Marriage and the traditional family unit are fundamental to Mormon theology. Gary Blakely, president of the Chicago Illinois Stake, which oversees 11 local congregations, explains that Mormons believe families can be together forever, and this eternal relationship represents the highest level of salvation they can reach.

Because family stability is key to the eternal relationships, the church places a special emphasis on promoting it and offers an extensive network of resources for families, such as marriage counseling. Church members are expected to hold formal gatherings every Monday called Family Home Evenings, where families get together to sing, pray and engage in other activities. No other church activities are planned for Mondays.

The church promises eternal relationships for Mormon couples who live up to the teachings of the church and are “sealed” in marriages performed in temples. The children of these marriages are likewise bound to their parents forever.

“I don’t know of any other religion that offers a –˜program’ by which eternal marriages and families can be –˜guaranteed’ –¦ and not just hoped for,” says Armand L. Mauss, professor emeritus of sociology and religious studies at Washington State University.

Mauss also says studies have shown that the divorce rate for Mormons in “sealed” marriages is only a quarter to a third of the national average, and Mormons are more likely to abstain from sex out of wedlock and marital infidelity.