Question: Will Mormons who are not married in this life be able to achieve exaltation?

Table of Contents

Question: Will Mormons who are not married in this life be able to achieve exaltation?

People who live a worthy life but do not marry in the temples, for various reasons beyond their control, will at some time be given this opportunity

In discussing the nature of marriage for time and eternity, anti-Mormon authors McKeever and Johnson ask the following:

Although continued good works are essential, Mormonism teaches that a person must be married in the temple to have a chance at exaltation. But what happens if a person does not get married, for whatever reason, and dies single?[1]

In his article in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, James T. Duke explains the LDS doctrine on this subject:

People who live a worthy life but do not marry in the temples, for various reasons beyond their control, which might include not marrying, not having heard the gospel, or not having a temple available so that the marriage could be sealed for eternity, will at some time be given this opportunity. Latter-day Saints believe it is their privilege and duty to perform these sacred ordinances vicariously for deceased progenitors, and for others insofar as possible.[2]

This is not a new teaching. In 1957 Joseph Fielding Smith said to the single sisters of the Church:

You good sisters, who are single and alone, do not fear that blessings are going to be withheld from you. You are not under any obligation or necessity of accepting some proposal that comes to you which is distasteful for fear you will come under condemnation. If in your hearts you feel the gospel is true and would under proper conditions receive these ordinances and sealing blessings in the temple of the Lord, and that is your faith and your hope and your desire, and that does not come to you now, the Lord will make it up, and you shall be blessed, for no blessing shall be withheld.[3]

Likewise Harold B. Lee counseled the single women of the Church:

You young women advancing in years who have not yet accepted a proposal of marriage, if you make yourselves worthy and ready to go to the House of the Lord and have faith in this sacred principle, even though the privilege of marriage dies not come to you now, the Lord will reward you in due time and no blessing will be denied you. You are not under obligation to accept a proposal from some one unworthy of you for fear you will fail of your blessings.[4]

Bruce R. McConkie also taught this principle when he wrote:

I am perfectly aware that there are people who did not have the opportunity [of celestial marriage] but who would have lived the law had the opportunity been afforded. Those individuals will be judged in the providences and mercy of a gracious God according to the intents and desires of their hearts. That is the principle of salvation and exaltation for the dead.[5]

While LDS doctrine states that Celestial marriage is necessary for exaltation with God, the doctrine also states that worthiness is more important than an ordinance, and that the worthy will be provided with all the opportunities necessary so that they do not lose their chance at any blessings. This is one of the great purposes of the LDS temple work for the dead.

Notes

  1. Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson, Mormonism 101. Examining the Religion of the Latter-day Saints (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2000), 218-219. ( Index of claims )
  2. James T. Duke, "Marriage: Eternal Marriage," in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 4 vols., edited by Daniel H. Ludlow, (New York, Macmillan Publishing, 1992), 2:859.
  3. Joseph Fielding Smith, Elijah the Prophet and His Mission (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1957), 51.
  4. Harold B. Lee, Youth and the Church (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1955), 132.
  5. Bruce R. McConkie, "Celestial Marriage," The New Era (June 1978): 17.