Some have raised questions about Mormon beliefs concerning the eternal nature of the family, citing Jesus' response to a riddle presented by the Sadducees, recorded in Matthew 22: 23 - 33, Mark 12: 18 - 28, and Luke 20: 27 - 39.
The object of the Sadducees was to paint Jesus into a doctrinal corner and get Him to discredit Himself. Their tool was a dilemma they apparently thought had no answer (and we might guess was part of their arsenal in their arguing with doctrines of resurrection).
Jesus' answer is often interpreted as meaning that the state of being married does not apply to angels and resurrected beings, and, by extrapolation, to anyone who has passed through the veil of death.
But that is not what the dilemma they presented was, and it is not what Jesus says.
The question was, "Which of the brothers gets the girl in the resurrection?" (And we might assume they would be happy to say that there there were no children, and there would be no other clear reason to pick one brother over another.)
And then, would they try to beg the question of the wisdom of a resurrection that would provide such a dilemma? Or did they have some other pile of wrong assumptions to work?
Well, it doesn't matter. They wanted to push Jesus into picking one. And then they intended to say, "Well, here are all the reasons that is wrong! And you are a false prophet!"
The dilemma is a juxtaposition of three items of policy, principle, and tradition:
- The policy of seeing that widows are taken care of by requiring near relatives to take responsibility of providing for them (refer to Ruth and Boaz as an example);
- the principle of resurrection, which the Sadducees rejected (and Jesus told them plainly they were wrong in doing so);
- and the (false, by the way) tradition of dependent family members being in a relationship of chattel.
Then He tells them getting married, or being given in marriage, is something we do in this world, not in the spirit world, nor in the resurrection.
And He throws in a bit of extra information before He points out that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the God of the living, not of the dead:
Resurrected humans are equal to angels in some important ways.
But He does not say that marriages are dissolved at either death or resurrection. Only that the woman would not be given in marriage to anyone in the resurrection.
And He says that they would be resurrected.
Now, concerning what Mormons teach on this subject, we talk about "sealing" family relationships for the eternities. We are not giving people in marriage through this principle.
The marriage happens in this world. We can be sealed in this world, and we can do proxy work in this world for those who are no longer in this world.
But the sealing does not force anything. It asks for God's blessings, and it is up to us to receive those blessings through the things we choose to do and believe.
Or to refuse those blessings by our beliefs and actions.
Like so much about us humans, all that we can do to make a good marriage relationship is not enough to keep the relationship viable as we cross the boundary from this world to the next. We need extra help, and these sealings are the way God has provided to help us.
The marriage relationship is what we do here and now. Whether it extends beyond death and resurrection is also dependent on what we do here and now.