Mormonism and Celestial Marriage

Question
A friend of mine is a Mormon. He spoke the other day about being married in "a Temple." He referred to such phrases as "eternal marriage," or "celestial marriage." Is eternal marriage or celestial marriage biblical?
Answer

Mormon Celestial Marriage and Planet Rule

According to Mormonism, Eternal Marriage (Celestial Marriage) is essential for "exaltation," or "eternal progression."

What is celestial marriage? Celestial marriage refers to a type of marriage which Mormons believe is intended to last beyond the grave and through eternity. "Celestial" means "heavenly." This does not indicate a marriage that takes place in heaven, but rather a kind of marriage that is allegedly heavenly in nature; it is divine in its origin and potential. (See LDS website).

What is exaltation? According to Mormonism, (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or the LDS Church), exaltation "is eternal life, the kind of life that God lives. He lives in great glory. He is perfect. He possesses all knowledge and all wisdom. He is the father of spirit children. He is a creator. We can become gods like our Heavenly Father. This is exaltation" (Gospel Principles: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1978, revised 1986). According to Mormon doctrine, celestial marriage is necessary to help man and woman become gods and goddesses in the celestial kingdom. At the highest level they will even rule their own planets. But, the eternal marriage must be performed by one who holds the "sealing powers and authority" and be conducted in a "holy temple."

Their Doctrines of the Gospel Student Manual, Chapter 28, entitled "Celestial Marriage," states it this way:

A. Marriage is ordained of God.

See Doctrine and Covenants 49:1517 ; Hebrews 13:4 ; Matthew 19:56 ; Genesis 2:18, 24 .

B. A marriage must be performed with the sealing power of the priesthood to be valid after this life.

1. God intended that marriages should be eternal (see Matthew 19:6 ; D&C 132:1920 ; 1 Corinthians 11:11 ).

2. A marriage not performed with the sealing power of the priesthood is not valid after this life (see D&C 132:7, 1518 ).

3. Only one person on the earth at a time holds the keys of the sealing power (see D&C 132:7 ).

C. Celestial marriage is essential to exaltation.

1. In order to obtain the highest degree in the celestial kingdom, a man and a woman must enter into the new and everlasting covenant of marriage (see D&C 131:23 ).

2. A marriage must be sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise before the husband and the wife can obtain exaltation (see D&C 132:19 ).

3. Those who are married by the power of God and achieve exaltation will have eternal increase (see D&C 132:19 ; 131:24 ).

LDS Institute, http://institute.lds.org/manuals/doctrines-of-the-gospel-student-manual/doc-gosp-21-30-28.asp Last Accessed 01/06/2012

This doctrine is important to Mormons as they see it as a way to become "gods" themselves. "Through the Atonement and their own faithfulness, those who obtain exaltation become gods (Doctrines and Covenants 76:58 ; 132:1920 - LDS Institute).

Christianity, Marriage and Eternity

Biblical marriage and strong families are very important issues (see: WCF 24). However, according to Scripture they are temporary as compared to all eternity. Jesus nowhere teaches that marriages last beyond death. He actually taught the direct opposite (Matt. 22:30; Mark 12:25; Luke 20:35). Moreover, one's eternal destiny rests solely on Christ alone (Eph. 2:8-10, et. al.) and is not dependent upon one's marital status or family relationships. As opposed to Mormonism's quest for ultimate sovereignty and rule, the Bible nowhere teaches that people can become gods. There is one God: infinite, eternal, almighty, and perfect in holiness, truth, and love. In the unity of the godhead there are three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, co-existent, co-equal, co-eternal (Deut. 32:39; Is. 43:10; 44:6, 8; 45:5-6, 21-22; 46:9, etc.); see WSC - Q/A 4-6, WLC - Q/A 6-11). However, there was one in Scripture who suggested the premise of mankind becoming gods - Satan in Genesis 3:5, as he himself desired to be sovereign over God's creation (cf. Is 14:12-17; Ezek 28:13-15)! Adam and Eve fell for the bait, will you?

Paul once warned the church of his time of the "doctrine of devils." He said:

1 Tim. 4:1-3, 6-7 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, brought up in the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives tales; rather, train yourself to be godly.
Though Mormons promote a celestial marriage and kingdoms they do not promote biblical views on marriage or eternity (compare their view to: WCF 24, 32-33). Therefore, this warning is for us today - "Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives tales; rather, train yourself to be godly."

Related Topics

What is Mormonism?
The Bible vs. The Book of Mormon
The Mormon Plan of Salvation
The Fictitious Mormon Jesus
Are Mormonism and Islam similar in any way(s)?
The Mormon View of their god

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (IIIM).