Mormons Believe That Only a Temple Marriage Can Be An Eternal Marriage

Marriage Can Be Sealed For Time and All Eternity

Temple marriage salt lake temple
A newly married couple outside the Salt Lake temple. Photo courtesy of © 2011 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Temple marriages are different than civil marriages or marriages performed in any other manner. Marriages, or sealings, must be enacted in temples to be eternally binding.

Temple Marriage is a Sealing Ordinance

When worthy members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are married in a sacred temple it is called a sealing. Through the power of the priesthood they make a covenant and are sealed together.

These bonds are binding here on earth and they can be binding in the postmortal life as well, provided the couple both remain worthy.

Temple Marriage is Between a Man and Woman

In order for a marriage to be eternal, it must be between one man and one woman. This eternal potential is not available to any other union. This is explicitly stated in The Family: A Proclamation to the World:

WE, THE FIRST PRESIDENCY and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim 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.

This historic statement, issued in 1995, further declares the following:

THE FAMILY is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan.

This proclamation is a sort of policy statement. It brings together in one place the core LDS beliefs on marriage and family.

Temple Marriage is Forever

Being married in a temple means being together for all time and all eternity and having an eternal family. Through this sealing power, families can be together after death and in the next life.

For a marriage to be eternal, a couple must be sealed together in God's holy temple and by his holy priesthood power; if not their marriage will dissolve at death.

The proclamation also teaches:

The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally.

These ordinances and covenants must be made in the temple. Otherwise they are not eternally binding.

Temple Marriage is a Celestial Union

The Celestial Kingdom is where Heavenly Father lives. To be exalted to the highest order of this kingdom a person must receive the sacred sealing ordinance of marriage.

Thus, to achieve our greatest potential we must work to achieve a celestial, temple marriage.

Both Partners Must Faithfully Keep Covenants

Temple marriages or sealings allow for these unions to continue eternally. They do not guarantee it.

For a temple marriage to remain in effect after this life, a husband and wife must remain faithful to each other and their covenants. This means building a marriage founded upon the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Those married in the temple must love and respect one another always. If they do not, they are not upholding the covenant of their temple sealing.

Some Receive a Temple Sealing After Legal Marriage

If a couple is already legally married, they can still be sealed together in the temple and receive all the same promises and blessings that come from making and keeping this covenant.

Sometimes there is a waiting period, usually a year, before couples can be sealed. There is also a waiting period for those newly baptized. It also is generally one year.

After a couple is sealed in the temple, any children they have are automatically sealed to them when they are born.

If a couple already has children before being sealed to each other in the temple, those children accompany them to the temple and are sealed to their parents right after the husband and wife are sealed together.

A Promise for those Who Never Marry

Our Father in Heaven is a loving, just Heavenly Father, and has promised that all will be given the blessing of an eternal temple marriage, even if they are not given this opportunity while alive. 

The sealing ordinance of temple marriage is also vicariously done for the dead.

This way all families can be together forever.

What About Divorce After a Temple Marriage or Sealing?

A couple can be divorced if they have been sealed in the temple. This is called a temple sealing cancellation. To have a temple sealing canceled a couple must meet with their bishop and prepare the proper paperwork.

A temple marriage truly is the greatest covenant we can make. When dating, make certain that eternal marriage is your goal, as well as your objective. Only temple marriages or sealings will be eternal.

Updated by Krista Cook.