From this verse in Matthew 19, it may appear that the Savior approved of celibacy or self-mutilation:

"For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it." (Matthew 19:12)

However, modern apostles and prophets have clarified “that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children. … God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 129).

Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–85) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained that anciently some people held the false belief that a life of celibacy was to be sought after: “Apparently those who made themselves eunuchs were men who in false pagan worship had deliberately mutilated themselves in the apostate notion that such would further their salvation. It is clear that such was not a true gospel requirement of any sort. There is no such thing in the gospel as wilful emasculation; such a notion violates every true principle of procreation and celestial marriage” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1965–73], 1:549).

What did Christ mean when he said, "He that is able to receive it, let him receive it."?

2 Answers 2


I figure this website says it better than I can.

"... there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake..." (Matt 19:12)

There are no known scriptural or historical accounts which tell us more about these particular eunuchs. So, how are we to understand this passage? Joseph Smith said,

"I have a key by which I understand the scriptures. I enquire, what was the question which drew out the answer." (Teachings, 276)

Jesus was responding to the disciples' statement that it would be better not to marry if the law was so strict.

Christ's response, in essence, declared,

"You're right, for those who understand and receive the full meaning of the law of celestial marriage, it is better not to marry at all than to make the mistake of violating the covenants of your first marriage in marrying another. For example, there have been men who understood this doctrine and made themselves eunuchs rather than take the risk of violating this holy law."

This response was not meant to justify the mutilating act required to become a eunuch nor to condone a celibate lifestyle but to acknowledge their understanding of the supreme solemnity of the covenant of celestial marriage.

Those who have received a testimony of this principle are obligated to live by its precepts. For them, it would be better to live a celibate life than to violate this law, for 'he who sins against the greater light shall receive the greater condemnation' (D&C 82:3). Therefore, 'He that is able to receive it, let him receive it'-for those who are not able to receive it are not obligated to abide such a strict law.

"If our societies were on a higher plane, then, marriage covenants would be held in great, sacred trust; essentially, divorce would not exist or be considered except for truly serious reasons such as adultery. I would also suggest that in a higher system, with individuals living in harmony with all the Lord's teachings, there would be no such serious problems and thus no divorce.

Unfortunately, our societies are less than ideal. Some persons do live in unbearably difficult marital circumstances, suffering as victims of spouse abuse, substance abuse, promiscuity, and other evils that are sometimes addressed through divorce as a last resort. In such cases, the Lord in his mercy 'permits his agents to exercise the power to loose [to authorize divorce] as well as the power to bind.' (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 204)" (Jonathan M. Chamberlain, Ensign, Jan. 1993, p. 60)

  • It is necessary here to also recognize the LDS article of faith that says "We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly". Although the church does provide much commentary and even the "inspired version" from Joseph Smith, it is certainly possible that the precise wording and meaning of the original has changed enough to obscure the Lord's actual message. There are numerous examples of a what might initially seem like trivial changes to words and grammar have a significant impact on the doctrinal meaning.
    – C Perkins
    May 9, 2023 at 13:23

I am a lifelong Mormon, and I read this verse Matt. 19:12 many times, and prayed to God for answers on how to understand it, and it came to me personally that to say that there will be Eunuchs in the kingdom of God is meant that all NON celestial beings shall be eunuchs.

  • Welcome to Christianity.SE. For a quick overview, please take the Site Tour. For more on what this site is all about, see: How we are different than other sites. For some tips on writing good answers here, please see: What makes a good supported answer? Meanwhile, I hope you'll browse some of the other questions and answers on this site. Mar 17, 2018 at 5:48
  • 1
    Welcome Darold. While we appreciate your effort here, it's important to note that for this question we want to see not merely personal interpretation, but the actual view of the LDS church. Can you cite an official source backing up your interpretation? Mar 18, 2018 at 20:10
  • Nope. The verse shall be applied to the Telestial and Terrestrial beings. God is NOT a spirit. Luke 24 plainly teaches this, and John 4:24 was subverted by some fool in the dark ages long after the church fell into apostasy... This is what the LORD revealed to me. Because the LORD is not a spirit, but is immortal with a body, and is a male forever and ever just Heavenly Father is. Satan is a spirit. In the Vatican the proof is there. Our Church leaders did in fact go there by invite by the Vatican, and viewed the manuscripts of the bible, and saw the obvious erasure of 4:24. Mar 20, 2018 at 0:13

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .