Doctrine & Covenants/Church History
“Sealed … for Time and for All
Eternal marriage is essential in Heavenly Father's plan.
Youth should prepare now for eternal marriage.
After a husband and wife are sealed in the temple, they must abide in the
covenant to receive the promised blessings.
A study of this lesson will help us understand that eternal marriage is an
essential part of Heavenly Father’s plan, to help youth prepare for eternal
marriage, and to encourage married couples to abide in the marriage covenant.
Scripture references for study:
Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked
to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window.
Lesson 31 Handout (PDF)
Revelations On Marriage
Historical Notes on Section 131.
1839: Nauvoo Stake organized with three wards. By 1842 there
were ten wards in Nauvoo with a Bishop presiding over each. Shortly
thereafter a stake was organized on the Iowa side of the Mississippi River
known as the Zarahemla Stake.
1841: An epistle was issued from Hyrum Smith called for all Saints
in Kirtland and elsewhere to gather to the Nauvoo area. Saints arrived
daily in Nauvoo. From 1840-1846 about 5000 British converts
sailed from England to Nauvoo.
March 1842: The Prophet organized the Relief Society. The sisters
elected Emma Smith as President and she chose Sarah M. Cleveland and Elizabeth
Ann Whitney as counselors. Eliza R. Snow was appointed secretary. They were prompted to organize due to the need to provide clothing for
the workmen on the temple.
Sections 129-131 are not revelations, but instructions from the Prophet
Joseph Smith. All three sections were given in the early part of
1843 in Illinois. They were not originally included in the Doctrine and
They eventually made their way into the history of Joseph Smith (now known
as the History of the Church or Documentary History of the Church).
These instructions first appeared in print in 1856 when they were published
in the Deseret News.
These "instructions" were included in the 1876 version of the Doctrine
and Covenants under the direction of Brigham Young.
Additional historical information can be found in
“Our Hearts Rejoiced to Hear Him Speak” at LDS.org.
The Prophet arrived in Ramus for a visit on Tuesday, May 16, 1843. He made several social calls and then went to the home of Benjamin Johnson
for the evening.
Brother Johnson wrote in his memoirs: "In
the evening he called me and my wife to come and sit down, for he wished
to marry us according to the Law of the Lord. I thought it was a
joke, and said, I should not marry my wife again, unless she courted me,
for I did it all the first time. He chided my levity, told me he
was in earnest, and so it proved, for we stood up and were sealed by the
Holy Spirit of Promise." (My Life's Review, p96)
That evening the Prophet gave the instructions contained in D&C 131:1-4
to William Clayton.
"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."
In this instruction, the Prophet provided us with additional information
regarding our eternal destiny. In Section 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
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." Marriage and families are
eternal. Our greatest joys in this life come through the marriage
relationship. Why would we be denied that opportunity in the eternities?
President George Q. Cannon: "We believe
in the eternal nature of the marriage relation, that man and woman are
destined, as husband and wife, to dwell together eternally. We believe
that we are organized as we are, with all these affections, with all this
love for each other, for a definite purpose, something far more lasting
than to be extinguished when death shall overtake us. We believe that when
a man and woman are united as husband and wife, and they love each other,
their hearts and feelings are one, that that love is as enduring as eternity
itself, and that when death overtakes them it will neither extinguish nor
cool that love, but that it will brighten and kindle it to a purer flame,
and that it will endure through eternity; and that if we have offspring
they will be with us and our mutual associations will be one of the chief
joys of the heaven to which we are hastening. . . . God has restored the
everlasting priesthood, by which ties can be formed, consecrated and consummated,
which shall be as enduring as we ourselves are enduring, that is, as our
spiritual nature; and husbands and wives will be united together, and they
and their children will dwell and associate together eternally, and this,
as I have said, will constitute one of the chief joys of heaven; and we
look forward to it with delightful anticipations." (JD, 14:320-21)
The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve have reiterated these important
principles in our day:
"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 Boyd K. Packer: "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." (Ensign, May 1995, p8)
WHAT IS THE "INCREASE" THAT REFERRED TO IN VERSE 4?
Joseph Smith: "Except a man and his wife enter
into an everlasting covenant and be married for eternity, while in this
probation, by the power and authority of the Holy Priesthood, they will
cease to increase when they die; that is, they will not have any children
after the resurrection." (HC, 5:391)
The 1st Presidency declared on June 30, 1916: "So
far as the stages of eternal progression and attainment have been made
divine revelation, we are to understand that only resurrected
and glorified beings can become parents of spirit offspring. Only such
exalted souls have reached maturity in the appointed course of eternal
life; and the spirits born to them in the eternal worlds will pass in due
sequence through the several stages or estates by which the glorified parents
have attained exaltation." (Encyclopedia Of Mormonism, p1676)
The information provided by the Prophet to the Saints helps paint a clearer
picture of the eternities. Bit by bit the Saints learn that the great
rewards of eternal life come through becoming as God himself in being able
to have eternal "increase" and guiding our spiritual offspring to eternal
happiness. These are great and wonderful doctrines and an understanding
of them helps us to better realize the sanctity of the marriage covenant
and that we should not take it lightly.
President Spencer W. Kimball: "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, pp142-143)
When we understand the great principles of eternal life and our ultimate
destiny, then it becomes essential that we abide by the counsel of President
Kimball and all the other prophets in regards to the marriage relationship. We are building a relationship for eternity. How can we be prepared
for this great destiny if we deviate from that which President Kimball
has so clearly stated?
Historical Notes on Section 132.
In understanding the origins of Section 132, we cannot avoid some discussion
of plural marriage. As a preface to that, I include the following
statement from the Lesson Manual:
The Church’s position on plural marriage today:
"In 1890, President
Wilford Woodruff received a revelation that the leaders of the Church should
cease teaching the practice of plural marriage (Official Declaration 1,
pages 291-92 in the Doctrine and Covenants; see also the excerpts from
addresses by President Woodruff that immediately follow Official Declaration
"In 1998, President Gordon B. Hinckley made the
following statement about the Church’s position on plural marriage: 'This
Church has nothing whatever to do with those practicing polygamy. They
are not members of this Church. … If any of our members are found to be
practicing plural marriage, they are excommunicated, the most serious penalty
the Church can impose. Not only are those so involved in direct violation
of the civil law, they are in violation of the law of this Church.' (in
Conference Report, Oct. 1998, 92; or Ensign, Nov. 1998, 71)."
The statements by the Church on this principle are clear and unmistakable. The historical information provided below is intended to help one understand
the historical background for what became a significant part of Church
history in the later half of the 19th Century..
As noted in the preface to Section 132, this revelation was recorded in
Nauvoo, Illinois, on July 12, 1843. Doctrine and principles involved
in this revelation were known by the Prophet as early as 1831.
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." (HC 5:xxix)
After learning of these doctrines the Prophet taught them to a few close
friends. Some betrayed the confidence of the Prophet. Charges of practicing
plural marriage were made against the Church as early as the Kirtland era.
Among those taught at an early date were Oliver Cowdery and Lyman E. Johnson.
- Lyman Johnson entrusted this newly revealed principle to his missionary
companion, Orson Pratt in 1832.
Summer 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.
(see CHC, 2:101)
One of those to whom the Prophet first taught the principle was Joseph
B. Noble. After teaching Brother Noble the principle, he gave him
the sealing power. On April 5, 1841, Brother Noble sealed Joseph
to Louisa Beaman. Some believe that this was the Prophet's first
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)
When the Twelve returned from their missions in England, the Prophet taught
them the principle and urged the importance of putting it in into practice.
John Taylor wrote: "We [the twelve] seemed
to put off, as far as we could, what might be termed the evil day."
Brigham Young spoke of his own feelings when he learned of the principle:
was not desirous of shrinking from any duty, nor of failing in the least
to do as I was commanded, but it was the first time in my life that I had
desired the grave, and I could hardly get over it for a long time." (CHC 2:102)
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." (Life of Heber C. Kimball, pp323-324)
Heber was later taught the principle of plural marriage and accepted it.
Orson Pratt returned to Nauvoo after the Twelve had been taught the principle. He heard of it from John C. Bennett who deceived him, and his wife, on
the matter. Joseph, Brigham, and Heber tried to teach Orson the truth
of the matter, but he would not listen.
He and his wife were excommunicated from the Church on August 20, 1842. After investigating the matter more fully, he learned the truth and exonerated
the Prophet. Joseph rebaptized Orson and his wife early in 1843 and
restored Elder Pratt to his office in the Quorum of the Twelve.
Among those who had a difficult time accepting the principle was the Prophet's
William Clayton, private secretary to the Prophet, recorded the following:
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."
William Clayton's journal entry for that date reads: "This
A.M. I wrote a revelation consisting of 10 pages on the order of the priesthood,
showing the designs in Moses, Abraham, David and Solomon having many wives
& concubines. After it was wrote Prests. Joseph & Hyrum presented
it and read it to Emma who said she did not believe a word of it and appeared
very rebellious." (Revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith,
- Additional historical information can be found in the following articles at
Discussion of Section 132:1-34.
The Prophet asked the Lord as to why early prophets were justified in having
more than one wife.
Knowledge Demands Obedience.
The fundamental part of this law is the new and everlasting covenant of
marriage wherein a husband and wife are sealed through the priesthood for
time and all eternity. It seems harsh when the Lord says that those
who "abide not that covenant" will be damned. As we learned in Section
131, those who do not enter into the "new and everlasting covenant of marriage"
will not be able to enter into the highest decree of the celestial kingdom
and will not have eternal increase. This reference to damnation
is not that one will be condemned to outer darkness, but that their eternal
progress is halted and they will not enjoy the greatest joys of eternity
that come through the sacred covenant of marriage and eternal
Does this reference also have to do with the practice of plural marriage?
It does, but only for those who have been commanded to enter the practice. As noted above, since the Proclamation by President Woodruff in 1890, the
Church is no longer required to practice this part of the principle. Our eternal destiny is dependent on the part of the principle we are
required to practice. Even in the days of Joseph Smith and Brigham
Young, only a few of the Saints were required to enter into the practice
of plural marriage. As noted above, we are now commanded not to enter
into the practice of plural marriage and we will suffer the consequences
of disobedience if we do so.
The Celestial Law.
All covenants (etc.) that are not performed by he who has the power and
are not sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise are void after the resurrection. This is strong, but clear language. All "covenants, contracts, bonds,
obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations"
that are not done by proper priesthood authority have no efficacy or validity
past the grave. In reality, this applies to everything. Baptism
not performed by one with proper priesthood authority has no power after
one's death. A marriage ceremony between two people that love each
other with all their heart is a "contract" that is null and void upon the
death of one of the partners if it has not been performed by one with priesthood
President Joseph Fielding Smith: "Now marriage
for eternity can be performed only in the temples.
"It cannot be performed anywhere else. Authority
by which such marriages are solemnized must be vested in the one who performs
the ordinances, by virtue of appointment by the one who holds the keys.
"There is but one man living on the earth at
a time who holds the keys of this binding or sealing power. No other man
has the right to officiate in a marriage, or sealing ceremony, for time
and all eternity, unless he has obtained the direct appointment from the
one who holds the keys of this power.
"That appointment may be cancelled at any time,
when the one who holds those keys shall say the privilege is withdrawn.
No man can officiate in these ceremonies unless he himself holds the holy
priesthood. Any man who presumes to perform such marriages by virtue of
his office in the priesthood, without having been appointed by the man
who holds the keys of this power, is without authority and such acts are
null and void." (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:74)
The Celestial Law Applied to Marriage.
D&C 132:19-20. The promise to those who abide
by the Celestial law of marriage.
Consider the promises:
To come forth in the first resurrection
Shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, powers, and dominions.
It shall be written in the Lamb's Book of Life.
It shall be of full force when they are out of the world.
They shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their
exaltation and glory in all things.
The glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and
They shall be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from
everlasting to everlasting.
They shall be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject
This is an awesome and incredible promise! How can we possibly take
our marriage covenant lightly when we fully understand the eternal implications.
Brigham Young: "The great and grand secret
of salvation, which we should continually seek to understand through our
faithfulness, is the continuation of the lives. Those of the Latter-day
Saints who will continue to follow after the revelations and commandments
of God to do them, who are found to be obedient in all things continually
advancing little by little towards perfection and the knowledge of God,
they, when they enter the spirit world and receive their bodies, will be
able to advance faster in the things pertaining to the knowledge of the
Gods, and will continue onward and upward until they become Gods, even
the sons of God. This I say is the great secret of the hereafter, to continue
in the lives forever and forever, which is the greatest of all gifts God
has ever bestowed upon his children. We all have it within our reach, we
can all attain to this perfection and exalted state if we will embrace
its principles and practice them in our every day life." (JD,
Exaltation cannot be achieved except by obedience to the law. There
is only one path and we must follow it.
Those abiding by the law of Celestial marriage will come forth in the first
resurrection except those that commit the unpardonable sin.
WHAT ARE THESE VERSES TELLING US?
Though these verses speak of the consequences of transgression, the most
important principle is that we will enter into our "exaltation" if we marry
according to the word of the Lord and are "sealed by the Holy Spirit
President Joseph Fielding Smith: "The meaning of
this expression is this: Every covenant, contract, bond, obligation, oath, vow,
and performance, that man receives through the covenants and blessings of the
gospel, is sealed by the Holy Spirit with a promise. The promise is that the
blessing will be obtained, if those who seek it are true and faithful to the
end. If they are not faithful, then the Holy Spirit will withdraw the blessing,
and the promise comes to an end."
(Doctrines of Salvation, 1:45)
HOW DO WE OBTAIN THE HOLY SPIRIT OF PROMISE?
Elder Bruce R. McConkie: "To seal is to
ratify, to justify, or to approve. Thus an act which is sealed by the Holy
Spirit of Promise is one which is ratified by the Holy Ghost; it is one
which is approved by the Lord; and the person who has taken the obligation
upon himself is justified by the Spirit in the thing he has done. The ratifying
seal of approval is put upon an act only if those entering the contract
are worthy as a result of personal righteousness to receive the divine
approbation. They 'are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, which the
Father sheds forth upon all those who are just and true.' (D. & C.
76:53.) If they are not just and true and worthy the ratifying seal is
withheld." (Mormon Doctrine, p361)
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.
Sealing room in the Salt Lake Temple (LDS.org)
Gospel Doctrine Notebook
Record your thoughts on the principle of eternal marriage. What things can
you do to prepare for temple marriage or what can you do to strengthen your
Resources Used In This Lesson
A Comprehensive History of the Church by B.H. Roberts (CHC).
Doctrines of Salvation by Joseph Fielding Smith.
Encyclopedia Of Mormonism edited by Daniel H. Ludlow.
Faith Precedes the Miracle by Spencer W. Kimball.
History of the Church (HC).
Journal of Discourses (JD).
Life of Heber C. Kimball by Orson F. Whitney.
Mormon Doctrine by Bruce R. McConkie.
My Life's Review by Benjamin F. Johnson.
Revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith by Lyndon W. Cook.
The Family: A Proclamation to the World.
Gospel Doctrine Class
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Changes last made on:
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