Is Marriage Eternal?

by Luke Wayne

The Mormon church teaches that marriages sealed in their temples under their church's authority continue on into eternity. Indeed, they claim that to reach the highest level of celestial glory and progress on into godhood, one must be part of an eternal marriage so as to be able to populate a world of your own. The Bible, however, flatly contradicts this teaching and makes it clear that marriage ends at death.

The clearest example of this is found in the words of Jesus Himself. The Sadducees sought to trap Jesus in a logical dilemma related to His teaching on the future resurrection of the dead:

"Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies having no children, his brother as next of kin shall marry his wife, and raise up children for his brother.’ Now there were seven brothers with us; and the first married and died, and having no children left his wife to his brother; so also the second, and the third, down to the seventh. Last of all, the woman died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had married her,” (Matthew 22:23-28).

Jesus answered this challenge in a clear and straightforward manner:

"You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven," (Matthew 22:29-30).

According to Jesus, there is no marriage in the kingdom to come. After the resurrection, we will no longer be married. Indeed, Jesus says that asking about marriage in the age to come is rooted in a fundamental misunderstanding of the Scriptures! Some Mormons object that Jesus says that we can't get married in the age to come, which implies the need for us to get married eternally now, but that would not be an answer to the Sadducee's challenge. Their question was specifically about a woman who was biblically married in this life under the proper, God-given priesthood authorities. Jesus' answer to this specific objection is that the question is meaningless because no one is married after the resurrection nor will they marry again. He further makes it clear that this is the universal teaching of all Scripture and that the Sadducees were wrong because they didn't understand those Scriptures. Marriage ends at death, and we don't take it back up in the next life. In fact, the Apostle Paul uses this very fact about marriage to illustrate the beautiful truth of the gospel:

"For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband. So then, if while her husband is living she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress though she is joined to another man. Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God," (Romans 7:2-4).

The fact that death permanently and irrevocably ends a marriage covenant is used to show how the death of Christ on our behalf breaks to covenantal binding of the old law and allows people to be joined by faith to Christ in the New Covenant. If marriage is not broken at death, the whole analogy breaks down and we are still bound in our sins under the weight of the law! So this is, indeed, no small matter! Marriage is a bond that is broken at death. Far from coming to make our own families our top priority and to cause them to last forever, Jesus actually said:

"Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it," (Matthew 10:34-39).

The gospel unites us with Christ and His people forever, but it often divides households rather than binding them. That is tragic, but its okay. Jesus didn't come to make our earthly families last forever. He offers us something so much better: eternal life in perfect fellowship with God and all the redeemed in the age to come.