D&C 132…Marriage, Polygamy, The Sealing Power, and the New and Everlasting Covenant

D&C ImageAnd he said unto his servant: When I will; go ye straightway, and do all things whatsoever I have commanded you;

And this shall be my seal and blessing upon you—a faithful and wise steward in the midst of mine house, a ruler in my kingdom. (D&C 101:60-61)

In D&C Section 101:43-62, the Lord gives Joseph Smith a parable of a nobleman in his vineyard, who commanded his servants to set up watchtowers that they might detect, from “afar off”, enemies coming to destroy His vineyard.  In the parable, the servants neglect to build the watchtowers and the vineyard is destroyed.  The nobleman then calls another servant and gives instructions that a place might be prepared for said lord to come.  When questioned as to when his coming might come to pass, the nobleman responds as quoted above, in essence: “Keep my commandments, and I promise you will be blessed”.  Repeating verse 61 with emphasis:

And this shall be my seal and blessing upon you—a faithful and wise steward in the midst of mine house, a ruler in my kingdom.

In the Joseph Smith story, Joseph quotes the angel of the Lord as, in turn, quoting Malachi 4:5-6, but differently than what we have in the King James version of the Bible (emphasis mine):

Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.

And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers (clearly as a result of having the promises made to the fathers planted in their hearts). If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming.

This scripture is commonly interpreted as pointing to the sealing of families as family units for the eternities and is used as inspiration for genealogy work and doing temple work for the dead.  There is indeed justification for that in the words of Joseph (D&C 128:17).  It seems that, to some, this actually represents the sum total of their understanding of the sealing power.  In this post I hope to present an interpretation of the sealing power that will lead to a greater understanding of this particular gospel mystery.  In doing so, I intend to demonstrate that this sealing bond is not accomplished by sprinkling magical fairy dust upon families and thus declaring them sealed, but is actually the result of their common obedience to God’s law – the law of the new and everlasting covenant.

Sealing Authority – Sealing Power

I think most of us would agree that even if an ordinance seals blessings upon us, the realization of these blessings is conditional upon our faithfulness.  The wording of the LDS sealing ordinance of marriage itself makes that quite clear.  No matter how righteous the sealer might be, he does not bring about the sealing.  Only the Holy Spirit of Promise can do that, as made clear in D&C 132:7 (emphasis added):

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.

We cannot ignore the role of the “medium of mine anointed” – the sealer – in this process, but how is his role manifested?  What, actually, does the sealer have to do with it?  A clue may be found in D&C 68:8-12 (emphasis mine):

Go ye into all the world, preach the gospel to every creature, acting in the authority which I have given you, baptizing in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

 And he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned.

 And he that believeth shall be blest with signs following, even as it is written.

And unto you it shall be given to know the signs of the times, and the signs of the coming of the Son of Man;

And of as many as the Father shall bear record, to you shall be given power to seal them up unto eternal life. Amen.

This seems to suggest that even for those to whom this power of sealing up unto eternal life is delegated, in this case Lyman Wight, Orson Hyde, Luke Johnson, and William E. McClellin (D&C 68:7), the Father must bear record that the recipients are to be sealed before this delegated sealing power has any authority.

Denver Snuffer, in his priesthood talk given in Orem, UT on November 2, 2013, suggests that this sealing power – that mentioned in D&C 68:12 and pertaining to sealing unto eternal life or damnation – is of the Aaronic or Levitical priesthood, and that there are 2 other types of sealing power – 1) that given to a dispensational head and 2) that type, most rare, that carries with it the authority to control the elements.  You can read more of this discussion here on page 16 of the pdf version, and continuing in greater detail beginning on page 34.

The point to be made here is that I do not believe the sealing power, no matter the type, is something that is in the hands of men.  It is a blessing from God, and as with all blessings it is conditional upon obedience to the law upon which that blessing is predicated (D&C 130: 20-21).  I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that if the sealing power has the potential to seal up unto eternal life, or to control the elements, or to bestow “all that the Father hath” (D&C 84:38), then we’d probably better be prepared to keep ALL of His commandments.  That’s pretty much a “risk all to gain all” proposition if I’ve ever heard of one.  I also don’t think this is something we can just summarily surrender to “others”, assuming that someone else will come along with the authority to administer this great blessing.  Of course, we can’t “aspire” to it, because the Lord will choose whom He will choose, but I think we have an obligation to prepare ourselves to receive “all that the father hath” and, in doing so, make sure that, if the Lord chooses us, we are prepared to answer the callIn other words, “would that all my children would be sealers”.

Re-examining D&C 132

In order to illustrate that the sealing bond is a product of our obedience and of our obedience alone, I propose a different reading of D&C 132 – different from the way it is commonly interpreted – beginning with verses 1 through 5 (emphasis mine):

Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you my servant Joseph, that inasmuch as you have inquired of my hand to know and understand wherein I, the Lord, justified my servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as also Moses, David and Solomon, my servants, as touching the principle and doctrine of their having many wives and concubines—

Behold, and lo, I am the Lord thy God, and will answer thee as touching this matter.

Therefore, prepare thy heart to receive and obey the instructions which I am about to give unto you; for all those who have this law revealed unto them must obey the same.

For behold, I reveal unto you a new and an everlasting covenant; and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory.

For all who will have a blessing at my hands shall abide the law which was appointed for that blessing, and the conditions thereof, as were instituted from before the foundation of the world.

The common interpretation of this section of scripture is that the Lord is speaking throughout on the topic of the principle and doctrine of having multiple wives and concubines.  However, what if, in verse 3 He has actually expanded His focus beyond the scope of Joseph’s specific question?  What if, in verse 3, the law he refers to is a law under which the doctrine of many wives and concubines may be justified and by which it might be governed, and not the law of having many wives and concubines?  What if this new law, the new and everlasting covenant, actually has little to do with marriage, but more to do with recognizing and receiving the over-arching law of the universe – the law of righteousness – to which law we must be obedient if we are to “have a blessing at my hands”.  What if this new and everlasting covenant is actually simply the law of the gospel, the law of Heaven, to which we must be obedient if we are to gain exaltation?  Let’s interpret further verses in this light – verses 6-8 (emphasis mine):

 And as pertaining to the new and everlasting covenant, it was instituted for the fulness of my glory; and he that receiveth a fulness thereof must and shall abide the law, or he shall be damned, saith the Lord God.

 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.

 Behold, mine house is a house of order, saith the Lord God, and not a house of confusion.

No mention of marriage here.  I love how He says this new and everlasting covenant was instituted for the “fullness of my glory”.  What is His glory?  How about, “That all His creations would be obedient and fulfill the measure of their creation?”  What is the manifestation for us of the fullness of His glory?  Is it perhaps that we might be one with Him?  If we are to be one with Him, we must be in harmony with His law…we must be obedient.

Then, He speaks of “covenants, etc”.  Are these legal terms –the “contracts, associations”, etc. – really referring to contracts between men, or are these associations with Him?  In other words, I can’t see how He could be talking about a corporate charter being sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise.  Again, however, no specific mention of marriage here.  He does go on to say instead that His house is a house of order.  How is order established and measured?  I would suggest that this order derives from obedience to the law – the law of the new and everlasting covenant – and the resulting dissemination of blessings in accordance with obedience to that law.  This is His “order”: we obey, and He blesses us with all that He hath.  Pretty simple, but also pretty “all in” – pretty absolute. (Is that an oxymoron, as in “almost absolute”?)

I won’t quote the next few verses.  It is not until verse 15 that marriage comes up again…after all, this was the topic of the opening question.  In verse 15, the Lord makes it clear that marriage falls under the guideline outlined in verse 7 – “all covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, etc”.  Such a marriage, which was not by Him or His word, “which…” He declares in verse 18 “…is my law” (His word is His law), is to be of no effect after the resurrection.  Why of no effect?  Because the participants did not obey His law.  What is His law?  The law of the new and everlasting covenant.

What is the new and everlasting covenant?

In section 131:1-4, Joseph records:

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.

This statement clearly points to the “new and everlasting covenant” being a covenant of marriage, and is certainly the source of confusion as to the nature of this “new and everlasting covenant”.  I don’t know why this definition of this order of the priesthood is placed in parentheses, and it is so contradictory to all other definitions of the new and everlasting covenant that I find it highly suspect.  Furthermore, I found the following quotes which totally support this claim, derived from my own studies and prayers, that the doctrine of celestial marriage is simply a component of the new and everlasting covenant:

Joseph Fielding Smith (Quorum of the Twelve)

What is the new and everlasting covenant? I regret to say that there are some members of the Church who are misled and misinformed in regard to what the new and everlasting covenant really is. The new and everlasting covenant is the sum total of all gospel covenants and obligations. (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:156)

Now there is a clear-cut definition in detail of the new and everlasting covenant. It is everything—the fulness of the gospel. So marriage properly performed, baptism, ordination to the priesthood, everything else—every contract, every obligation, every performance that pertains to the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise according to his law here given, is a part of the new and everlasting covenant. (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:158)

Bruce R. McConkie (Quorum of the Twelve)

“The new and everlasting covenant” is the fulness of the gospel, and the gospel is the covenant of salvation that the Lord makes with men. It is new because it has been revealed anew in our day; it is everlasting because it has always been had by faithful people, not only on this earth but on all the earths inhabited by the children of our Father. (Brigham Young University, 6 November 1977)

Todd Christofferson(Quorum of the Twelve)

The scriptures speak of the new and everlasting covenant. The new and everlasting covenant is the gospel of Jesus Christ. In other words, the doctrines and commandments of the gospel constitute the substance of an everlasting covenant between God and man that is newly restored in each dispensation. If we were to state the new and everlasting covenant in one sentence it would be this: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Jesus explained what it means to believe in Him: “Now this is the commandment [or in other words, this is the covenant]: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day” (3 Nephi 27:20). (Ensign, May 2009)

In verses 16-17, the written revelation states that, even though someone did not abide His law, they may be resurrected as “angels…without exaltation, in their saved condition, to all eternity; and from henceforth are not Gods…” Why?  Because they weren’t married?  Perhaps, but I maintain that it is more likely because they did not obey His law – the law of the new and everlasting covenant.  They did not obey the fullness of His law in order to receive the fullness of His blessings.  It seems clear to me that this “law” extends beyond marriage.

Serious Blessings

Next, in verse 18 – 25, we get to the meat of the matter.  I quote (emphasis mine):

And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife, and make a covenant with her for time and for all eternity, if that covenant is not by me or by my word, which is my law, and is not sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, through him whom I have anointed and appointed unto this power, then it is not valid neither of force when they are out of the world, because they are not joined by me, saith the Lord, neither by my word; when they are out of the world it cannot be received there, because the angels and the gods are appointed there, by whom they cannot pass; they cannot, therefore, inherit my glory; for my house is a house of order, saith the Lord God.

And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant, and it is sealed unto them by the Holy Spirit of promise, by him who is anointed, unto whom I have appointed this power and the keys of this priesthood; and it shall be said unto them—Ye shall come forth in the first resurrection; and if it be after the first resurrection, in the next resurrection; and shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths—then shall it be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, that he shall commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, and if ye abide in my covenant, and commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, it shall be done unto them in all things whatsoever my servant hath put upon them, in time, and through all eternity; and shall be of full force when they are out of the world; and they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever.

Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye abide my law ye cannot attain to this glory.

For strait is the gate, and narrow the way that leadeth unto the exaltation and continuation of the lives, and few there be that find it, because ye receive me not in the world neither do ye know me.

 But if ye receive me in the world, then shall ye know me, and shall receive your exaltation; that where I am ye shall be also.

This is eternal lives—to know the only wise and true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent. I am he. Receive ye, therefore, my law.

Broad is the gate, and wide the way that leadeth to the deaths; and many there are that go in there at, because they receive me not, neither do they abide in my law.

Whoa!  These are some serious blessings!  …exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads…and some serious conditions!  Still, I don’t see any reference in this to the marriage itself being the law…only that if you are married and obey His law, then that marriage will be sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise, and the participants in the marriage are sealed up unto eternal lives!

Role of the Lord’s Anointed

However, there remains this matter of the medium of the Lord’s anointed.  I quote again from verse 7:Joseph and Hyrum

(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)…

And then from verses 45-49 (emphasis and clarification mine):

 For I have conferred upon you (speaking of Joseph) the keys and power of the priesthood, wherein I restore all things, and make known unto you all things in due time.

And verily, verily, I say unto you, that whatsoever you seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven; and whatsoever you bind on earth, in my name and by my word, saith the Lord, it shall be eternally bound in the heavens; and whosesoever sins you remit on earth shall be remitted eternally in the heavens; and whosesoever sins you retain on earth shall be retained in heaven.

And again, verily I say, whomsoever you bless I will bless, and whomsoever you curse I will curse, saith the Lord; for I, the Lord, am thy God.

And again, verily I say unto you, my servant Joseph, that whatsoever you give on earth, and to whomsoever you give any one on earth, by my word and according to my law, it shall be visited with blessings and not cursings, and with my power, saith the Lord, and shall be without condemnation on earth and in heaven.

For I am the Lord thy God, and will be with thee even unto the end of the world, and through all eternity; for verily I seal upon you your exaltation, and prepare a throne for you in the kingdom of my Father, with Abraham your father.

Let’s return now to D&C 68:12, which I quoted above (emphasis added):

And of as many as the Father shall bear record, to you shall be given power to seal them up unto eternal life. Amen.

How is it, then, that the Father shall bear record to His anointed that this couple is to be sealed up unto eternal life?  It must be by revelation, right?  How else is His word – His law – received and understood?  Any of you who have been sealed in the LDS Temples – if you even knew the sealer, do you really think that he had any inkling of whether or not the Lord had born record that you should be sealed up unto eternal life?  Do you think He prayed beforehand to determine whether or not he had authority to perform this sealing?

It is very important to point out also at this point that there is no evidence that this sealing authority can be passed from man to man.  I believe this is a modern construct, is not of God, and qualifies as a philosophy of men.

It appears that the medium of the Lord’s anointed has been abused in our day, just as the authority to baptize, to lay hands on for the receiving of the Holy Ghost, and ordaining to the priesthood have been.  The sealer or ordinance administrator must, in my mind, receive a witness that this ordinance is authorized by the Lord.  This authority cannot be passed on by man. A nod must be given here to Denver’s assertion that the dispensational prophet’s sealing authority can be preserved and passed on through ordinances that have been perfectly preserved once establish by said dispensational head.  You can read of this in the same talk mentioned above.  I cannot see any evidence of this in the scriptures, but I cannot say he is wrong or that the evidence does not exist, only that I haven’t found such evidence in the scriptures.  Regardless, in our day, as Denver correctly points out, the ordinances have been changed.  Furthermore, this process of seeking the Father’s “bearing record” is no longer practiced.

Time for Some Clarity

Now, back on the topic of marriage.  Is this sealing up unto eternal life (re: back to verse 18 mentioned above…”if a man marry a wife…”) conditioned on the fact that couple was married, or on the fact that they were obedient to the law – obedient enough that they were sealed up together, as a couple unto eternal life by the Holy Spirit of Promise?  Is the new and everlasting covenant a covenant of marriage, or a covenant of obedience – of living in harmony with God’s law?  I think the Lord makes this very clear in verse 22 (emphasis mine):

For strait is the gate, and narrow the way that leadeth unto the exaltation and continuation of the lives, and few there be that find it, because ye receive me not in the world neither do ye know me.

Let’s skip forward to verse 28, where the Lord says:

I am the Lord thy God, and will give unto thee the law of my Holy Priesthood, as was ordained by me and my Father before the world was.

This doesn’t sound like he’s talking about the law of marriage at all, let alone plural marriage!  Do we really think the “law of my Holy Priesthood” is limited to a doctrine of marriage?  Surely we can agree that the “law of my Holy Priesthood” may well include but is certainly not limited to marriage covenants.

Given that we have established that we are not talking solely about marriage here, but about obedience – if we have, in your mind, established this – the rest of D&C 132 takes on an entirely new tone.

Speaking of Abraham, David, Solomon (beginning in verse 29) – it’s not so much about them being married to multiple wives – it’s about them being obedient to the Lord’s commandments – given by revelation, either to them directly, or to Sarah, or to the Lord’s prophet (Nathan).  Their obedience to His law is not so much that they married multiple wives, it’s that He told them to marry multiple wives (for whatever reason) and they were obedient to His word – to His commandment.  Verses 29-32 (emphasis mine):

Abraham received all things, whatsoever he received, by revelation and commandment, by my word, saith the Lord, and hath entered into his exaltation and sitteth upon his throne.

Abraham received promises concerning his seed, and of the fruit of his loins—from whose loins ye are, namely, my servant Joseph—which were to continue so long as they were in the world; and as touching Abraham and his seed, out of the world they should continue; both in the world and out of the world should they continue as innumerable as the stars; or, if ye were to count the sand upon the seashore ye could not number them.

This promise is yours also (speaking of Joseph), because ye are of Abraham, and the promise was made unto Abraham; and by this law is the continuation of the works of my Father, wherein he glorifieth himself.

Go ye, therefore, and do the works of Abraham; enter ye into my law and ye shall be saved.

Bear with me, now!  He has not in the least associated Abraham and his works with wives and concubines.  He has, however, associated him with receiving revelation, and commandments, and promises that are sealed unto the eternities.  Then he even declares that these promises are Joseph’s, but not conditioned upon any marriage – marriage is not even mentioned – but simply upon obedience to the law (“…by this law”) – the law of the new and everlasting covenant.

Finally, in verse 34, the Lord says that Abraham was commanded to take Hagar to wife?  Why?  To fulfill the promises?  What promises?  The promise that his seed would be as innumerable as the stars:

God commanded Abraham, and Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham to wife. And why did she do it? Because this was the law; and from Hagar sprang many people. This, therefore, was fulfilling, among other things, the promises. (D&C 132:34)

It says “Because this was the law…”  What law?  The law of plural marriage? or the law of the new and everlasting covenant, which law (…all things) Abraham received by revelation and commandment…for him! (verse 29)  Then, just to make sure we’re not confused into thinking that this obedience is only to some law of plural wives, the Lord throws in a reference to Abraham sacrificing Isaac – also clearly an act of obedience to His law.  Boy, I’m sure glad that commandment wasn’t interpreted as a universal law being applied to all men everywhere and being required for exaltation as was the “doctrine” of plural marriage!  There goes the promise of the seed!

Plural Marriage Justified?

I must now address the verses that do seem to reference plural marriage, namely verses 61-64:

And again, as pertaining to the law of the priesthood—if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified; he cannot commit adultery for they are given unto him; for he cannot commit adultery with that that belongeth unto him and to no one else.

And if he have ten virgins given unto him by this law, he cannot commit adultery, for they belong to him, and they are given unto him; therefore is he justified.

But if one or either of the ten virgins, after she is espoused, shall be with another man, she has committed adultery, and shall be destroyed; for they are given unto him to multiply and replenish the earth, according to my commandment, and to fulfil the promise which was given by my Father before the foundation of the world, and for their exaltation in the eternal worlds, that they may bear the souls of men; for herein is the work of my Father continued, that he may be glorified.

And again, verily, verily, I say unto you, if any man have a wife, who holds the keys of this power, and he teaches unto her the law of my priesthood, as pertaining to these things, then shall she believe and administer unto him, or she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord your God; for I will destroy her; for I will magnify my name upon all those who receive and abide in my law.

These scriptures certainly do seem to condone at least the possibility of plural marriage, but only “…as pertaining to the law of the priesthood”, which we have already established is not limited to marriage, but is totally about obedience to and support of the Lord’s word and His law.  In other words, if a man and women are commanded by His word to live plural marriage, it is allowed.  I still do not, however, see any indication that it is commanded except on an individual basis.  Neither do I see that such marriage is a requirement for exaltation.  Instead, it is the obedience to the commandment to “…multiple and replenish the earth, according to my commandment”, for which purpose they are “given him” that qualifies them for exaltation.


Based upon this analysis of the scriptures, I suggest that this section (D&C 132) has been sorely wrested in support of the doctrine of polygamy, and that any belief that the doctrine of polygamy was or is a general commandment and a requirement for exaltation is false!  I further suggest that the sealing doctrine itself is based wholly on compliance with and obedience to the law of God.  It is indeed effected by the power of the priesthood, which is, in turn, exercised solely based upon the principles of righteousness, but that righteousness must be inherent in both the sealer (whether a man or the Holy Spirit of Promise) and the recipient of the blessing.

Brethren and Sisters.  I’m sorry this is so long.  Thank you for bearing with me.  These things just unfolded before me, and I had to keep peeling back the layers. It began early on a Sunday morning when I started processing the idea that the real power of sealing was not held by designated men and delegated to other men, but it is held by us – the sealed – and it is based upon our obedience to the law – the law of the new and everlasting covenant – the law of God, the law of the universe, the law that governs all things.  An ordinance may indeed be involved.  A human may indeed be involved.  But the ordinance is only an invitation, and the human only has authority upon having the record born to him from the Father.  Record of what?  Record born by the Father of our obedience – our harmony – with the law.  What law?  The law of the new and everlasting covenant.

If I may summarize the results of this inquiry:

There are indeed been men who have been entrusted with the sealing power – the authority to bind in Heaven that which has been bound on earth.  Moses, Nephi (son of Helaman), and Joseph Smith are clear examples.  However, there is no evidence that such sealing authority can be passed from man to man.  It must come directly from God.  This sealing power may well exist among men on the earth at this time, but such must be revealed by the Lord at a time and in a manner to be determined by Him and Him alone.  It must exist, however, for without it, without the authority to bind each of us to Him, the earth must indeed be “utterly wasted at His coming”.

This sealing in Heaven as it is on earth may indeed be symbolized through an ordinance, but the sealing itself is based solely upon our faithfulness…our obedience to the law of the new and everlasting covenant.  This sealing can also be solemnized (sealed) directly by the Holy Spirit of Promise.  Man may initiate it, but it does not require a man.  IF man initiates it, and he was not previously prompted directly by the Lord, through His word, then it must yet be sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise.  Such sealings are not limited to marriage.  The possibilities are as unlimited as the Lord’s will for us.

D&C section 132, which is commonly interpreted to command or at least justify the practice of plural marriage, (today it is limited to a doctrine of eternal monogamy) actually commands nothing more than obedience to the word of God…even the law of the new and everlasting covenant.

I now share the scripture – one of my favorites – of a conversation between the Lord and Nephi, son of Helaman, in Helaman 10:4-7 (emphasis mine):

 Blessed art thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people. And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine own life, but hast sought my will, and to keep my commandments.

And now, because thou hast done this with such unwearyingness, behold, I will bless thee forever; and I will make thee mighty in word and in deed, in faith and in works; yea, even that all things shall be done unto thee according to thy word, for thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will.

Behold, thou art Nephi, and I am God. Behold, I declare it unto thee in the presence of mine angels, that ye shall have power over this people, and shall smite the earth with famine, and with pestilence, and destruction, according to the wickedness of this people.

Behold, I give unto you power, that whatsoever ye shall seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven; and thus shall ye have power among this people.

Nephi was given power even over the elements.  Why?  Because the Lord knew that “thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will”.  So it must be with the exercise of any sealing power.  However, that sealing is ultimately conducted by the Holy Spirit of Promise.  The sealer is simply obedient enough himself that he can receive the testimony of the Holy Spirit of Promise, giving Him authority to exercise His power to bind in Heaven what is bound on earth.  Without that authority, any sealing he pronounces is ineffective.

I propose that we ultimately hold the sealing power, just as the brother of Jared held the power over the veil.  It is activated through our faith in and obedience to the law of the new and everlasting covenant, which obedience entails submission, humility, and charity – the absolutely sincere seeking of, and submission to, God’s will for us and for His children.  We must become as the dust of the earth in that these very elements submit to His will simply because they know of His perfection, and they have no desire to rebel.  So it must be with us.  Under these conditions, we cannot be denied, or God would cease to be God.  It is under these conditions that we can return to live with Him, to be one with Him.  It is under these conditions that we might partake of His glory and receive of His fullness – even all that the Father hath.  It is under these conditions that what is bound on earth shall be bound in heaven.

9 comments on “D&C 132…Marriage, Polygamy, The Sealing Power, and the New and Everlasting Covenant

  1. Scott, are you thinking about taking a plural wife? or have been commanded to do so?

  2. Here’s an issue I can’t wrap my mind around. Where did Joseph get this idea that God had commanded Abraham to have multiple wives? Genesis 16, the scripture referenced in the church essay on polygamy, talks about the encounter between Hagar and Abraham, but not once is it “commanded.” In fact, Sarai tells Abraham to basically do whatever he thinks best after Hagar has gotten mad at Sarai for Abraham impregnating her. Seems awfully strange that God wouldn’t let her in on this idea. And if he did, why would Hagar have become upset? Also, why wouldn’t the angel who found Hagar in the wilderness discuss this more at length? He basically tells Hagar that God will turn her lemons into lemonade, but does not mention anything about the concept of polygamy or its purpose. Did Joseph just receive a different translation on this? If so, why didn’t it wind up it the JST? Seems pretty dang important.

    • Josh, I have recently re-read that portion of Genesis, and I see what you mean. Did Joseph possibly not really receive D&C 132. I’ve heard evidence of such. Sorry it took me so long to respond to this comment.

  3. Greetings Scott & Josh. Thank for this article Scott.

    To which church essay do you refer Josh? Can you provide a link?

    I don’t understand your hang up Josh. To answer your concern: Our scriptures tell us Joseph inquired of the Lord regarding justification for ancient servants of the Lord having more than one wife. The REVELATION he received says GOD commanded Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, etc. So Joseph got the “idea” that God commanded it “because” that’s what God told Joseph. “For I, the Lord, commanded it” (D&C 132:35)

    Hope that helps. May God direct all who inquire righteously.

  4. Thank you for writing this post Scott. I’m not very familiar with all your writings, but I am familiar with PR’s writings and I came here from his blog. This post has a lot of value to me and I feel that it renders a clearer and more cogent explanation of section 132 than what we are typically given.

    If polygamy is ever acceptable to God, it could only be by specific revelation on an individual basis. There are examples of it occurring in the Old Testament, but these should not be extrapolated to everyone. There were specific contexts, customs, and reasons why these things occurred. And as you explain, despite the typical narrative, this scripture is not really ABOUT polygamy, but uses polygamy as a springboard to jump into others topics such as obedience, sealing, and exaltation.

    Many people argue that Joseph did not write this revelation and had nothing to do with it. However, my gut feeling is that he did write a lot of it, but possibly alterations were made by the hands of other men. It is possible that this revelation is entirely unmodified and was copied exactly as what Joseph wrote, but it is likewise entirely possible that parts were changed or rewritten, just as what happened with the Bible.

    There are good and important truths taught in this section, but on the other hand there are also parts that easily lend to confusion and temptation. I suspect that the truth lies somewhere in the middle between the two arguments of whether Joseph wrote it or not.

    I believe Joseph’s teachings about sealing were confused and misconstrued due to false revelations or other confusions that abounded during the Nauvoo era. It seems to me that Satan and his angels were working overtime to confuse the Latter-day Saints in that time and place. There was much in the way of sexual promiscuity and Joseph did his utmost to combat this wickedness. His anger was not directed towards the people, but towards their sins.

    If I lived during that time, I would like to think I would have been true to the prophet and not been led astray by philosophies of men mingled with scripture. But I was not there, and I know that I am a flawed person. I cannot with perfect certainty say that I would have been free of deception or mistakes if I lived during that time. Even during this era, when we have great access to knowledge and truth, I am not free of sins or temptations.

    All I can say is that Jesus is a very merciful God. He even forgave King Lamoni of what we would consider in our time to be murder. He allowed King Lamoni to repent and be converted to His gospel, and to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and be made clean. PR wrote about this here: https://purerevelations.wordpress.com/2019/04/28/conversion-of-lamoni-alma-181-43/

    If such mercy can be had by Him for such serious sins, then I begin to see the utter depth and magnitude of His mercy. I imagine Joseph is similarly merciful to the Saints that followed him, who may have been deceived. I am reminded that the Lord looketh upon the heart and that only He is qualified to judge all.

    Nevertheless, in spite of the potential for deception, this section likewise has great potential to open the understanding for important truths regarding exaltation and Godhood. I believe it is a scripture worth keeping, worth studying and praying about, and worth truly understanding. You have helped me understand it better by your remarks and commentary, and I appreciate it a lot. Thank you.

    • Truthseeker – what a gracious comment! Do I know you by another name? WOW! It’s been 5 years since I wrote this post. So much has happened! You speak of God’s mercy. I’ve even come to think that He is ABOVE mercy. Mercy implies judgment – a release from condemnation. I think His love is so perfect, so unconditional, that even mercy is beneath Him, because there is no condemnation to be released from. I know that’s extreme…some consider it blasphemous, but it is what I’ve learned. You, my friend, are clearly one whose heart if filled with love.

      • No, I don’t see how you could know me by another name. I see from other comments that you live in Idaho – I don’t live in the West, so we’ve probably never met.

        Your remarks about mercy are very intriguing. You may well be right, although I myself often don’t feel sufficient in His sight. I am sometimes embarrassed to approach Him because of my many shortcomings and failings. I have been shocked how many times He has forgiven me of my sins, and how quickly.

        I’ve often wondered what constitutes my sins, if He is so eager and quick to forgive them. He is on a whole other level than us. Whereas I have difficulty forgiving others sometimes, He forgives immediately and completely. It is a bit staggering. And He is the one who has actually suffered the most for others’ wrongs!

        Thank you for your kind words. I hope to fill my heart with charity so I can receive a baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost. It is a bit hard for me to do this because I have been abused and hurt a lot in my life and it has made me have a hard time loving everyone as the Savior does. But I have faith that He can help me to do this.

  5. Truth, could you e-mail me at scootd28@yahoo.com? We can have a more private conversation that way.

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