Chapter 28: Celestial Marriage

“Chapter 28: Celestial Marriage,” Doctrines of the Gospel Student Manual (2000), 75–77

“28: Celestial Marriage,” Doctrines of the Gospel Student Manual, 75–77

Chapter 28

Celestial Marriage


President Spencer W. Kimball counseled us about the importance of eternal marriage:

“Honorable, happy, and successful marriage is surely the principal goal of every normal person. One who would purposely or neglectfully avoid its serious implications is not only not normal but is frustrating his own program. There are a few people who marry for spite or marry for wealth or marry on the rebound after having been jilted. How distorted is the thinking of such a one!

“Marriage is perhaps the most vital of all the decisions and has the most far-reaching effects, for it has to do not only with immediate happiness, but also with eternal joys. It affects not only the two people involved, but their families and particularly their children and their children’s children down through the many generations. …

“In selecting a companion for life and for eternity, certainly the most careful planning and thinking and praying and fasting should be done to be sure that, of all the decisions, this one must not be wrong. In true marriage there must be a union of minds as well as of hearts. Emotions must not wholly determine decisions, but the mind and the heart, strengthened by fasting and prayer and serious consideration, will give one a maximum chance of marital happiness” (“Marriage and Divorce,” in Speeches of the Year, 1976, 143–44; see also Kimball, Marriage and Divorce, 10–11).

Doctrinal Outline

  1. Marriage is ordained of God.

    See Doctrine and Covenants 49:15–17; Hebrews 13:4; Matthew 19:5–6; Genesis 2:18, 24.

  2. A marriage must be performed with the sealing power of the priesthood to be valid after this life.

    1. God intended that marriages should be eternal (see Matthew 19:6; D&C 132:19–20; 1 Corinthians 11:11).

    2. A marriage not performed with the sealing power of the priesthood is not valid after this life (see D&C 132:7, 15–18).

    3. Only one person on the earth at a time holds the keys of the sealing power (see D&C 132:7).

  3. Celestial marriage is essential to exaltation.

    1. In order to obtain the highest degree in the celestial kingdom, a man and a woman must enter into the new and everlasting covenant of marriage (see D&C 131:2–3).

    2. A marriage must be sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise before the husband and the wife can obtain exaltation (see D&C 132:19).

    3. Those who are married by the power of God and achieve exaltation will have eternal increase (see D&C 132:19; 131:2–4).

Supporting Statements

  1. Marriage is ordained of God.

    • “It is the normal thing to marry. It was arranged by God in the beginning, long before this world’s mountains were ever formed. Remember: ‘Neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man.’ (1 Corinthians 11:11.) … Every person should want to be married. There are some who might not be able to. But every person should want to be married because that is what God in heaven planned for us” (Spencer W. Kimball, The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, 291).

    • “Marriage is ordained of God. It is not merely a social custom. Without proper and successful marriage, one will never be exalted” (Kimball, Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, 291).

  2. A marriage must be performed with the sealing power of the priesthood to be valid after this life.

    • “The greatest joys of true married life can be continued. The most beautiful relationships of parents and children can be made permanent. The holy association of families can be never-ending if husband and wife have been sealed in the holy bond of eternal matrimony. Their joys and progress will never end, but this will never fall into place of its own accord. …

      “God has restored the knowledge of temples and their purposes. On the earth this day are holy structures built to this special work of the Lord, and each is the house of the Lord. In these temples, by duly constituted authority, are men who can seal husbands and wives and their children for all eternity. This is a fact even though it is unknown to many” (Kimball, Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, 297).

    • “Now let us consider the first marriage that was performed after the earth was organized. Adam, the first man, had been created as well as the beasts and fowls and every living thing upon the earth. We then find this recorded: ‘And the Lord God said, It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.’ After the Lord had formed Eve, he ‘brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife and they shall be one flesh.’ (Genesis 2:18, 22–24.) These words were undoubtedly just what they sound like. They were very likely the words spoken by Adam reciting the vows of the first marriage upon this earth. With the completion of that marriage the Lord commanded them to ‘be fruitful, and multiply and replenish the earth, and subdue it.’ (Genesis 1:28.) Here was a marriage performed by the Lord between two immortal beings, for until sin entered the world their bodies were not subject to death. He made them one, not merely for time, nor for any definite period; they were to be one throughout the eternal ages” (Harold B. Lee, Decisions for Successful Living, 125).

    • “We see the use of seals everywhere. When a signature is notarized, an impression is made upon the paper with a seal. When a license is obtained from a municipality or a state, from a federation or an association, somewhere upon it is impressed the official seal of the organization. You find it on the diploma issued by universities, on legal documents that process through the courts, and on many other papers.

      “The use of a seal is a visible means of signifying that the document is authoritative, that it is worthy of respect and recognition, that its effect is binding.

      Seal is the right word, therefore, to be used to represent spiritual authority. In this case it is not represented by an imprint, by a wax impression, by an embossment, or by a ribbon; nor by an engravement on a signet, or by a stamp, or by a gold design pressed onto a document. The seal of official authority relating to spiritual matters, like other things spiritual, can be identified by the influence that is felt when the sealing power is exercised.

      “The sealing power represents the transcendent delegation of spiritual authority from God to man. The keeper of that sealing power is the Lord’s chief representative here upon the earth. That is the position of consummate trust and authority. We speak often of holding the key to that sealing power in the Church.

      “Much of the teaching relating to the deeper spiritual things in the Church, particularly in the temple, is symbolic. We use the word keys in a symbolic way. Here the keys of priesthood authority represent the limits of the power extended from beyond the veil to mortal man to act in the name of God upon the earth. The words seal and keys and priesthood are closely linked together” (Boyd K. Packer, The Holy Temple, 82).

    Newlywed couple in front of Salt Lake Temple
  3. Celestial marriage is essential to exaltation.

    • “I remember we had in our community in Arizona a good man who passed away. He and his lovely wife had resisted the teachings of the Church. And the wife, when he died, said, ‘I know that we will be associated as husband and wife through eternity.’ But she could say that a thousand times and it would still not come true because they were not humble enough to accept the law of marriage. They may receive other blessings, but not exaltation. That is reserved for those who are faithful and who obey the commandments” (Kimball, Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, 298).

    • “Marriages performed in the temples for time and eternity, by virtue of the sealing keys restored by Elijah, are called celestial marriages. The participating parties become husband and wife in this mortal life, and if after their marriage they keep all the terms and conditions of this order of the priesthood, they continue on as husband and wife in the celestial kingdom of God. …

      “The most important things that any member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ever does in this world are: 1. To marry the right person, in the right place, by the right authority; and 2. To keep the covenant made in connection with this holy and perfect order of matrimony—thus assuring the obedient persons of an inheritance of exaltation in the celestial kingdom” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 117–18).

    • “The house of the Lord is a house of order and not a house of confusion; and that means that the man is not without the woman in the Lord, neither is the woman without the man in the Lord; and that no man can be saved and exalted in the kingdom of God without the woman, and no woman can reach the perfection and exaltation in the kingdom of God alone. That is what it means. God instituted marriage in the beginning. He made man in his own image and likeness, male and female, and in their creation it was designed that they should be united together in sacred bonds of marriage, and one is not perfect without the other. Furthermore, it means that there is no union for time and eternity that can be perfected outside of the law of God, and the order of his house. Men may desire it, they may go through the form of it, in this life, but it will be of no effect except it be done and sanctioned by divine authority, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost” (Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 272).

    • “For remember, brethren, that only those who enter into the new and everlasting covenant of marriage in the temple for time and eternity, only those will have the exaltation in the celestial kingdom. That is what the Lord tells us” (Harold B. Lee, in Conference Report, Oct. 1973, 120; or Ensign, Jan. 1974, 100).

    • “Therefore, through the mercy and justice of the Lord, any young woman who maintains her virtue and accepts in her heart all the commandments and ordinances of the gospel will receive the fulness of the glory and exaltation of the celestial kingdom. The great gift of eternal life will be given her. This gift the Lord has described, shall be a ‘fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever.’ All the gifts of exaltation will be hers, because she has been true and faithful, and what was denied her here will be given to her hereafter” (Joseph Fielding Smith, “Marriage in Eternity,” Improvement Era, Oct. 1957, 702).

    • “The Holy Spirit of Promise is the Holy Spirit promised the saints, or in other words the Holy Ghost. This name-title is used in connection with the sealing and ratifying power of the Holy Ghost, that is, the power given him to ratify and approve the righteous acts of men so that those acts will be binding on earth and in heaven. …

      “To seal is to ratify, to justify, or to approve. Thus an act which is sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise is one which is ratified by the Holy Ghost; it is one which is approved by the Lord; and the person who has taken the obligation upon himself is justified by the Spirit in the thing he has done.

      “The ratifying seal of approval is put upon an act only if those entering the contract are worthy as a result of personal righteousness to receive the divine approbation. They ‘are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, which the Father sheds forth upon all those who are just and true.’ (D. & C. 76:53.) If they are not just and true and worthy the ratifying seal is withheld” (McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 361–62).

    • “Marriage covenants authorized and sealed by that God-given power, endure, if the parties thereto are true to their troth, not through mortal life alone, but through time and all eternity. Thus the worthy husband and wife who have been sealed under the everlasting covenant shall come forth in the day of the resurrection to receive their heritage of glory, immortality, and eternal lives.

      “It is the blessed privilege of resurrected beings who attain an exaltation in the celestial kingdom to enjoy the glory of endless increase, to become the parents of generations of spirit-offspring, and to direct their development through probationary stages analogous to those through which they themselves have passed.

      “Eternal are the purposes of God; never-ending progression is provided for His children, worlds without end” (James E. Talmage, “The Eternity of Sex,” Young Woman’s Journal, Oct. 1914, 604).

    • “Except a man and his wife enter into an everlasting covenant and be married for eternity, while in this probation, by the power and authority of the Holy Priesthood, they will cease to increase when they die; that is, they will not have any children after the resurrection. But those who are married by the power and authority of the priesthood in this life, and continue without committing the sin against the Holy Ghost, will continue to increase and have children in the celestial glory” (Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 300–301).

    • “The gift promised to those who receive this covenant of marriage and remain faithful to the end, that they shall ‘have no end,’ means that they shall have the power of eternal increase. Only those who have this power will truly ‘know the only wise and true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent.’ Others may see the Lord and may be instructed by him but they will not truly know him or his Father unless they become like them” (Joseph Fielding Smith, The Way to Perfection, 247).