In two recorded instances in the Gospels, Jesus referred to Himself as the Bridegroom or spoke in parables about marriages, implying that the children of Israel are the bride. As revealed to John later, in the Savior’s Second Coming, He will arrive to unite with His Church: “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints” (Revelation 19:7–8).
At the same time as He invites His Church to come to Him collectively, Jesus invites us individually to enter a covenant relationship with Him that can be compared in many ways to that of marriage. One of those ways is professing willingness to take His name upon us when we are baptized and thereby join His Church.
King Benjamin, ancient leader of the Nephite people, taught his people the connection between making covenants with the Lord and taking upon us His name: “There is no other name given whereby salvation cometh; therefore, I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God that ye should be obedient unto the end of your lives. And it shall come to pass that whosoever doeth this shall be found at the right hand of God, for he shall know the name by which he is called; for he shall be called by the name of Christ” (Mosiah 5:8–9).
In the Parable of Apollonia’s Marriage Vows, the main character comes to understand that taking her new husband’s name as her name is an expression of her love for him and her desire to be one with him. Jesus prayed to the Father, “Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. … Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us” (John 17:11, 20–21). Names are intertwined with our identity, and so to take another’s name is to join identities.
Like Apollonia did at first, some fear to take Jesus’s name because to them it means they will lose their distinctiveness. But why would a Lord who gives us different capabilities and missions “every man according to his several ability” (Matthew 25:15) then take those differences away when we promise to walk His road? In washing away our sins, He does not wash away what makes us unique.
But taking His name does mean we are identified with Him by treating others the way He would, by choosing righteousness and virtue, and by letting others know that we follow Him. We surrender to and become subservient to Him in the sense that we “let God prevail in our lives” (President Russell M. Nelson, “Let God Prevail”). Yet at the same time, He who carried our load does not ask us to do anything He would not do, and He walks next to us as we take His yoke upon us.
From my own experience in nearly twenty years of marriage, making promises and having the same name is just the beginning. Becoming one, or united, takes time, attention, effort, and love. But it happens. It’s possible to become united and still not be exactly the same.
I hope that as we make covenants with Christ and take His name upon us, we can say as did Apollonia, “I’m not the same as I was before I came to know you, my Savior. Our relationship makes me better, and I want that to continue. I promise I will do everything I can to make our relationship strong and everlasting. Instead of ‘me,’ it’s now ‘us.'”
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