.

Annie herself seemed to realize her mistake later on.  After World War I began, she wrote to the Kaiser asking for a second shot.  He did not respond.  (David Clay, The Collected What If? eminent historians imagine what might have been, edited by Robert Cowley, p. 290-291)

About LDS Scripture Teachings

I write about ways scripture applies in our lives:
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