The phrase covenant path refers to the series of covenants through which we come unto Christ and connect to Him and our Heavenly Father. The connection is unique because we choose to be united to Them by covenant and They with us. God intended for covenants to be a critical part of our lives. The covenants God established were not whimsical or capricious but were based on eternal, unchanging law. He knew that there was only one way to return to Him and He designated it as the covenant path.
The covenants God specifies are non-negotiable, and transform, save, and exalt us. We make these covenants by participating in priesthood ordinances and promising to do what God asks us to do. In return, God guarantees us certain blessings. A covenant is a pledge that we should prepare for, clearly understand, and absolutely honor. We make a covenant only when we intend to commit ourselves quite exceptionally to fulfilling it.
For everyone, the covenant path starts with the covenant of baptism, followed by the covenants in the temple endowment, which encompasses five covenants. These five covenants, however, are not separable—you cannot choose to make a subset of the five; you make all five or none. The final covenant we make with God in the temple is the one that is made when a man and a woman are sealed together in the new and everlasting covenant of marriage.
We may ask, “Why are multiple covenants needed?” It is because the multiple covenants are not only sequential but also additive and even synergistic in our relationship with God. Each covenant adds a bond, drawing us closer to and strengthening our connection to God.
To explore the sequential and synergistic nature of covenantal bonds, let us consider two examples from the physical world: first, forming chemical bonds between elements, and second, the effect of risk factors in predicting negative outcomes. This will take all of us into beginning chemistry and statistics courses. Some of us will experience a sense of nostalgia, and others of us will develop—or redevelop—hives.
In beginning chemistry, we learn that elements interact based on the way their outermost shell of electrons is constituted. This determines, for instance, whether an element is likely to make single, double, or triple bonds, or no bond at all.
Shown are depictions of two fluorine atoms with F being their symbol. Each fluorine atom seeks to make one bond. To achieve this, two atoms share one pair of electrons, creating an F2 molecule with a single bond between them.
Two oxygen atoms are depicted using the symbol O. Each oxygen atom seeks to make two bonds. To achieve this, two atoms share two pairs of electrons, creating an O2 molecule with a double bond between them.
Now look at two nitrogen atoms depicted using the symbol N. Each nitrogen atom seeks to make three bonds. To achieve this, two atoms share three pairs of electrons, creating an N2 molecule with a triple bond between them.
This slide illustrates the single bond length of F2. The bond length, or the distance between the fluorine atoms, is 1.44.
This slide shows the double bond length for O2. The distance between the oxygen atoms is 1.16, shorter than that for F2.
And this slide shows the triple bond length for N2. The distance between the nitrogen atoms is 1.09, even shorter than that for O2. As the number of bonds increases from single to triple, the bond length shortens. This means that the two atoms are closer to each other. The two nitrogen atoms are 25 percent closer than the fluorine atoms, and the oxygen atoms, with a double bond, are intermediate in bond length compared to the other two.
Shown are the bond strengths of these elements when they are in gas form. The bond strength is the amount of energy necessary to break the bonds in a specified amount of gas. As the number of bonds increases from single to triple, the strength of the bond between the two atoms increases. It takes three times more energy to break the double bond of an O2 molecule than the single bond of an F2 molecule. It takes six times more energy to break the triple bond of an N2 molecule than the single bond of an F2 molecule.
F2 with a single bond is highly reactive with other elements and compounds. Stated differently, the fluorine atoms in F2 easily break their bond. On the other hand, N2 is very unreactive compared with fluorine gas. O2 is moderately reactive, intermediate between F2 and N2. In other words, the risk is low that N2 will break its bonds. The risk is greater that O2 will break its bonds and greater yet with F2.
Now let’s move to statistics class. Talking about risk obviously involves a discussion of probability. To avoid discussing probability and risk in the abstract, let me discuss risk factors in the context of heart disease. Sometimes knowing that you have a risk factor helps you to either modify or mitigate the risk in some way.
Risk factors for having a heart attack include being male, growing older, tobacco use, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, high blood sugar, and a family history of heart attacks.
Shown in yellow are the risk factors that I cannot do anything about. I am male; I am not going to do anything about that. I am 70 years old, and I am growing older; I cannot do anything about that, and I do not like the alternative. My father had a heart attack at age 77; I cannot choose healthier parents. However, if I am wise, I control the things that I can control to minimize my risk of having a heart attack; I do not smoke, I monitor my blood pressure, I treat my high cholesterol, I try to maintain my ideal body weight, and I monitor my blood sugar as directed by a physician.
Risk factors are not determinative, though. Even a person with multiple cardiovascular risk factors can mitigate the risk by taking appropriate measures. I am in better cardiovascular health than some who have fewer risk factors than I because I have done what I can to mitigate those risk factors. And there are those who have better cardiovascular health than I have even though they have more risk factors.
Even those with no risk factors for a heart attack have heart attacks. In fact, the known risk factors account for only approximately 50 percent of heart attacks. Not having a risk factor does not mean we are safe; it simply means we are safer than we otherwise would be.
Now that we have briefly reviewed chemical bonds and risk factors, let us get back to the effect that making multiple covenants can have.
When we make the first covenant, baptism, we form a bond with God. But we may, nonetheless, be prone to wander, prone to leave the God we love and break that bond. When we make two covenants, baptism and the endowment (grouping the five covenants in the endowment as one for simplicity), we may be less prone to wander. And when we make three covenants, adding sealing to a spouse, we may further decrease our propensity to wander to leave the God we love. Making multiple covenants along the covenant path helps us mature in our discipleship.
In May 2022, President Russell M. Nelson suggested that we deepen our relationship with God when we make multiple covenants. He said, “God has a special love for each person who makes a covenant with Him in the waters of baptism. And that divine love deepens as additional covenants are made and faithfully kept.” The deepening of divine love means that we develop a stronger and closer connection to God through those multiple covenants.
Making and keeping multiple covenants does not mean that we face fewer challenges in life. But it does mean that when we confront these challenges, there is a decreased likelihood of distancing ourselves from God. President Nelson concluded his statement by promising, “Then at the end of mortal life, precious is the reunion of each covenant child with our Heavenly Father.”
Baptism is the first covenant that everyone makes on the covenant path. The baptismal covenant is a public witness to Heavenly Father of three specific commitments: to serve God, to keep His commandments, and to be willing to take upon us the name of Jesus Christ. The other facets that are frequently mentioned—that we bear one another’s burdens, mourn with those that mourn, and comfort those that are in need of comfort—are fruits of making the covenant rather than part of the actual covenant. These facets are important because they are what a converted soul would naturally do.
The next covenant that everyone makes on the covenant path is the endowment. As previously mentioned, the endowment consists of five inseparable covenants. As I review each, as outlined in the General Handbook available in the Gospel Library app, see how they align with and reinforce aspects of the baptismal covenant.
In the endowment, we first covenant to live the law of obedience. This means that we strive to keep Heavenly Father’s commandments. It aligns squarely under the baptismal covenant promise to keep God’s commandments.
Second, we covenant to obey the law of sacrifice. This means sacrificing to support the Lord’s work, and to repent with a broken heart and contrite spirit. The law of sacrifice aligns with the baptismal promises to serve God—to keep His commandments. Additionally, sacrifice and repentance are key aspects of taking on the name of Jesus Christ.
Third, in the endowment, we covenant to obey the law of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We do this, in part, by living the doctrine of Christ, which is central to the purpose of life. This includes making covenants with God by receiving the ordinances of salvation and exaltation and keeping those covenants throughout our lives. Obeying the law of the gospel of Jesus Christ also includes striving to live the two great commandments, to love God and neighbor.
The commitments associated with living the law of the gospel of Jesus Christ align with all three aspects of the baptismal covenant: to serve God, to keep His commandments, and to be willing to take upon us the name of Jesus Christ.
Fourth, in the endowment, we covenant to keep God’s law of chastity. This means abstaining from sexual relations outside of a legal marriage between a man and a woman. Marriage was intended by God “to mean the complete merger of a man and a woman—their hearts, hopes, lives, love, family, future, everything . . . to be ‘one flesh’ in their life together.” We cannot achieve the kind of life our Heavenly Father enjoys without a complete commitment to fidelity within a marriage to our husband or wife according to God’s plan. The law of chastity aligns with the aspect of the baptismal covenant to keep God’s commandments.
Fifth, we covenant to keep the law of consecration. This means that we dedicate ourselves and everything the Lord blesses us with to build up His Church. This covenant is important because the keys of the Holy Priesthood were restored so that priesthood ordinances can be performed, allowing us to make covenants with God. It is only through the Church that this can be done for God’s children on both sides of the veil. Keeping this covenant pledges our support to God’s work. The covenant to live the law of consecration clearly aligns with the aspect of the baptismal covenant to serve God. Additionally, consecration is a covenant that we will permanently maintain a mightily changed heart and strive to have Christ’s image in our countenance. This aligns, therefore, with taking on ourselves the name of Christ.
Now the stage is set for the final covenant, the sealing ordinance wherein God seeks to bless us with all that He can, all that He has.
In the sealing of a woman and a man together, they receive promises, they make a covenant with each other, and they make a covenant with God. To review the promises, let us go back thousands of years. Abraham received the gospel and entered into celestial marriage. Celestial marriage is the covenant of exaltation. Abraham received a promise that all the blessings of his covenants would be offered to his mortal posterity. Everyone who develops faith in Jesus Christ and embarks on the covenant path becomes “Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
When a man and a woman are sealed to each other, they are promised these blessings, just as Abraham was. The blessings are glorious: they will “come forth in the first resurrection . . . inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions . . . and they shall pass by the angels . . . to their exaltation and glory in all things . . . which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever.” Becoming like the Savior leads to exaltation, which is the highest state of happiness and glory in the celestial kingdom.
In thinking about the sealing of a husband and wife, this African proverb comes to mind: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” God intends for us to go far—into and throughout eternity—together. During the sealing, a woman makes a covenant with her husband and a man makes a covenant with his wife. The tasks of mortality become joint. Husband and wife both enter an order of the priesthood that neither could enter singly and that is necessary to enter the highest degree of the celestial kingdom. They serve each other and their children and thereby serve God. As a man and a woman are sealed, they covenant with God to keep all the commandments related to marriage in the new and everlasting covenant. This sealing covenant with God aligns with all three aspects of the baptismal covenant.
As we look at the elements of the endowment and the sealing, we see that they align with and reinforce all aspects of the baptismal covenant to serve God, to keep His commandments, and to be willing to take on the name of Jesus Christ. As we would expect, the aspects of the baptismal covenant and the elements of the endowment are all overlapping and mutually reinforcing.
Covenantal bonds are not forced or compelled even after we choose to make them. Agency remains operative. Being bound to the Savior does not mean we are enslaved, coerced, shackled, or under compulsion. We are free to break our covenants and altogether turn from them, but the consequences are dire.
In the covalent bond between two atoms, the bond occurs because the atoms share a pair of electrons. In a similar way, when we make a covenantal bond with God, we share a covenant with Him. We experience and participate together in the covenant.
This is also true for a woman and a man when they are sealed; they make a covenant with each other. I believe it is misleading to think that one is bound to the other for eternity; rather, they share and experience the covenant together. Agency is an overriding component of eternal marriage. As President Dallin H. Oaks said in general conference, “We also know that [God] will force no one into a sealing relationship against his or her will. The blessings of a sealed relationship are assured for all who keep their covenants but never by forcing a sealed relationship on another person who is unworthy or unwilling.” No one will be forced to live in a marriage they do not choose or accept. For instance, after this life, if a woman no longer desires to be with her husband, she will not be forced to be with him.
Like multiple chemical bonds, multiple covenants draw us closer to God and strengthen our connection to Him. The purpose of these bonds is to help us become more converted, faithful, and committed disciples of Jesus Christ. My personal experience suggests that, over time, the adults who have been baptized, endowed, and sealed to a spouse are the most likely to continue to maintain and deepen their discipleship along the covenant path. Less likely to do so are the adults who have been baptized and endowed but are not sealed to a spouse. Least likely to maintain and deepen their discipleship over time are the adults who have been baptized but are not endowed.
We can consider that not being endowed is a risk factor for weakening discipleship to the Savior over time. Similarly, not being sealed to a spouse is a risk factor for weakening discipleship for someone who is endowed. Please remember, though, that risk factors are not determinative. You and I know individuals who have not been endowed who are remarkably faithful disciples of Christ, and we know those who have been sealed to a spouse who are not. Faithfulness is an individual choice about how we live the covenants we have made.
However, as an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, I have some invitations for each of you. My invitation for those who have been baptized but are not yet endowed is that you prepare for and receive your endowment. The decision to receive the endowment is personal and should be made prayerfully. This does not depend on anyone else’s agency, just yours. Nor is it the role of anyone else, priesthood and organizational leaders, friends and peer groups, family or me, to decide this for you or unduly influence you to do so. For most of you in this group listening to me today, you meet all the criteria to be endowed if you feel a desire to receive and honor sacred temple covenants throughout your lives.
Until you are ready, continue to prepare. This includes qualifying for and using a temple recommend for proxy baptisms and confirmations in the temple and doing family history work. Also, focus intently on the covenant you have made already. Conscientiously prepare for and worthily partake of the sacrament weekly. If you choose to miss sacrament meeting when you could attend, you place yourself in spiritual jeopardy. Use your agency righteously and continue to faithfully live the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Let us turn to those who have been baptized and endowed but are not sealed to a spouse. We all know that being sealed to a spouse involves someone else’s agency. You do not determine this step solely on your own. My invitation focuses on what you can do.
If being sealed to a spouse is not yet your blessing, to the extent that it involves your agency, do not delay taking advantage of your opportunities. Do not close the door to the possibility. President Dallin H. Oaks taught in May 2023, “A loving Heavenly Father has a plan for His young adults and part of that plan is marriage and children . . . [W]e counsel you to channel your associations with the opposite sex into dating patterns that have the potential to mature into marriage.”
Remember, though, that eternal life is not simply a question of current marital status but of discipleship, that is, being “valiant in the testimony of Jesus.” You receive access to the grace of Christ through obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel. Additionally, I invite you to focus on the covenants you have made. Go to the temple often and participate in family history work. Conscientiously prepare for and worthily partake of the sacrament weekly. As you do, you will strengthen your connection with Jesus Christ.
To those who are never sealed to a spouse in this life, consider this comforting promise made by President Lorenzo Snow in 1899 in St. George, Utah. Speaking of unmarried women, he stated that “there seems to be considerable lamentation in regard to this condition. There is no need of this particularly . . . [but] some very foolish doctrine has been presented to some of the sisters in regard to this and other things of a kindred nature . . . There is no Latter-day Saint who dies after having lived a faithful life who will lose anything because of having failed to do certain things when opportunities were not furnished him or her . . . they will have all the blessings, exaltation, and glory that any man or woman will have who had this opportunity . . . [They] will have means furnished them by which they can secure all the blessings necessary for persons in the married condition.” I feel compelled to add that you should not obsess about whether you had the opportunity to be sealed to a spouse and missed it. Do not second guess yourself. God’s grace is sufficient for all. Nothing you have or have not done is beyond the reach of Christ’s infinite and eternal sacrifice.
For those who have been sealed to a spouse, please note that this sealing is a milestone but not a bookend in your life. You need to press forward and focus on the covenants you have made, just as I have encouraged the others to do, conscientiously preparing for and worthily partaking of the sacrament, worshipping in the temple, and doing family history work. In addition, my invitation is that you seek to become a better spouse and parent by acquiring Christlike attributes. Become the spouse your spouse deserves. Become the parent your children deserve. Let the multiple covenants draw you closer to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and strengthen your covenantal bonds with Them.
Then heed the Savior’s caution, “But there is a possibility that man may fall from grace and depart from the living God; Therefore let the church take heed and pray always, lest they fall into temptation; Yea, and even let those who are sanctified take heed also.”
To avoid falling from grace and departing from the living God, we are wise to remember and heed these words by King Benjamin, “I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness.” This is most likely to happen when we seek to make multiple covenants with God and keep them.
Heavenly Father’s plan allows each of us to choose how we will live here on earth and where we will live forever. The choice though is ours to make. As President Nelson said in general conference, “Your choices today will determine three things: where you will live throughout all eternity, the kind of body with which you will be resurrected, and those with whom you will live forever. So, think celestial.”
God established covenants to bless us. That is the covenant path. God has given us multiple covenants to help us, not to condemn us. Focusing intently on the covenants we have made and preparing for the next one is the best way to prepare to receive all that Heavenly Father has. It is how we think celestial.
My dear brothers and sisters, I know that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ. He is your kind, wise, heavenly friend. He is your Savior, He is my Savior. He is your Redeemer, and my Redeemer. I absolutely know this. I know that Joseph saw what he said he saw that day in 1820. He saw the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ, along with God our Eternal Father. Keys have been restored to earth to help us get on and stay on the covenant path and build sequentially, additively, and synergistically, to help us draw closer to God and to strengthen our relationship with Him and our Savior. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
 David A. Bednar, “Bound to the Savior through Covenants,” Liahona, February 2022.
 Guide to the Scriptures, “Covenant,” Gospel Library.
 See Robert Bolt, A Man for All Seasons: A Play in Two Acts (New York: Vintage Books, 1990), xiii–xiv, 140.
 2 Nephi 31:17–18. For men, the covenant path includes receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood.
 David A. Bednar, “Honorably Hold a Name and Standing,” Ensign, May 2009. The process is probably not complete until “we shall be like him” (Moroni 7:48), when we have fully been transformed.
 Doctrine and Covenants 131:1–4.
|Gas||Bond||Bond Length (Angstroms)||% Compared with F2||Bond Strength (kJ)||% Compared with F2|
 See John Wyeth, “Come, Though Fount of Every Blessing.”
 Russell M. Nelson, “Choices for Eternity,” [worldwide devotional for young adults with President Nelson, May 2022].
 Russell M. Nelson, “Choices for Eternity.”
 2 Nephi 31:7, 13–14; Mosiah 18:10; Mosiah 21:32, 35; Doctrine and Covenants 20:37.
 Mosiah 18:8–9.
 General Handbook: Serving in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 27.2, Gospel Library
 General Handbook 27.2.
 General Handbook 27.2.
 General Handbook 27.2.
 Jeffrey R. Holland, “Personal Purity,” Ensign, November 1998. See also, David A. Bednar, “We Believe in Being Chaste,” Ensign, May 2013; Dale G. Renlund and Ruth L. Renlund, “The Divine Purposes of Sexual Intimacy,” Liahona, August 2020.
 General Handbook 27.2; see also David A. Bednar, “Let This House Be Built unto My Name,” Ensign, May 2020.
 Doctrine and Covenants 84:14; Abraham 2:11.
 Doctrine and Covenants 131:1–4; Doctrine and Covenants 132:19, 29.
 Doctrine and Covenants 132:29–31; Abraham 2:6–11.
 Galatians 3:26–29.
 Doctrine and Covenants 132:19–20.
 Doctrine and Covenants 131:1–4.
 Jeremiah 17:5; Ezekiel 18:26; Ezekiel 33:12, 18; Malachi 2:1–5; Matthew 7:27; Matthew 12:45; Matthew 13:21; Luke 12:47; Hebrews 6:4–8; Hebrews 10:26–27; 2 Peter 2:22; Alma 24:30; Alma 47:36; Helaman 12:2; Doctrine and Covenants 82:3; Doctrine and Covenant 84:41, 54.
 General Handbook, 27.2 says, “Members may choose to receive their own endowment when they meet all of the following conditions: They are at least 18 years old; They have completed or are no longer attending high school, secondary school, or the equivalent; One full year has passed since their confirmation; They feel a desire to receive and honor sacred temple covenants throughout their lives.”
 Dallin H. Oaks. [Young Adult worldwide devotional. May 2023].
 Doctrine and Covenants 76:79; Doctrine and Covenants 121:29; M. Russell Ballard, “Hope in Christ,” Liahona, May 2021.
 3 Nephi 18:12–13.
 Lorenzo Snow. Excerpts from Discourse by President Lorenzo Snow, given at St. George, Utah, on Thursday, May 8, 1899, as reported in the The Latter-Day Saints’ Millennial Star, Thursday, August 24, 1899, and Thursday, August 31, 1899. Referring to his sister, Eliza R. Snow, President Snow said she lived “in an unmarried state until she was beyond the condition of raising a family. She was sealed to Joseph Smith, the Prophet; but she had no children to bear her name among the children of men. I cannot for one moment imagine that she will lose a single thing on that account. It will be made up to her in the other life, and she will have just as great a kingdom as she would have had if she had had the opportunity in this life of raising a family.”
 See Amy A. Wright, “Abide the Day in Christ,” Liahona, November 2023.
 Doctrine and Covenants 20:32–34.
 Mosiah 2:41.
 Russell M. Nelson. “Think Celestial!” Liahona, November 2023.