Kingdoms of Glory contains the following which I have taken from the accepted answer to this question:

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.

The answer asserts that according to LDS, in order for exaltation to be achieved, it is necessary to enter the "eternal covenant of marriage" and that the unmarried cannot achieve exaltation. My understanding is that, in order to enter into that eternal covenant, one must undertake an earthly marriage administered through a proper authority in the temple. Therefore it appears that, in order to achieve exaltation it is necessary to be married on earth:

Our exaltation depends on marriage, along with other principles and ordinances, such as faith, repentance, baptism, and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. We believe that marriage is the most sacred relationship that can exist between a man and a woman. This sacred relationship affects our happiness now and in the eternities. - Eternal Marriage

Additionally, it is stated that the advent of the Gospel's Restoration (as revealed to LDS Apostles) has restored this eternal covenant of marriage:

Adam and Eve were married by God before there was any death in the world. They had an eternal marriage. They taught the law of eternal marriage to their children and their children’s children. As the years passed, wickedness entered the hearts of the people and the authority to perform this sacred ordinance was taken from the earth. Through the Restoration of the gospel, eternal marriage has been restored to earth. - same link as above

In 1 Corinthians chapters 7-9, the Apostle Paul has much to say on the matter of marriage (too much to copy and paste here). His message to the unmarried is that, since the advent of the Gospel age, it is better to remain unmarried. He does neither forbid marriage nor disdain marriage but recognizes it as necessary for those who "cannot contain":

I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn. - 1 Corinthians 7:8-9

The reason he gives for the unmarried state on earth to be preferable is that the married are distracted (and rightly so) by the needs of the marriage and the marriage partner. A married person is unable to be solely dedicated to the Lord's work because of what a marriage entails and requires:

But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife. There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband. And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction. - 1 Corinthians 7:32-35

And in regards to the father of the unmarried woman Paul writes that if the virgin requires it he may let them marry...it is not a sin, but:

But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them marry. Nevertheless he that standeth stedfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, doeth well.So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better. - 1 Corinthians 7:36-38

In summary, Paul makes it clear that earthly marriage is not wrong but that, now that the gospel age has commenced, the unmarried state is spiritually preferable if has has been so gifted (v. 7).

LDS says marriage is spiritually necessary and Paul says it is spiritually better to remain unmarried. According to LDS, is Paul wrong?

  • Does LDS have a monastic tradition?
    – Beanluc
    Oct 7, 2022 at 0:25
  • @Beanluc no they do not
    – depperm
    Oct 7, 2022 at 11:45

1 Answer 1


Paul was not against marriage, as he made other statements (1 Timothy 3, Titus 1:5-9) for marriage and he was probably married (though widowed? at the time of epistle to Corinthians, see below).

From How can Paul's views be reconciled with the revealed truths of eternal marriage?

Paul’s teachings, as recorded in letters that were sent to churches and saints in various stages of spiritual progression, reflect the character and experience of a man who understands family relationships and can speak with authority on the subject.

In the first place, Paul himself was likely to have been married because of his Judaic background. In his defense before the Jewish crowd outside the Roman barracks of the Antonian tower, Paul states that he was taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers and was zealous in living that law. (See Acts 22:3.) Again, in his defense before the Pharisees and Sadducees, Paul claims that he is a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee. (See Acts 23:6.) To the Galatians, Paul had written that he was more zealous in fulfilling the requirements of his religion than others of his time. (See Gal. 1:14.) The emphasis that the Jews put on marriage as part of their law and tradition would certainly have been used against Paul in view of such statements if he had not been married.

Further evidence that Paul was married is found in the likelihood that Paul was a member of the Sanhedrin. One of the qualifications for becoming a member of that body was that a man must be married and the father of children, which was thought to make him more merciful in dispensing justice in the courts. ... In view of these evidences, most non-Mormon scholars do not argue that Paul had never been married, but that he was either divorced or was a widower by the time he wrote to the Corinthian church.

But let us take a closer look at 1 Corinthians 7 to see if the evidence supports this last conjecture. At the outset, Paul refers to a letter the Corinthians wrote to him: “Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.” Although the King James Version does not make it clear who makes the statement, “it is good for a man not to touch a woman,” the Greek text and the Inspired Version both make this a statement of the Corinthians. We do not know the context of this statement, because we do not have the Corinthian epistle to Paul. The only context we can supply is Paul’s answer and, fortunately, that does give us some clue as to their problem. Paul wishes (see 1 Cor. 7:7) that all men were as he was. But what is that? Could it be that he wishes all men were divorced or that all had lost their companions in death, or does he simply wish that men would be so dedicated to the work of the Lord that they be as though single?

Evidence of the latter possibility can be found later in the chapter. In verses 10 and 11, [1 Cor. 7:10–11] Paul does not tell the married saints to become separated, but if they are separated, he suggests either that they remain that way rather than marry someone else or that they become reconciled. Paul even enjoins against separation in part-member families if the husband and wife are compatible (1 Cor. 7:12–14), because the member may someday be able to help save his spouse (see 1 Cor. 7:16).

One reason Paul wrote to the Corinthians concerning these matters is found in verse 29 [1 Cor. 7:29], where he states, “this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that … they that have wives be as though they had none.” He further states (1 Cor. 7:32) that the unmarried saints (and those who are as though unmarried) care for the things of the Lord, but too often a married person puts other things before the work of the Lord (1 Cor. 7:33). Paul is simply reminding those who have been called to God’s work to put that calling first, even before earthly matters.

In the Inspired Version, Joseph Smith made an important addition to 1 Corinthians 7:29 [1 Cor. 7:29] that supports this interpretation: “But I speak unto you who are called unto the ministry. For this I say, brethren, the time that remaineth is but short, that ye shall be sent forth unto the ministry. Even they who have wives, shall be as though they had none; for ye are called and chosen to do the Lord’s work.” Contrary to generally accepted interpretations, Paul is not condemning marriage in this chapter but is evidently replying to a problem regarding missionaries who desire to become married. His advice is that while they are on their missions (and he declared that the time for missionary work is short) they should be concerned with the work of the Lord and not with family or personal matters.

Concerning the importance of marriage for a member of the church and the relationships of family members toward each other and the Lord, Paul exhorts the saints to be followers of himself, especially in the ordinances of the church. (See 1 Cor. 11:1–2.) He teaches that the husband is to honor the Lord as his head and the wife is to honor the husband as her head, and that “neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.” (1 Cor. 11:11.) ...

  • Good answer, +1. I was going to write the same thing =). Oct 6, 2022 at 14:42
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    @NigelJ This is basically a quote from the (mormon) professor of ancient scripture cited here. Here is another (baptist, from what I can tell) professor also arguing for Paul being married: dennyburk.com/… - I am not sure what your problem here is, the question is "Do LDS teach Paul was wrong in saying we should stay unmarried", and the answer given is "no, they teach that is not what he meant". The second to last paragraph is actually most relevant, as it shows what the teaching is, the rest is arguing why that is sensible.
    – kutschkem
    Oct 6, 2022 at 15:42
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    @NigelJ here is a SE question that seems to also indicate Paul being a member of the Sanhedrin (this is not a belief unique to LDS-further commentary is included in link-didn't think it relevant to the answer so omitted), but even ignoring that his Jewish background would also make it likely
    – depperm
    Oct 6, 2022 at 15:44
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    @MikeBorden I... guess? I would say it depends on context that is missing in the original, namely, what Paul is actually replying to. It seems contradictory that basically everywhere in the Bible, marriage is positive, I'd go so far to say commanded even, but here suddenly Paul says it would be better to be single? That seems to me like SOME context is missing. The point of the JST is exactly that, I'd say: through inspiration, provide missing context and proper interpretation. It's not really a translation, it's revelation based on the Bible text to restore proper understanding.
    – kutschkem
    Oct 10, 2022 at 7:01
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    @MikeBorden And it is used as study help, not as the Bible translation in use (that would be KJV for english, and other existing translations in other languages)
    – kutschkem
    Oct 10, 2022 at 7:03

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