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Facing Mortality as Adults: Marriage, Children, and the Temple

Audio: "Facing Mortality as Adults: Marriage, Children, and the Temple"
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We are so grateful to be with you this evening. We love President and Sister Meredith. Sister Meredith grew up in our stake in Florida. She was, as my wife Kathy says, “As sweet then as she is now.” You are so blessed to have them called by the First Presidency to lead you at this critical crossroad of time in your life. Watch President and Sister Meredith and learn from them. Observe their faith in God, their eternal marriage, and their family. Their love for each other and the Lord will be an example for you throughout your lives even after you have completed your time at BYU-Idaho.

I begin by asking you this question, What were the reasons you chose to attend BYU-Idaho?

There could be many great responses such as a high-quality education that is relatively affordable, your parents strongly encouraged you, or you grew up in Rexburg three blocks from campus.

However, interestingly, in research conducted by President and Sister Meredith, there is one reason that towers above all the others: It is the spiritual atmosphere and the blessing of being together with others who believe as you do, and it is a caring faculty that supports your beliefs.

Here are two comments from students talking about why they are here:

“Day One in my anatomy class, I sat down scared to death, and [the professor] says, ‘I want to tell you about the Spirit.’ I’m sitting there thinking ‘I’m about to learn about the human body and you’re talking about Heavenly Father helping us. This is amazing.’”

Here’s another:

“I walked around campus and my sister said, ‘You feel it?’ And I was like, ‘It feels like you’re at the temple.’”

BYU-Idaho is no ordinary university, and BYU-Idaho students are no ordinary university students. You are impressive and I love you.

For those of us here tonight, the gospel of Jesus Christ unites us and gives us insight into who we are, why we are here on earth, the role of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and His sacred atonement.

We believe Him when He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” [1]

We are not afraid to be different. Jesus said of His disciples, “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” [2]

We are sons and daughters of God, here on earth to grow our faith in our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ, and to learn, by our experiences, to follow Them and to choose good over evil.

The culture and trends of our modern world can present a perspective that, while inviting, is not eternally correct.

Let me show you and example of what I mean. Look at this image. What do you see? It appears that we are looking down three hallways. At the end of the hallways are three paintings. If we look from a different perspective, we realize it is not as it appears. There actually are no hallways. Rather, we are seeing three-dimensional art that comes out from the wall, not moving into the wall. Here is the actual object you saw. You and I seek a perspective of truth.

Think of this definition of truth found in the Book of Mormon. “The Spirit speaketh the truth and lieth not. Wherefore, it speaketh of things as they really are, and of things as they really will be.”[3] And this definition from the Doctrine and Covenants, “Truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come.” [4]

Think of the vastness of the world in which we live. Think of the differing cultures, the differing economic and political situations, the wide range of challenges throughout this very large world. How are we to know things as they really are and things as they really will be?

Think of the differences between our world and past centuries. We live in a world quite different from 100 or 200 years ago. Yet, the purposes of mortality and the plan of salvation are exactly the same, and as true in our century as they were hundreds of years ago. The eternal truths that apply to every culture upon the earth, every world condition, in every situation, in every century from the beginning of time, are found in the words of Jesus Christ, the writings of sacred scripture, the messages of the prophets, the confirmation of the Spirit, and in the powerful teachings in the holy temple.

Today, I will speak about specific, eternal, timeless, never-changing truths from God about marriage and children—truths that we learn in the house of the Lord.

Do you have a temple not too far away? Oh, yes you do. I googled the temple location from where we are now. It is one mile away. If we go by car, it takes two minutes. If you have a bicycle, it requires 10 minutes. If you need to walk at a regular pace, it will take you 22 minutes. How many here have been in the Rexburg Idaho Temple for either baptisms or other ordinances?

Listen to what President Nelson said about the temple in this past general conference:

Understanding the spiritual privileges made possible in the temple is vital to each of us today.

My dear brothers and sisters, here is my promise. Nothing will help you more to hold fast to the iron rod than worshipping in the temple as regularly as your circumstances permit. Nothing will protect you more as you encounter the world’s mists of darkness. Nothing will bolster your testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ and His Atonement or help you understand God’s magnificent plan more. Nothing will soothe your spirit more during times of pain. Nothing will open the heavens more. Nothing!

The temple is the gateway to the greatest blessings God has in store for each of us. [5]

In our day, can you see why the Lord is directing His prophet to build temples across the earth? Not just in Rexburg, but in Bangkok, Edinburgh, Manila, Maracaibo, and Ulaanbaatar. The righteous people of the earth need the house of the Lord.

Now, I turn my attention to the teachings of the Lord, in His holy house, on the subjects of marriage and children.

When we compare my generation with yours, specifically in the United States, fewer people are marrying; those who do marry are marrying later; and married couples are having fewer children; and those children are being born later. [6]

Who and when to marry, and, after you are married, the decision of when and how many children to bring into the world, are very personal decisions, decided by a man and a woman who love each other, in prayerful consideration with our Heavenly Father.

I hope to speak about this subject very sensitively, fully realizing that not all will marry or have the opportunity to marry in this life. Also, not all who marry will be able to have children. My desire today is to teach you true and eternal principles; while acknowledging, with all my love and compassion for you, that your individual circumstances may require thoughtful adjustments.

I will use scriptures and authorized wording concerning the sacred principles that are taught in the temple. Let’s begin.

The house of the Lord teaches us how to best follow Jesus Christ and how to prepare ourselves to live eternally with our Heavenly Father. The teaching is directed principally to adults. The endowment comes to us as we are entering adulthood, leaving our childhood and adolescence behind.

Let me share my definition of an adult. If you have been endowed in the temple, if you have served a mission, or if you are of the age to have returned from a mission, you are an adult. We sometimes refer to you as young adults. I am an old adult; you are a young adult. We are both adults. This teaching is directed to you and to me.

“During the ordinance [of the endowment in the temple], events that are part of the plan of salvation are presented. They include the Creation of the world, the Fall of Adam and Eve, [and] the Atonement of Jesus Christ.” [7] In the creation, we learn of our identity as sons and daughters of God. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” [8] As children of God, we have the divine potential to become more like our heavenly parents and inherit eternal life: the life God leads. The gift of eternal life is not only to live with God, but to grow to live more like God. [9]

One of the first things we learn from the example of Adam and Eve in the House of the Lord is God’s command to them to advance together as adults into their mortality. “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, [or a woman shall leave her father and her mother] […] and they shall be one flesh.” [10]

This pattern was set for us. The Apostle Paul taught, “Neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.” [11]

As Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden, they entered mortality together as adults. The Lord declared that “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread.” [12] They were instructed to “till the ground,” [13] and then came those sobering words, “for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” [14] Adam and Eve, a precious son and daughter of God, were now face-to-face with their mortality.

Adam and Eve did not shrink from the challenge before them. The scripture reads, “Adam began to till the earth, and to have dominion over all the beasts of the field, and to eat his bread by the sweat of his brow […] And Eve, also, his wife, did labor with him.” [15] Together, they confronted the challenges of their lives.

How do these teachings from the scriptures and the temple apply to your life today? Statistics here in the United States show that those of your age are waiting longer to marry and start families. This statistic doesn’t apply to you but is worth thinking about: “More Americans 18-34 are living with their parents (over 32 percent) than with a spouse or partner.” [16]

A distinguished US Senator with a PhD from Yale gave this opinion: “I believe our entire nation is in the midst of a collective coming-of-age crises without parallel in our history. We are living in an America of perpetual adolescence. Our kids simply don’t know what an adult is anymore—or how to become one.” [17]

I would respond that you, the students at BYU-Idaho, have moved past adolescence. You have accepted the responsibilities of adulthood with faith and courage.

The decision to enter the temple for your own endowment and to make sacred covenants is a distinct marker, a transition, a passage in your life, that affirms your desire and willingness to God that you consciously take the step to move into spiritual adulthood. If you have served a mission, leaving family and friends for two years or eighteen months to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others, the evidence of your maturity is unmistakable.

In our ever-changing world, the temple endowment and ordinances help us have a perspective that is timeless and eternal. As you participate in an endowment, as you are a participant or an observer in a sealing, think about what you learn from an eternal perspective about marriage and children.

With the varying views that exist in our day, the temple endowment allows us to clearly see God’s plan for His sons and daughters. When I received my own endowment more than 50 years ago, I wondered why the temple ceremony would include the teachings about the creation and the fall of Adam and Eve. Through time, as the world has increasingly become more secular, it has become even more significant to me to listen and hear the words of God concerning these important teachings. Each time I participate in the endowment, I am fortified in my faith, distanced from the philosophies of men, and I feel an added protection from “the world’s mists of darkness.” [18]

One teaching is clear: if we have the opportunity, we are to travel through our adult mortality with an eternal companion. Once we are adults, we should not avoid or delay this most important step in our progression.

Here is the counsel of the Lord’s prophet: President Nelson said, “If it were possible for me to speak one-on-one with every young adult, I would plead with you to seek a companion with whom you can be sealed in the temple. You may wonder what difference this will make in your life. I promise it will make all the difference! As you marry in the temple and return repeatedly, you will be strengthened and guided in your decisions.” [19]

Think of his words: “I plead with you.” “Seek a [worthy] companion.” “It will make all the difference!” “You will be strengthened and guided.”

Almost 20 years ago, President Dallin H. Oaks gave a powerful message to a worldwide audience of young adults. I have admired and learned from President Oaks for more than 50 years, beginning when I was a student, and he was president of BYU. He is a prophet of God, a man of wisdom and kindness, with uncompromising love for God and for all of God’s children. His counsel is worthy of our full attention. President Oaks counseled:

Men […] Gather your courage, and look for someone to pair off with. Start with a variety of dates with a variety of young women, and when that phase yields a good prospect, proceed to courtship. It’s marriage time. That is what the Lord intends for His [young adult sons] and daughters. […]

And, young women, please make it easier for these shy males to ask for a simple, inexpensive date. Part of making it easier is to avoid implying that a date is something very serious. If [we are] to persuade young men to ask for dates more frequently, we must establish a mutual expectation that to go on a date is not to imply a continuing commitment. Finally, young women, if you turn down a date, be kind. Otherwise, you may crush a nervous and shy questioner and destroy him as a potential dater, and that could hurt some other sister. [20]

Let me add a thought for the sisters. In the 19 years since Elder Oaks gave this important message, it seems to me that it has, in some cultures, including the United States, become more acceptable for young women to take a little more initiative in meeting worthy young men. Fifty years ago, my wife, Kathy, sweetly influenced the initiation of a first date with me, for which I deeply love her and am eternally grateful. That first date led to our marriage a year later.

Look carefully at qualities you might see in young men at Church or in other settings. If you meet someone with a strong faith in Jesus Christ, a love for the covenants of the temple, and who seems kind and unselfish, consider stepping forward and inviting him to lunch with you or asking him if he would like to study with you in the library. Not every invitation will flourish but be willing to be engaged in developing friendships.

For both young men and young women: Don’t be afraid of moving forward when the time is right. Brother Jason Carroll from BYU spoke here two months ago on the subject of “A True Temple Marriage.” He taught, “Many people today are becoming concerned that marriage is fragile and unpredictable.” [21] He then described a true temple marriage by quoting Elder David A. Bednar: “A fulfilling and happy marriage is not found; rather, it is created by a covenant-keeping man and woman. […] it begins with you as you act and press forward with faith in the Savior, continually seek for heavenly help, and righteously exercise your moral agency. You can do it with the Lord’s help.” [22]

I give you that same promise: “You can do it with the Lord’s help.” [23] Go forward with faith.

Finally, returning to the message by President Oaks, here is very tender counsel especially for young women: “You may never have the opportunity for a suitable marriage in this life. […] Prepare yourself for life, even a single life by education, experience, and planning. Don’t wait for happiness to be thrust upon you. Seek it out in service and learning. […] Trust in the Lord. Your dedication of a lifetime should follow King Benjamin’s advice to be ‘calling on the name of the Lord daily, and standing steadfastly in the faith of that which is to come.’ [24]” [25]

Let me add the importance of education. In our family, it was as important that our two daughters graduated from the university as it was that our two sons graduated. “Education,” President Nelson has said, “is a religious responsibility." [26] You young women need understanding and skills, as do the young men. Prayer, thoughtful planning, and hard work will be needed to prepare for your life, and education is important for each of us.

For those who are married and those who will marry, I now turn to the subject of children.

Each time we participate in an endowment session or a sealing in the temple, we are reminded of the words in the family proclamation: “The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.” [27]

“When to have a child and how many children to have are private decisions to be made between a husband and wife and the Lord. These are sacred decisions—decisions that should be made with sincere prayer and acted on with great faith.” [28]

Sometimes as you look at your financial situation, you may wonder how you would ever have the resources while you are at the university to begin your family. A few years ago, as President of the Church, President Thomas S. Monson gave some important counsel. He said, “If you are concerned about providing financially for a wife and family, may I assure you that there is no shame in a couple having to scrimp and save. It is generally during these challenging times that you will grow closer together as you learn to sacrifice and to make difficult decisions.” [29]

“It was not in the Garden of Eden that Adam and Eve bore their first child. Leaving the garden, ‘Adam [and Eve] began to till the earth. … Adam knew his wife, and she [bore] … sons and daughters, and [acting in faith] they began to multiply and to replenish the earth.’ [30]” [31]

President Nelson said, “Nothing will help you more to hold fast to the iron rod than worshipping in the temple as regularly as your circumstances permit.” [32]

Inside the house of the Lord, we not only learn from the words that are spoken, but in this pure and holy edifice, revelation from heaven distills upon our souls.

Recently, a woman told me of an experience that she had as she was completing an endowment session. She said that as many times as she had been to the temple before and repeated the words given her at the end of the endowment, this time as she spoke, the words pierced her heart, and she realized those promises would be hers and those she loved. Whether in this life single or married, childless or with children, the promises of God were unequivocally sure, and she would, in a future day, realize each one of the blessings she righteously hoped and prayed for, for herself and for those she loved. These thoughts were impressed upon her heart in a new and enlightened way. Her sadness and sorrow and suffering were, in that moment before entering the celestial room, replaced with a bright hope for her future and faith in God’s eternal promises.

President Nelson said, “The temple is the gateway to the great blessings God has in store for each of us. […] Nothing,” he said, “will soothe your spirit more during times of pain. Nothing will open the heavens more. Nothing!” [33]

As you are considering these important questions of marriage and children, spend time in the house of the Lord. Go with a prayer and the concerns or questions you have in your heart. Answers will come and the heavens will open.

If you have a bicycle, the temple is only 10 minutes away.

Would you allow me to be a grandfather for a moment?

Here is a photo of my grandson, Michael. He served his mission during the COVID period, 2019–2021, first in Botswana, Africa; then in Austin, Texas; completing his mission in June 2021, in Botswana.

During his first semester back while studying at BYU, Michael met Jessie, a wonderful, returned missionary in his BYU ward. Jessie served her mission in Sydney, Australia, and Toronto, Canada, during COVID. Michael and Jessie fell in love and were married in the Bountiful Utah Temple less than a year after they first met in August 2022.

Michael had only completed one year at the university. Jessie had completed two years.

They are a beautiful couple, and both have worked to pay for their schooling and living expenses.

In the Spring of 2023, we were so happy to learn that they were expecting a baby. At the time of the baby’s birth, Jessie would be in her senior year. Michael in his junior year.

Michael and Jessie were both in school and both working when sweet Camille was born this past November.

A month ago, Kathy and I were privileged to attend Jessie’s graduation from BYU. Michael was a very proud husband.

I asked Michael and Jessie to comment on their experience. First a couple of humorous reflections, then more serious feelings.

I asked them how Camille had changed their lives. Here is their response: “Before Camille, we had date night every week. Now, with Camille, we make laundry our date night. Before Camille, we had a schedule. Now, with Camille, we are on her schedule. Before Camille, diapers were disgusting. Now, with Camille, diapers are a lifesaver.”

Now, some thoughtful expressions:

From Michael:

The time we first felt we should have a baby was while we were in the temple. At the time, I was drowning in homework, preparing my business program application, all while trying to balance my family life. When the impression came, I was taken off-guard.

I’ve learned that God’s vision is fixed on eternity, and that is where He is guiding us. I have been magnified to be able to do the other things I need to do. I have also found that some things in my life weren’t as crucial as I thought.

Now, from Jessie:

From our sealing we were reminded to keep our covenants even, or especially, when inconvenient or seemingly too difficult.

In our prayers [in the temple] to know God’s will for our family, we received our own confirmation, that although it would not be easy, it would be what’s best for us.

It wasn’t easy to have a baby while still in school and working. I recall many moments I would rely on the words of a favorite hymn. ‘Courage! For the Lord is on your side.’ ‘An unseen power will aid me and you.’

God has shown us time and time again that He will never leave us alone when we choose to follow Him and keep His commandments. He has made our lives filled with more joy than we ever could have imagined.

My dear young friends, look to your future with faith and hope. Especially, center your life in your faith in Jesus Christ, and in the ordinances, covenants, and teachings of His holy house. See yourself for who you really are. Pray and prepare yourself and envision an eternal companion with you. Anticipate your family and posterity who will bring you unspeakable joy in the eternities ahead.

I love you very much. I admire you for the lives you are living. I thank you, as a servant of the Lord, for your faith in Jesus Christ and your determination to follow Him.

In this most important time of your life, I witness that the teachings we receive in the house of the Lord and the promises we make there are eternal, timeless, and forever true.

As an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, I bless you that as you worship in the house of the Lord, you will better understand the important choices and decisions before you. You will feel more deeply the Lord’s love for you and see more clearly His plan for your happiness. I bless you to be able to reach out to those around you with love and courage and find joy in your increasing friendships. I know Jesus Christ lives. He is our Savior and Redeemer. He loves you. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


[1] John 14:6.

[2] John 17:16.

[3] Jacob 4:13.

[4] Doctrine and Covenants 93:24.

[5] Russell M. Nelson, “Rejoice in the Gift of Priesthood Keys,” Liahona, May 2024, 119.

[6] See Greg Ip and Janey Adamy. “Suddenly There Aren’t Enough Babies. The Whole World Is Alarmed,” Wall Street Journal, May 13, 2024; see also, Ben Sasse, The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance (New York: St. Martin's Publishing Group, 2018), 41; and Brad Wilcox, Get Married: Why Americans Must Defy the Elites, Forge Strong Families, and Save Civilization, (2024), 8.

[7] “About the Temple Endowment,” Temples,

[8] Genesis 1:27.

[9] See Moses 1:39; see also Doctrine and Covenants 132:19–24.

[10] Moses 3:24; see also Genesis 2:24.

[11] 1 Corinthians 11:11.

[12] Genesis 3:19.

[13] Genesis 3:23.

[14] Genesis 3:19.

[15] Moses 5:1.

[16] Ben Sasse, The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance (New York: St. Martin's Publishing Group, 2018), 41.

[17] Ben Sasse, The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self- Reliance (New York: St. Martin's Publishing Group, 2018), 2.

[18] Russell M. Nelson, “Rejoice in the Gift of Priesthood Keys,” Liahona, May 2024, 119.

[19] Russell M. Nelson, “The Temple and Your Spiritual Foundation, Liahona, November 2021, 95.

[20] Dallin H. Oaks, “The Dedication of a Lifetime,” CES Fireside for Young Adults, May 1, 2005.

[21] Jason S. Carroll, “A True Temple Marriage,” BYU-Idaho Speeches, March 19, 2024,

[22] David A. Bednar with Susan K. Bednar, “A Welding Link,” Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults, Sept. 10, 2017,

[23] David A. Bednar with Susan K. Bednar, “A Welding Link,” Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults, Sept. 10, 2017,

[24] Mosiah 4:11.

[25] Dallin H. Oaks, “The Dedication of a Lifetime,” CES Fireside for Young Adults, May 1, 2005.

[26] Russell M. Nelson, “Education: A Religious Responsibility,” BYU-Idaho Speeches, Jan. 26, 2010,

[27] “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Gospel Library.

[28] Neil L. Andersen, “Children,” Ensign or Liahona, November 2011.

[29] Thomas S. Monson, “Priesthood Power,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2011.

[30] Moses 5:1, 2.

[31] Neil L. Andersen, “Children,” Ensign or Liahona, November 2011.

[32] Russell M. Nelson, “Rejoice in the Gift of Priesthood Keys,” Liahona, May 2024, 119.

[33] Russell M. Nelson, “Rejoice in the Gift of Priesthood Keys,” Liahona, May 2024, 119.