Two Hearts That Beat As One: Mormon Weddings
Keith L. Brown is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and serves as the Ward Mission Leader in the Annapolis, Maryland Ward.
Does Love End? Mormons Believe in Eternal Relationships (See Mormon Weddings)
On Friday, 5 July 1957, a man and a woman were joined together in Holy Matrimony, according to civil law, until death does part. But this is only where the story begins. What follows is a glimpse into one part of my family history, and the fairy tale ending in which the family was bound together in holy temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (errantly called The Mormon Church) in a sacred Mormon wedding.
Back to the family story: He was 22 year old John Wallace Brown, the son of Vernon Brown and Mary Virginia Dashields, and she was 19 year old Frances Mae Harmon, the daughter of Lawrence Elwood Harmon and Margie Isabelle Corbin.
Together in life they raised a small family of four children – two sons and two daughters. Both were hard workers and provided as best they could for their little family making sure that they had the necessary essentials to sustain life. Each of them lovingly imparted their years of wisdom to their children in their own way, and taught them valuable life lessons that they hoped would serve them well as they entered adult life and would eventually disembark the “ship” and set sail in their own vessels upon life’s seas. They loved their children and had taught them well, and as each child began to grow into their own, they knew that if they ever ran into trouble out on the oceans of life, all they had to do was raise the S.O.S. flag, and help was never far away. Sometimes that help was physical, but oftentimes it was given through words of sound counsel.
Throughout each of their short lives, John and Frances were blessed to witness the fruits of their love and labors as their children grew from boys to men, girls to women. The first to disembark the “ship” and set sail on his own was their oldest son Kenneth. He would go off to college, earn his degree in business management, and start a career and life of his own. The next to disembark was their youngest son Keith (that’s me) who would eventually dedicate 20 years of his life serving on active duty in the United States Navy followed by 10 years of inactive Fleet Reserve duty, for a total of 30 years of dedicated service to his country. Next to disembark was the older of their two daughters Sharon who would herself, on Thursday, 24 October 1991, be joined in Holy Matrimony to Rossie Alfonze Bratten III, the son of Rossie Alfonze Bratten Jr. and Ogria Delores Wright. She would make her living as an Administrative Assistant. The last to disembark would be their youngest daughter Patricia who has also come into her own as she makes a living for herself working at the local hometown Wal-Mart and also maintains a small printing business which she started on her own.
John Wallace and Frances Mae were two hearts that beat as one – in love, in mind, in goal, and in purpose. One might say that theirs was an endless love. That is not to say that throughout their 39 years of wedded bliss that there were not times of turbulence and turmoil, for certainly there were, but neither of them ever abandoned ship. They were determined to keep the ship afloat by working side by side to repair any damage to its infrastructure and by patching even the smallest holes in its hull.
Soon the sun began to set on the horizon for each of them. The first sunset came early, at 11:59 AM on Thursday, 12 June 1997, when Frances Mae Harmon Brown, at the young age of 59 years, bid farewell to the family that she dearly loved for a season. Almost two years later, on Tuesday, 16 March 1999, a new generation was begun, as her daughter Sharon and son-in-law Rossie welcomed their newborn son, Rossie Alfonze Bratten IV, into the world. Though his grandmother Frances could not be there to physically hold him and tell him how much she loved him, I believe that she was smiling down from above on that day and rejoicing at the birth of her first grandchild.
The sun set once again on Monday 20 November 2006, as it became time for John Wallace Brown at the age of 71 years to also bid farewell to his loving family for a season. Though he had remarried on Friday, 9 July 2004, 7 years after his beloved wife’s passing, it was clearly evident, especially in his final days that his heart longed to be with his first love.
Mormon Weddings: About Eternal Love & Relationships
On Wednesday, 7 April 2010 (the 35th birthday of their youngest daughter), in Logan Utah, this author, the youngest of their two sons, accompanied by two dear friends, was blessed to perform saving ordinances for the parents whom he loves, John Wallace Brown and Frances Mae Harmon, in the Logan Utah Mormon Temple.
We, as members of The Church of Jesus Christ (“Mormons”) are taught that the primary purpose of the holy temple or House of God is to provide the ordinances or ceremonies necessary for our exaltation in the celestial kingdom. Exaltation is the highest degree of light and glory we can receive after this life; it includes life in the beautiful presence of the Savior, the Father and our redeemed loved ones. Temple ordinances, then, guide us to our Savior and give us the blessings that come to us through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
The Doctrine and Covenants, a modern book of scripture in which Mormons believe and share with the world, teaches us the following about Mormon Weddings or Mormon Sealings in the Lord’s sanctuaries. These rites are performed as outlined by Jesus Christ Himself who restored His true teachings about relationships to the earth in our day. They affirm that families and marriages can be forever and not just until “death do us part.”
And verily, verily, I say unto you, that whatsoever you seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven; and whatsoever you bind on earth, in my name and by my word, saith the Lord, it shall be eternally bound in the heavens; and whosesoever sins you remit on earth shall be remitted eternally in the heavens; and whosesoever sins you retain on earth shall be retained in heaven. (D&C 132:46).
One of the important ordinances that are performed in the Holy Temple is the sealing for eternity in celestial marriage. That is what a Mormon Wedding is all about. This covenant allows children to be sealed to their parents and children born in the covenant to become part of an eternal family. On Thursday, 8 April 2010, again with the help of my dear friends, my mother and father were sealed for all time and eternity and I was in turn sealed to them. As I knelt at the altar in the Logan Utah Temple on that very special day, I could sense my parents’ presence and feel of their love. No longer would they be separated because of physical death, but now they are together again for all eternity – two hearts beating as one.
See Keith’s Mormon.org profile.