LDS Church on the Marriage(s) of Jesus

ThrowbackThursIt’s Throwback Thursday! The following blog article originally posted at Mormon Coffee on May 19, 2006. Though The Da Vinci Code is now old news, being nine years after the movie’s release, I just received an email last week that addressed the issue of a married Jesus. A Mormon woman wrote, “On this topic, we are told that, indeed, Jesus did marry. In order to get into the Celestial Kingdom, you must get married in the temple, and get baptized. Jesus was baptized to set an example unto us. To show that even the most perfect of men need to get baptized, so even the most perfect men need to get married, but not only that [–] Jesus also had to be baptized and married to live in the Celestial Kingdom.” Since this remains a current topic, it seems timely to use “LDS Church on the Marriage(s) of Jesus” as a Throwback Thursday Mormon Coffee post.

Today The Da Vinci Code opens in U.S. theatres. There’s a lot of buzzing going on, including some from the LDS Church. Wednesday’s online Deseret News ran a short article titled “LDS do not endorse claims in ‘Da Vinci'” quoted here in part:

LDS doctrine does not endorse claims made in a popular book and movie that Jesus Christ was married…

Dale Bills, a spokesman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said in a statement released Tuesday:

“The belief that Christ was married has never been official church doctrine. It is neither sanctioned nor taught by the church. While it is true that a few church leaders in the mid-1800s expressed their opinions on the matter, it was not then, and is not now, church doctrine.”

I don’t know quite how to take Mr. Bills’ claim. Two weeks ago here on Mormon Coffee I included a quote from Salt Lake Tribune journalist Pat Bagley:

Growing up in the church in California, I dutifully got up every morning during high school at 5:30 a.m. to attend seminary. It was there I first learned that the marriage attended by Jesus in Cana, where he famously turned water into grape juice, was probably his own.

If it’s taught in LDS seminary, isn’t it taught by the LDS Church? I suppose it might be an issue of where the seminary instructor got the idea in the first place. Was it just his or her speculation? If so, that teacher should have been replaced, but quick.

We don’t know where the teacher got his information, but quite possibly it could have come from LDS authorities. Consider this teaching from LDS Apostle Orson Hyde:

We will turn over to the account of the marriage in Cana of Galilee…

Jesus was the bridegroom at the marriage of Cana of Galilee, and he told them what to do.

Now there was actually a marriage; and if Jesus was not the bridegroom on that occasion, please tell me who was. If any man can show this, and prove that it was not the Savior of the world, then I will acknowledge I am in error. We say it was Jesus Christ who was married, to be brought into the relation whereby he could see his seed, before he was crucified. (Journal of Discourses 2:82. “A lecture by President Orson Hyde, delivered at the General Conference, in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, October 6, 1854.”)

As a side note, I’m not able to tell President Hyde who was married at the wedding of Cana, but I can tell him who wasn’t; John 2:2 says that both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. Grooms are not invited to their own weddings, they actually do the inviting. Jesus was not married at this wedding in Cana.

At any rate, if the President of the Twelve Apostles, speaking at General Conference, in his official capacity as an Apostle, said Jesus was married–and was never reprimanded for it–wouldn’t that indicate that the Church both taught and sanctioned the doctrine?

There was some fallout for Mr. Hyde, but not from the Church. In a sermon delivered five months later Mr. Hyde said,

I discovered that some of the Eastern papers represent me as a great blasphemer, because I said, in my lecture on Marriage, at our last Conference, that Jesus Christ was married at Cana of Galilee, that Mary, Martha, and others were his wives, and that he begat children.

All that I have to say in reply to that charge is this–they worship a Savior that is too pure and holy to fulfil the commands of his Father. I worship one that is just pure and holy enough “to fulfil all righteousness;” not only the righteous law of baptism, but the still more righteous and important law “to multiply and replenish the earth.” Startle not at this! (Journal of Discourses 2:210. “A sermon by President Orson Hyde, delivered in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, March 18, 1855.” Spelling retained.)

Mr. Hyde was still teaching this doctrine in 1857 (see Journal of Discourses 4:260). He was not the only LDS leader to teach that Jesus was married. LDS Apostle Orson Pratt taught:

One thing is certain, that there were several holy women that greatly loved Jesus–such as Mary, and Martha her sister, and Mary Magdalene;…now it would be very natural for a husband in the resurrection to appear first to his own dear wives, and afterwards show himself to his other friends. If all the acts of Jesus were written, we no doubt should learn that these beloved women were his wives. (The Seer, Washington D.C. edition, October 1853, page 159)

We have also proved most clearly that the Son followed the example of his Father, and became the great Bridegroom to whom kings’ daughters and many honorable Wives were to be married. We have also proved that both God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ inherit their wives in eternity as well as in time; ..And then it would be so shocking to the modesty of the very pious ladies of Christendom to see Abraham and his wives, Jacob and his wives, Jesus and his honorable wives. all eating occasionally at the same table… (The Seer, Washington D.C. edition, November 1853, page 172)

The index of the Journal of Discourses says the marriage of Jesus was implied by Jedediah M. Grant. Eight months before being made an apostle Mr. Grant said:

…and what does [ancient philosopher Celsus] say upon the subject of Christ and his Apostles, and their belief? He says, “The grand reason why the Gentiles and philosophers of his school persecuted Jesus Christ, was, because he had so many wives; there were Elizabeth, and Mary, and a host of others that followed him.”

A belief in the doctrine of the plurality of wives caused the persecution of Jesus and his followers. We might almost think they were “Mormons.” (Journal of Discourses 1:345-346. “A discourse by Elder Jedediah M. Grant, delivered in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, Aug. 7, 1853.”)

There’s a more modern source for this teaching that may have been used by the seminary instructor who taught Mr. Bagley. LDS Seventy Milton R. Hunter wrote The Gospel Through the Ages in 1945. The preface states,

This book is designed primarily for a course of study in the Melchizedek Priesthood quorums of the Church. It is to be used by all high priests’, seventies’, and elders’ classes in their weekly meetings, beginning January 1, 1946….The volume has been written and published under the direction of the General Authorities.

As an authoritative course of study published under the direction of the General Authorities of the Church it seems that there should be no disputing that what it teaches is “official” and “sanctioned” by the Church. The book says,

Operating in addition to and as part of natural laws are the Gospel ordinances. They were instituted by God the Eternal Father and His Son Jesus Christ before man was placed on this earth, for the purpose of assisting in bringing the sons and daughters of God back into Their presence. Such ordinances as baptism, confirmation, temple ordinances, priesthood ordinations, marriage, and others, are all part of the Gospel plan of salvation. All of these principles and ordinances of the Gospel are eternal. They were instituted before man was placed on the earth and are applicable to all human beings that live here…

Jesus Christ, the only perfect man who has lived on this earth, was perfect because He obeyed all the principles and ordinances of the Gospel in order that He “might fulfill all righteousness.” He thereby set a pattern of life for all mortals to follow. If they obey all the principles and ordinances of the Gospel, as did the Master, their growth will continue until they attain eternal life in the Kingdom of God. (pages 18-19. Emphasis mine.)

So I really don’t understand Mr. Bills and his statement on behalf of the LDS Church. Clearly, he is spinning the truth.

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.

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17 Responses to LDS Church on the Marriage(s) of Jesus

  1. Brian says:

    Sharon,

    Thank you for your ministry. And thank you for sharing the letter sent to you by an LDS friend. For me, the following points in this letter drew my interest:

    1. Jesus was a good, righteous man.
    2. Jesus, though perfect, needed to live certain LDS requirements to go to heaven.
    3. In living these requirements, he gave us an example.
    4. By living this example we can go to heaven, too.

    Let’s look at each of these. First, Jesus was a good man? Someone once addressed him in this way. And what was his reaction? “Why do you call me good” (Mark 10:18)? Jesus follows by explaining that no one is good; only God is good. I once heard a sermon in which the pastor said, “Jesus Christ was not a good man! If Jesus is a man, he is not good. If Jesus is good, he is God.” And so he is.

    Second, would God need to concern himself with getting into heaven? Jesus is God.

    Third, Jesus has lived LDS requirements so we may have an example? I would agree there is no higher example than that lived by Jesus.

    Fourth, in living Jesus’ example, we can go to heaven, too? An example does not change Jesus’ verdict regarding human beings: no one is good. If we could make ourselves good by what we do, we could merit heaven. And in so doing we would establish that Jesus’ death on the cross was meaningless (Galatians 2:21). Do you think you can?

    No, that is not the way. But there is a way to be found righteous in God’s sight. If you would like to know how, read Romans chapters 1 to 5.

  2. falcon says:

    Time for one of my favorite quotes. I have no idea where I got this.

    “The more convoluted, preposterous and bizarre a notion, the more cultists love it.”

    I don’t know why this is, that there are folks who have a mental orientation to the fringe. I think that it must have something to do with the idea that some people are drawn to the odd and peculiar. In Mormonism, once someone buys the Joseph Smith, angel Moroni, gold plates narrative, why not embrace a whole bunch of other bizarre claims.
    I often bring up the example of our LDS friend Ralph, who doesn’t come around much any more. I asked him years ago if he would kill or steel if the modern day prophet directed/ordered him to do so. He said that yes he would. He later qualified it by saying that the prophet would have to tell him face-to-face, no e mail for example.
    So why wouldn’t Mormons believe that Jesus was married. This is really small potatoes compared to all of the other nutty stuff they embrace.

  3. falcon says:

    Believe me. I do know the difference between “steel” and “steal”. I was thinking that maybe it was one of those Freudian slips but I don’t know what it might be.
    This topic brings to light if someone accepts a notion that’s even a little off-center, the erosion into the truly bizarre isn’t that far away.

  4. historybuff says:

    As for the official status of Orson Hyde’s remarks in General Conference, we might refer to the Mormon Church’s own guidance. In the July 2014 Ensign, the LDS Church’s official magazine, the Church reminded its members:
    “Approved curriculum materials from the Church, such as scriptures, general conference talks, and manuals, contain doctrine—eternal truths from God.”
    https://www.lds.org/ensign/2014/07/we-teach-by-the-power-of-the-holy-ghost?lang=eng https://www.lds.org/bc/content/shared/content/english/pdf/language-materials/06195_eng.pdf

    That being the case, Mormons must either disregard the “eternal truths from God” in Orson Pratt’s general conference talk, or disregard the current prophet’s counsel to accept general conference talks as doctrine. Choose your poison.

    But the fact is that Mormons don’t have a choice. After Orson Hyde gave his sermon, President Brigham Young stood up and said:
    “We have had a splendid address from brother Hyde, for which I am grateful. I feel in my heart to bless the people all the time, AND CAN SAY AMEN TO BROTHER HYDE’S LAST REMARKS.” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 2:90).
    There can be no doubt concerning Brigham Young’s intention:
    “I say now, when [my sermons] are copied and approved by me they are as good Scripture as is couched in this Bible . . . ” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 13, p. 264)
    “I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call Scripture.” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 13, p. 95)

    So, it appears that the LDS leaders are now throwing Orson Hyde, Brigham Young, conference talks, LDS scriptural claims, and the Ensign Magazine under the bus. Maybe next week they’ll be telling their members to ignore their current prophet, President Monson.

  5. falcon says:

    Buff
    Come on. You know the LDS game. Doctrine, teaching, practice is whatever…………..There is no consistency with this bunch. It’s pretty much live the Word of Wisdom, perform all of your callings/duties and pay your 10% and don’t think too much. Mormonism has “eras” and the various sects lock on to the doctrines and practice that flips their switch. The FLDS is pretty consistent with the Brigham Young era. The LDS doesn’t know where to land. That’s why the FLDS sees the LDS as apostates and as far as Mormonism goes, I tend to agree with the FLDS. The Community of Christ will at least own up to the Nauvoo era nonsense and has reinvented itself as a “peace church”. So this idea of the restoration and a one true church is as it seems, phoney.

  6. historybuff says:

    Falcon —

    YOU may know that the LDS doctrines are inconsistent and incompatible, and continually being disowned, and I may know it, as well as others who study the subject, but this is news to most LDS.

    And even as we write all this, most LDS are careful to avoid contact with anything that the church regards as non-faith-promoting. Deep in their heart of hearts, most LDS suspect that something is very wrong in their church, but their multiple dependencies on family, friends and business associates drive them to push all doubt out of their minds. It seems they only have a crisis of faith after they’ve had another life-altering experience like divorce or job loss.

    It’s a tragedy that people are built that way, but, as they say, life goes on.

  7. falcon says:

    Buff
    Lynn Wilder is one of many who testify to putting things on the LDS shelf. These are things that trouble a person, but they don’t take it any where as far as investigation. That’s a real no-no in the LDS religion. I’ve talked several times about listening to John Dehlin who I guess now is out of the LDS church, listing all of these troubling things about Mormonism. Then at the end John says something like, “But that’s no reason to leave the LDS church.” I was like, “You gotta be kidding me!”
    Here’s a list of things that basically destroys the Mormon religion but that’s no reason to leave? That’s when folks who have too much to lose by leaving come up with the “But the church does a lot of good.” rationale.
    My last encounter with MM told me that for those of us who know the score, the goal of the MM and other Mormons for that matter, is to get us to stop talking about it. It comes under the heading of, “I don’t think people should be criticizing other people’s religion.”
    It’s a way of invoking the “no talk rule” and imposing it on those outside the LDS church.

  8. Mike R says:

    testing 1-2-3

  9. Mike R says:

    historybuff, your comment yesterday about Orson Hyde was right on the money . I said the very same thing but could’nt get my comment on here . Seems that things are up and running again now .

    Today’s Mormon leaders act like chameleons when it come to how they deal with some of the important teachings their past colleagues publically taught . In their effort to be more effective at proselytizing they must deny or dodge teachings their predecessors were proud to publically teach over the pulpit . Today’s Mormon leaders don’t deserve the submission that LDS render them . They’re more concerned with an image they have carefully crafted , and to sell that image they must deny or dodge many of Brigham Young’s (and others who served with him) beliefs , beliefs they felt so strongly about that they publically taught them to their flock and even REPEATED them .

    Mormonism is not the answer .

  10. historybuff says:

    It’s fear. Fear of losing their comfortable life, their family, their friends, maybe their job. It’s also fear if admitting that they’ve been duped all these years. It’s much easier to simply go to your meetings and stack all those doubts up on that proverbial shelf.

  11. Mike R says:

    historybuff, in autocratic religious organizations like the Mormon church fear of leaving certainly is a huge barrier to emotionally overcome for those who sense something is’nt right with their leadership.

    This is the same scenario among those in the Watchtower Society ( Jw’s ) . To doubt that their “prophet” is reliable or consistent in teaching them ” Jehovah’s spiritual food ” is equated with
    doubting God , which will invite His punishment . To get kicked out of the organization is equated with turning away from God which brings His wrath , and personal destruction at Armageddon (which is always “just around the corner ” etc ) . Fear keeps them in the ” ark of safety ” ( the organization) . Then there’s the shunning policy to towards ex members which can be very devastating .

    It’s very sad and heart wrenching to see people so enslaved to man made religious organizations.

  12. historybuff says:

    “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”
    ― Plato

  13. Mike R says:

    In reading what Mormon church spokesman Dale Bills said in the Deseret News statement about Jesus being married is not an “official doctrine ” of the church , and that past Mormon leaders were only expressing their opinions not teaching a truth about Jesus etc . , this kind of alibi has become a popular device used to obscure some facts in Mormon history . It’s similar to how the White House spokesman Eric Schultz cleverly used word games to defend his Presidents position on the Taliban .
    He said the Taliban are not a ” terrorist ” group , rather they’re a ” armed insurgency ” . Clever .

    The Mormon P.R. Dept resorts to similar tactics to deny or down play some of what past Mormon authorities taught in their gospel preaching , and this issue of Jesus being married is a good example of this .
    The excuse is that when past Mormon authorities publically preached to their flock that Jesus was married that was not a true teaching , a sound doctrine LDS should know , rather it was only their personal opinions instead . Clever .

    Mormon church spokesman have be special people , skilled at doing damage control .

    However, many Mormons obviously see right through this P.R. , but sadly they are to scared to leave Mormonism given all they stand to lose .
    Our prayers for them will not cease .

  14. Mike R says:

    Ever since Joseph Smith introduced polygamy as a ordinance of Jesus’ gospel it was practiced in private by him and some of those that served under him . This behavior went on for years . Then in 1852 a landmark event took place — Brigham Young authorized Orson Partt an apostle to publically announce to the world that Mormons were practicing polygamy . It was not welcome news . However Brigham Young almost immediately went on the offense to meet negative response , he called and sent out messengers , trusted men , to go into various cities and publish periodical defending polygamy :

    ” Others were sent elsewhere to do the same thing ; Erastus Snow with the ‘ St Louis Luminary ‘ ;
    George Q. Cannon and his ‘ Western Standard ‘ in San Francisco ; John Taylor with the ‘ Mormon’ in New York City …. Benjamin F. Johnson in Hawaii .” [ Doing the Works of Abraham , p 81 ; see also Conflicts in the Quorum , p. 85 ] .

    Benjamin F. Johnson , like Orson Hyde preached in Gen Conference ( see Sharon’s quote from Hyde above ) also proclaimed that Jesus was married (and a polygamist ) . All these men were authorized by President Brigham Young to preach the ” restored gospel ” and a important truth about Jesus . It was authorized gospel doctrine that Mormon leaders believed , LDS should hear , and the world could know about .

    It’s interesting to note that Orson Hyde’s sermon after being preached in General Conference on Oct 6 was then authorized to be printed in the church’s official paper ,The Deseret News , on Oct 19 1854 . [ Doing the Works of Abraham p. 84 ] .

    Yet we have Church spokesman Dale Bills on May 17 2006 stating that the belief that Jesus was married was never official doctrine of the church , only the personal opinions of some early leaders, and this statement of his was printed in the Deseret News !

    Bottom line : Mormon leaders can’t be trusted . Their unstable teachings are a clear evidence that the Mormon church is a man made religious organization . They are so geared towards being appealing to the public nowadays in an effort to expand their proselytizing efforts that they must deny or dodge many of their past colleagues teachings , and church spokesman Dale Bills’ recent statement is a good example of this behavior — it was a red herring .

    The Mormon people deserve our prayers . They can be free from following latter days false prophets — Matt 24:11 .

  15. falcon says:

    Remember……….these guy just sort of make-it-up as the go along. Their rationale for many/most/all of their doctrines is whatever they happen to be thinking at the moment. They label these random mental meanderings “revelation”. They figure if they think it, it has to be true. Subsequent generations of Mormons are left to clean up the mess and they aren’t real good at it. That’s why Mormons invent conspiracy theories, urban legends, label things opinion and tell us things don’t really mean what they mean, clearly.
    And then there’s the “I know” technique. The Mormon will declare that they “know” something/someone is true. That’s suppose to impress us making us quiver with excitement and put away any demands for actual evidence.

  16. Mike R says:

    falcon , if the Mormon people would just take time to examine the gospel preaching track record of their leaders they would see a very clear verdict : these men are not reliable as guides. Eph 4:14 is a appropriate scripture that describes the Mormon people . That’s a sad fact .

    A small clarification : I mentioned that B.Y. called and sent out trusted men to cities and publish defenses of their newly acknowledged doctrine and practice of polygamy . That was a fact , but their topic was polygamy not specifically Jesus’ marriage ( although some proclaimed that as well).

    Mormon leaders could use no greater example to prove to their flock that marriage was a restored gospel truth and a requirement for exaltation, than to tell them that Jesus Himself was married . Thus they were’nt afraid to preach it , and later on repeat it again . It was an officially endorsed doctrine .

    The Mormon people have been detoured from the true gospel of salvation by men who are counterfeit prophets / apostles . Rev 2: 2 , and many are finding that out and becoming free .

  17. falcon says:

    It’s a case of most of the Mormon people not knowing anything. They eat what’s before them and they say thank you very much. There’s enough spirituality mixed into the program to make them think they are into something super special. The last thing the LDS church wants is people asking questions and delving into matters of Mormon history.
    For those who don’t have a lot to risk in terms of job or family connections, the road out is much easier. I take my hat off to the Mormons who are willing to ask questions, seek answers and not just buy the party line.

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