eternal marriage

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Section 132 is a rare discussion of one of God’s laws in His own words. He lays out the law and the conditions required to be blessed by that law. We are so fortunate that He has chosen to more fully explain one of the most important of the latter-day commandments.

My purpose

There are many things about God that don’t always make sense to us. His ways truly are not our ways. More often than not we do not understand why He does what He does, or even what it is He actually expects of us. The doctrine of eternal marriage is one of those issues in the Church that many struggle with. Why is it okay to have plural marriage sometimes, but not others? Why can one man practice it and be blessed above measure for living the law, while another is cursed for doing the same thing? This is one of those laws that are reserved for select individuals, and that only by way of commandment. What follows is just a partial discussion of this law.

In Doctrine and Covenants 132 the Lord begins to spell out to Joseph Smith some of the details of the law of eternal marriage, which at times includes the practice of having plural wives. Upon first reading it, you may feel there is a lot of harshness in God’s language as He spells out who is justified and who will be condemned by the law.

What we need to remember when we read this section of the Doctrine and Covenants is that God is working with a full deck of cards – He has absolute knowledge. In other words, He knows all there is to know. He is so far above us intellectually and spiritually that it can be difficult to understand His rationale about some things. This is a man who can measure our faith, obedience, our trust worthiness, and our willingness to keep His commandments as we would measure flour and milk for a recipe. He is tutoring us to become gods. Because we are the disciples, and He is the master, we must trust that He knows all that we do not. At some point in the future, if we continue down our path of discipleship we will begin to comprehend the whys of His behavior and some of the reasons behind His commandments. It is all part of coming to terms with I call “the incalculable greatness of God.”

As you continue on, please remember that plural marriage is part of the law of eternal marriage, but to do one you don’t always have to do the other. Plural marriage is only entered into by way of commandment from God. Everyone entering into the Celestial kingdom as gods will have to live the law of eternal marriage. I don’t know if plural marriage is also a requirement there. Here in mortality we only live that part of the law when commanded to do so. God has His reasons for this. We don’t have to understand them, we just need to have faith in His intentions as our Father.

Doctrine and Covenants 132

The Lord has never told us how He is able to look at us and measure our faith, faithfulness, love, or devotion. But in this one instance, He has revealed the laws and circumstances that describe a celestial condition we must be willing to participate in if we want to live with Him. This section of the Doctrine and Covenants shows us clearly that the law of eternal marriage is not just something that lusty men instituted for their own pleasure. Instead, God shows us that living the law of eternal marriage is only revealed to certain people, but when it is, they must live this law or be eternally damned. I certainly wasn’t expecting that as a condition of even knowing about the law.

I have discussed in other articles God’s legal nature. All things are governed by law. He not only sets out punishments for breaking the laws He has made, but He also outlines the blessings that flow from obedience to those laws. But it doesn’t stop there. There are conditions that also must be met. Does the person have the right to live a particular law? What gives them the right? Such is the law of eternal marriage. Here is verse five of section 132.

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.

Not only does the plan of salvation contain all the laws pertaining to our salvation and exaltation, but it also contains all the conditions under which we will be judged worthy or unworthy of living certain laws. An immediate example of this is the law of eternal/plural marriage. There are conditions to living the law, and God spends a lot of verses explaining those conditions. Here are a few of them.

If God reveals the law of eternal marriage to someone, they must live it or be damned. So not just anyone has this law revealed to them (verses 3-4)

3 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.

Note that entering into God’s glory is not the same thing as entering into His presence. The angels live in His presence, but do not have His glory. Only those who are married can share the glory that makes Him a God.

Verse 7 explains why the conditions of this law work the way they do.

And verily I say unto you, that the conditions of this law are these: All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oathsvows, 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.

Verse 7 is legal language to explain that not just anyone can marry a couple for eternity. Marriage is a celestial law only. There are no marriages for the lower kingdoms. As far as we know, even within the Celestial kingdom only the highest level of the kingdom has marriage. Marriage is reserved for gods. Everyone else remains single forever. Marriage is the only way in which we can experience eternal increase and increased glory forever. Hence His declaration that without this law we would be damned. We would be damned because we could not have the increase in glory which comes from having children.

Verse 14 makes it very clear that only laws and contracts that come from Christ will be viable or valid in the eternities.

14 For whatsoever things remain are by me; and whatsoever things are not by me shall be shaken and destroyed.

The Lord continues to explain the reasons why one person is made an angel and other person is made a god.

15 Therefore, if a man marry him a wife in the world, and he marry her not by me nor by my word, and he covenant with her so long as he is in the world and she with him, their covenant and marriage are not of force when they are dead, and when they are out of the world; therefore, they are not bound by any law when they are out of the world.

16 Therefore, when they are out of the world they neither marry nor are given in marriage; but are appointed angels in heaven, which angels are ministering servants, to minister for those who are worthy of a far more, and an exceeding, and an eternal weight of glory.

17 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.

Did you catch that? God’s law that we are required to live if we want to be “enlarged” for eternity is the law of eternal marriage. If we do not marry in the manner He has declared is required for celestial glory, then no amount of love we may have for another person will allow us to become gods. He makes it very clear that the only contract between two people that will remain intact after this life is the contract of eternal marriage by one holding the sealing power.

I would also like to point out something from verse 17. Angels are angels because they, for whatever reason, entered into the celestial world as worthy in every respect, except that they never married according to God’s law of marriage. Because they did not, they cannot be exalted to the status of a god, for to be a god is a plural status. Gods come in pairs. Single people can’t be a god. What makes them a god is the ability to have eternal increase – children. This isn’t saying that they are in any way unworthy to be where they are. They are perfect and righteous people. They just aren’t married. Before we are sent to our final destinations in the eternities, everyone will have the opportunity to marry if they are worthy of it. Such a blessing will not be withheld from anyone who truly desires it. After all, it is God’s work and His glory to get us to the point where we can enjoy what He enjoys, and that is eternal marriage.

The rest of section 132 contains more clarifications of the conditions by which people become gods in the celestial world. It also goes on to talk about Joseph Smith’s calling and election.


We are blessed that the Lord saw fit to explain Himself to Joseph Smith as to why some of His servants were commanded to have multiple wives, and some commanded to have but one wife. And God didn’t just stop there. He also taught us the reasoning behind His law, and the conditions under which the law operates. If we are willing to study section 132, we will begin to see that God’s greatness excels our ability to fully comprehend Him as the sun outshines the faintest stars.

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D&C 132 – The Law of Eternal Marriage