Jesus Christ/Marital status

Table of Contents

Mormon beliefs regarding the marital status of Jesus Christ

Jump to Subtopic:


Question: Do Mormons believe Jesus Christ was married?

Mormons don't officially believe that Jesus was married

The easy answer is that no, Mormons don't officially believe that Jesus was married. In fact, there is no official Church doctrine on this issue. Individual members are free to believe as they wish concerning this matter. (Some believe that He was married; others believe He wasn't. Most members are open to believe either way.)

Do many Latter-day Saints believe that Jesus was married?

Since eternal marriage is one of the ordinances required to achieve exaltation, many Latter-day Saints do indeed believe that Jesus Christ was married. The question is: What is it about Jesus being married that would make Him less of our Lord and Savior? Yet, Latter-day Saints are accused of not being Christian because of such beliefs.

William Phipps, Professor of Religion and Philosophy at Davis and Elkins College in West Virginia, wrote an article and a book declaring his belief that the Lord Jesus Christ was married.[1] Are all Presbyterians not Christians on account of Reverend Phipps' beliefs, or do different standards exist for Evangelicals than for those "Satanic cultists," the "Mormons?" Perhaps those who make such accusations would counter that it is just Phipps who is not a Christian, on account of his belief that Jesus Christ was married. But again, why would they damn all Latter-day Saints because some Latter-day Saints believe something that is not official LDS doctrine?

The Bible is silent on the issue of Jesus' marital state

The Bible is silent on the issue of Jesus' marital state, and there has been no modern revelation stating he was or was not married. This leaves the issue an open question. Some Latter-day Saints believe he was married, but the Church has no position on the subject. This question was addressed by Charles W. Penrose in the September 1912 issue of the official Church magazine, the Improvement Era:

Question 2: Do you believe that Jesus was married?

Answer: We do not know anything about Jesus Christ being married. The Church has no authoritative declaration on the subject. [2]

Several early Latter-day Saint leaders believed Jesus was married and preached this from the pulpit

Several early LDS leaders believed Jesus was married, and said so from the pulpit on occasion. Here is one example from Apostle Orson Hyde:

Now there was actually a marriage [at Cana (John 2:1–11)]; and if Jesus was not the bridegroom on that occasion, please tell who was. If any man can show this, and prove that it was not the Savior of the world, then I will acknowledge I am in error. We say it was Jesus Christ who was married, to be brought into the relation whereby he could see his seed (Isaiah 53:10), before he was crucified. "Has he indeed passed by the nature of angels, and taken upon himself the seed of Abraham, to die without leaving a seed to bear his name on the earth?" No. But when the secret is fully out, the seed of the blessed shall be gathered in, in the last days; and he who has not the blood of Abraham flowing in his veins, who has not one particle of the Savior's in him, I am afraid is a stereotyped Gentile, who will be left out and not be gathered in the last days; for I tell you it is the chosen of God, the seed of the blessed, that shall be gathered. I do not despise to be called a son of Abraham, if he had a dozen wives; or to be called a brother, a son, a child of the Savior, if he had Mary, and Martha, and several others, as wives; and though he did cast seven devils out of one of them, it is all the same to me. [3]

Joseph Fielding Smith apparently believed that Jesus had been married

Joseph Fielding Smith apparently believed that Jesus had been married, and that He had children. In a 1963 letter to Elder Smith (then President of the Quorum of the Twelve), J. Ricks Smith asked for clarification on a question he had concerning the marital and paternal status of Jesus:

Burbank, California March 17, 1963

President Joseph Fielding Smith 47 East South Temple Street Salt Lake City 11, Utah

Dear President Smith:

In a discussion recently, the question arose, "Was Christ married?" The quote of Isaiah 53:10 was given, which reads,

Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put Him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul and offering for sin, he shall see His seed, he shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.

What is meant by "he shall see his seed"? Does this mean that Christ had children?

In the Temple ceremony we are told that only through Temple marriage can we receive the highest degree of exaltation and dwell in the presence of our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Christ came here to set us the example and, therefore, we believe that he must have been married. Are we right?

Sincerely,

J. Ricks Smith 1736 N. Ontario Street Burbank, California

In a written response (on the same letter), Elder Smith indicated his feelings on the matter—both in the positive. Placing an asterisk next to the words "His seed" in the letter, at the bottom of the letter Elder Smith wrote:

*Mosiah 15:10-12 Please Read Your Book of Mormon!

Placing two asterisks next to the words "he must have been married," at the bottom of the letter Elder Smith wrote:

**Yes! But do not preach it! The Lord advised us not to cast pearls before swine!

Apparently Elder Smith believed that the married state of Jesus was true, but that it should not be preached to others.

There has never been any revelation or official statement on the subject on behalf of the Church

Even though several leaders have expressed positive opinions on the subject, there has never been any revelation or official statement on the subject on behalf of the Church.

Dale Bills, a spokesman for the Church, said in a statement released Tuesday, 16 May 2006:

The belief that Christ was married has never been official church doctrine. It is neither sanctioned nor taught by the church. While it is true that a few church leaders in the mid-1800s expressed their opinions on the matter, it was not then, and is not now, church doctrine. [4]


Dale Bills (Church spokesman, 2006): "The belief that Christ was married has never been official church doctrine"

Dale Bills, a spokesman for the Church:

The belief that Christ was married has never been official church doctrine. It is neither sanctioned nor taught by the church. While it is true that a few church leaders in the mid-1800s expressed their opinions on the matter, it was not then, and is not now, church doctrine. [5]


Charles Penrose (1912): "We do not know anything about Jesus Christ being married"

Charles W. Penrose:

Question 2: Do you believe that Jesus was married?
Answer: We do not know anything about Jesus Christ being married. The Church has no authoritative declaration on the subject. [6]


Question: Do Mormons believe Jesus Christ was a polygamist?

There is no official doctrine regarding Jesus' marital state

The Bible is silent on the issue of Jesus' (or the Father's) marital state, and there has been no modern revelation stating he was or was not married. This leaves the issue an open question. Jesus' purported polygamy plays little if any role in present-day LDS discourse.

Therefore, the easy answer is that no, Latter-day Saint doctrine does not teach that Jesus was married, polygamist or otherwise. In fact, there is no official Church doctrine on this issue. Members are free to believe as they wish concerning this matter.


Question: Did early Mormon leaders believe that Jesus Christ was a polygamist?

A few Church leaders believed this, but the idea was never official Church doctrine

Since members in the nineteenth century were commanded to practice polygamy, many presumed that Jesus would have had to also practice this law.

Jedediah M. Grant

Jedediah M. Grant said:

This ancient philosopher says they were both John's wives. Paul says, "Mine answer to them that do examine me is this:—.Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas." He, according to Celsus, had a numerous train of wives.

The grand reason of the burst of public sentiment in anathemas upon Christ and his disciples, causing his crucifixion, was evidently based upon polygamy, according to the testimony of the philosophers who rose in that age. A belief in the doctrine of a plurality of wives caused the persecution of Jesus and his followers. We might almost think they were "Mormons."

But if you pass on in their history to seek for uniformity and beauty, you will find some grand flare-ups among them. Look, for instance, at Paul and Peter, disputing and quarrelling with each other....[7]

Grant believed that early writers, hostile to the Christians, charged members and even Jesus, with polygamy (a charge which would have offended sophisticated Roman opinion in the day). Grant sees the obvious parallels with how the Saints have been treated over the same issue, but Jesus' marital state is not his main point, but conflict and persecution. (It is not clear, however, to which source Grant is referring—FAIR has been unable to locate any such reference to Celsus.)

Orson Hyde

Likewise, Orson Hyde remarked:

I discover that some of the Eastern papers represent me as a great blasphemer, because I said, in my lecture on Marriage, at our last Conference, that Jesus Christ was married at Cana of Galilee, that Mary, Martha, and others were his wives, and that he begat children.

All that I have to say in reply to that charge is this—they worship a Savior that is too pure and holy to fulfil the commands of his Father. I worship one that is just pure and holy enough "to fulfil all righteousness;" not only the righteous law of baptism, but the still more righteous and important law "to multiply and replenish the earth." Startle not at this! for even the Father himself honored that law by coming down to Mary, without a natural body, and begetting a son; and if Jesus begat children, he only "did that which he had seen his Father do."[8]

Hyde is again not focused on Jesus' matrimonial state, and notes that being married and begetting children—polygamously or otherwise—is no evil, but is in accordance with God's commandments from time to time.

Notes

  1. William Phipps, "The Case for a Married Jesus," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 7 no. 4 (1972), 44-49., and William Phipps, Was Jesus Married? The Distortion of Sexuality in the Christian Tradition (New York: Harper and Row, 1970).
  2. Charles W. Penrose, "Peculiar Questions Briefly Answered," Improvement Era 15 no. 11 (September 1912).
  3. (6 October 1854) Journal of Discourses 2:82. Elder Hyde's interpretation of Isaiah 53:10 is at variance with the one given in the Book of Mormon. Abinadi taught that the prophets and those who believe the words of the prophets are Jesus' seed (Mosiah 15:10-13).
  4. "LDS do not endorse claims in 'Da Vinci'," Deseret News, 17 May 2006; (Link). See also "Book's premise not so shocking to LDS," The Salt Lake Tribune, 19 May 2006; (Link).
  5. "LDS do not endorse claims in 'Da Vinci'," Deseret News, 17 May 2006; (Link). See also "Book's premise not so shocking to LDS," The Salt Lake Tribune, 19 May 2006; (Link).
  6. Charles W. Penrose, "Peculiar Questions Briefly Answered," Improvement Era 15 no. 11 (September 1912).
  7. Jedediah M. Grant, "UNIFORMITY," (7 August 1853) Journal of Discourses 1:346.
  8. Orson Hyde, "The Judgements of God on the United States--The Saints and the World," (18 March 1855) Journal of Discourses 2:210.