Church History Lesson 31 (D&C 131; 132)
PRINCIPLES OF EXALTATION
During the last few weeks of the Prophet Joseph Smith’s life he taught some of the most exalted principles of the gospel—things withheld from the Lord’s people in all previous dispensations. These “principles of exaltation” were taught in private meetings (D&C 131), in recorded revelations (D&C 132), and in powerful sermons taught in the various groves surrounding the Nauvoo Temple.
THE REVELATION ON ETERNAL MARRIAGE
The New and Everlasting Covenant
Prior to the creation, the law by which we were to be governed in mortality was set down (D&C 132:1–6). It is unchanging. Blessings come only by obedience to it. Note the word “a” in verse 4 and “the” in verse 6. “The” new and everlasting covenant is the fulness of the gospel “A” new and everlasting covenant pertains to any of the eternal covenants such as eternal marriage or baptism. President Brigham Young said, “Latter-day Saints enter the new and everlasting covenant when they enter the Church.”1
Elder Joseph Fielding Smith said, “Each ordinance of the Gospel is a covenant which is new and everlasting. It is new and everlasting because it is divine truth and never grows old . . . This was said of baptism, and the Lord calls it ‘a new and an everlasting covenant, even that which was from the beginning.’ (D&C 22:1). It is so with all the covenants and obligations in the Gospel which pertain to salvation and exaltation of man . . . There are some members of the Church who seem to think that the new and everlasting covenant is the covenant of celestial marriage, or marriage for eternity, but this is not so . . . The Lord draws a distinction between a new and everlasting covenant and the new and everlasting covenant . . . It is plainly discernible that the new and everlasting covenant is the fulness of the Gospel.”2
Sealed by the Holy Spirit
One of the conditions of the new and everlasting covenant is that it mus be “sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise” (D&C 132:7–8, 13–14). This does not mean to be “sealed together” like we would be if we were joined by Scotch Tape or some other binding agent. In the days in which this revelation was given, to be “sealed” had reference to what happens when we visit a Notary Public. The action is “sealed” as a way of verifying that the terms have been agreed to and then kept.
Elder Joseph Fielding Smith said, “The Holy Spirit of Promise is the Holy Ghost who places the stamp of approval upon every ordinance: baptism, confirmation, ordination, marriage. The promise is that the blessings will be received through faithfulness. If a person violates a covenant, whether it be of baptism, ordination, marriage or anything else, the Spirit withdraws the stamp of approval, and the blessings will not be received. Every ordinance is sealed with a promise of a reward based upon faithfulness. The Holy Spirit withdraws the stamp of approval where covenants are broken (D&C 76:52–53; 132:7).”3
The Conditions of Eternal Marriage
● Marriage between a man and a woman performed by civil authority does not continue through eternity (D&C 132:15–17). The couple may live together during earth life with the Lord’s approval, but they have no marriage after death.
● Those who do not enter into celestial marriage will be angels and live singly and separately forever (D&C 132:18).
The conditions of eternal marriage: (D&C 132:19, first 1/3 of the verse).
They must be performed:
—According to the Lord’s word and law.
—By the new and everlasting covenant.
—Sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise.
—By one anointed who has the power and keys of this priesthood.
Promises to those who obey celestial marriage: (D&C 132:19:last 2/3 of the verse to v.20)
— They shall come forth in the first resurrection.
—They shall inherit thrones, principalities, etc.
—They shall have a continuation of seed.
—They shall become gods.
—They shall dwell in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom.
● It is necessary to obey God’s law to achieve celestial glory (D&C 132:21–25).
● It was because of his obedience while in the world that Abraham received a great reward (D&C 132:9).
● The promise is given to us that if we are as faithful as was Abraham, we, too, can receive eternal life (D&C 132:30–32).
The headnote of D&C 132 does not give the date when the revelation was received. This date refers to when it was recorded.
As Joseph studied the life of Abraham and the teachings of Jesus, he must have had many questions come to mind, not only regarding Abraham’s having more than one wife, but also on the very nature of the marriage relationship.
— Marriage was designed by God and he blesses it (Matthew 19:3–6).
— Marriage is an ordinance that must be done in this world (Matthew 22:23–30).
— Abraham was commanded to take a second wife (Genesis 16:1–4).
Abraham took plural wives only after he had received a revelation and commandment from God (D&C 132:34–39). Moses and David did also. David and Solomon sinned in taking plural wives because they took wives not given them by the Lord. Abraham followed a commandment from God, he was faithful to revelation, and the Lord considered him a righteous man. He has received his exaltation and he is a god [v. 37].
Joseph Smith and other early Church members were commanded to live the principle of eternal marriage. However, taking a plural wife without the Lord’s blessing and commandment is adultery (D&C 132:41–44). Today, we are expressly commanded not to live the law of polygamy. It has been rescinded.
President Spencer W. Kimball said, “We warn you against the so-called polygamy cults which would lead you astray. Remember the Lord brought an end to this program many decades ago through a prophet who proclaimed the revelation to the world.”4
God’s laws are unchanging in an eternal sense. However, changing conditions during mortal moments may alter the requirements under which men live from time-to-time.
The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “The government of heaven is conducted—by revelation adapted to the circumstance in which the children of the kingdom are placed. Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof till long after the events transpire.”5
The Lord’s explained how and when polygamy might be commanded (Jacob 2:27–33).
Eternal Marriage Is Essential in Heavenly Father’s Plan
The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles have declared, “Marriage between man and woman is essential to [God’s] eternal plan.”6 The scriptures also teach that “marriage is ordained of God unto man” (D&C 49:15; 1 Cor. 11:11).
Parley P. Pratt said concerning eternal marriage, “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.”7
Boyd K. Packer said, “The ultimate purpose of all we teach is to unite parents and children in faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, that they are happy at home, sealed in an eternal marriage, linked to their generations, and assured of exaltation in the presence of our Heavenly Father.”8
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.”9
Youth Should Prepare Now for Eternal Marriage
Spencer W. Kimball said, “Marriage is perhaps the most vital of all . . . decisions and has the most far-reaching effects, for it has to do not only with immediate happiness, but also with eternal joys. It affects not only the two people involved, but also their families and particularly their children and their children’s children down through the many generations.”10
Gordon B. Hinckley said. “Choose a companion of your own faith. You are much more likely to be happy. Choose a companion you can always honor, you can always respect, one who will complement you in your own life, one to whom you can give your entire heart, your entire love, your entire allegiance, your entire loyalty.”11
Richard G. Scott said, “There is more to a foundation of eternal marriage than a pretty face or an attractive figure. There is more to consider than popularity or charisma. As you seek an eternal companion, look for someone who is developing the essential attributes that bring happiness: a deep love of the Lord and of His commandments, a determination to live them, one that is kindly understanding, forgiving of others, and willing to give of self, with the desire to have a family crowned with beautiful children and a commitment to teach them the principles of truth in the home.”12
Abiding by Our Temple Marriage Covenants
Sister Marjorie P. Hinckley said, “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.”13
● 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).
● “Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else” (D&C 42:22). This commandment applies equally to men and women.
Spencer W. Kimball explained what “with all thy heart” means:
“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.”14
Gordon B. Hinckley gave this simple counsel to married couples: “Be fiercely loyal one to another.”15 When a man and woman are married in the temple, they covenant to be true to one another and to be true to the Lord.
The Gospel Doctrine manual suggests 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.
— Attending the temple together.
Faithful Saints Unable to Marry
Dallin H. Oaks said:
“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.”16
Richard G. Scott said, “If you are single and haven’t identified a solid prospect for celestial marriage, live for it. Pray for it. Expect it in the timetable of the Lord. Do not compromise your standards in any way that would rule out that blessing on this or the other side of the veil. The Lord knows the intent of your heart. His prophets have stated that you will have that blessing as you consistently live to qualify for it. We do not know whether it will be on this or the other side of the veil. But live for it. Pray for it.”17
1. Discourses of President Brigham Young, 247–248.
2. Church History and Modern Revelation, 4 vols. [1946–1949], 2:356.
3. Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Elder Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 1:45.
4. In Conference Report, Oct. 1974, 5; or Ensign, Nov. 1974, 5.
5. History of the Church, 5:134–135.
6. “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102.
7. Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, 298.
8. In Conference Report, Apr. 1995, 8; or Ensign, May 1995, 8.
9. Doctrines of Salvation, 2:58.
10. “Oneness in Marriage,” Ensign, Mar. 1977, 3.
11. “Life’s Obligations,” Ensign, Feb. 1999, 2.
12. In Conference Report, Apr. 1999, 31; or Ensign, May 1999, 26.
13. Sheri L. Dew, Go Forward with Faith: The Biography of Gordon B. Hinckley, 118.
14. Faith Precedes the Miracle, 142-143.
15. Ensign, Feb. 1999, 4.
16. In Conference Report, Oct. 1993, 101; or Ensign, Nov. 1993, 75.
17. In Conference Report, Apr. 1999, 33; or Ensign, May 1999, 27.