This is the second post in a series about the Latter-day Saint doctrine of eternal marriage that began on May 27 with “Eternal Companion: Introduction”.
Jesus and the Sadducees
Most Latter-day Saints have already encountered one common objection to celestial marriage put forward by Evangelicals: the story of Jesus being questioned by a group of Sadducees who don’t believe in the resurrection. As told in Matt. 22:23-33, Mark 12:18-27, and Luke 20:27-40, the Sadducees pose a rather outrageous hypothetical situation in which seven brothers in turn marry the same woman out of obligation to raise children for the previous brother who has died. After setting up the situation, the Sudducees ask Jesus whose wife the woman will be in the resurrection. Jesus replies that she won’t be married to any of them, for “in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage.”
The easy refutation of this passage for the Latter-day Saint is to point out that Jesus only says no one gets married in heaven. He doesn’t say no one is married in heaven. Couple that with a claim that this woman wasn’t eternally sealed to any of these husbands, and it seems easy to explain away this passage. However, this is not the only Biblical passage on the subject of marriage after death, and others are not so easy to explain away.
Paul’s epistles teach that marriage ends at death
It surprises me that I never encountered Romans 7:1-3 or 1 Corinthians 7:38 while I was LDS. I know I read them, as I read the entire New Testament twice on my LDS mission, but I must’ve skimmed over them or simply never realized their impact on the subject of celestial marriage. I don’t think clearer passages can be found concerning marriage and whether or not it endures beyond death:
bq. Or do you not know, brothers — for I am speaking to those who know the law — that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? Thus a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.
bq. A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.
Here it is explicitly stated that the institute of marriage is absolved at death. I can’t find these passages (let alone an explanation of them) anywhere on the “FAIR”:http://www.fairlds.org or “SHIELDS”:http://www.shields-research.org websites. I would be very interested to see how a Latter-day Saint would interpret these verses.
I’ve still got a few more aspects of this doctrine to consider, so stay tuned.