One of the most compelling Mormon teachings is that of eternal family and marriage. The idea of being with loved ones eternally is comforting and compelling. But what did Jesus say about that?
me to set the stage. In Jesus' day, the Saducees did not believe in
resurrection--they're "sad, you see." So some of these men get together
and decided to ask Jesus a question, to either get him to agree with
them or trap him.
The question was based on a part of
the Law that required a man to marry his brother's wife if his brother
died without giving her children. As my understanding goes, this was not
for the purpose of polygamy or the man's enjoyment of multiple wives,
but to protect the widow and to carry on the brother's family name by
giving her children in her first husband's name.
The Saducees set
up a scenario in which this type of marriage was practiced, with
multiple brothers marrying a woman as each one died without given her
children. They then asked Jesus which brother would be married to her
after death. They were likely hoping Jesus would answer in one of a few
possible ways. Either he would agree with their beliefs that there was
no resurrection so that none would get her, or he'd specify a brother
and they'd start throwing scenarios at him to try to prove him wrong. I
supposed Jesus could have also said that all the husbands would get her,
which even Mormons don't teach, and Jesus would have been rejected for
saying this ad scripture never tolerated polyandry, more or less
condoned or commanded it.
Instead, Jesus stumped and
surprised his questions and listeners. first, he asserted that there
would be no marriage in heaven, but that people would be like angels.
What specifically he had in mind about angels I'm not sure, but no
matter what it was, I doubt he meant that couples will be reproducing
spirit children for their own planets. In fact, there is no indication
anywhere that I know of that angels reproduce at all, and that being one
of the main reasons for marriage in this life, it seems this
function--and the covenant that makes is sacred--won't be necessary
Second, he trumped the Saducees by
pointing out that God is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and that
he is not the God of the dead--the logical conclusion being that
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are alive and therefore resurrected. Not only
did Jesus answer the question that he was asked, he also answered the
Let's now think about this from the Mormon perspective.
this story is in more than one Gospel and found in early manuscripts,
making it a reliable text, so we can't claim that this part was just put
in by men looking to make their own doctrine. Eternal marriage is the
more pleasant teaching, so it would be less likely for them to have
chosen no marriage in heaven as a doctrine to add in later, anyways. The
apostle Paul's own singleness and teachings support that eternal
marriage was not required by Jesus.
We can also not say
that Jesus and the Saducees weren't talking about faithful Jews,
either, as the Jews in this scenario were fulfilling a requirement in
the Law. There was no talk of worthiness or lack thereof. A Mormon can't
assume, therefore, that this applies only to those who don't make it to
the Celestial Kingdom.
That limits the conclusion to
exactly what Jesus intended--after death, the resurrected faithful will
not be married as they are in this life. He doesn't say anything about
whether we recognize or love our spouse still in heaven--I personally
believe we do--he just says that marriage as we know it will end.
This means that eternal temple marriage--which incidentally was NOT
practiced in the Old Testament temple--marriage for eternity, and
producing spirit children are not actually either requirements or part
of God's eternal plan for us.
I would also submit that focusing on marriage and family so much
idolizes it and puts it above God. If being together forever with family
is the main goal, then being together forever with God is not. Even a
good thing can become an idol when it is put above God.
I love my husband dearly. Just seeing him come through
the front door, or getting a quick kiss before one or the other of us
leaves for work or whatever else we might be parting ways to do, makes
me happier than any other things of this world has or could make me. But
that will be absolutely eclipsed by living in the presence of God after
death. I fully expect to still know and love my husband there, but our
mutual focus will be on God, not each other. Many of the purposes of
earthly marriage will be unnecessary at that time, anyways. Does that
make me a little sad sometimes to think that I won't share the same
exact relationship, or a better version if it, with my husband after
death? I'd be lying if I said no. But I only feel that way because I
cannot fathom the joy and love that will exist at that time.