Jesus Speaks of Celestial Marriage

Mark 12:18–27

18 Then come unto him the Sadducees, which say there is no resurrection; and they asked him, saying,
19 Master, Moses wrote unto us, If a man’s brother die, and leave his wife behind him, and leave no children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother.
20 Now there were seven brethren: and the first took a wife, and dying left no seed.
21 And the second took her, and died, neither left he any seed: and the third likewise.
22 And the seven had her, and left no seed: last of all the woman died also.
23 In the resurrection therefore, when they shall rise, whose wife shall she be of them? for the seven had her to wife.
24 And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God?
25 For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven.
26 And as touching the dead, that they rise: have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?
27 He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: ye therefore do greatly err.

President Spencer W. Kimball said:

“The Lord knew that those who were sincere in heart and who really wished to know the mysteries of the kingdom would seek and search prayerfully until they informed themselves.

“It will be remembered how the Lord answered the hypocritical Sadducees who, trying to trap Him, propounded this difficult problem:

“The husband died leaving no posterity, and the wife married his brother who also died without seed. She in turn married a third brother, a fourth, a fifth, a sixth, and a seventh, all in accordance with the law of Moses, and then the woman of the seven husbands died also. Now the frustrating question is:

“‘In the resurrection therefore, when they shall rise, whose wife shall she be of them? for the seven had her to wife’ (Mark 12:23). The Redeemer’s answer was clear and concise and unmistakable:

“‘Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God?’ (Mark 12:24).

“And now, we ask you, what does this mean? The Sadducees were discussing matters about which they knew little or nothing. Was there accusation in His voice? Was He saying to the
Sadducees, ‘Open your blind eyes and see? Open your stony hearts and understand?’

“My friends, do you understand the implications and truth of this statement of the Lord? Though somewhat veiled in scripture, it is clear and understandable when supported by modern revelation.

“Dr. James E. Talmage writes: ‘The Lord’s meaning was clear, that in the resurrected state there can be no question among the seven brothers as to whose wife for eternity the woman shall be, since all except the first had married her for the duration of mortal life only. . . . In the resurrection there will be no marrying nor giving in marriage; for all questions of marital status must be settled before that time, under the authority of the Holy Priesthood, which holds the power to seal in marriage for both time and eternity’ (Jesus the Christ, 3rd ed. [1916], 548).

“Undoubtedly, the first husband married the woman for eternity by a ceremony which was not limited by time. She became a widow at his demise until she should also die and join her husband. Now, she married brother number two, ‘until death do you part,’ and it definitely parted them even before posterity, and he went into the spirit world through the veil and with no wife, for their contract also had been terminated by death. And brothers number three and four and five and six and finally number seven in turn—all married her in temporary marriage, in which ceremonies were the limitations, ‘so long as you both shall live.’ And death terminated what happiness they had had and their promise of future bliss.

“How sad! How gloomy!

“I knew of one young couple whose promising marriage was ended by a car crash one hour after the ceremony which included those perilous words, ‘till death do you part.’

“Civil marriage is an earthly contract, completed in the death of either party. Eternal celestial marriage is a sacred covenant between man and woman, consecrated in the holy temple by servants of God who hold authoritative keys. It bridges death; it includes both time and eternity.”

(In Conference Report, Oct. 1964, 26–27.)