Commitment in Marriage

When it comes to teaching about divorce, one thing that is very clear, is that Jesus is not fond of people laying down their marriage covenant.

Matthew 5 : 31-32 KJV

31. It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement:

32. But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.

Except for the most serious offense, don’t divorce.

Touching the matter of divorcement, in which great laxity prevailed in that day, Jesus declared that except for the most serious offense of infidelity to marriage vows, no man could divorce his wife without becoming himself an offender, in that she, marrying again while still a wife not righteously divorced, would be guilty of sin, and so would be the man to whom she was so married. — James Talmage, from the book Jesus The Christ, Chapter 17


In April of 2007, Elder Dallin H. Oaks gave perhaps the most impactful talk on divorce ever delivered in the General Conferences of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The link to the talk is given below. I would like to highlight some of the important concepts he covered.

1. Marriage is required for exaltation in the in the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom, yet divorce is common today, even among the members of the church.

2. Marriage should not be seen as a mere contract that can be severed at the first sign of challenges.

3. The kind of marriage required for exaltation does not contemplate divorce.

4. Because “of the hardness of our hearts,” the Lord does not currently enforce the consequences of the celestial standard (which Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount. Elder Oaks is speaking for the church policies – not diminishing the law). Unless they have committed serious transgression, He permits divorced persons to marry again in the temple without the stain of immorality specified in the higher law.

5. Individuals who have experienced abuse have firsthand knowledge of a situation worse than divorce.

6. When a marriage is in trouble, the remedy is not divorce but repentance. Often the cause is not incompatibility but selfishness.

7. Children raised in a single family home are at much greater risk for drug and alcohol abuse, sexual promiscuity, poor school performance, and various kinds of victimization.

8. A couple with serious marriage problems should see their bishop. As the Lord’s judge, he will give counsel and perhaps even discipline that will lead toward healing.

9. To avoid being considered incompatible, they should be best friends, kind and considerate, sensitive to each other’s needs, always seeking to make each other happy.

10. When one becomes hurt or disappointed, they should balance the bad with the good of the past and draw on that good and the brighter prospects of the future.

11. Do not reprocess the wrongs of the past over and over. This is destructive. Instead seek the guidance from the Spirit of the Lord to forgive.

12. If your marriage is failing, please join hands, kneel together, and prayerfully plead for help and the healing power of the Atonement. Your humble and united pleadings will bring you closer to the Lord and to each other and will help you in the hard climb back to marital harmony.

13. Even if you think one spouse is entirely to blame, do not act hastily. Two out of three couples who remained married after nearing divorce report being happily married five years later.

14. One woman who stayed in an intolerable marriage until the children were raised said the following: “There were three parties to our marriage—my husband and I and the Lord. I told myself that if two of us could hang in there, we could hold it together.”

15. The power of hope is sometimes rewarded with repentance and reformation, but sometimes it is not.

16. Whatever the outcome and no matter how difficult your experiences, you have the promise that you will not be denied the blessings of eternal family relationships if you love the Lord, keep His commandments, and just do the best you can.