It makes sense to me that government marriages would only be for time: "until death do we part". The order of society in the next life is unknown to most. Governments can only really make and keep contracts for that which they have a certain amount of control. A government would only make a contract for both this life and the next if it was truly believed that it will have some sort of continuing power in the afterlife.
If a government is man-made, it seems a bit presumptuous for it to assume such power. I do believe that God can and does have influence in man's governmental affairs--though there is a difference between an institution of God that He designed to be eternal, and man's temporary institutions in which He has influence--for the good or bad of the institution. In this regard, it makes sense that only the marital contracts made under the authority of an eternal government would prevail beyond the veil of this life to the next, for the same authority would exist there to protect and nurture the marriage there as on this Earth.
But why only in the Celestial Kingdom would marriages exist?--the highest kingdom, the kingdom of the sun. Why in other kingdoms of glory would those 'marital' relationships be torn apart? Well, as I understand it, and as it makes sense to me as well, only in the Celestial Kingdom will married couples have continued children and posterity to raise up as God has raised/is raising us up. In the other kingdoms the inhabitants will enjoy blessings of a world far more wonderful than the one we cherish now, though there will be an end to their 'family making' powers, so to speak. I imagine that will come as a relief to some, though maybe not all, to be relieved of that responsibility. It is a rather large responsibility if you think about it. In many ways it is not glamorous to raise children and posterity--people who have their own identities, personalities, preferences and desires, etc. It can be really rough. I really don't know how God does it. How does He keep going? How do my parents keep going? I believe it's through the power of the atonement of Jesus Christ, through faith on His name.
Still I would imagine that in the other kingdoms of glory there will be relationships, and even intimate and devoted relationships--but if marriage is defined as the one relationship whereby man and woman are responsible for producing their own seed--for multiplying and replenishing the earth, so to speak--then it makes sense that only marriages contracted by God through His appointed authorities will continue beyond the veil. I've really no idea what name the other relationships will go by, where the couples choose to remain devoted to one another in the other kingdoms.
I imagine I would remain committed to my partner if I were in a lower kingdom and could not continue to raise seed, or create families. I imagine that if that were the case I would be content, if that were my choice. A better world, free from the heavy responsibilities that try us more than anything else. That doesn't sound all that bad. Though I hope to become the kind of person that can handle such responsibility well in this life, through the atonement of Jesus Christ, and I hope to have the opportunity with my (future) spouse in the next life to continue to create seed and raise people up as God raises us up. Some day. I have a looooong way to go. I feel so far from where I want to be.
Sometimes you're cut to the core where your greatest weaknesses are most easily revealed to you. Since I believe the gospel of Jesus Christ (I really do, despite my many questions :), I find myself at the core pretty frequently, but thank goodness God sees more in me, I hope, than that which I lack. I believe He does, and it is my belief in His love for me, and for all His children on this Earth, that propels me forward. Without this hope my religion would be pretty miserable indeed, but with love as the motivator, or at least a hope and firm belief in that love, well, anything is possible--and my heart is open to receive the joy that comes through following His word.
Where do the questions come from this week? Well, I did a topical guide search on "Marriage and Government" on lds.org, and discovered I had some pretty interesting questions as I was reading one of the references in the Doctrine and Covenants 132. The whole section is interesting, and brings a lot of questions to mind. I'll copy a verse or two here just for reference:
I hope that in the other kingdoms the partners will be allowed to stay together, though I really do not know very much at all. The afterlife is one of those things that though, through revelation, we have many answers, those answers lead to many more questions. But I suppose the answers we have are enough to keep us moving forward on the path back to God.
And as a side-note, I just want to make sure that whoever reads this understands that the thoughts expressed in this post and the rest of my blog are my thoughts and ponderings, and that I am not claiming to know for a surety. But what I have written, in this post especially, is in many cases my attempt toward understanding the scripture that I have been given--in context. I do believe. And I believe very firmly in God and His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost. And I do believe in the restoration of His gospel in our day through modern prophets--Joseph Smith being the first in our day to restore the gospel as well as the authority to act in God's name and establish His government in preparation for the return of His Son, Jesus Christ, in all glory. I believe it and cannot deny. I do have a lot of questions. But I believe it. And that is enough to keep me going on this path I choose, I suppose. :)
This concept of marriage, with its divine perspective, gives new meaning and adds importance, dignity, and glory to the idea of marriage. With this concept the thoughtful person will be more careful and selective in the choice of his eternal companion. Certainly before entering into such an eternal contract both men and women should be humble and thoughtful and should prayerfully seek for divine guidance.
When one accepts the conditions and obligations of this eternal partnership, he must realize that failure here is almost total failure. Whatever his successes may be in other fields of activity, if a man fails to discharge the obligations imposed by the eternal covenant, the appalling penalty will be the loss of celestial glory, accompanied by responsibility for the losses sustained by those with whom he made the contract and for whom he is responsible.
Many governments have assumed power into the next life in one way or another. This is so intriguing to me. And if I had a wide enough readership, this is where I would invite people to contribute comments on various marital ceremonies and contracts throughout history. I find it intriguing to learn about them and to analyze them. If I had time I would do all the research myself :) I did do some research into Byzantine marriage contracts and ceremonies and discovered some interesting information. If it weren't 3:07 in the morning I might share, but I think I'll have to do that another time :)