Laws and Ordinances

Hello everyone! Today’s episode is about “Mawwiage, mawwiage is what bwings us togethuh today.” Man, I love that movie. Anyway, we’re going to talk about a pretty controversial bit of scripture found repeated in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Let’s take a gander:

“The same day came to him (Christ) the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him, Saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother.

“Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother: Likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh. And last of all the woman died also.

“Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her.

Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.”

There it is: Nobody is married after the resurrection. Plain and simple, right? Well, here’s the problem: Latter-day Saints believe in eternal marriage, and a lot of other Christians agonize over the idea of not being married to their spouse after death. As I’ve researched this topic, I’ve read a ton of different interpretations of these verses: Some people just say no, marriage won’t exist. Some say it will exist. Some say it will sort of exist, but just not in the same way we’re used to. 

The most common interpretation seems to be that God’s purpose for instituting marriage was simply to propagate the species. Because people die, we have to be constantly “multiplying and replenishing” the earth. In the resurrection, people don’t die anymore, so there’s no longer a need to have children, and therefore no longer a need for marriage, which … gosh … isn’t that romantic?

At the very beginning of the Bible we have the creation story. God creates something and afterward sees that “it is good.” The light–”It is good”, the earth–”It is good”, the waters, the plants, the stars, the animals—they’re all good. And then God forms Adam, and for the first time he says this: “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” God marries Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden before death even enters the world. Paradise wasn’t complete without Adam AND Eve. So if they were married before death was even a factor, it’s hard for me to understand why death would change the validity or importance of marriage for us.

Anyway, what I’ve learned is that good people can interpret these verses in different ways. Here are two Latter-day Saint interpretations that I think we should keep in mind:

First, recall from the episode we did on the Priesthood that there is a lesser priesthood called the Aaronic Priesthood associated with the Law of Moses, and a higher Melchizedek Priesthood, associated with the higher law of Christ. There are also ordinances associated with each priesthood. For example, baptism happens under the authority of the Aaronic Priesthood. Eternal Marriage happens under the Melchizedek Priesthood. The situation posed by the Sadducees dealt with a group of Israelites living under the Law of Moses. Naturally, they largely did not have access to the Melchizedek Priesthood, or, therefore, Eternal Marriage.

So, yes, we totally agree with Christ. Doctrine and Covenants 132 further emphasizes: “…if a man marry him a wife in the world, and he marry her not by me nor by my word, and he covenant with her so long as he is in the world and she with him, their covenant and marriage are not of force when they are dead, and when they are out of the world; therefore, they are not bound by any law when they are out of the world.

Therefore, when they are out of the world they neither marry nor are given in marriage; but are appointed angels in heaven…”

So, my first point is that when Christ says THEY neither marry nor are given in marriage, it makes sense that he’s talking about the specific people the Sadducees mentioned, who did not have access to Eternal Marriage. Christ isn’t saying eternal marriage doesn’t exist, he’s just saying in this context–this ain’t it.

But there’s more than one way to look at this. Even if Christ was talking about marriage in general: The Greek word used here for “they marry” is Ga-moo-seen. This word, used in this tense, does not indicate that no one will be in a state of marriage after the resurrection, but rather that resurrected people will not enter into any new marriage contracts. Essentially, it’s the difference between being married (the condition), versus getting married (the action).

Christ here says nothing about those already married by the time the resurrection arrives. If He wanted to, He could have. There’s another standard Greek way to say that.

This is consistent with Latter-day Saint doctrine becaaaause the rites or ordinances we have access to, like baptism and eternal marriage, have to be performed by mortals in this life or the Millennium. If someone dies before having the opportunity to be married, their spirit resides in the Spirit World and we mortals can perform those ordinances vicariously for them in our temples. At that point, they can’t do it for themselves. If they choose not to ever accept that ordinance, then, as Christ mentions, they become ministering “angels in heaven.”

James E. Talmage emphasized: “In the resurrection there will be no marrying nor giving in marriage; for all questions of marital status must be settled before that time, under the authority of the Holy Priesthood, which holds the power to seal in marriage for both time and eternity.”

So there’s another Latter-day Saint interpretation for you to consider. There are even more in the links in the description below. Check them out. If you’ve got questions on this topic, let me know in the comments. Aaand, have a great day.

Learning More:

Mormon bride and groom at temple

Latter-day Saint doctrine holds that there are three basic divisions in heaven (see 1 Corinthians 15:40 – 42). They are the Celestial Kingdom, which is likened to the glory of the sun, the Terrestrial kingdom, which is likened to the glory of the moon, and the Telestial kingdom, which is likened to the glory of the stars. The Celestial, or highest kingdom, has three divisions. Only in the highest third of this kingdom can marriages continue for eternity. In the lower two-thirds of the Celestial Kingdom and in the Terrestrial and Telestial Kingdoms, people are single. People who possess less light cannot tolerate certain amounts of greater light. So people who dwell in the Celestial Kingdom can visit and indeed minister to people in the Terrestrial, and people who dwell in the Terrestrial Kingdom can visit and indeed do minister to those in the Telestial Kingdom. So most of us still spend time with the people we love, but we are not bound to them eternally. Speaking of Light, God dwells in the Celestial Kingdom, so that is where His full presence shines. That is where people become co-heirs with Christ and partake of all He has, and that is where the righteous are sealed into the family of God. Latter-day Saints call this “exaltation.” Nearly everyone will attain a place somewhere in the kingdoms of heaven, which Latter-day Saints call “salvation.”

Yes, temple sealings must be done in mortality in temples, but all things are made right in heaven. That means that during the millennium much instruction will be given to correct mistakes in our family history work and the proxy sealings we have done for our ancestors. During the millennium, those who are already resurrected will be able to visit the earth and direct us in this work, so new sealings can be done for those who are worthy and have already passed from this life and errors in our records can be corrected. The agency, or free choice, of mankind, will always be in operation. So people have full choice as to whom they will be sealed to, or not, in the eternities.


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