Marriage in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

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In 1995, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) issued The Family: A Proclamation to the World which states that “marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children.”[1] When a man and woman are married in the temple, their family is believed to be eternally sealed together.[2]

Although the LDS Church openly authorized polygamous marriages until 1890, today it is opposed to such marriages and excommunicates members who participate in them; the church teaches that “the standard doctrine of the church is monogamy" and that polygamy was a temporary exception to the rule.[3] The LDS Church also opposes the legalization of same-sex marriage.[4]

Marriage as a requirement for exaltation[edit]

Joseph Smith taught, “In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees; and in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage]; and if he does not, he cannot obtain it. He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase”.[5]

LDS scriptures also teach that "“If a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant, and it is sealed unto them by the Holy Spirit of promise, by him who is anointed, unto whom I have appointed this power and the keys of this priesthood; ... and if [they] abide in my covenant, ... it shall be done unto them in all things whatsoever my servant hath put upon them, in time, and through all eternity; and shall be of full force when they are out of the world”.[6]

A celestial marriage is therefore viewed as a requirement for exaltation, which is known as "eternal life", or living the kind of eternal life that God lives. It is believed, therefore, that all humans are spirit children of "heavenly parents"[1]God the Father and a Heavenly Mother, who are married to each other.

The importance of marriage in the LDS Church is such that Latter-day Saint leaders have hypothesized that Jesus must have been married, possibly to Mary Magdalene, Mary, sister of Lazarus, and/or Martha.[7][8][9][10][11]

Practices and teachings about marriage[edit]

A spouse is the only person other than the Lord that Latter-day Saints are commanded to love with all their heart. In the Doctrine and Covenants, a book the LDS Church accepts as scriptures, it states, “Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else.”[12] Church leaders have taught that this commandment applies equally to wives loving their husbands.[13][14]

The LDS Church also teaches that marriage is a partnership of equals, and that partners should be thoughtful, respectful, and loyal to one another.[15] Church members are encouraged to marry in LDS Temples, where they make covenants and participate in ordinances that are believed to seal the family together for eternity.[16] The church teaches that if couples keep their lives centered on Jesus Christ, their love will grow.[17]

The twelfth LDS Article of Faith states, "We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law."[18] Any members who adopts unlawful marriage practices, such as polygamy, are subject to excommunication.[19]

Marriage statistics for Latter-day Saints[edit]

In 2008 the American Religious Identification Survey reported: "Mormons have the highest proportions of currently married adults, and lowest divorce rates reflecting the emphasis on family values in this tradition...Commitment to “traditional or normative family values” is measured by creating a combined index of the proportions divorced and cohabiting, whereby those traditions that score lowest are the most familial. The tradition with the lowest percentages on this index are Mormons (11%)".[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles (September 23, 1995), The Family: A Proclamation to the World, "Gospel Topics", (LDS Church), retrieved 2013-12-11 . See also: The Family: A Proclamation to the World
  2. ^ Temples, "Teachings: Gospel Topics (Study By Topic)", (LDS Church) 
  3. ^ LDS Church, 'Polygamy:Latter-day Saints and the Practice of Plural Marriage", LDS Newroom,
  4. ^ Fred Karger, "The Mormon church won't drop its opposition to gay marriage", The Guardian, 2013-11-29.
  5. ^ Doctrine and Covenants 131:1-4
  6. ^ Doctrine and Covenants 132:19
  7. ^ Hyde, Orson (October 6, 1854), "The Marriage Relations", in Watt, G.D., Journal of Discourses 2, Liverpool: F. D. Richards, pp. 75–87 .
  8. ^ Hyde, Orson (185), "Man the Head of Woman—Kingdom of God—The Seed of Christ—Polygamy—Society in Utah", in Watt, G.D., Journal of Discourses 4, Liverpool: S. W. Richards, pp. 257–263 .
  9. ^ Pratt, Orson (October 1853), "Celestial Marriage", The Seer 1 (10), p. 159 
  10. ^ Wilford Woodruff, Journal Entry 1883-07-22, reporting on a sermon given by Joseph F. Smith.
  11. ^ Joseph Fielding Smith, Handwritten note responding to letter from J. Ricks Smith, 1963.
  12. ^ Doctrine and Covenants 42:22
  13. ^ Spencer W. Kimball, "Oneness in Marriage", Tambuli, June 1978.
  14. ^ Marlin K. Jensen, "A Union of Love and Understanding", Ensign October 1994.
  15. ^ Marriage, "Teachings: Gospel Topics (Study By Topic)", (LDS Church), "Marriage is a partnership of equals, with neither person exercising dominion over the other, but with each encouraging, comforting, and helping the other ... it needs and deserves time over less-important commitments. Couples can strengthen their marriage as they take time to talk together and to listen to one another, to be thoughtful and respectful, and to express tender feelings and affection often... Marriage partners must be loyal to one another and faithful in their marriage covenants in thought, word, and deed. Married couples should stay away from anything that could lead to unfaithfulness in any way. Pornography, unwholesome fantasies, and flirtations will erode character and strike at the foundation of marriage." 
  16. ^ Bushman, Richard L. (2008), Mormonism: a Very Short Introduction, New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 58–59, ISBN 9780195310306, OCLC 179802646 
  17. ^ Marriage, "Teachings: Gospel Topics (Study By Topic)", (LDS Church), "Couples must center their lives in the gospel of Jesus Christ. As couples help one another keep the covenants they have made, attend church and the temple together, study the scriptures together, and kneel together in prayer, God will guide them. Their companionship will sweeten through the years; their love will strengthen. Their appreciation for one another will grow." 
  18. ^ Pearl of Great Price, Articles of Faith 12
  19. ^ Polygamy, "Teachings: Gospel Topics (Study By Topic)", (LDS Church) 
  20. ^ Kosmin, Barry A.; Keysar, Ariela (March 2009), American Religious Identification Survey 2008: Summary Report, Trinity College (Hartford, Connecticut), p. 13