In his address to faith leaders gathered for a summit on marriage at the Vatican,President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said “a man and a woman, united in marriage, have a transcendent power to create happiness for themselves, for their family, and for the people around them.”
President Eyring was invited to provide a “witness” at the international interreligious event hosted by the Catholic Church, which briought together religious leaders from 14 faiths and 23 countries. The event, titled “The Complementarity of Man and Woman,” began on November 17 and concluded November 19.
President Eyring said that while we see unhappiness in some marriages, unselfishness is the key to complementary marriage between a man and a woman.
“Where there is selfishness, natural differences of men and women often divide,” he explained. “Where there is unselfishness, differences become complementary and provide opportunities to help and build each other.”
The change that is needed is in people’s hearts more than their minds, he said.
“We must find ways to lead people to a faith that they can replace their natural self-interest with deep and lasting feelings of charity and benevolence,” added President Eyring.
During his testimony, President Eyring read from the Church’s “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” which was released by the Church in 1995 and is a document that sets out the Church's position on the family. Referring to the principles in the proclamation he said, “Those are things people must do for us to have a renaissance of happy marriages and productive families.”
“Such a renaissance will require people to try for the ideal—and to keep trying even when the happy result is slow to come and when loud voices mock the effort,” he said. “We can and must stand up and defend the institution of marriage between a man and woman.”
President Eyring spoke of the happiness that has come to him through his own marriage to his wife, Kathleen, which occurred more than 52 years ago. “I have become a better person as I have loved and lived with her,” he said. “We have been complementary beyond anything I could have imagined. Rather than dividing us, our differences bound us together.” He and his wife have six children, 31 grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.
“As we work to build and encourage faithful, loving marriages in which men and women become as one and nurture their families, the Lord will multiply our efforts,” he concluded.
This week’s gathering of global religious leaders at the Vatican to discuss the importance of marriage fuses two key beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: The importance of marriage between a man and a woman, and the importance of interfaith cooperation in common causes for good.