Why Temple Marriage?

January 19, 2009


Q. Why do you have to get married in the temple? Besides the ordinances that are performed, do you really think God will only allow people who were married in the temple, to stay married in heaven and no one else?

This is an excellent question. We do believe that you must be married and sealed in the temple of the Lord for the marriage to continue after this life. Having said that, I realize that we are not the only people on this earth who love their families and desire to be with them forever. We believe that the family is divinely organized. It is the fundamental unit of society. Therefore, it is no wonder to me that each of us desires to be with our families and loved ones forever.

Because marriage is ordained of God, the ordinance must be performed by His authority, and in His way for it to be eternal. In that way it is just like baptism, the receiving of the gift of the Holy Ghost, or any other ordinance of God. In talking with the Hebrews about the priesthood, Paul said, “And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron” Hebrews 5:4. (See Leviticus 8 for a description of how Aaron received the priesthood.) Merely wishing for your marriage to last after this life will not make it so.

There are priesthood holders today who are authorized to seal husbands and wives for all time and eternity. They perform these ordinances in temples, which are the most holy places of worship on the earth. (See the article, “Why Mormons” for a better explanation of how this priesthood was restored to the earth.) Even members of the LDS church must live clean, worthy lives to enter the House of the Lord, and then those who are sealed together must keep the covenants they have made in order to have their families forever.

With this understanding, it may be easier for others to see why Mormons are so anxious to spread the gospel throughout the earth. We know that God loves all people and desires all to have eternal happiness. That is why we are willing to go on missions and take every opportunity possible to share our testimonies, so that we can help as many people as possible enjoy these blessings of God.

Now, you may ask about all those who never had an opportunity to go to the temple to be sealed. Are they just denied? No. Through the Lord’s loving grace and mercy, He makes eternal marriage possible for everyone who has not had these opportunities during their mortal lives. It is through vicarious work for the dead. This means that in holy temples we may perform ordinances for the dead, including baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost, sealing a husband and wife in marriage, and other essential ordinances for our salvation and eternal happiness.

Vicarious work for the dead is not new with the restoration of the Church through Joseph Smith. The Apostle Paul spoke about baptisms for the dead in his epistle to the Corinthian members who were questioning if there really was going to be a resurrection. As part of his response he stated, “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?” (1 Corinthians 15:29). Truly this work is a sign of the true church of Christ on the earth.

For me, the principle of eternal marriage is one of the sweetest of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I hope that everyone, everywhere would rejoice in knowing that they can be together with their loved ones forever and that God has revealed how to accomplish it. I hope that you and all people would seek to have this blessing in your lives.

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22 Responses to “Why Temple Marriage?”

  1. Tim Swanson

    How do you explain Jesus’ answer to the Sadducess question about the woman with seven husbands? He says “Is not this why you are wrong, that you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God? For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.” RSV Mark12:24-25 Our lord says eternal marriage to our current spouse is wrong and the joy we will experience is greater than anything we can understand now.
    Also I don’t follow your interpretation of 1Cor15:29 He makes no statement on baptism for dead persons except to note that some unnamed “they” practice it. While the rest of his teaching in chapter fifteen refers to “we,” his Christian followers, “they” are not further identified. Who this group was may not be known with certitude even today.
    some other interpretations;
    1.Newly baptized children with names of deceased Chritsian name. In the hopes they somehow share in the resurrection.
    2.Paul was referring to heretical sect that existed in Corinth.
    3.A pagan husband wanting to be reuntied with his deceased wife may want to be baptized for the dead in order to be with her in the after life.

  2. Thaddeus

    Tim, your comment is insightful. Thank you for bringing these points up. Thank you for asking for our side of the story.

    The two scriptures you bring up are excellent examples of interpretation management. In Mark 12, you rely on the plain meaning of the words: no marriage in heaven. In 1 Corinthians 15, we rely on the plain meaning of words: baptism for the dead was a recognized ordinance by Paul and the Corinthians.

    We interpret Mark 12 to mean that weddings aren’t performed in heaven. Marriages that are initiated on earth by priesthood power and solemnized by the Holy Spirit of Promise will be eternal (see D&C 32:16). We learned this interpretation through the prophet Joseph Smith, who learned it from God.

    Your alternative interpretations to 1 Corinthitans 15 are worth investigating, but why reject the most plain meaning? Unless God has revealed something more on this subject (through prayer to you, or through a prophet), how can you be sure?

    (Joseph Smith did reveal more about this ordinance: D&C 128. I encourage you to look into it with thoughtfulness and prayer.)

  3. Tim Swanson

    You have hit on the main issue. By what authority do we know what we believe? I believe in the teachings of the Catholic Church established by Christ 2000 years ago. You believe that this faith, while genuine, is false. So here we stand. I don’t see how my “church” failed because I believe in Chirst’s words when he said to Peter “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.” (Mat 16:18)
    I’ve studied history and don’t see a need for any “other”
    church. So there’s no need to look at your spin on the bible. I refer you catholic.com website to help you understand the fullness of the faith and guide you to the truth that you can trust Jesus.

  4. Thaddeus

    Thank you, Tim. I do appreciate your genuine faith in Christ, and I don’t think it’s false. You trust the Catholic Church and the teachings of the Holy Fathers and Biblical prophets, and I put my trust in Joseph Smith and all the other prophets from the Bible, Book of Mormon, and modern times.

    This really is the main issue: who to believe. I will gladly look through the website you gave me. I ask that you read the Book of Mormon and pray about it. Perhaps we both have more to learn about who God’s messengers are.

  5. Tim Swanson

    Thank you for your comments. The one to believe is the one that is telling the truth. We find truth by using all the gift God has given us (intellect and reason). While our emotions can be good they are not as reliable. Once we have started to respond to God’s free gift of grace, we start to see the beauty of his creation and want to know him better. The one thing I’m confused about is why you say my beliefs are not false. If my beliefs are not false then why listen to Joseph Smith and read his book? Wasn’t he told by the angel Moroni that the true gospel has been lost and none of the churches that were on the earth at that time were the true church?

  6. Tim, I said I believed your faith in Christ was not false. The gospel of Jesus Christ (i.e. the ‘good news’ that He conquered death and hell for us) was not lost from the earth. Lost were 1) the divine authority to perform ordinances and 2) the revelation to the world through a prophet. These were restored through Joseph Smith.

    I did not say all of your beliefs are not false (none of us is infallible), and I’m definitely not the person to sort through them. You are. With the help of the Holy Spirit, whom the Father sent to “teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance” (John 14:26).

    This is why I suggested studying the Book of Mormon prayerfully, for only when our intellect is aided by the Holy Ghost can we have confidence in our study. Do you have a copy of your own?

  7. Tim Swanson

    If none of us are infallible then why listen to Joseph Smith? Why is he right? When I prayerfully consider the meaning of my life and ask the Lord to come into my heart, I’m drawn to the Catholic Church established by Jesus on Peter the rock. I must be listening to something false if you believe in these ordiances not taught by this faith.

  8. Michelle

    Tim, after reading your comments, I think it would be beneficial for you to understand how Christ’s church was set up on the earth with apostles Jesus called and ordained the Twelve, giving the keys of the kingdom to each member of the quorum. (Matt 16:19, 18:18, John 15:16) When there was a vacancy in the quorum, other men were called to replace them. Matthias replaced Judas in the Council of the 12. (Acts 1:15-16) And then later we can conclude that Paul was an ordained apostle and he took the place on of the other brethren that council. (2 Tim 1:11, Titus 1:1) And then Barnabas (Acts 14:14) and “James the Lord’s brother” (Gal 1:19) neither of whom were numbered among the original 12 are also named apostles. As time went on and the apostles were killed off, the vacancies couldn’t be filled fast enough. So that is where we believe the church started to fall away and authority was lost to direct the church. There were still lots of good christian believers trying to do the right thing as well as bishops in the church leading the congregations in their area, but the the “keys of the kingdom” (authority and power to govern Christ’s church) that Jesus had given the 12 apostles were no longer found. So that is when we believe the apostasy or “falling away” (mentioned in 2 Thess 2:3) took place and the world experienced the dark ages. We believe Joseph Smith to be the instrument that God used to “restore” all of the keys back to the earth again. The Lord has set up again today the same pattern he did in the Old and New Testament of having prophets and apostles to help lead and help clairfy.

  9. Tim Swanson

    Your comments miss the point of my first quesiton “By what authority do we know what we believe?” You tell me what you believe but not why. We can have 20 people read the book of Matthew and get various interpretations. For example, you say “Jesus called and ordained the Twelve, giving the keys of the kingdom to each member of the quorum. (Matt 16:19, 18:18, John 15:16).” Here you are mistaken. You are reading into the texts words that aren’t there. When you look at Mat 18:18 and John15:16, they don’t mention keys. ONLY Matt 16:19 mentions keys uniquely given to Peter. This is a reference to Isaiah 22:22. This does not mean the bishops don’t have authority but it’s under the guidance of Peter. See John 21:15-17 Peter is UNIQUELY told to feed Christ’s sheep. Also see Luke 22:32 “Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded to sift ALL of you like wheat BUT I have prayed that YOUR OWN faith may not fail; and once you have turned back, you must strengthen your brothers.” Did Jesus come to establish a church just to have it “fall away and lose it’s authority”? When you say things like “the apostles were killed off, the vacancies couldn’t be filled fast enough.” You imply that Jesus either didn’t see this coming or purposely planned that his church would go into COMPLETE apostasy and go into the dark ages for 1800 years until Joseph Smith comes to get us back on track. This is saying the gates of the netherworld DID prevail against it. At least for 1800 years. As I menitoned before, this makes NO sense to me. Now in 2Thess2:3 yes Paul does mention an apostasy but it doesn’t mean it’s going to win or be complete. He tells them to “stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours” 2 Thess 2:15. Now here’s another thing to consider. Why do you trust the 27 books in the New Testament established by these bishops that “lost” their keys? Many communities were reading different books and later church councils stated what was to be read and what was not. Here’s a comment from the catholic answers forums that will help http://forums.catholic.com/showpost.php?p=2909128&postcount=81

  10. Michelle

    Tim, we could go back and forth scripture by scripture for days and you would still question every answer that was given. I understand your frustration of the confusion of the different scriptures. The only thing that will bring peace into your heart is a witness from the Holy Ghost. That is His job, to give peace and bear witness of truth. I would highly recommend you read the Book of Mormon, and then get on your knees and sincerely ask God if it is true. The feeling you will get will be like no other, I can promise that. But that action will be entirely up to you and anybody is welcome to test it.

  11. Tim Swanson

    I agree with you. This gets us no where. I find that emotions are deceiving. I’ve had a deep “burning in the bosom” experience reading a persons conversion to the Catholic faith. But since my experience doesn’t match yours, mine is considered false. Now we have a problem. How can I have a deep moving experience (something I never experienced before. I was 35) and you have a deep experience reading something entirely different? Is the Holy Spirit confused? Why are there so many “faiths” each believing they are being guided by the Holy Spirit? I’ve come to the conclusion these experiences are God’s way of touching our hearts and letting us know he exists. This is the starting point not the end. Also,I don’t want to give you the impression I’m confused by scripture. I was attempting to express the inconsistencies between our two faiths and why I’m at peace following the Catholic faith using scripture. I started this discussion to better understand what Mormons believe, but if you’re just going to keep insisting that I read the book of Mormon without directly answer my questions I don’t see any point in continuing this.

  12. Michelle

    Okay,your questions are valid, I just would rather not argue about it. The thing that comes to my mind is the parable of plato’s cave. The prisoner that was freed and allowed to leave the cave could finally “see” what it was that was causing the shadows inside the cave wall they had seen their entire life, but when he went back to tell the prisoners still tied up in the cave, they didn’t believe him. Or maybe a different illustration could be a CEO and a mailroom worker of a company that work side by side each other. They have a couple of things in common (i.e. same environment and see the same things every day) but one of them “sees” the company completely diferently than the other. The Holy Ghost can testify of truth anywhere, so most definitely people not of Mormon faith can still feel it. But there is a fullness of the gospel in The Church of Jesus Christ of LatterDay Saints – it’s like having the complete textbook, not just a few chapters.

    Every verse in the NT was written under divine inspiration and we believe every book! The apostles went about teaching and setting up the church in different areas and would call people as the leaders over the specific congregations. Those leaders were given SOME of the keys, but not ALL of them. The keys were not lost until those people holding them died and were not passed on to anyone else. Currently, the prophet, President Monson holds the entire keys for the leading and directing the church, but the bishop over my ward congregation only holds the keys for our congregation, not the entire church. Keys are passed on by the laying on of hands from someone in authority.

    Jesus knew exactly that the church would apostatize. It all goes back to the House of Israel. And if nothing was ever lost, why didn’t the Bible just continue on with more writers? How come it came to an end?

  13. Tim Swanson

    Discerning who has authority is fundamental. I see the problem restated this way using your examples There would be two people who leave the cave and return with conflicting stories on what makes the shadows. In The other example, both people would claim they are CEOs. How would you determine who is telling the truth?
    Based on what we’ve realted so far, it’s apparent we both have come to recognize that God (Holy Spirit) has touched our hearts and has made his present know to us. I’ve been lead to the Catholic Church as containing the whole deposit of faith and you look to the Mormon Church. So now we have the issue of determining what is true. Sine we both feel we are following the one pure source of the Holy Spirit we both can’t be right. Since there aren’t two truths there is just one. I think we can agree on this based on reason. So following this line of reasoning, much of what you say doesn’t track based on my study of history. I felt that examining how the books in the NT came to be would shed light on why I believe the Catholic church is the one true church established by Christ. To have Mormonism make sense to me they would need to reject the NT books because they were based on guys who lost the keys or some fo the keys. Or is it your faith that Jospeh Smith infalliably told you the NT was a good start. If this is true then the early Mormon church lasted until the 4th century because that’s the time they settled on the NT. Please help me understand your line of reasoning. I understand Jesus knew people would fall away from him but to be Mormon I see that EVERYONE had to lose the faith. If not, why would Joseph Smith’s teaching be so out of line from the Christianity he knew. Is this a true statement? If so, when did this falling away happen?
    I’m not sure what point you are trying to make with why the bible didn’t continue. Are you trying to help me understand why Jesus would establish something on the apostles and then let it disappear for 1800 years? I would like to understand your thinking on this.
    The Catholic Church teaches Jesus atoned for the sins of Isreal, his old convenant people. He established the new convenant with his death and resurrection. Since he is God, he alone can do this. He established his new convenant through his church following the teaching of the apostles. When I examine history I see this unbroken line of successors from the first Pope Peter to the present one Benedict XVI in the Catholic Church. You see a different structure. I understand you believe that it was lost but where is your proof? Am I suppose to believe it just because you say it. I see the early church councils developing doctrine based on the teaching of the apostles which can be seen or implied by the books they established as inspired by God, we now call the NT. This makes sense to me. Please help me understand how you find this unreasonable.

  14. Bret

    Reading this exchange, I think that it is important to understand that the Holy Ghost testifies of truth. Did the Spirit testify to C.S. Lewis when he converted to the Anglican church? I believe so. Can it testify to the Catholic as well as the Mormon? Indeed! When people move from one level of spirituality to a higher one, the spirit will testify of the truth. When a person with an open heart and humble spirit learns of Jesus Christ, the spirit will testify because there is truth. I believe there is truth in the Bible for this reason. I also believe there is much truth in the Book of Mormon. There is truth even in non scriptural writing and the spirit will testify of it at times.

    The difference, then, is this authority of the Priesthood and the fullness of truth. You raised the question, “Why did Jesus build His church if He knew it would fall?” If the knowledge that His gospel would be lost over time would have prevented Him, then there never would have been prophets at all because they would have been rejected anyway. God called prophets throughout the Old Testament who called the people to repentance and taught them the true gospel of Christ. After time, sometimes immediately, they were rejected. The Jews lived for a few hundred years after Malachi died without a prophet because they refused to listen. Christ restored to the Jews the gospel that had been lost and built His church to strengthen the faithful and build a base of truth for millions. Many truths endured, however, through time, many things were lost and changed. The calling of the 12 apostles was different from that of the bishop of Rome, where the Papal line begins and that, I think, is where we disagree.

    In any case, I don’t doubt the truths and spiritual feelings you hold dear. Our invitation is to hold fast to the truth and seek out further light and knowledge. Through the Book of Mormon, for example, because as the website says, that is what we believe because is so strongly testifies of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

  15. Tim Swanson


    I’m not sure I follow your reasoning about the prophets. Are you saying that since the Jews didn’t recognize and embrace the prophets teachings until later ages. Then that same reasoning can be applied to Joseph Smith and his teaching? So Mormons believe that his teaching, while not accepted everywhere now, will be accepted by all the faithful eventually.
    You also mentioned you disagree with my reasoning of papal succession from Peter, but you don’t explain why. Please elaborate on your statement.

  16. Jan


    ahh, there is so much that we could go back and forth debating. But the purpose of this website is definitely not to convince people that Catholicism isn’t true. It is to share our beliefs about the restored church.

    So, if you are wondering about how your beliefs fit in with ours, you could check out the lds fair site (LDS apologists whose research covers all sorts of questions–just like yours). Here is a link to an article called “Comparing LDS beliefs with First Century Christianity.” You could also check out any of Jeffrey R. Holland’s recent talks in General Conference. (http://lds.org/conference/talk/display/0,5232,23-1-851-30,00.html)

  17. Tim Swanson

    Thank you Jan for the websites

  18. Michelle

    I think the cave parable was misunderstood. The one guy leaves the cave and learns how the shadows are being made but it is said if he were to come back to tell the others still in the cave, they wouldn’t believe him and would try to kill him……all because they were used to seeing things a certain way and their eyes were not open.
    The other example of the workers I gave – one was the CEO and the other was just a mailroom worker, work for the same company and on the same floor. The CEO is going to have a completely different vision for the company than the other worker does.

    The Bible question was just meant to ask that if the leaders were still in tact, how come they didn’t continue to write more in the new testament?

  19. Tim Swanson

    To answer your Bible comment. Many letters were being written to correct teaching. See Clements letter to the Corinthians( early 90-100)http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1010.htm. This was written while the apostle John was still alive. The Shepherd of Hermes is another one that comes to mind. There were many works that taught the faith but didn’t make the final NT cut. This was all decided by the church through their power of the keys.

  20. Kendra

    I know that this is way after the fact, but I would like to share something…especially since I started this conversation long ago with the original post. Hopefully, Tim, you will read this someday.

    I really like your question of how do we know who has the authority and all truth. I think this is a vital question because I do not believe that God lies. He will tell us where His truth is if we seek it with real intent.

    I was a Lutheran before joining the LDS faith and I whole-heartedly believed in that faith until I had an opportunity to hear the missionaries and find out for myself if there was something more.

    You mentioned that we can know truth only through reason and intellect, and that feelings are deceiving. Both can be deceiving. That is why the Spirit tells us using in both places. Joseph Smith received a revelation where the Lord said, “Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart. Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation; behold, this is the spirit by which Moses brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground.”

    In the Bible it also says, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.” (James 1:5-6)

    I have asked and I have been told in my mind and in my heart, by both reason and feeling. I know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God. I know that what he revealed came from God and that the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ was restored to earth. I know that if you ask of God, He too will tell you, if you ask with the faith that He will answer and with true intent to do whatever He says (nothing wavering).

    You are right. This is the key to whether there is additional truth given from God in the LDS church, more than what other churches may offer, and I know that God does answer that question.

  21. Destiny

    Ok let me just ask one question. Does it really matter what was causing the shadows? Both knew that the shadows were being made. And the CEO and mailman, they would both benefit if the company prospered. So it doesn’t really matter how they viewed it. What I’m trying to get at is, everyone is equal. It says in the bible that god loves all of his children and as long as we believe in him and fOllow his commandments, we will rejoin him in everlasting life. One of the most simple verses of all time, John 3:16 says for god so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosOever believeth in him shall have eternal life. Now tell me, does it say anything about a long list of stringent requirements? No. Does it say anything about following any one except for Him and Christ? No. I believe that you guys are overthinking this way too much. As long as you believe, love, and obey him, you will go to heaven. Case closed.

  22. Stephen

    Ok, I just want to add a comment. I like a lot of the points Tim brought up but also some lines he didn’t.

    First off, I believe both the catholic church and mormon church are off the path of righteousness.

    The catholic church makes Peter out to be their first saint, when they were the ones who persecuted him. ??? Where is the logic in that…

    Mormons, if you believe that temple marriage is required, why then was temple marriage never practiced before? The temples existed when Jesus was alive, Jesus gave the “keys of eternal bondage” to Peter, yet peter walked the country-side revealing the Word of God to anyone who would listen, he was hundreds of miles from the Temple in Jerusalem. There were no temple marriages performed. The keys of eternal bondage are the Word of God, not some human twist on what marriage could be. Tim made a great point with Mark 12:24-25. Why then if you say take the phrases in 1 Corinthians regarding baptising for the dead so literal, even though when speaking to the corinthians he says “we” and referring to baptising for the dead says “they”, why then is that taken literal to just mean baptising for the dead was ok, but eternal marriage should be twisted in Mark 12? It makes no sense.. Why do you need to twist any sentences? 1 Corinthians is just as literal as that. They is a different audience.. not the ones he is talking to the entire time…

    But please, feel free to address peter and the keys of eternal bondage first. I would be happy to hear a response.