Sunday School lessons for Gospel Doctrine Class

Friday, August 18, 2017

For Time and for All Eternity”

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During his time in Nauvoo Joseph Smith felt a growing urgency to communicate spiritual knowledge to the Saints.  He gave one powerful public sermon after another and shared equally powerful teachings and ordinances in private councils with his trusted friends. Joseph didn't deliver these teachings as formal revelations the way he often had earlier in his ministry, but his words were recorded by William Clayton who was called as secretary to the prophet and hung on Joseph's every word.  Clayton recorded the Prophet’s sayings in his own diary as well as in the journal he kept for Joseph, and these entries were later used as the basis for several sections of the Doctrine and Covenants.  

Joseph Smith, through his teaching, collapsed the distance between this world and the next with revealed priesthood ordinances and made the things of eternity feel tangible and real. As with baptism for the dead, eternal marriage was one of these principles. When the Nauvoo Saints listened to Joseph speak concerning these things, the many hardships they faced such as death, sickness, poverty, and hunger; were swallowed up in anticipation of a millennial future and the promise that ties of family and friendship would outlast this life.  I have this same feeling today, as I study the restored plain and precious truths revealed. I gain hope to face the trials and tribulations with the knowledge of eternal family and friends.  For time and  for all eternity, has been the phrase in my life, that has saved me.

The profound truths in Doctrine and Covenants section 131 and 132 when read and studied together, give the scriptural authority for the concept of marriage and family.  These revelations of God, the fulness of the Gospel, provide a secure anchor to the troubled soul.  The message is peaceful, bringing order and organization to things on earth as well pointing us toward our infinite possibilities.

This fullness of the Gospel is called by the Lord, "The new and everlasting covenant." The gospel is the everlasting covenant because it is ordained by Him who is everlasting and because the gospel itself is everlasting.  Each time this everlasting covenant is revealed it is new to those of that dispensation hence the gospel is the new and everlasting covenant.  Couples enter into the Patriarchal Order through eternal marriage, this is a new and everlasting covenant within the fullness of the gospel and in our day is a crucial element in the restitution of all things.  Eternal Marriage is the Ordinance and covenant which leads to the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  It is this order of the priesthood that will bind ancestry to posterity and prevent the earth from being utterly wasted at the time of the second coming.

Brigham Young:  The whole subject of marriage relation is not in my reach, nor in any other man's reach on this earth.  It is without beginning of days or end of years, it is a hard matter to reach.  We can tell some things with regard to it:  it lays the foundation for worlds, for angels, and for the Gods, for intelligent beings to be crowned with glory, immortality and eternal lives.  In fact, it is the thread which runs from the beginning to the end of the holy Gospel of Salvation-of the Gospel of the Son of God; it is from eternity to eternity.  ( Doctrine and Covenants Commentary, Robert Millet)

History for Doctrine and Covenants Section 131

In 1839 the Nauvoo stake was organized with three wards.  In 1841 an epistle was issued from Hyrum Smith that called for all Saints in Kirtland and elsewhere to gather to the Nauvoo area. Saints began to arrive daily in  Nauvoo and from 1840-1846 about 5000 British converts sailed from England to Nauvoo.  By 1842 there were ten wards in Nauvoo with a Bishop presiding over each as well as a stake that was organized on the Iowa side of the Mississippi River known as the Zarahemla Stake. The church was growing, the saints were becoming organized and as they regained strength they flourished.  

The Lord, as the saints became stronger and more ready, began to reveal, little by little, the doctrine of priesthood ordinances needed for eternal life.  Sections 129-131 of the Doctrine and Covenants are not revelations but instructions from the Prophet Joseph Smith given in the early part of 1843  to educate the saints concerning these redeeming ordinances. These instructions were not originally included in the Doctrine and Covenants but were part of the journal record being kept at the time and were later included in the Joseph Smith History.  They first appeared in print in 1856 when they were published in the Deseret News after which were included in the 1876 version of the Doctrine and Covenants under the direction of Brigham Young.

Doctrine and Covenants 131 is composed largely of several short journal entries kept by William Clayton during May 1843. Among these were teachings regarding eternal marriage given in Ramus at the home of Benjamin and Melissa Johnson on May 16. The Johnsons had been married since Christmas Day 1841, but Joseph told them he intended to marry them according to the law of the Lord.   He taught that men and women needed to enter into the new and everlasting covenant of marriage in order to obtain God’s highest blessings. He then sealed Benjamin and Melissa for eternity.

Eternal marriage is essential in Heavenly Father’s plan

Section 131, was recorded the night of the Johnson sealing by William Clayton, in particular D&C 131:1-4 gives important information regarding the eternal life of man.  

"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. He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase." D&C 131:1–4

In Doctrine and Covenants Section 76  D&C 76, we learn that the order of the eternal worlds consists of more than just a heaven and a hell. We are given insight into the rewards that each will receive depending on one's acceptance of and faithfulness to the gospel. We now learn in Section 131 that the greatest of those eternal rewards is divided by degrees. The highest of the three is only obtainable if one enters into the "new and everlasting covenant of marriage." We learn that Marriage and families are eternal.

The information provided by the Prophet Joseph to the Saints helped paint a clearer picture of the eternities and when we understand the great principles of eternal life it becomes essential that we abide by the counsel of our Prophets in relation to marriage and family.  We are building a relationship for eternity, not until death do us part.   

This brought an incredible great joy to the early saints.  Elder Parley P. Pratt, one of the original members of the Quorum of the Twelve in this dispensation, recalled his feelings when he first heard the Prophet Joseph teach these doctrines:

I had loved before, but I knew not why. But now I loved—with a pureness—an intensity of elevated, exalted feeling, which would lift my soul. … I felt that God was my heavenly Father indeed; that Jesus was my brother, and that the wife of my bosom was an immortal, eternal companion. … In short, I could now love with the spirit and with the understanding also” (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt 1975)

Likewise in our day, we are taught this doctrine and it brings an the ultimate in hope, joy, and happiness: 

"We . . . 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...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." (The Family: A Proclamation to the World)

President Joseph Fielding Smith said: “Marriage, as understood by Latter-day Saints, is a covenant ordained to be everlasting. It is the foundation for eternal exaltation, for without it there could be no eternal progress in the kingdom of God (Doctrines of Salvation, Vol 3)

Doctrine and Covenants Section 132

This revelation was recorded in Nauvoo, Illinois, on July 12, 1843  relating to the new and everlasting covenant, including the eternity of the marriage covenant and the principle of plural marriage. Although the revelation was recorded in 1843, evidence indicates that some of the principles involved in this revelation were known by the Prophet as early as 1831.  

The revelation has two major sections: “The first, comprising vv. 3–33, deals mainly with the principle of celestial marriage, or marriage for time and all eternity; the second, comprising the remaining verses, deals with plural marriage. The doctrine of celestial marriage remains in force; the practice of plural marriage was abandoned by the acceptance by the Church, in Conference assembled October 6th, 1890, of the Manifesto of President Woodruff.”

Focusing on the section of celestial marriage, we know that  If Ye Abide Not That Covenant, Then Are Ye Damned”

The “new and everlasting covenant” (D&C 132:4) is the covenant of celestial marriage, as President Spencer W. Kimball stated: “Though relatively few people in this world understand it, the new and everlasting covenant is the marriage ordinance in the holy temple by the properly constituted leaders who hold the genuine, authoritative keys. This glorious blessing is available to men and women on this earth.” (“Temples and Eternal Marriage,” Ensign, Aug. 1974, p. 5)

Those who reject this covenant cannot progress eternally because they do not inherit the blessings of eternal increase and one can sense the importance of accepting the covenant from the number of times the Lord repeats this warning in the revelation:

“All who have this law revealed unto them must obey the same” (D&C 132:3).
“If ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned” (v. 4).
“No one can reject this covenant and enter into my glory” (v. 4).
“All who will have a blessing at my hands shall abide the law” (v. 5).
“He that receiveth a fullness of my glory]must and shall abide the law” (v. 6).

In learning about these covenants and their importance there are many questions that cross the mind of latter-day saints: 

Will Those Who Do Not Have the Opportunity to Marry in This Life Be Damned?

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve gave this answer: 

“We know that many worthy and wonderful Latter-day Saints currently lack the ideal opportunities and essential requirements for their progress. Singleness, childlessness, death, and divorce frustrate ideals and postpone the fulfillment of promised blessings. In addition, some women who desire to be full-time mothers and homemakers have been literally compelled to enter the full-time workforce. But these frustrations are only temporary. The Lord has promised that in the eternities no blessing will be denied his sons and daughters who keep the commandments, are true to their covenants, and desire what is right.
“Many of the most important deprivations of mortality will be set right in the Millennium, which is the time for fulfilling all that is incomplete in the great plan of happiness for all of our Father’s worthy children. We know that will be true of temple ordinances. I believe it will also be true of family relationships and experiences” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1993, 101; or Ensign, Nov. 1993, 75).

President Spencer W. Kimball I am aware of some young men and women who seemingly have not been successful in total fulfillment. Some have been on missions; some have completed their education. And yet they have passed the period of their greatest opportunity for marriage. The time has passed, and while still attractive and desirable and efficient, they find themselves alone.  “To you we say this: You are making a great contribution to the world as you serve your families and the Church and the world. You must remember that the Lord loves you and the Church loves you. To you women, we can only say we have no control over the heartbeats or the affections of men, but pray that you may find fulfillment. And in the meantime, we promise you that insofar as eternity is concerned, no soul will be deprived of rich and high and eternal blessings for anything which that person could not help, that the Lord never fails in his promises, and that every righteous person will receive eventually all to which the person is entitled and which he or she has not forfeited through any fault of his or her own. We encourage both men and women to keep themselves well-groomed, well-dressed, abreast of the times, attractive mentally, spiritually, physically, and especially morally, and then they can lean heavily upon the Lord’s promises for these heavenly blessings.” (“The Importance of Celestial Marriage,” Ensign, Oct. 1979, p. 5.)

If a husband and wife are not married in the temple for time and eternity, what will be the status of their marriage when one of them dies? 

Their marriage will “not be valid neither of force,” even if they have made a vow to be together forever. 

"And verily I say unto you, that the conditions of this law are these: All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations, that are not made and entered into and sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, of him who is anointed, both as well for time and for all eternity, and that too most holy, by revelation and commandment through the medium of mine anointed, whom I have appointed on the earth to hold this power (and I have appointed unto my servant Joseph to hold this power in the last days, and there is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred), are of no efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end have an end when men are dead."  D&C 132:7.

After quoting Doctrine and Covenants 132:13, President Spencer W. Kimball said:

How final! How frightening! Since we know well that mortal death does not terminate our existence, since we know that we live on and on, how devastating to realize that marriage and family life, so sweet and happy in so many homes, will end with death because we fail to follow God’s instructions or because we reject his word when we understand it.

“It is clear in the Lord’s announcement that righteous men and women will receive the due rewards of their deeds. They will not be damned in the commonly accepted terminology but will suffer many limitations and deprivations and fail to reach the highest kingdom, if they do not comply. They become ministering servants to those who complied with all laws and lived all commandments.
“[The Lord] then continues concerning these excellent people who lived worthily but failed to make their contracts binding:

“‘For these angels did not abide my law; therefore, they cannot be enlarged, but remain separately and singly, without exaltation, in their saved condition, to all eternity; and from henceforth are not gods, but are angels of God forever and ever.’ (D&C 132:17.)

“How conclusive! How bounded! How limiting! And we come to realize again as it bears heavily upon us that this time, this life, this mortality is the time to prepare to meet God. How lonely and barren will be the so-called single blessedness throughout eternity! How sad to be separate and single and apart through countless ages when one could, by meeting requirements, have happy marriage for eternity in the temple by proper authority and continue on in ever-increasing joy and happiness, growth and development toward godhood. …

Are you willing to jeopardize your eternities, your great continuing happiness, your privilege to see God and dwell in his presence? For the want of investigation and study and contemplation; because of prejudice, misunderstanding, or lack of knowledge, are you willing to forego these great blessings and privileges? Are you willing to make yourself a widow for eternity or a widower for endless ages—a single, separate individual to live alone and serve others? Are you willing to give up your children when they die or when you expire, and make them orphans? Are you willing to go through eternity alone and solitary when all of the greatest joys you have ever experienced in life could be ‘added upon’ and accentuated, multiplied, and eternalized? Are you willing, with the Sadducees, to ignore and reject these great truths? I sincerely pray you stop today and weigh and measure and then prayerfully proceed to make your happy marriage an eternal one. Our friends, please do not ignore this call. I beg of you, open your eyes and see; unstop your ears and hear.” (“Temples and Eternal Marriage,” Ensign, Aug. 1974, p. 6.)

How Important Is It to Be Married by Proper Authority Now (while on earth)? D&C 132:16

Elder James E. Talmage wrote that “in the resurrection there will be no marrying nor giving in marriage; for all questions of marital status must be settled before that time, under the authority of the Holy Priesthood, which holds the power to seal in marriage for both time and eternity” (Jesus the Christ, p. 548; see also Matthew 22:30; Mark 12:25

In other words NOW IS THE TIME

When a man and woman are married for time and eternity in the temple, they make a covenant with the Lord.

Celestial marriage is a covenant, a contract between the two marriage partners and the Lord. Covenants have “if-then” clauses: if we keep certain commandments, then the Lord promises us certain blessings. Verses 19–22 form such a clause.

If a couple—Then they will—
1. Are married in accordance with the Lord’s law
1. “Inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths” (v. 19)
2. Are married by one who has the keys of the priesthood2. “Pass by the angels” to their exaltation (v. 19)
3. Have their marriage sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise3. Be gods for all eternity (see v. 20)
4. Abide in the covenant4. Have a “continuation of the lives” (v. 22)

Marriage must be sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise, what does it mean to Be “Sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise”?

What is the Holy Spirit?  The Holy Ghost is the Holy Spirit; he is the Holy Spirit promised the saints at baptism, or in other words the Holy Spirit of Promise, this exalted name-title signifies that the promised receipt of the Holy Spirit, as on the day of Pentecost, is the greatest gift man can receive in mortality.

“The gift of the Holy Ghost is the right to the constant companionship of the Godhead based on faithfulness; it is bestowed at baptism with a promise that we shall receive revelation and be sanctified if we are true and faithful and so live as to qualify for the companionship of that Holy Spirit who will not dwell in an unclean temple. (1 Cor. 3:16–17; 6:19; Mosiah 2:37; Hela. 4:24.) The receipt of the promise is conditional! If after we receive the promise, we then keep the commandment, we gain the companionship of this member of the Godhead, and not otherwise.

One of the functions assigned and delegated to the Holy Spirit is to seal, meaning also To be justified by the Spirit; “To be approved by the Lord; and “To be ratified by the Holy Ghost.  “Accordingly, any act which is sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise is one which is justified by the Spirit, one which is approved by the Lord, one which is ratified by the Holy Ghost.  This means that baptism, partaking of the sacrament, administering to the sick, marriage, and every covenant that man ever makes with the Lord—plus all other ‘contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, associations, or expectations’—must be performed in righteousness by and for people who are worthy to receive whatever blessing is involved, otherwise whatever is done has no binding and sealing effect in eternity   

“Since ‘the Comforter knoweth all things’ (D. & C. 42:17), it follows that it is not possible ‘to lie to the Holy Ghost’ and thereby gain an unearned or undeserved blessing, as Ananias and Sapphira found out to their sorrow. (Acts 5:1–11.) And so this provision that all things must be sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise, if they are to have ‘efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead’ (D. & C. 132:7), is the Lord’s system for dealing with absolute impartiality with all men, and for giving all men exactly what they merit, neither adding to nor diminishing from.” Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual

Does Marriage in the Temple Assure One of Exaltation, No Matter How One Lives? 

Some members of the Church mistakenly believe that marriage in the temple fulfills the requirements of the covenant. But marriage in the temple fulfills only the first two parts of the covenant. Having one’s marriage sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise is required for exaltation and in itself requires a lifelong commitment to righteousness.  
Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught that “baptism is the gate to the celestial kingdom; celestial marriage is the gate to an exaltation in the highest heaven within the celestial world. (D. & C. 131:1–4.) To gain salvation after baptism it is necessary to keep the commandments of God and endure to the end (2 Ne. 31:17–21); to gain exaltation after celestial marriage it is necessary to continue the same devotion and righteousness. Those who have been married in the temples for eternity know that the ceremony itself expressly conditions the receipt of all promised blessings upon the subsequent faithfulness of the husband and wife.  (Mormon Doctrine, p. 118)
The Holy Spirit of Promise will ultimately seal a temple marriage in which the partners have lived their lives in righteousness. That great promise only comes when we have proved ourselves worthy. Only then will that great sealing take place.

Jose Smith- "I would exhort you to go on and continue to call upon God until you make your calling and election sure for yourselves by obtaining this more and sure word of prophecy and wait patiently for the promise until you obtain it."  

After a husband and wife are sealed in the temple, they must abide in the covenant to receive the promised blessings.  

“I was just sure the first ten years would be bliss. But during our first year together I discovered there were a lot of adjustments. Of course, they weren’t the kind of thing you ran home to mother about. But I cried into my pillow now and again. The problems were almost always related to learning to live on someone else’s schedule and to do things someone else’s way. We loved each other, there was no doubt about that. But we also had to get used to each other. I think every couple has to get used to each other.”

This statement was made by Sister Marjorie P. Hinckley, wife of President Gordon B. Hinckley who teaches us by her example that it takes love, work, and dedication to have a successful marriage. When a man and woman are sealed in the temple, they will receive the promised blessings only if they “abide in the covenant” (D&C 132:19) it takes work from both to do so.  

President Spencer W. Kimball teaches us that When the Lord says all thy heart, it allows for no sharing nor dividing nor depriving. …“The words none else eliminate everyone and everything. The spouse then becomes preeminent in the life of the husband or wife, and neither social life nor occupational life nor political life nor any other interest nor person nor thing shall ever take precedence over the companion spouse. …“Marriage presupposes total allegiance and total fidelity. Each spouse takes the partner with the understanding that he or she gives totally to the spouse all the heart, strength, loyalty, honor, and affection, with all dignity. Any divergence is sin; any sharing of the heart is transgression. As we should have ‘an eye single to the glory of God,’ so should we have an eye, an ear, a heart single to the marriage and the spouse and family” (Faith Precedes the Miracle 1972 )

What blessings do couples receive if they are true to their covenant?

-They will be together “in time, and through all eternity” (D&C 132:19). Their children may also be part of their eternal family.

-They will be exalted in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ (D&C 131:1–3; 132:23–24).

-They will “inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, powers, [and] dominions” (D&C 132:19).

-They will continue to have seed, or spirit children, throughout eternity (D&C 132:19, 30–31; see also D&C 131:4).

-“They shall be gods, because they have all power” (D&C 132:20–21).

What are some things that married couples can do to strengthen their love for each other and for the Lord?

Praying and reading the scriptures together, seeking to be guided by the Spirit together, holding family home evening, going on dates together, taking time to talk to one another, helping one another around the house, and attending the temple together...

Plural marriage in Section 132

In understanding the origins of Section 132, we cannot avoid some discussion of plural marriage however the statements by the Church on this principle are clear and unmistakable, historical information provided is intended only to help one understand the historical background for what became a significant part of Church history in the later half of the 19th Century.  

The Lord’s purpose for commanding His people to practice plural marriage

We know that at various times throughout biblical history, the Lord commanded people to practice plural marriage. For example, He gave this command to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, and Solomon.   (D&C 132:1).  But what about Plural marriage in this dispensation? 

The revelation on plural marriage, recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 132, emerged partly from Joseph Smith’s study of the Old Testament in 1831.  Joseph prayed to know why God justified Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, and Solomon in having many wives. The Lord responded that He had commanded them to enter into the practice.

Elder B.H. Roberts: "There is indisputable evidence that the revelation making known this marriage law was given to the Prophet as early as 1831. In that year, and then intermittently up to 1833, the Prophet was engaged in a revision of the English Bible text under the inspiration of God, Sidney Rigdon in the main acting as his scribe. As he began his revision with the Old Testament, he would be dealing with the age of the Patriarchs in 1831. He was doubtless struck with the favor in which the Lord held the several Bible Patriarchs of that period, notwithstanding they had a plurality of wives. What more natural than that he should inquire of the Lord at that time, when his mind must have been impressed with the fact--Why, O Lord, didst Thou justify Thy servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; as also Moses, David, and Solomon, in the matter of their having many wives and concubines? In answer to that inquiry came the revelation, though not then committed to writing." (History of the Church 5)

Joseph Smith received section 132 before it was recorded but delayed making it known. In March 1843 he spoke to William Clayton of eternal marriage. In July of that year, he was discussing the doctrine with his brother Hyrum in William Clayton’s presence he recorded the events as follows:  

"On the morning of the 12th of July, 1843, Joseph and Hyrum Smith came into the office of the upper story of the 'Brick-store,' on the bank of the Mississippi river. They were talking of the subject of plural marriage, and Hyrum said to Joseph, 'If you will write the revelation of celestial marriage, I will take and read it to Emma, and I believe I can convince her of its truth, and you will hereafter have peace.' Joseph smiled and remarked, 'You do not know Emma as well as I do.' Hyrum repeated his opinion, and further remarked, 'The doctrine is so plain, I can convince any reasonable man or woman of its truth, purity, and heavenly origin,' or words to that effect.... Joseph and Hyrum then sat down, and Joseph commenced to dictate the Revelation on Celestial Marriage, and I wrote it, sentence by sentence, as he dictated. After the whole was written, Joseph asked me to read it through slowly and carefully, which I did, and he pronounced it correct." ( A Comprehensive History of the Church by B.H. Roberts 2:106)

In the summer of 1840 an angel of the Lord confronted the Prophet and commanded him, in the name of the Lord, to establish the principle of plural marriage.  When God commands a difficult task, He sometimes sends additional messengers to encourage His people to obey. Consistent with this pattern, he sent an angel appeared to Joseph three times between 1834 and 1842 and commanded him to proceed with plural marriage when he hesitated to move forward. During the third and final appearance, the angel came with a drawn sword, threatening Joseph with destruction unless he went forward and obeyed the commandment fully.  Following this One Sabbath the Prophet preached a sermon in which he talked of the restoration of all things and hinted that the patriarchal or plural order of marriage would one day be restored. This alone caused such excitement that the Prophet felt it unwise to pursue it further at this time.

The Prophet had said, "Would to God, brethren, I could tell you who I am! Would to God I could tell you what I know! But you would call it blasphemy, and there are men upon this stand who would want to take my life. If the Church knew all the commandments, one-half they would reject through prejudice and ignorance." (Life of Heber C. Kimball, p322)

Later when the Twelve returned from their missions in England, the Prophet did teach them the principle and urged the importance of putting it in into practice.  One of the most remarkable stories coming out of this era was the test given to Heber C. Kimball by the Prophet in order to prepare him for receiving the principle. Elder Orson F. Whitney wrote in Heber's biography: 

"Joseph was not a coward. It was he who said that a coward could not be saved in the kingdom of God. But neither was he lacking in caution, especially when warned of the Lord of the necessity for its exercise. Therefore, was he now revealing, to a chosen few, whom God had prepared to receive what he should tell them, one of the grand principles of the everlasting Gospel, 'unlawful to be uttered' to the multitude, yet one day to be thundered from the house-tops in the ears of all living, with many other mighty truths locked in the treasure house of future time, of which eternity still holds the key.
    "Before he would trust even Heber with the full secret, however, he put him to a test which few men would have been able to bear.
    "It was no less than a requirement for him to surrender his wife, his beloved Vilate, and give her to Joseph in marriage!
    "The astounding revelation well-nigh paralyzed him. He could hardly believe he had heard aright. Yet Joseph was solemnly in earnest. His next impulse was to spurn the proposition, and perhaps at that terrible moment a vague suspicion of the Prophet's motive and the divinity of the revelation, shot like a poisoned arrow through his soul.
    "But only for a moment, if at all, was such a thought, such a suspicion entertained. He knew Joseph too well, as a man, a friend, a brother, a servant of God, to doubt his truth or the divine origin of the behest he had made. No, Joseph was God's Prophet, His mouthpiece and oracle, and so long as he was so, his words were as the words of the Eternal One to Heber C. Kimball. His heart-strings might be torn, his feelings crucified and sawn asunder, but so long as his faith in God and the Priesthood remained, heaven helping him, he would try and do as he was told. Such, now, was his superhuman resolve.
    "Three days he fasted and wept and prayed. Then, with a broken and a bleeding heart, but with soul selfmastered for the sacrifice, he led his darling wife to the Prophet's house and presented her to Joseph.
    "It was enough—the heavens accepted the sacrifice. The will for the deed was taken, and 'accounted unto him for righteousness.' Joseph wept at this proof of devotion, and embracing Heber, told him that was all that the Lord required. He had proved him, as a child of Abraham, that he would 'do the works of Abraham,' holding back nothing, but laying all upon the altar for God's glory.
    "The Prophet joined the hands of the heroic and devoted pair, and then and there, by virtue of the sealing power and authority of the Holy Priesthood, Heber and Vilate Kimball were made husband and wife for all eternity."  Heber was later taught the principle of plural marriage and accepted it.
(Life of Heber C. Kimball, pp323-324)

The saints motives for plural marriage were often more religious than economic or romantic. Besides the desire to be obedient, a strong incentive was the hope of living in God’s presence with family members.  During the era in which plural marriage was practiced, the Saints distinguished between sealings for time and eternity and sealings for eternity only. Sealings for time and eternity included commitments and relationships during this life, generally including the possibility of sexual relations. Eternity-only sealings indicated relationships in the next life alone.

The first plural marriage in Nauvoo took place when Louisa Beaman and Joseph Smith were sealed in April 1841.  Joseph married many additional wives and authorized other Saints to practice plural marriage. The practice spread slowly at first and by June 1844, when Joseph died, approximately 29 men and 50 women had entered into plural marriage, in addition to Joseph and his wives. When the Saints entered the Salt Lake Valley in 1847, at least 196 men and 521 women had entered into plural marriages. Participants in these early plural marriages pledged to keep their involvement confidential, though they anticipated a time when the practice would be publicly acknowledged.  Nevertheless, rumors spread. A few men unscrupulously used these rumors to seduce women to join them in an unauthorized practice sometimes referred to as “spiritual wifery.” When this was discovered, the men were cut off from the Church. 

Plural marriage was difficult for all involved. For Joseph Smith’s wife Emma, it was an excruciating ordeal. Records of Emma’s reactions to plural marriage are sparse; she left no firsthand accounts, making it impossible to reconstruct her thoughts. Joseph and Emma loved and respected each other deeply. After he had entered into plural marriage, he poured out his feelings in his journal for his “beloved Emma,” whom he described as “undaunted, firm and unwavering, unchangeable, affectionate Emma.” After Joseph’s death, Emma kept a lock of his hair in a locket she wore around her neck.

Years later in Utah, participants in Nauvoo plural marriage discussed their motives for entering into the practice. God declared in the Book of Mormon that monogamy was the standard; at times, however, He commanded plural marriage so His people could “raise up seed unto Him and plural marriage did result in an increased number of children born to believing parents

Some Saints also saw plural marriage as a redemptive process of sacrifice and spiritual refinement. According to Helen Mar Kimball, Joseph Smith stated that “the practice of this principle would be the hardest trial the Saints would ever have to test their faith.” Though it was one of the “severest” trials of her life, she testified that it had also been “one of the greatest blessings.”

The challenge of introducing a principle as controversial as plural marriage is almost impossible to overstate. A spiritual witness of its truthfulness allowed Joseph Smith and other Latter-day Saints to accept this principle. Difficult as it was, the introduction of plural marriage in Nauvoo did indeed “raise up seed” unto God. A substantial number of today’s members descend through faithful Latter-day Saints who practiced plural marriage.

Church members no longer permitted to practice plural marriage however, consistent with Joseph Smith’s teachings, the Church permits a man whose wife has died to be sealed to another woman when he remarries. Moreover, members are permitted to perform ordinances on behalf of deceased men and women who married more than once on earth, sealing them to all of the spouses to whom they were legally married. The precise nature of these relationships in the next life is not known, and many family relationships will be sorted out in the life to come. Latter-day Saints are encouraged to trust in our wise Heavenly Father, who loves His children and does all things for their growth and salvation


Whatever God reveals is given for the benefit and fulfillment of his children, for their happiness.  Celestial or eternal marriage has been given to man according to the word of the Master in order that man might multiply and replenish the earth and fulfill the promise which was given by the Father before the foundation of the world and for the happiness, exaltation and eternal life of man.  The prophet Joseph understood this early in his ministry and through him we have been taught the new and everlasting covenant needed for our exaltation.  Eternal marriage is an essential part of Heavenly Father’s plan, the importance of the principle to not only abide in the marriage covenant but endure in the covenant with all of our whole soul is monumental.

Record your thoughts in your journal or gospel doctrine notebook, if you don't have one now is a great time to start!  


“Our Hearts Rejoiced to Hear Him Speak”
Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt 1975
Doctrines of Salvation, Vol 3
 Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual Section 132
Faith Precedes the Miracle 1972
Commentary on D&C 132 Commentary on D&C 132
Mormon Doctrine, p. 118
Plural Marriage in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Mercy Thompson and the Revelation on Marriage.
The Messenger and the Manifesto.
Plural Marriage in Kirkland and Nauvoo
A Comprehensive History of the Church by B.H. Roberts
My Life's Review by Benjamin F. Johnson
Life of Heber C. Kimball by Orson F. Whitney
Journal of Discourses
History of the Church

 A Comprehensive History of the Church by B.H. Roberts 2:106

Our Heritage,pages 62–66

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