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.

Polygamy in Utah, 1880

Related Posts: Utah Polygamy and Divorce – 1880 to 1930; Divorce in 1890 Utah: Signs of Polygamy; Marriage in 1890 Utah: Very Normal

In this post I estimate the number of men and women living in polygamy in Utah in 1880 using data from the 1880 census and other sources.

I have estimated that in 1880 there approximately 9,000 persons in polygamous marriages in Utah. About 6,500 wives and 2,500 husbands. This is approximately 25% of married Mormon women and about 13% of married Mormon men. However, the total number could easily be closer to 10,000.

I also conclude that the census data by itself is not sufficient for estimating the number of persons living in polygamy. Other data is required. This conclusion is based on the fact that the married female to married male ratio for Utah from the 1880 and 1900 census’ were outliers. However, in 1890 it was nearly 1.0 (Figure 4), which means that in 1890 nearly all women in polygamous relationships were concealing their marital status, probably to protect their husbands and children. I believe that in the 1880 census nearly two thirds of women in polygamous relationships concealed their marital status.

These results should be qualified with polygamy studies from Utah’s earlier history. It is appears that during the 1860’s quite possibly more than 50% of married LDS women in Utah were polygamous wives.

Continue reading

Divorce in 1890 Utah: Signs of Polygamy

Related Posts: Utah Polygamy and Divorce – 1880 to 1930; Polygamy versus Democracy; Edmunds Act (1882); Edmunds-Tucker Act (1887); Idaho Test Oath; Marriage in 1890 Utah: Very Normal

Summary: I said this post would be interesting. And it is. The LDS Church officially abandoned polygamy in 1890 due to intense government pressure. The 1890 Census Report contains detailed information on divorce that I believe captures evidence of polygamy in Utah. My previous post analyzed the marriage data (Marriage in 1890 Utah: Very Normal).

Firstly, when talking about divorce in 1890 we are dealing with a very small percentage of the population. The median divorce rate for the US was 0.23%. And it turns out that the overall divorce rate in 1890 in Utah is ordinary, right at the third quartile for US states and territories. However, when you look at divorce by age and sex it becomes much more interesting. Above age 34 Utah has the highest or second highest female divorce rate in the US–from 45 on up only Nevada is higher. But this is interesting because Nevada’s total population was 45,761 compared to Utah’s 207,905. Nevada’s male to female ratio was 1.76 and Utah’s was 1.13. Nevada was a much more difficult place for a woman to live and you would expect a higher divorce rate. But Utah?

More can be said. The male divorce rate for Utah qualifies as ordinary (falls between the first and third quartiles) for all age categories. But if you look at the difference between male and female divorce rates by age then Utah really stands out. The national trend is, overall, downward with male divorces eventually exceeding female divorces. The Utah trend is starkly upward, increasing in nearly a straight line from age 15 to 64. Overall, the female divorce rate far exceeds the male divorce rate. Not only does the divergence between the Utah male and female divorce rates increase with age, it also diverges from the national trend. Continue reading

Marriage in 1890 Utah: Very Normal

Related Posts: Polygamy versus Democracy; Edmunds Act (1882); Edmunds-Tucker Act (1887); Idaho Test Oath; Divorce in 1890 Utah: Signs of Polygamy; Utah Polygamy and Divorce – 1880 to 1930

Summary: I have looked at data for marriage in 1890 Utah found in the US census report, in detail. I spend the last two months (and a good amount of my Christmas break) compiling and analyzing the data. This post will look at marriage. A later post will look at divorce. (See Divorce in 1890 Utah: Signs of Polygamy.)

Update: I have looked at the married female to married male ratios of Utah from 1880 to 1930. I have found that for 1880 and 1900 Utah is an outlier. For 1890 it is not. This is likely due to the fact that women in polygamous relationships  were concealing their relationships during 1890, but not so much in 1880 and 1900. See Figure 4 in Polygamy in Utah, 1880 for plots. This is likely due to the antipolygamy crusade that ramped up during the 1880’s. Therefore, the female marriage data in this post is not accurate. However, there is still lots of useful information in this post. (Aug 8, 2015)

The 1890 Census coincides with the LDS Church officially abandoning the practice of polygamy (1890). (See The Manifesto declaring this.) So the Census Record might capture evidence of polygamy, if there is any.

My questions were these. Were more women married in Utah than other states and territories? Where young female marriages occurring in Utah at a much higher rate than the rest of the country? How do male marriages compare? Are there any statistics in which Utah stands out?

Even though Utah allowed girls to marry with parental consent at 12 there is no evidence that under 15 girls were getting married in significant numbers–there were only 2 in Utah. The average for the US (Utah excluded) was 24 and the median was 9. I can’t find any evidence that girls in Utah in any age bracket were marrying at significantly different rates from the other states and territories. Continue reading

Mormon Temple Worship

Related Posts: Why Covenants?; The Fall of Man: The Doctrine; The Fall of Man: Defense of the Doctrine; The Mormon Concept of Heaven(s); Mormon Temple Garments.

Secrecy?

Firstly, there is a difference between a temple and a regular meeting house. In a meeting house we meet weekly for worship and to take the sacrament. Temples are set aside for special ordinances that are not open for public viewing.


Mormons do not generally discuss temple worship among non-Mormons. Even among ourselves, there are aspects of temple worship we do not discuss outside the temple. At most they are referred to indirectly. Continue reading

The Iowa Supreme Court and Gay Marriage

Related Posts: Gay Marriage Again; Gay Marriage; More on gay marriage

This post takes another look at the gay marriage issue. Specifically, the Iowa Supreme Court and gay marriage. I keep going on about the gay marriage debate because I feel it will become rather more heated than it already is, and religion will be closely scrutinized because of its connection and effectiveness in opposing gay marriage.

The Iowa Supreme Court in overturning Iowa’s Defense of Marriage Act has in its final decision set a precedent that I believe is disturbing. Some of my arguments are mentioned below. Additionally, they inserted religion into their legal thinking. Though they admit religion was not brought up during the case, they decided to mention it anyway. Near the end of their decision they write,

We [now] consider the reason for the exclusion of gay and lesbian couples from civil marriage left unspoken by the County: religious opposition to same-sex marriage. (p. 63)

Continue reading

More on gay marriage

Related Posts: Gay Marriage Again; Gay Marriage; Gay Marriage: The Iowa Supreme Court; Idaho Test Oath; Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act (1862); Edmunds Act (1882); Edmunds-Tucker Act (1887); Blacks and the Priesthood

I would like to add a few more thoughts on the gay marriage issue.

One of the claims I made in my previous two posts is that many people see gay marriage as a civil rights issue, consequently they will have to go all the way with it, even to the point of threatening religious organizations fighting to preserve traditional marriage.

Most gay marriage activists are adamant that gay marriage won’t force the Mormon church, or any church, to recognize, solemnize or perform homosexual marriages. Many on the religious right don’t have faith in those assurances—neither do I. (For several examples of the tactics being used see this article by William A. Jacobson, Associate Clinical Professor of Law at Cornell Law School in Ithaca, NY.) In a debate on gay marriage, Lorrie L. Jean, attorney of the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center, made this chilling comment,

The real danger to religious freedom lies not in treating everyone equally under the law, but allowing any one religious belief to be imposed on everyone else. Thousands of religious leaders, churches and synagogues oppose Proposition 8 — and they would never do so if their own religious freedom was endangered. (A gay-marriage Pandora’s box?, Los Angles Times.)

Continue reading

Gay Marriage, Again

Civil_marriage_is_a_civil_right

Related Posts: Gay Marriage; More on gay marriage; Gay Marriage: The Iowa Supreme Court

I am very pleased that Proposition 8 passed. But the debate is far from over. The far left will continue to criticize the Church and the Latter-day Saints. On Americablog John Aravosis accused the Mormon church of “promote[ing] legislative gay-bashing,” writing,

At some point the Mormon Church needs to learn that they’re not the only people with the right to free speech. They have the right to bankroll bigotry and we have the right to publicly call them on it. And we finally are.

Because of the Churches involvement in getting Proposition 8 passed, and because most of Utah’s population is Mormon, and because the Mormon Church is based here, some have decided to unleash their fury on Utah. Aravosis was quoted by the Associated Press as saying, “We’re going to destroy the Utah brand. It is a hate state,” “At a fundamental level, the Utah Mormons crossed the line on this one…They just took marriage away from 20,000 couples and made their children bastards…You don’t do that and get away with it” (“Thousands protest LDS stance on same-sex marriage,” Salt Lake Tribune; “Utah faces boycott after Mormon work for Prop 8,” AP). One website even called for the Mormon Church to be stripped “of its status as a religious organization” so as to “stop taxpayer subsidies of intolerance.” Continue reading

Gay Marriage

Related Posts: Gay Marriage Again; More on gay marriage; Gay Marriage: The Iowa Supreme Court

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently released this press statement.

At the request of the Protect Marriage Coalition, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is making arrangements for them to call friends, family and fellow citizens in California to urge support of the effort to defend traditional marriage. The coalition has asked members of the many participating churches and organizations to contribute in whatever way they can to the effort to pass Proposition 8, including by phoning. (Church Readies Members on Proposition 8, 8 October, 2008)

See also Gordon B. Hinckley, “Why We Do Some of the Things We Do,” Ensign, Nov 1999 and California and Same-Sex Marriage from LDS Newsroom; “Californication” by Jeremy Gayed.

With the upcoming vote in California on Proposition 8 I thought I would weigh in on the gay marriage debate. Because I’m not gay I’ll never be able to understand fully the homosexual perspective on this issue. As a devout Mormon my belief is strongly influenced by my religion. It’s a truism that each person is a captive of his culture, whatever that culture might be, so it should be no surprise that I’m conservative in politics and religion. What can I say? I’m not open to having my mind changed on this issue. So I can only tell it as I see it. Continue reading