Elder Andersen teaches ‘specific eternal, timeless, never-changing truths from God about marriage and children’

‘Center your life in your faith in Jesus Christ and in the ordinances, covenants and teachings of His holy house,’ Apostle tells BYU–Idaho students

REXBURG, Idaho — Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints learn “specific eternal, timeless, never-changing truths from God about marriage and children” in the house of the Lord, said Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during a BYU–Idaho devotional on Sunday, May 19.

“Look to your future with faith and hope,” Elder Andersen told thousands of students gathered in the I-Center on the Rexburg, Idaho, campus. “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.”

Addressing the topic “Facing mortality as adults: marriage, children and the temple,” Elder Andersen said the culture and trends of the modern world “can present a perspective that, while inviting, is not eternally correct.”

Asking students to “think of the vastness of the world in which we live,” he said, “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?”

Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with his wife, Sister Kathy Andersen, and the BYU-Idaho president, Elder Alvin F. Meredith III, a General Authority Seventy, left, waves to students in devotional in the I–Center on Sunday, May 19, 2024. | Lauren Bushman

Commenting on the differences between today’s world and past centuries, Elder Andersen emphasized that “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.”

Elder Andersen was accompanied to the devotional by his wife, Sister Kathy Andersen, who also addressed the students. She testified of the reality of a loving Heavenly Father who “hears our prayers and answers them” and of Jesus Christ, “our precious Redeemer.”

Noting that he and Sister Andersen will soon celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary, Elder Andersen referenced BYU–Idaho’s recent date night as he introduced the topic of marriage and family.

Elder Andersen reminded students that they have a temple just 1 mile away. President Russell M. Nelson said in April 2024 general conference that “understanding the spiritual privileges made possible in the temple is vital to each of us today” and “the temple is the gateway to the greatest blessings God has in store for each of us.”

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Elder Andersen said the Lord is directing His Prophet to build temples around the earth because the righteous people of the earth need the house of the Lord.

He then highlighted 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,” he said.

Whom and when to marry and the decision after marriage 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,” he said. “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, your individual circumstances may require thoughtful adjustments.”

Quoting scriptures and authorized wording concerning the sacred principles taught in the temple, Elder Andersen said the house of the Lord teaches God’s children how to best follow Jesus Christ and how to prepare to live eternally with Heavenly Father.

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, he said. “In the Creation, we learn of our identity as sons and daughters of God. … Following the Creation, one of the first things we learn in the house of the Lord is that Adam and Eve advanced as adults into their mortality together. … Together they confronted the challenges of their lives.”

Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints speaks during a BYU–Idaho devotional on Sunday, May 19, 2024, in Rexburg, Idaho. | Reilly Cook

Explaining how these scriptures and the temple apply to the lives of young adults today, Elder Andersen said statistics in the United States show that many are waiting longer to marry and start families.

At a time when many in the United States are living in a state of what one popular author has dubbed “perpetual adolescence,” the students at BYU-Idaho have “accepted the responsibilities of adulthood with faith and courage,” he said.

“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 …,” he said. “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 Latter-day Saints to clearly see God’s plan for His sons and daughters, he said.

“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.”

For both young men and young women: “Don’t be afraid of moving forward when the time is right,” Elder Andersen taught.

Offering “very tender” counsel especially for young women, Elder Andersen quoted President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency: “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.”

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Quoting President Nelson, Elder Andersen said education “is a religious responsibility.”

“You young women need understanding and skills as do the young men,” said Elder Andersen. “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, Elder Andersen also spoke about 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.’”

Elder Andersen added: “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.”

For those wondering how they will have the resources while they are at the university to begin their family, Elder Andersen quoted President Thomas S. Monson, noting that during challenging times when finances are tight, couples grow closer together and learn to sacrifice.

“It was not in the Garden of Eden that Adam and Eve bore their first child,” said Elder Andersen. “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’ (Moses 5:1-2).”

Elder Andersen emphasized President Nelson’s teaching that “nothing will help you more to hold fast to the iron rod than worshipping in the temple as regularly as your circumstances permit.”

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

“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.”

Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints speaks during a BYU–Idaho devotional on Sunday, May 19, 2024, in Rexburg, Idaho. | Jeron Thompson

He shared the experience of his grandson, who married a young woman shortly after they both returned from missionary service. After receiving a strong impression in the temple, they welcomed a daughter to their marriage while they were both still in school. While it continues to require sacrifice, it has brought them more joy than they could have imagined.

Concluding, Elder Andersen blessed the students that as they worship in the house of the Lord, they will better understand the important choices and decisions before them. “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.”

After the devotional many students shared what they felt as Elder Andersen spoke.

Joel Ponce said Elder Andersen reminded him of the “beauty of the temple and the spirit you feel there.” With a renewed focus on the importance of the temple and going there, he said he will keep trying in the other important areas of his life.

Angeles La Fuente said the devotional was a direct answer to her prayers as Elder Andersen shared a vision that it is possible for young people to progress toward educational goals while also prioritizing marriage and family.

Avery Kimball said she learned from both Elder and Sister Andersen that “God’s vision is fixed on eternity and that is where he is guiding us.” Trusting God will lead to beautiful blessings, she added.

Andre Regino and Amy Rodriguez had been fasting and praying to know the right timing of their future engagement and marriage. They will now move forward “sooner than expected,” because they felt the answer to their prayers communicated clearly through Elder Andersen’s teachings.

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