Although the Book of Mormon makes little direct reference to marriage relationships, the place and importance of marriage in the plan of salvation is clearly evident.
At the outset, the Lord instructed Lehi to send his sons back to Jerusalem for Ishmael and his family, consisting of both sons and daughters, so the children of Lehi would have marriage partners to "raise up seed unto the Lord in the land of promise" (1 Ne. 7:1–6; 16:7; 2 Ne. 5:6). Also by command of the Lord to Lehi, Nephite marriages were to be monogamous, and faith fulness to a single marriage partner was enjoined. Jacob severely chastised certain Nephite men of his day who sought "to excuse themselves in committing whoredoms, because of the things which were written concerning David, and Solomon his son "—events pertaining to a different people living in a different time and under different command ments pertaining to marriage (which commandments some did not observe appropriately) (Jacob 2:22 –35; cf. D&C 132:38–39). During his personal ministry among the Nephites, the Lord affirmed the higher law of marriage, in which divorce is not appropriate "saving for the cause of fornication" (3 Ne. 12:31–32).
Indirectly, for the careful reader, the Book of Mormon yields a number of valuable insights related to marriage and family. For example, Lehi 's tender, faith-filled response to the complaints of his wife, Sariah, provides a model for settling some marital difficulties (1 Ne. 5:1 –9). A lesson can also be learned by comparing the response of wicked and righteous husbands in times of crisis. The wicked priests of king Noah 3 abandoned their marriage partners (Mosiah 19:11), while righteous husbands protected and defended their wives and children, even by war, when necessary (Alma 43:47; 48:10). Furthermore, maintaining spirituality through gospel living is essential to happiness in marriage. After the visit of the resurrected Lord in America, a blissful Nephite society was characterized for nearly two hundred years by righteous, happy marriages: "They were married, and given in marriage, and were blessed according to the multitude of the promises which the Lord had made unto them. . . . There was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people. . . . There were no envyings, nor strifes, nor tumults, nor whoredoms, nor lyings, . . . and surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God " (4 Ne. 1:11, 15–16).
In addition to providing these direct and indirect messages pertaining to marriage, the Book of Mormon can strengthen marriage relationships by conveying doctrinal truths central to the plan of salvation. Concerning the influence doctrine can have in one's life, Elder Boyd K. Packer has taught, "True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior. Preoccupation with unworthy behavior can lead to unworthy behavior. That is why we stress so forcefully the study of the doctrines of the gospel " (20). Some examples of doctrinal truths having important application in marriage include personal accountability for one 's behavior towards others, such as thoughts, words, and deeds (Mosiah 4:30; Alma 12:14); the Holy Ghost revealing "all things what ye should do" (2 Ne. 32:3, 5); and prayer as a critical link to spiritual blessings (2 Ne. 32:9; Alma 5:46; 17:3; 34:17 –27). Through the exercise of self-discipline, based on a correct understanding of true doctrine, men and women can bring their behavior into conformity with eternal principles, resulting in happy, fulfilling marriages.
Consistent with Book of Mormon teachings about marriage, a proclamation published in 1995 by prophets, seers, and revelators confirmed "that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God" (First Presidency).