Celestial marriage is a lofty eternal goal. To understand this end, we must begin at the beginning.
Before Adam and Eve ever entered the Garden of Eden, or even before the world was formed, we lived with our Heavenly Parents. Through a process of creation that I don’t quite understand, our spirit/souls were created—with personalities, gender, & especially our divine characteristic of Choice. We lived in Heaven before coming to Earth.
God taught us, His children. We grew—all of us… Billions of souls. We wanted to be like Him, but we could not—yet. His experiences were so beyond the realm of our existence. Yet, like any mortal father, His greatest joy and desire was that we could gain experience and have joy and become like Him.
During the great council in Heaven, Father presented a glorious plan whereby an earth would be prepared. We would come to that earth, clothing our spirits with bodies of flesh & blood, learn of Him, and choose.
Father is perfect, pure & has said that no unclean thing can dwell in His presence. He knew we would often make poor choices and the eternal law of Justice would negate our ability to return to Him, so He prepared the most glorious Way. The Savior Jesus Christ agreed to break the bands of sin and death—to atone for all of our sins, the sins of others to us, as well as our grief, fears, burdens, and sorrows if we would choose to repent of those sins.
Some rejected the plan, objecting to the notion that through choice, we could choose to “fail” to return to God and ultimately desiring His honor for themselves. The book of Revelation records this event as war in heaven where Michael & his angels fought against the dragon, Satan; then, Satan & his angels were cast down to the earth.
The First Married Couple—Adam and Eve
God introduced Adam & Eve into the Garden of Eden—the first married couple on this earth. Father gave two seemingly opposite commandments—one to multiply & replenish the earth and the other to not partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
I love how already in the story, the Father obviates the need for His Son—commandments enable us to see God’s standard and the paramount need for a Savior who can reconcile us with God. So, the couple realizes that without a Fall, they cannot keep the first commandment and they partake of the fruit, complete the Fall to mortality’s flesh and blood. Then, Adam and Eve are able to bear children and teach them of the Father’s plan of happiness and the commandments and necessary ordinances to return to Him.
And they also died.
When we die, of course, our body is buried in the earth until the Resurrection, but our immortal spirit goes to the spirit world to await the Savior’s triumphant Second Coming, our resurrection and final judgment. The Savior referred to this place to the thief on the cross.
Peter wrote of a vision where he saw the Savior’s spirit, while His body was in the tomb, going to the Spirit world and preaching to those who had been disobedient. How many people have lived and died without ever hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ!? And yet, God, in His infinite justice & mercy, prepares a way for all to learn of Christ and accept Him and the ordinances necessary for Salvation.
The Savior organized the hosts of the righteous to continue preaching to those who had not heard His gospel. That work still continues.
Jesus Christ’s Atonement—the most important event of our eternity—overcame all of the effects of the Fall and enabled the possibilities of Resurrection and life after this life! The scriptures speak of two types—immortality and eternal life. Immortality means to be saved from the awful grasp of death and hell and receive a resurrected body of flesh and bones. All men and women who have been born in this life will be resurrected because of Christ’s atoning grace.
Eternal life means to be saved from the awful grasp of death and hell, to be resurrected with a glorified body of flesh and bones, and to live eternally in the presence of God.
Paul specifically taught of varying levels of salvation—one glory Celestial, one glory Terrestrial, one glory Telestial (sun, moon, stars). The scriptures testify that all will recognize Jesus is the Savior, but still not all will accept Him and repent of their sins (telestial). Some will accept Him as their Savior, but not choose to follow the ordinances He commanded (terrestrial).
Some, like Cain & Judas, have had great knowledge of Jesus Christ, but “crucified Him unto themselves & put Him to an open shame.” These become the sons of Perdition forever to dwell in the lake of fire and brimstone. Lucifer & his angels who originally rejected Jesus Christ during the War in Heaven are also in this group of damned souls. They will not be resurrected because they never received a body at all. (Eternal damnation means no salvation in any glory.)
The final group gains eternal life and are those whose faith and works are consistent with the principles and ordinances of the Gospel of Christ. They are valiant in their testimonies of Him (celestial).
New and Everlasting Covenant—A Celestial Covenant
God covenanted with Abraham that if he were righteous, He would establish a new and everlasting covenant with him. This covenant promised Abraham eternal life, priesthood, numberless posterity, and land.
Jacob sealed blessings on the head of his sons before he died. Some of those blessings related to their posterity.
Malachi declared that the hearts of the fathers must be sealed to their children and the hearts of the children sealed to their fathers or the whole world would be cursed and the whole purpose of the earth wasted.
Jesus promised His Apostles that what they sealed on earth would be sealed in heaven. Elijah sealed the heavens from rain. Jeremiah sealed prophecies about the destruction of the house of Israel. There are so many examples of how the sealing power of heaven functions on Earth.
One of the most important ways to participate in sealing is by fulfilling ordinances given by God to man. Ordinances like baptism, the confirmation of the gift of the Holy Ghost, sacrament, washing and anointing, marriage are sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise.
Throughout the ages, consistently and with great promise, these ‘acts’ are mortal acts and they have to be done in the earthly sphere. If righteousness is maintained by works and through faith on the Savior’s grace, the ordinance is sealed on earth. And bound in heaven. And eternal.
So what about those who didn’t hear the “good news” while on Earth? The Savior’s vicarious act of ransoming us teaches us the way we can benefit others—not in the magnitude of ransoming sin, of course—but that the eternal principles to which God adheres is merciful, just, and fair to all of His children.
While teaching about the resurrection, Paul exclaimed, “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?”
The Savior established His Holy House, the temple, as the authorized place for ordinances necessary for salvation to be performed on behalf of those who died without hearing the Gospel.
As genealogies are traced, a mortal person takes the name (one by one) of someone who has died and performs the ordinances for them, or on their behalf. Does this negate the deceased’s free will? Absolutely not! The spirit man or woman can decline the work. But everyone will be given the opportunity to accept or reject the work done for them.
The Savior taught that there will be so much work to do to ensure that every person has the opportunity to accept or reject His word that a Millennium would be necessary after His Second Coming to finish the work—before the resurrection & final judgment.
Once when the Sadducees and Pharisees were arguing about whether there be a resurrection, the Sadducees asked Jesus to which husband a woman who was married to a man who died and then given to each of his brothers would marry in the resurrection. Of course, these men didn’t believe in a resurrection at all anyway, but Jesus provided critical evidence that after the resurrection, these ordinances are not performed. Everything must be done before the resurrection.
Qualifications for Marriage in the Celestial Kingdom
However, marriage is not eternal unless—1) Performed by proper authority/priesthood, 2) Performed in the proper place, 3) the covenant (the couple & God) is upheld with pure fidelity and righteousness. This sealing is only efficacious for those who obtain the celestial kingdom and eternal life.
If one is not sealed in marriage, one cannot enter the highest realm of the celestial kingdom.
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 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.
So, in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom, families created on this earth continue with husband sealed to wife after the example of our Heavenly Parents.
Therefore, if a man marry him a wife in the world, and he marry her not by me nor by my word, and he covenant with her so long as he is in the world and she with him, their covenant and marriage are not of force when they are dead, and when they are out of the world; therefore, they are not bound by any law when they are out of the world.
Therefore, when they are out of the world they neither marry nor are given in marriage; but are appointed angels in heaven, which angels are ministering servants, to minister for those who are worthy of a far more, and an exceeding, and an eternal weight of glory.
For these angels did not abide my law; therefore, they cannot be enlarged, but remain separately and singly, without exaltation, in their saved condition, to all eternity; and from henceforth are not gods, but are angels of God forever and ever.
And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife, and make a covenant with her for time and for all eternity, if that covenant is not by me or by my word, which is my law, and is not sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, through him whom I have anointed and appointed unto this power, then it is not valid neither of force when they are out of the world, because they are not joined by me, saith the Lord, neither by my word; when they are out of the world it cannot be received there, because the angels and the gods are appointed there, by whom they cannot pass; they cannot, therefore, inherit my glory; for my house is a house of order, saith the Lord God.
And again, verily I say unto you, 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 it shall be said unto them—Ye shall come forth in the first resurrection; and if it be after the first resurrection, in the next resurrection; and shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths—then shall it be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, that he shall commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, and if ye abide in my covenant, and commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, 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; and they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever.
So, What Does Celestial Marriage Mean to Me? Everything!
The sole desire of my heart is to be resurrected to eternal life and live with God forever. The majority of my life’s intent has been spent seeking, finding, understanding and applying spiritual truths through the Spirit of God.
I know I am His child. I know He has a plan for His children. Because of that plan, especially because of the grace of Jesus Christ, I act with faith and repent of my sins and strive to magnify the covenants I have made with God.
Marrying Anthony in the temple was, for me, the single most important decision I have ever made—the culminating decision of a lifetime of decisions. But, the journey didn’t end at the temple doors. We believe in an eternity together if we keep our covenants. Because of that possibility, I truly have joy!!!
I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have moved 64 times and have not tired of experiencing this beautiful earth! I love the people, languages, histories/anthropologies, & especially religious cultures of the world. My life long passion is the study & searching out of religious symbolism, specifically related to ancient & modern temples. My husband Anthony and I love our bulldog Stig, adventures, traveling, movies, motorcycling, and time with friends and family.