Is marriage eternal?

What can I say to Mormons who believe that marriage is forever and not “till death do us part?” I just met a girl who is a Mormon, and we were talking about our beliefs. She claimed that marriage is forever, not “till death do us part.” What is the truth?
—Phong V.

Wedding. Is marriage eternal? Photo copyrighted. Courtesy of Films for Christ.

Mormonism teaches that when a couple gets married in the LDS Temple, they are being married for time and all eternity, or, as they say, “being sealed to each other for eternity.” They do not believe in marriage “until death do us part.” Although there is a time when the “until death do they part” applies. This is when a woman who is sealed to a man in the temple has a husband who dies. She may then marry another man. This marriage would be a “sealing for time only” and not for eternity.

Mormons generally use Matthew 16:19 to prove that marriage is for eternity or “…whatsoever thou shalt bind on Earth, shall be bound in Heaven…” In doing this, they fail to take into account the true meaning of this scripture. Jesus is speaking to Peter and the apostles and says,

“And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on Earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on Earth shall be loosed in heaven” (KJV).

The Biblical cross reference to this verse is John 20:23. The subject is the forgiveness of sins, not marriage. As theologian J. Carl Laney explains it, Christ was saying that “based on one’s response to the Gospel, the apostles could declare, ‘Because you have rejected Christ, you are bound to the law and to its penalty.’ Or, ‘Because you have received Christ, you are free from the law and its penalty’.” Christ “offers the disciples the privilege of giving assurance of the forgiveness of sins by correctly announcing the terms of forgiveness.” This passage in Matthew is not talking about marriage for eternity; the subject is the forgiveness of sins through Christ which was to be announced through His disciples.

Let’s look at this issue of marriage further. In Matthew 22:23 you will find the full story about the Sadducees who came to Jesus with the question about what would be the marital status in the next life of a woman who married an oldest brother who then dies and by Jewish laws she was required to marry the next brother, who also died, as did each of the seven brothers she had to marry upon the death of each one. The question that was asked by the Sadducees was who would be her husband in the next life, since she had married all of them in succession.

So, we have three of the apostles, who heard Jesus speaking on this very subject. All record what He said and meant. Jesus said that the people who believed those married here on Earth would also be married in Heaven were in error. It was believed by the ungodly Sadducees and not a doctrine of Christ.

Jesus said that the people who believed those married here on Earth would also be married in Heaven were in error.

In Romans 7:2 Paul says,

For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.

So the statement of “until death do us part” or “as long as we both shall live” is in accordance with the Bible.

A concluding note: Although the Mormon temple marriage for eternity holds a very high priority in the life of a Mormon, it’s interesting that it cannot be found in the Book of Mormon. Yet, Joseph Smith said in Doctrine & Covenants 27:5 that the Book of Mormon was the “fullness of the everlasting gospel.” If it’s the complete gospel we should be able to find something on eternal marriage, as well as most of the doctrines of Mormonism. They can’t be found in the Book of Mormon.

Author: Jim Robertson, Concerned Christians. (Editor: Paul S. Taylor, Christian Answers.)

For further reading


J. Carl Laney, Answers to Tough Questions (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 1997), pp. 198, 239.

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