Was Jesus Married?

Related Posts: Who is Jesus?—to a Mormon; Whom do we worship?; Christ, The Nature of; Godhead: God or Gods?; Heavenly Mother

Thanks to the movie The Da Vinci Code the idea of Jesus’ marriage is more popular than ever. But it is also getting some push back from supporters of the traditional view that Jesus lived a celibate life.  For example, Mark Brumley, president of Ignatius Press, wrote in This Rock,

Absence of evidence is not, as we have said, evidence of absence. But neither is it evidence of evidence. The assertion that Jesus was married puts the burden of proof on those making the claim. Those who argue for a married Jesus simply haven’t met that burden. What evidence we have—even when considered apart from the Church’s Tradition—all points in the other direction.[1]

Yes, Jesus’ marriage is not official LDS doctrine

The LDS Church does not officially teach that Jesus was married. Charles W. Penrrose, an LDS Apostle and member of the First Presidency, wrote in 1912,

We do not know anything about Jesus Christ being married. The Church has no authoritative declaration on the subject.[2]

In fact the FairMormon blog says this about the LDS Church’s position on Jesus being married,

Do Mormons believe Jesus Christ was married?…The easy answer is that no, Mormons don’t officially believe that Jesus was married. In fact, there is no official Church doctrine on this issue.

But then?

Even so, it is true this belief is perfectly consistent with Mormon beliefs as a whole. And in contrast to most of our Christian cousins the belief that Jesus was married is held by many, if not a majority, of Mormons.

Today we don’t hear anything from church leaders about Jesus being married. But in the 19th century LDS leaders were very vocal about teaching their belief that Jesus was married. Apostle Orson Pratt wrote in his book The Seer (1853) that

One thing is certain, that there were several holy women that greatly loved Jesus — such as Mary, and Martha her sister, and Mary Magdalene; and Jesus greatly loved them, and associated with them much; and when He arose from the dead, instead of showing Himself to His chosen witnesses, the Apostles, He appeared first to these women, or at least to one of them — namely, Mary Magdalene. Now it would be 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 (p.159).

There are several more examples of 19th century church leaders who say Jesus was married. (A quick internet search will bring them up.)

The situation is like this. If you look at LDS beliefs as a whole they seem to point toward Jesus being married. LDS teachings make it optional. But nevertheless, our beliefs favor it.

Mormon beliefs: Was Jesus married?

But which beliefs point to this?

We see ourselves (and Jesus) as spirit children of our Heavenly Father. During our premortal life Heavenly Father gathered all of us together and proposed a plan. An earth would be created where we would live a mortal life and grow and develop (see The Premortal Life). Marriage is part of this plan. In fact, marriage is required to obtain the highest heaven. The Doctrine and Covenants says this about temple marriage.

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. (D&C 131:1-3;  brackets original)

The scriptures also teach that, “no one can reject this covenant [of marriage] and be permitted to enter into my glory” (D&C 132:4; brackets mine).

Jesus is our elder brother (Who is Jesus, To a Mormon?) who volunteered to be the savior of mankind. But earth life was also part of his progression, and that would logically include marriage. My brother also pointed out that Jesus was baptized to fulfill all righteousness, “then wouldn’t he be married to complete that law also.”

I will add that even though the idea that Jesus was married during his mortal life is not required the idea that he must eventually be sealed to a wife for time and all eternity is. After all, we belief that Heavenly Father has a wife (Heavenly Mother). So if Jesus isn’t now married then eventually he must get married.

As a result, for most Mormons the idea that Jesus might have been married is very uncontroversial.

Evidence for Jesus’ marriage

Mark Brumley is right. The passages in the New Testament that might suggest Jesus was married can easily be interpreted in another way. But here are some of the typical arguments for Jesus’ marriage.

  1. In the Gospels Jesus is identified as a Rabbi (Matt. 26:49, Mark 10:51, John 20:16). A Rabbi would be expected to marry.
  2. The marriage in Cana where Jesus turned water to wine might have been Jesus’ own marriage (John 2:1-11). (I have heard several Mormons express this idea.)
  3. The first person Jesus appears to after his resurrection is Mary Magdalene (John 20:11-18). She tries to embrace him and calls him “my Lord” which is how a wife would address her husband.
  4. Mary Magdalene was among the women who anointed Jesus’ body after his crucifixion. This duty would have been performed by a wife. The other women might have been relatives (Mark 16:1).
  5. When Martha was serving her guests, her sister Mary (perhaps Magdalene) was sitting at Jesus’ feet. Instead of directly addressing her sister Martha says to Jesus, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” (NIV). She spoke to Jesus as if he was Mary’s husband (Luke 10:38-42).

Personally, I believe that Jesus was married. My wife shares this belief. But to get a better understanding of what other Mormons believe about Jesus being married I created a Google poll and sent it to my relatives (all active in Church). I got sixteen responses. The results are as follows:

  • I believe Jesus was Married: 9 responses (56.3%)
  • I believe Jesus might have been married: 6 responses (37.5%)
  • I believe Jesus was probably not married: 1 response (6.2%)
  • I do not believe Jesus was married: 0 responses (0.0%).
Was Jesus married poll.

Was Jesus married poll.

[1] “Was Jesus Married?,” This Rock, vol. 20, No. 5 (May 2009). <http://www.catholic.com/magazine/articles/was-jesus-married, accessed 20160410>

[2] “Peculiar Questions Briefly Answered,” Improvement Era, vol. 15, no. 11 (September 1912).

[3] The Seer, October 1853, vol. 1, no. 10, p. 159.