Based on this document which appears to outline celestial marriage, and LDS temple rites pertaining to the eternal sealing of husbands and wives; children as well, born after the sealing of a husband and wife, are said to be partakers; 'born in the covenant', or, having been born before the sealing, through provision of temple rites, can be sealed to the covenant of their parents; what is to be done with these words of Jesus Christ.

The same day came to him 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. But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. And when the multitude heard this, they were astonished at his doctrine. (Mat 22:23-33)

Thinking that they could find some error in the perfect doctrine of Jesus Christ, the Sadducees had designed to ensnare him, by a solicitation of his doctrine on the resurrection of the dead. I see, had he agreed with their position, being that, to them, there was no resurrection of the dead, they would have been content to take his part, in turning it to their advantage; a sharp disagreement between their sect, and the Pharisees; or equally content to have an open declaration from him on the matter, to give a doctrinal prerogative for their rejection of him.

A short personal aside, on that captivating matter-of-course; entering through the back door, while his adversaries guarded the front, in a figure of speech; their preoccupation with the expected answer, left them vulnerable to his triage of the matter.

Jesus begins first by addressing that particular pretext of theirs, a convoluted arrangement on their part; apparently to them, of no significance, but for the occasion it afforded. 'Ye do err', and though their expectation, as I said, being his answer to the resurrection, 'not knowing the scriptures' (I suspect the other half 'nor the Power of God', is in reserve for the ensuing 'as touching the resurrection of the dead') --'they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.'


How do Latter Day Saints perceive this, in regard to the LDS doctrine on divine confirmation of the figurative covenant of marriage, carried on in perpetuity? Being that it is in apparent opposition to the explicit revelation of Jesus Christ; in priority over, even the resurrection of the dead? (Feel free to strike the last two clauses, if you perceive an assertive veneer.)

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    +1 Great Question. It has been asked before. I don't have time for an answer but check out this link: fairmormon.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/… -on a side note. This is not directly from the church, just an institution that defends the church. Take it as you will. - Also remember the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection so they didn't think there was a suitable answer for this question. (ldsscriptureteachings.org/2013/01/04/…)
    – staples
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 13:47

3 Answers 3


It's important to understand who 'they' refer to. From verse 23 we know the Lord is talking directly to the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection. They were asking a question to bait/trap the Lord in contradicting Moses, the lawgiver (see Deut 25:5-10). Remember this question is about what happens in the resurrection when the Sadducees don't even believe in the resurrection (see vs 23). The Savior effectively dismissed their question on marriage by stating that in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven(vs 30). Jesus is trying to turn to the important issue of the Sadducee's unbelief in the resurrection (see vs 31-32).

So here are some important points on the Lord's statement:

  1. First, we see that it was made in response to an attempt by the Sadducees to trap the Lord. Consequently, it would not have been the Lord’s final word on the subject. Why should the Lord scatter pearls before them that they would only trample underfoot?
  2. Second, the Lord did not say there would be no people in the married state in the resurrection, but that there would be no marriages made in the resurrection.
  3. Third, we must be clear about the “they” who are neither marrying nor being given in marriage. The context of the scriptures just cited suggests a generic rather than a specific meaning. Simply put, that means no marriages are made in the resurrection. The Lord was warning the Sadducees. They were Jews of the day who had rejected him and therefore had no access to the higher ordinances of the Melchizedek Priesthood. How could these men, whom Jesus had called a “generation of vipers” (Matt. 3:7), qualify for the highest blessings of the celestial kingdom?
  4. The Lord has previously, and we believe has again in this day, given the power to bind on earth and in heaven (Matt. 16:19, Doc&Cov 132:19)

Joseph Smith has said:

“A man must enter into an everlasting covenant with his wife in this world, or he will have no claim on her in the next. “No man can obtain an eternal blessing unless the contract or covenant be made in view of eternity. All contracts in view of this life only terminate with this life. [Such is the] case of the woman and seven husbands. Those who keep no eternal law in this life or make no eternal contract are single and alone in the eternal world and are only made angels to minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation, never becoming sons of God, having never kept the law of God, that is, eternal law.” (emphasis added, in this answer referencing Sadducees who did not live the new law that Jesus taught)

Similarly, Joseph Fielding Smith said:

“So here we have the true understanding of the Savior’s answer to the Sadducees. If by any chance, any who believed as they believed, and therefore were married for time only, proved worthy to obtain that world, that is the kingdom of God, they would have to enter there separate and singly to become servants-angels-to wait on those who were worthy of the exaltation. These Sadducees who might be worthy of a place in that kingdom would be in exactly the same condition that members of the Church of Jesus Christ will find themselves, if they likewise, have been content with a civil union only.” (emphasis added)

On marrying, James E Talmage sums up the answer by saying:

“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.”

References/See also


Specifically, on the topic of eternal marriage, the LDS believe that when a man and woman are married in the temple, their family can be together forever. The article you mention says:

Mormons assert that for a celestial marriage to occur, several key steps must be followed. First, the man and woman must be sealed, or bound, by one holding the authority of God to perform such sealings, which can only take place in Mormon temples. Second, the couple must seek, with all their hearts, to individually and jointly follow Jesus Christ. Third, the sealing must be confirmed by God through His Spirit.

Biblical basis of sealing/binding power is seen in Matt 16:19 where Jesus Christ gives Simon the power to bind on earth and in heaven. The LDS believe that that authority was lost during the apostasy and has been restored through the prophet Joseph Smith. (see also Eccl 3:14, Mark 10:9, Matt 28:18)

Eternal marriage is another doctrine that central to God's plan. Matt 19:4-7 says, What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. When a man and woman are sealed together in the temple the LDS believe they are sealed eternally, that their marriage isn't til death but will last forever. (See also 1 Cor 11:11, Ephesians 5:31)

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    @abstraction, you tagged this asking for the LDS perspective, which would require that it accepts the LDS open canon (and continued words of Jesus) as a necessary part of the answer. I suppose you could refine your tags to biblical basis, but responses would still be based upon the LDS understanding of that basis.
    – Tavrock
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 14:52
  • @Abstractioniseverything. The LDS believe in more than the Bible. Why would you ask for the LDS Church to reconcile their beliefs without being able to use some of the scriptures? Sorry, but that's unreasonable. This is a fine answer.
    – Matt
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 15:03
  • I understand, but I was only appealing to an accommodation, that I think should not be considered a handicap from either side. I am under the impression that the LDS consider the Bible to be inspired, and authoritative. I am not dependent on commentators that I trust and respect. I am intimate with the word of God. I am curious if you can support your claims from the Bible alone. If this is not amenable to you, I can rephrase my question. Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 15:04
  • @Abstractioniseverything. does Matt 16:19 and Matt 19:4-7 answer about eternal marriage? what specific question do you want more biblical based answer?
    – depperm
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 16:24
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    You have answered what I asked of you. I accepted your answer, and gave (+1). I want to stress here, in this specific instance of our exchange, that I made what I consider to be a reasonable request, to meet me halfway. I appreciate you proving, that we can operate this way on this site. Thank you for humoring me. Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 2:05

@depperm gave the real answer to this question, but just for fun, here's an answer that makes recourse only to the Bible (KJV) that I think most LDS members would accept.

"29 Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.

30 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)

"34 And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage:

35 But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage:

36 Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection." (Luke 20:34-36)

These 2 scriptures must be taken in light of each other and do indeed seem to cast doubt on the entire concept of eternal marriage. But if we assume the Bible is not in self-contradiction, then the following passages seem to imply there's more to the story:

"2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." (1 John 3:2)

"16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together." (Romans 8:16-17)

"1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,

2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

4 Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.

5 For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?" (Hebrews 1:1-5)

The Hebrews passage and the Romans passage are really the keys to the argument. Romans implies that faithful believers (the "sons of God" who "walk after... the Spirit") get the same inheritance as Christ did, and Hebrews implies that Christ's inheritance was higher than the angels, which is interesting when compared with Luke 20 (by implication Matthew 22) which is talking about people equal to the angels.

The conclusion is that Matthew 22 and Luke 20 are talking about some resurrection that is not the fullest possible kind of salvation; there is something better. It is no accident that Doctrine and Covenants 132 presents celestial marriage as inseparable from the potential of humans to become gods.

  • Well done. As with many things, the Bible itself does contain undeniable proof that there is more that what the sectarian world finds itself willing to accept.
    – pygosceles
    Commented Dec 30, 2023 at 6:08

Matthew 22:23 reads

30 For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.

So, the question is, who is they? We read in Luke 20

34 And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage:

35 But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage:

36 Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.

So there's the answer. Those who are worthy to obtain the world neither marry nor are given in marriage in the next life. They do become equal to angels, being children of the resurrection though.

So, that's what Matthew 22:23 is teaching. Those worthy of this world do not obtain celestial marriage.

  • Fascinating, I had never noticed this about the version in Luke 20 before. This is an excellent answer. For a long time I have had a testimony that the Savior was saying to them in essence, "for your purposes, who do not believe in the resurrection of the dead in the first place, you have no need to be preoccupied about eternal marriage."
    – pygosceles
    Commented Dec 30, 2023 at 6:11
  • Also, "those worthy of this world" stands in stark contrast to the many references to "the children of the kingdom [of God]" in many other places.
    – pygosceles
    Commented Dec 30, 2023 at 6:11

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