A recent interview with Mitt Romney is the occasion for this post, but this is not a political post. It’s theological. In an interview with Mike Wallace on the CBS program “60 Minutes,” Romney explains why he affirms traditional marriage and opposes same-sex “marriage.”
“This isn’t just some temporary convenience here on Earth, but we’re people that are designed to live together as male and female and we’re gonna have families . . . What’s at the heart of my faith is a belief that there’s a creator, that we’re all children of the same God, and that fundamentally the relationship you have with your spouse is important and eternal” (source).
The religious underpinnings of Romney’s remarks are probably intended as an appeal to evangelical Christian voters who are still skeptical about Romney. Ironically, Romney’s attempted outreach actually turns out to be anti-evangelical in its substance. Romney’s answer is thoroughly Mormon, but it is also thoroughly anti-Christian.
When Romney says that marriage is “eternal,” he directly contradicts Christ’s teaching. Jesus clearly teaches that marriage is a temporary institution that does not exist in the resurrection. In Matthew 22, the Sadducees challenged Jesus on this very point. They presented him with the hypothetical situation in which a woman was widowed seven times by seven different brothers. They asked Jesus, “In the resurrection therefore whose wife of the seven shall she be? For they all had her.”
Jesus’ answer was direct, “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures, or the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven” (Matthew 22:28-30). Jesus shows that God intends for marriage to be a temporary institution. In this age, marriage is to be an illustration of Christ’s marriage to His bride, the Church. Marriage symbolizes the glory of Christ and His Church (Ephesians 5:31-32). Thus marriage is not ultimate, but it points to something that is ultimate, Christ’s covenant love for His bride. Once the wedding of Christ to His church is consummated (Revelation 19:7-10), the symbol gives way to the reality, and marriage as we know it ceases. That is why Jesus teaches that marriage will be no more in the resurrection (Matthew 22:28-30).
Mormons have an aberrant eschatology. Mormons believe that one of the rewards for being a faithful Mormon is that in the “afterlife” one can become like God and have a planet to populate with one’s own sons and daughters. This eschatological expectation requires men and women to be married and to be having children in the afterlife. You can see why Mormon theology needs marriage in the resurrection.
So Mormonism holds to beliefs that directly contradict Jesus’ teaching as it is revealed in Scripture. Evangelicals who know and cherish the teachings of the biblical Jesus will not be very impressed by Romney on this score.
For more on the biblical teaching on marriage and the temporary nature of it, see John Piper’s recent sermons on marriage. Among other things, Piper says this:
“The purpose of human marriage is temporary. But it points to something eternal, namely, Christ and the church. And when this age is over, it will vanish into the superior reality to which it points.
“Jesus said in Matthew 22:30, “In the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.” This is why my father, Bill Piper, will not be a bigamist in the resurrection. Both my mother and my step mother have died. My father had a thirty-six-year marriage with my mother and, after her death, a twenty-five-year marriage with my stepmother. But in the resurrection, the shadow gives way to the reality. Marriage is a pointer toward the glory of Christ and the church. But in the resurrection the pointer vanishes into the perfection of that glory.”
â€“”Marriage: Forgiving and Forebearing” â€“ by John Piper