Reasonably Young


Excerpt from a September 30, 1973 BYU Devotional by Spencer W. Kimball: 1

But, of course, marriage cannot wait for that. We shall marry, have our families, teach and train them, while we are learning these other things and building toward our creatorship. Marriage should come when we are reasonably young, to procreate and bear children, to have the patience to teach and train them and to grow up with them. Hence, marriage is a must, an early must. Of course, we would decry child marriages, but when young people are in their upper years of collegiate work surely it is time to plan this important life’s work. Missionaries should begin to think marriage—when they return from their missions, to begin to get acquainted with many young women so that they will have a better basis for selection of a life’s companion. And when the time comes they should marry in the holy temple and have their families, and complete their education, and establish themselves in a profitable and rewarding occupation, and give themselves to their families, the gospel, and the Church.

Brothers and sisters, this is not a matter of jest. It isn’t anything to laugh about. This is the most serious thing in all the world that lies ahead of you unmarried young people.

The San Francisco Chronicle and Examiner had an article in it last year entitled “The Anti-Marriage Revolution.” The article came from a young woman, not a member, who wrote to me:

I wish it were possible for all these misguided, unfortunate young people to become receptive to your message. . . I am investigating the Mormon Church and one of the most favorable aspects of the wonderful teachings is the concern and rapport for and with the young people. That, as well as other reasons, keeps me diligently studying to become worthy for membership in the Mormon Church. [Letter from Miss Nagene Ellis]

In magazines we frequently see articles on this antimarriage revolution, although we don’t hear about it so much in our little communities here. Let me say again, marriage is honorable. It’s a plan of God. It is not a whim, a choice, a preference only; it’s a must.

We are talking to normal young people. Generally there are husbands for most young women. There might be an occasional young woman who does not find her companion, but there is little excuse for the normal young man. I tell young women who seem to have missed their chance for desirable marriage that they should do all in their power to make themselves attractive physically in dress and grooming, mentally in being knowledgeable on many subjects, spiritually in being responsive emotionally in being genuine and worthy. And if one fails to find a companion after having done everything possible, then there will be provision for her in eternity.

The first commandment recorded seems to have been “Multiply and replenish the earth.” Let no one ever think that the command came to have children without marriage. No such suggestion could ever have foundation. When God had created the woman, he brought her unto the man and gave her to him as his wife, and commanded, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).

There is enough in that one line to make a hundred sermons. Think it through very carefully, every word. This was not the evolution of Adam to human status. Adam was already an intelligent, trained, and knowledgeable man. He was a prophet in his first recorded days on earth (see Moses 5), and this prophet blessed God and prophesied concerning his posterity. He saw the future and proclaimed:

In this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God.

And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient.

And Adam and Eve . . . made all things known unto their sons and their daughters. . . .

. . . [They] ceased not to call upon God. [Moses 5: 10-12, 16]

In true order, Adam knew Eve, his wife, and she conceived and bore Adam’s children—many children. And a book of remembrance was kept, and recordings were made in the language of Adam. And angels came from God to teach them by the spirit of revelation. Their children—thirty-three sons and twenty-three daughters, according to Josephus—were taught to read and write in the language which was pure and undefiled. Adam and his righteous sons were baptized, received the Holy Ghost, and received the priesthood. They kept the genealogical records of their fast-expanding families. This would indicate, then, that Adam was a great man when we first are introduced to him. He didn’t come from the jungle.

I have told many groups of young people that they should not postpone their marriage until they have acquired all of their education ambitions. I have told tens of thousands of young folks that when they marry they should not wait for children until they have finished their schooling and financial desires. Marriage is basically for the family, and when people have found their proper companions there should be no long delay. They should live together normally and let the children come.

There seems to be a growing feeling that marriage is for legal sex, for sex’s sake. Marriage is basically for the family; that is why we marry—not for the satisfaction of the sex, as the world around us would have us believe. When people have found their companions, there should be no long delay. Young wives should be occupied in bearing and rearing their children. I know of no scriptures where an authorization is given to young wives to withhold their families and to go to work to put their husbands through school. There are thousands of husbands who have worked their own way through school and have reared families at the same time. Though it is more difficult, young people can make their way through their educational programs. On most campuses there are married student buildings for their living. It’s a good experience to learn to save and to scratch and to economize.

President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., gave us this:

There is some belief, too much I fear, that sex desire is planted in us solely for the pleasures of full gratification; that the begetting of children is only an unfortunate incident. The direct opposite is the fact. Sex desire was planted in us in order to be sure that bodies would be begotten to house the spirits; the pleasure of gratification of the desire is an incident, not the primary purpose of the desire.

He said further:

As to sex in marriage, the necessary treatise on that for Latter-day Saints can be written in two sentences: Remember the prime purpose of sex desires is to beget children. Sex gratifications must be had at that hazard. You husbands, be kind and considerate of your wives. They are not your property; they are not mere conveniences; they are your partners for time and eternity. [General Priesthood Conference, October 1949, pp. 194–95]

Billy Graham gave us this statement:

One thing the Bible does not teach is that sex in itself is sin. Far from being prudish, the Bible celebrates sex and its proper use, presenting it as God-created, God-ordained, God-blessed. It makes plain that God himself implanted the physical magnetism between the sexes for two reasons: for the propagation of the human race, and for the expression of that kind of love between man and wife that makes for true oneness. His command to the first man and woman to be “one flesh” was as important as his command to be “fruitful and multiply”.

The Bible makes plain that evil, when related to sex, means not the use of something inherently corrupt, but the misuse of something pure and good. It teaches that sex can be a wonderful servant, but a terrible master. It can be a creative force more powerful than any other in fostering of love, companionship, happiness, or can be the most destructive of all life’s forces. [Reader’s Digest, May 1970, p. 118]

Another thing. It is my opinion that young women often frustrate their own best interests. Generally they are as well off financially on the campus as are their young men counterparts, especially those who have spent their accumulated funds on missions, so that young women should not be demanding of expensive dinners and corsages and cars and other things which often are the basis for dates and courtship. Perhaps the high cost of courting may be one reason for the delayed courtships and marriages. Young people, then, should date and court in a serious mood, and when the right time and the right person come there should be marriage and family and real life.

Last week I tore out of a magazine a full-page advertisement with a picture of Albert Einstein, with his drooping eyes, his sleepy looks, and his tousled hair. This was the great Einstein, highly publicized, greatly admired. It was stated that Albert Einstein admitted that he had had only two ideas in his life. These had brought him fame and universal honor.

This is about all that you young people need, two ideas: (1) Where am I going? (2) How do I get there? Again: First, what is my goal, and, second, how do I reach it? Of course, that includes numerous lesser secondary goals. If we turn our eyes from our basic goal and get diverted along the way, we shall, like Little Red Riding Hood, lose our way and run into trouble with the wolf. Basic then to this goal is proper and lasting and loving marriage.

Great promises are made to every couple, and this by the Lord and his prophets, that as parents plan their lives and carry forward their marriage in selflessness and rear their children with care and love, they have rejoicing in their posterity throughout their lives. Their joy is full; their cup runneth over.

As we approach this vital subject, we are reminded of the scripture where the Lord says:

Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.

When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know not whence ye are: . . .

There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. [Luke 13:24–25, 28]

And again, we repeat for emphasis from Matthew: “Enter ye in at the strait gate.” That’s an s-t-r-a-i-t gate, not the shortest distance between two points. Strait means hard, difficult, exacting, that kind of a gate. And that’s the kind of a gate that marriage is. An eternal marriage is also strait and difficult, but it’s rewarding and beautiful. “Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:13–14).

Now, all Latter-day Saints are not going to be exalted. All people who have been through the holy temple are not going to be exalted. The Lord says, “Few there be that find it.” For there are the two elements: (1) the sealing of a marriage in the holy temple, and (2) righteous living through one’s life thereafter to make that sealing permanent. Only through proper marriage—and I repeat that—only through proper marriage can one find that strait way, the narrow path. No one can ever have life, real life, in any other way under any other program. Sexual life outside of marriage, whether it be heterosexual or homosexual, is as a dream of the night that fades when the sun comes up. It is as the froth that accumulates on pounding waters.

Today, to offset and neutralize the evil teachings in the media and on the cameras and in the show and on the street, we must teach marriage, proper marriage, eternal marriage. When we realize the great number of young people who do not marry in the temple, we wonder if we have been failing our responsibility.

What we are saying about eternal marriage is not my opinion nor the opinion of the leaders of the Church. This is the word of God, which supersedes all opinions.


1 Marriage is Honorable, Spencer W. Kimball –