Michael D. Barnes and Stephanie M. Barnes: When you are married, be fiercely loyal one to another

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Michael D. Barnes and his wife Stephanie M. Barnes rose in unison together to give their presentation “When You Are Married, Be Fiercely Loyal One to Another” on Thursday afternoon in the Smith Fieldhouse.

Stephanie, a BYU graduate, mother and Primary teacher, spoke briefly about God’s influence in the journeys we all undertake, leading up to a sharp vocal emphasis on “the journey of marriage.” As she announced the theme, her husband immediately stepped in.

Women's Conference attendees gather in the Marriott Center. (Photo by Chris Bunker)
Women’s Conference attendees gather in the Marriott Center. (Photo by Chris Bunker)

Michael, a professor and chair of the BYU Department of Health Science, explained that the talk’s title came from President Thomas S. Monson’s address titled “Priesthood Power” given in the April 2011 priesthood session of General Conference, wherein he counseled LDS men about their responsibility to practice devotion. “The men have had a two-year head start,” Barnes said, “and now it’s time for the sisters to catch up!”

Not only did the couple take turns speaking, but they also alternated discussion of doctrinal principles with stories from their own lives. They divided the talk into five distinct “love stories” using couples from the scriptures as well as modern examples to illustrate the key actions that create fierce loyalty. They spent the most time in the story of Adam and Eve, drawing from it the principles of intimacy and companionship.

Using the story of Adam and Eve, Michael explained the significance of the commandment Adam was given to “cleave unto (Eve) and none else.” According to Barnes, the commandment demonstrates how much the Lord prioritizes marriage as the closest and most intimate bond above all other relationships. He spoke of the need for each spouse to be a “helpmeet,” which he defined as one who saves and strengthens, as well as act as the counterpart to the other person.

Stephanie chimed in with a few playful bars from LDS vocal group Inside Out’s song “Peanut Butter and Jelly” as a metaphor for the opposite-but-equal nature of marriage. She teased Michael publicly about whether or not he was supposed to sing the song as well. He blushed, but their heads almost touched as they leaned in to the mic, Stephanie half-singing the words while Michael hummed.

“It is possible to be fiercely loyal today, sisters,” Stephanie emphasized in her closing words.

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