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From an LDS article on marriage:

The covenant of eternal marriage is necessary for exaltation. The Lord revealed through Joseph Smith: “In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees; and in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage]; and if he does not, he cannot obtain it. He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase” (Doctrine and Covenants 131:1–4).

It is unclear to me if only the highest of the three heavens described here is considered as exaltation or if the "other two" are lesser degrees of exaltation. It appears, from the first statement, that the unmarried cannot be exalted at all.

From what appears to be a catechism of sorts:

What must we do in order to obtain the highest degree of the celestial kingdom? (Students should identify the following doctrine: In order to obtain the highest degree of the celestial kingdom, we must enter into the new and everlasting covenant of marriage.

This catechism puts the "highest degree of the celestial kingdom" into the same category as Joseph Smith's statement puts "exaltation".

Can an unmarried LDS be exalted and, if so, is their exaltation of a lesser degree than the married?

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    So, is Paul correct in saying that 'it is better not to marry' ? ? (Up-voted +1.)
    – Nigel J
    Commented Sep 26, 2022 at 15:41

2 Answers 2

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NO, as stated in OP

In order to obtain the highest degree of the celestial kingdom, we must enter into the new and everlasting covenant of marriage

Kingdoms of glory (3 kingdoms)

  1. Celestial (3 degrees)

    From another revelation to the Prophet Joseph, we learn that there are three degrees within the celestial kingdom. To be exalted in the highest degree and continue eternally in family relationships, we must enter into “the new and everlasting covenant of marriage” and be true to that covenant. In other words, temple marriage is a requirement for obtaining the highest degree of celestial glory.

  2. Terrestrial (unknown number of degrees*)
  3. Telestial (unknown number of degrees*)

On degrees in terrestrial/telestial kingdom:

Elder James E Talmage

The three kingdoms of widely differing glories are severally organized on a plan of gradation. The Telestial kingdom comprises subdivisions; this also is the case, we are told, with the Celestial; and, by analogy, we conclude that a similar condition prevails in the Terrestrial. Thus the innumerable degrees of merit amongst mankind are provided for in an infinity of graded glories

Elder Bruce R McConkie

Rewards granted individuals in eternity will vary between and within kingdoms. Only those who are sealed in the new and everlasting covenant of marriage and who thereafter keep the terms and conditions of that covenant will attain the highest of three heavens within the celestial kingdom. (D. & C. 131:1-4.) Inhabitants of the telestial kingdom will differ in glory among themselves "as one star differs from another star in glory." (D. & C. 76:98; 1 Cor. 15:41.) Similar variations will exist among inheritors of the terrestrial kingdom. (D. & C. 76:71-79.)

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  • For clarification, are Terrestrial and Telestial not considered exaltation, then, or just a lesser or lower exaltation? Commented Sep 26, 2022 at 13:13
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    Only the highest degree of the celestial kingdom is considered exaltation, even the two other degrees in the celestial kingdom are not considered exaltation
    – depperm
    Commented Sep 26, 2022 at 13:17
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No

To be exalted in the highest degree and continue eternally in family relationships, we must enter into “the new and everlasting covenant of marriage” and be true to that covenant. In other words, temple marriage is a requirement for obtaining the highest degree of celestial glory. (See Doctrine and Covenants 131:1–4.)

But actually, Yes

All who are worthy to enter into the new and everlasting covenant of marriage will have that opportunity, whether in this life or the next.

Fundamentally, what decides the future fate is our own decisions and wishes, not outside factors that may, in this life, have prevented marriage.

Source: The Kingdoms of Glory entry in Topics and Questions study resource.

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