Question: Is marriage essential to achieve exaltation?

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Question: Is marriage essential to achieve exaltation?

There is no Biblical obstacle to the doctrine of eternal marriage

Some criticize the Latter-day Saint view of marriage as essential on the following grounds:

  1. If marriage is essential to achieve exaltation, why did Paul say that it is good for a man not to marry? (1 Corinthians 7:1)
  2. Why does the Mormon Church teach that we can be married in heaven when Jesus said in Matthew 22:30 that there is no marriage in the resurrection?
  3. Since not all members of the Church are married, doesn't this mean there will be many otherwise good Mormons who will not be exalted?

There is no Biblical obstacle to the doctrine of eternal marriage.

  1. Some of Paul's statements addressed specific situations (e.g., missionaries wishing to leave their labors to be married), and some refuted false ideas in the Christian churches about avoiding marriage. There is textual evidence for the importance of marriage in the early Church, and evidence from early Fathers and the Bible that Paul was, in fact, married.
  2. It will be too late for weddings after the resurrection, but the state of marriage itself can exist eternally, if entered into via the Lord's way. This is supported by the details of the situation described in Matthew, and the original Greek.

Latter-day Saints do not draw their doctrine from a reading of the Bible—as in all things, they are primarily guided by modern revelation. That same revelation assures them that no worthy person who was unable to marry will be denied any blessing in the hereafter.

The critics misstate the Biblical evidence: Paul's statement is a response to a particular situation, probably regarding missionary work

In brief, the critics misstate the Biblical evidence.

  1. Paul does not say it is good not to marry. Paul was probably married himself. But, married or not, his advice to the Corinthians — that the unmarried remain unmarried and that the married be as if they were not married — is a response to a particular situation, probably regarding missionary work.
  2. Jesus' response to the Pharisees in Matt 22 says nothing about the marital status of the righteous in heaven. It responds to a particular question about an actual case that the Sadducees were using to try to trick the Savior.

The critics also misunderstand or misrepresent LDS doctrine on the necessity of marriage for salvation. Each of these points is discussed below.

Paul and "good not to marry"

The basis for the suggestion that Paul counseled against marriage and sexual relations is found in 1 Corinthians 7:1-2:

Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.

There are several things that should be understood if one is to correctly interpret this passage and, indeed, the entire seventh chapter of Paul's letter to the Corinthians. These are:

  1. The statement, "it is good for a man not to touch a woman" was probably not Paul's.
  2. Paul may well have been married himself, but traveling in the ministry without his wife.
  3. Paul taught the importance of marriage in many places.
  4. The reason for Paul's advice to the unmarried was for an unusual and a temporary situation.
  5. Paul is careful to point out that this advice to remain single for the time being is not God's commandment, but was only his personal (though very wise) opinion.
  6. Paul is clear that marriage, not celibacy, is a requirement for church leadership.

For a detailed response, see: Further discussion of Corinthians 7

Jesus and "neither marry nor given in marriage"

Matthew 22:23-30 (or its counterparts, Mark 12:18-25 and Luke 20:27-36) is often used by critics to argue against the LDS doctrine of eternal marriage. The Sadducees, who didn't believe in the resurrection, asked the Savior about a case where one woman successively married seven brothers, each of which died leaving her to the next. They then tried to trip up Jesus by asking him whose wife she will be in the resurrection. Jesus' answer is almost identical in all three scriptural versions.

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. (Matthew 22:29-30)

This scripture is one of the most misunderstood scriptures in the Bible. If one is to understand it properly, one must take into account the following:

  1. The question that the Sadducees asked was not a hypothetical one but was based on a real case of a woman who married seven brothers in succession, and that Jesus is commenting on this particular case.
  2. The original Greek of this passage makes it clear that Jesus intended no statement concerning the marital status of the righteous in heaven.
  3. The eternal unmarried state is the state of the angels in heaven, but it is not that of the heirs of salvation.

For a detailed response, see: Further discussion of Matthew 22:23-30