Marriage According to Jesus


In the LDS church, marriage is the highest ordinance that you can receive in this life. It is required to fully become like God and is intertwined all throughout Mormon theology. A husband and wife are sealed together for all eternity. Doctrinally there is no official stance on what the marriage is for, however it is stated as being required for exaltation which is the highest blessing that God can bestow on someone.

LDS View

Interestingly, being married in an LDS temple is the most important thing a person can do in this life, yet the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine & Covenants are almost silent on marriage. The Book of Mormon does describe Christ as giving the Nephites a version of the Sermon on the Mount which includes a brief mention on marriage. There is very little else though in the Book of Mormon itself.

The Doctrine & Covenants originally contained an Article on Marriage which was known as Section 101 or CI for people that don’t like numbers. This was a general article stating the importance of marriage and related administrative things. The section was removed in 1876 and D&C 132 was added which is the section on marriage that we know today.

D&C 132 is of course known today by members as allowing polygamy. I am not going to discuss polygamy itself, but just want to highlight what D&C 132 claims for the purpose of this discussion on marriage.

  1. The first thing to note is that in verse 4 it mentions that everyone that now knows about this new and everlasting covenant is now required to obey it or be damned. This sets up the requirement in Mormonism for marriage as being required to continue in our advancement to God.
  2. The next thing to note is starting in verse 15 it further reiterates the point that if we are not married in God’s house by his law then the marriage is of no effect, and we would be limited to the level of angels in the next life.
  3. The next thing to note is starting in verse 19 it mentions that once you are married then you are separated from the world in a way that you are guaranteed exaltation and there is nothing except murder that can take that status away from you. This is kind of absurd when you think about it and certainly violates the entire premise of Christ’s sacrifice for us.
  4. The next thing to note is starting in verse 40, D&C 132 begins by discussing various ways adultery can happen. The clear distinction though is these verses mention that there are cases where a married man or women can cross the marriage boundary and it would not be adultery as we would define it. This is important to note for further reference.

D&C 132 certainly contains a lot more information which I can’t get into as many others have already done so. However, it is sufficient to note that marriage is not just a good thing in the eyes of the LDS church, it is a required thing if we want to be like God.

Jesus’ Thoughts

It may seem odd, however the most important teachings we have on marriage are actually from an attempt by the Pharisees where they tried to trick Jesus about divorce. Beginning in Matthew 19, it is recorded that the Pharisees came to Jesus and asked him concerning the legitimate reasons for getting a divorce. This is in reference to the law written in Deuteronomy 24 which states that a man can divorce his wife if he were to find some “uncleanness in her”.

Since the time of Moses many religious scholars have debated what that phrase has meant. However, at the time of Jesus that phrase was interpreted as being whatever the man felt at the time. Therefore, men at that time were able to find “uncleanness” in their wives for any and all reasons and were able to divorce them. This would be similar to a no-fault divorce today, however it would only be one direction.

In response to the Pharisees, Jesus appeals to the beginning of the Torah, or Jewish law, and describes how God originally created humans. Jesus first references Genesis 1:27, which is part of the creation story, and states:

I, God, created man in mine own image, in the image of mine Only Begotten created I him; male and female created I them.

Genesis 1:27

It is incredibly interesting to note that in Hebrew, which the Torah was written in, the word Adam actually means man or mankind. Therefore Genesis 1:27 could legitimately be rewritten to read like this:

I, God, created Adam in mine own image, in the image of mine Only Begotten created I Adam; male and female created I Adams.

Genesis 1:27 – Adam

This may not be immediately clear however we learn later in Genesis 2 that Adam was divided into two parts with the second part being what we refer to today as Eve. Therefore, it would be consistent to say that Eve is incomplete without Adam and Adam is incomplete without Eve which is exactly was 1 Corinthians 11 states. Through the unique bond of marriage, they become complete and together they become the image of God.

Jesus actually confirms this as he continues his response to the Pharisees. Jesus next references Genesis 2:24, which is part of the Garden of Eden story, and states:

Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh.

Genesis 2:24

It is significant to note that this phrase is stated by Adam immediately after he finds out that Eve, who is now his wife, was created out of his body. He is essentially saying that when the man and Eve, his wife, come back together in marriage then they become a single body which represents the original image of God as God created them. Therefore, it would be consistent to say that marriage between a man and a woman is a representation of God. It is two parts becoming one again.


Jesus confirms this by concluding his remarks in Matthew 19:6 which states:

Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What, therefore, God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.

Matthew 19:6

Jesus is essentially saying, to the Pharisees, why would you even consider divorce when marriage is an image of God. This of course elevates marriage tremendously and shouldn’t be taken lightly. This also means that if marriage is us together becoming the image of God, then anything that we do to sever that marriage relationship is severing us from the image of God as well. This was in direct contradiction to the Jewish traditions of the time which allowed the marriage relationship to be severed for every whim of the husband.

The Pharisees followed up with a logical reply that if marriage was so important in the eyes of God, then why did Moses command them to give women “a writing of divorcement” in the case that the husband no longer wanted the marriage. The phrasing from the Pharisees is very interesting because if we go back to Deuteronomy 24, we can see that Moses didn’t command anything, but allowed it in a specific case. Jesus confirms this in his response to them by stating:

Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, suffered you to put away your wives; but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, whosoever shall put away his wife, except for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery;

Matthew 19:8-9

Jesus is responding to the Pharisees that Moses only allowed divorce because the people were so wicked that they needed it. However, the original vision for marriage was to be joined together to become the image of God and not to be severed. Unless that marriage link is severed, through wickedness, then any other marriage is adultery in the eyes of God. Once you are linked together then you become mini-images of God which is not to be taken lightly.

Jesus did however say that if that marriage link was severed then the marriage is broken and lost. Many have interpreted this to mean that sexual immorality is the only reason for a legitimate divorce, however logical thought and the scriptures don’t seem to suggest that.

For instance, Exodus 21 lists neglect and abuse as legitimate reasons for a divorce. In addition, in 1 Corinthians 7, Paul references Matthew 19 and says that if a spouse were to leave the new believer, then let them leave. They are under no obligation to continue with them if they no longer want the marriage. Divorce of course is not to be taken lightly. However, if the marriage is no longer a representation of God’s divine love, then it has already been broken and is severed. It is no longer a representation of God on earth.


The last thing to consider is something that we never talk about in the LDS church at all. After being told that marriage is a representation of God then the disciples told Jesus that this idea was so radical then they thought it was probably better to never marry at all. Jesus responds and tells them that marriage is not for everyone and then lists three different categories of people that certainly shouldn’t marry.

For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb; and there are some eunuchs which were made eunuchs of men; and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake.

Matthew 19:12

In modern language we almost never use the word ‘eunuch’, however it means a castrated male. This was typically done so that powerful individuals could employ male servants without fear of those male. These males wouldn’t generally pose a physical or sexual threat to the leaders and so could be in close proximity to the household. This seems to have been a relatively common practice during various times throughout history. In the statement of Jesus though, Jesus says of the three categories:

  1. There are some people who are born with physical deformities. These people don’t need to worry about marriage. It is not for them. Certainly, God is the one to decide how we are born and if someone is born in a way that they can’t or don’t desire marriage then that is not a problem.
  2. People who were conscripted into a household or voluntarily castrated. They shouldn’t worry about marriage. It is not for them, and God completely understands. If you have no sexual desires, then it is understandable that you would skip marriage.
  3. This last one is the most interesting. It is those that have willing forgone marriage with the goal of focusing on the kingdom of heaven. This would be someone that chooses the single life, not to focus on pleasure, but to focus on God. Marriage is also not for these people.

The willingly single group seems to make us uncomfortable in the LDS church however it really shouldn’t. If we go back to Paul’s writings in 1 Corinthians 7, then even Paul says that it is good if you can remain unmarried so that you can focus your time and energies on the Gospel of Christ. However, if that is a struggle for you then it is best for you to marry to avoid the temptations that you will face.

Imagine though if Paul had a wife and a bunch of children. Do you think he would have been able to do all that he was able to do? No. He would have had to focus on the needs of his family and care for them. He may have been able to write a few letters, however he certainly would have had a very hard time travelling as much as he actually did. This is not to say we shouldn’t have families. However, it is certainly a valid course of action to forgo a family if you want to focus your energies on God.


As was mentioned, Jesus saw marriage as emulating the divine image of God and was a critical part of his goal in returning us to a Garden of Eden state. The Jews at the time saw marriage as a form of control and power, yet Jesus saw marriage as a state of happiness and love. This should not be understated. Jesus’ goal was to return us to a Garden of Eden state and marriage was a critical part of that journey.

When comparing the words of Jesus against LDS belief though it gets very interesting. If we look at the original four points, we looked at, and then compare them against Jesus’ words then it becomes quite clear.

  1. The first point mentioned was that, in LDS belief, marriage was required for our advancement to God. Jesus never said this in any book of scripture, and he even says that there is a non-trivial group of people that shouldn’t get married. Marriage was seen as the ideal. However, it was seen as the ideal for those that wanted it. It was not seen as the ideal for everyone in every situation. Therefore, saying it was a requirement doesn’t seem to be consistent with the words of Jesus.
  2. The next point mentioned, in LDS belief, is that marriages must be performed in a specific place, by a specific authority, otherwise individuals would be limited in the next life. Again there is no mention of this requirement in any book of scripture and seems to be an invention. If we look at the early history of the church then we can see that they performed marriages in many different locations and all that was needed civil authority to create the union. In addition there is no indication anywhere that not being marriage would put you in a lesser status in kingdom of God. If this were the case then why would Jesus say that not being married is a valid status for specific people. Does Jesus want people to be in a lesser state forever?
  3. The next point was that, in LDS belief, once you are married then you are separated from the world in a special status so that sin no longer separates you from God in the same way as it does to those who are not married. As was mentioned this is a very strange belief and seems to make a mockery of the divine sacrifice of Christ. I would have a hard time imagining it is true. It also is found nowhere in any book of scripture or any location other than D&C 132, therefore I certainly wouldn’t put much stock into it.
  4. The next point was that, in LDS belief, a man can engage in a sexual union with multiple others, and it wouldn’t be considered adultery since they would be given to him for this purpose. This is mentioned nowhere in any other location and is also in direct contradiction to the Garden of Eden ideal. The ideal was one man and one woman coming together and being recreated as the divine image of God. Adultery was anytime this divine image was violated and certainly sexual immorality between multiple people would be a gross violation of that divine image. However, as we saw then many things, such as neglect and violence, also destroy the divine ideal that God established for us. Jesus wanted us to return to that Garden of Eden state and that state was a single male and female uniting together to recreate God’s image. This is the ideal and this is the only way that God has allowed. Anything else is an abomination and is not the image of God, but a perversion of that divine image.

Certainly, both LDS belief and the words of Jesus seem to indicate marriage as being a very special union. It is nice to see that most of human society holds marriage in a special regarded status. However, beyond that it seems that LDS belief quickly deviates from the scriptural words of Jesus or any other known prophet of God.

In LDS belief it appears marriage is not seen as a return to the image of God, but as a way to change the image of God into that of an image of a false God. This is very important to consider since when we mold the image of God into our own understanding then we have formed a false god of our own make. All throughout history societies have created their own false gods and attempted to worship them as the true god. I am afraid that we have done the exact same thing.

Author: Patrick